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eTwinning Annual Conference in Warsaw: Europe’s Cultural Heritage in the classroom

The eTwinning Annual Conference kicked off on Thursday 25 October in Warsaw, Poland, and brought together teachers, policy makers and experts from all over Europe to discuss the richness of Europe’s Cultural Heritage.

During the first day, more than 500 teachers gathered to hear the opening speeches by Tibor Navracsics, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and Anna Zalewska, the Polish Minister of National Education.

Both the Commissioner and the Minister stressed the importance eTwinning plays in the professional development of European teachers. Tibor Navracsics expressed his pride that more than 600,000 teachers have now joined the eTwinning community, and his ambition that the project will reach 1,5 million teachers within the next seven years contributing to making European education better & more inclusive.

eTwinning Annual Conference Navracsics

Michael Teutsch, of European Commission, also gave an overview and the highlights of eTwinning in the future Erasmus+ programme. He emphasized that the European Commission wants more people in Europe to benefit from the Erasmus+ programme, and that eTwinning can widen and increase the opportunities for pupils all over Europe and beyond.

eTwinning Annual Conference Teutsch

The keynote address was delivered by Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, the Secretary General of Europa Nostra.

eTwinning Annual Conference Sneska Quaedvlieg-Mihailović

During her speech, she stressed the importance of Cultural Heritage as a part of Europe's future, reminding us that “Cultural heritage is so much more than bricks and stones”. Culture, according to Ms Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, “captures the multiple layers of our identity;” heritage sights in Europe “are telling us local, regional, national and finally European stories, through these very stories, we foster diversity and the sense of belonging in a community.”

After dinner, it was time to celebrate the European Prize Winners of 2018. The winning projects of the age categories and of the special categories were called on stage to receive their prizes.

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The second day, teachers and workshop leaders buzzed around the conference venue. It was a day full of workshops and training sessions.

Sessions revolved around the annual theme, Europe’s Cultural Heritage. Many workshops were offered by eTwinning’s friends, “Teaching with cultural heritage” by EuropeanaMilena Popova, “Cultural rights and Global Citizenship” by Terre des HommesLysiane André, and “Identity = Seeing & Being” by the House of European History - Guido Gerrichhauzen.

Experts like Gábor Sonkoly, Dean at the faculty of Humanities at Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest, Kati Nurmi, project manager for Heritage Hubs project at the Association of Cultural Heritage Education in Finland, G. M. Gijs van Gaans of the teacher training institute of Fontys University of Applied Science, and Johan Mårtelius, art historian at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, led inspiring workshops and taught the intrinsic worth and the plasticity of Cultural Heritage, and how it can be used in the classroom.

Finally, eTwinning ambassadors shared their own experiences and expertise through interactive workshops and the prize-winners presented the secrets of their success. Discover more about the workshops here.

The third and last day of the Annual Conference, Marc Durando, Executive Director of European Schoolnet, delivered a captivating speech presenting the current situation of education in Europe. Mr Durando said that if we get the pedagogy right and incorporate technology accordingly, learning through eTwinning would become easier, deeper, and even more engaging. eTwinning has a positive impact on pedagogy and national curricula and it must expand.

After the keynote address, there was a panel discussion between workshop leaders and teachers participating in the conference. A highlight of the conversation was when a Croatian student participant in the conference and workshop leader Davor Japunčić spoke up from the audience and shared his thoughts with the audience and panel speakers, asking for more engaging and interactive ways of teaching and more eTwinning!

The conference was closed by Tapio Säävälä, the Head of Unit at EACEA. Mr Säävälä said that teachers can be agents of change, and that eTwinning makes this possible. He also called for more action in vocational education and training.