I participated in a course that focused on the internationalisation of schools at Oliveira de Azeméis in Portugal from 9th to 15th October 2016. Oliveira de Azeméis is a small town some 50 kilometers away from Porto and some 20 kilometers away from the Atlantic Ocean. The course was held in a local school, Escola de Soares Basto, which has students from preschool to vocational school. We were served coffee and lunch: both were made and catered by the school’s own students and it tasted really good!
We arrived on Sunday and had only a short introduction of the course. Later we had a welcoming dinner at the hotel’s panorama restaurant at the top floor. The course participants were from all around Europe: Germany, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and me from Finland. Both the participants and trainers seemed very nice and you could hear chipper conversations all around you.
On Monday we discussed about internationalisation in general and talked about our own needs, strengths and views about internationalisation. We got many good tips and instructions on how to coordinate internationalisation and how to compose an application to get grants.
On Tuesday participants introduced Key Action 2 –projects they had executed in their own schools. In Croatia they had combined robotics to mathematics and in another school they had worked on students’ employment skills. In addition, a school in Spain had cooperated with a school in Sweden.
E-twinning ambassador Jan Horman presented us eTwinning tools via a video conference. A few participants shared their own eTwinning experiences: some were good and some not so well executed – mostly because of too many participants and a lack of coordination.
On Wednesday we discussed about how to compose an application to get Key Action 2 –grants. We talked about every participant’s cultural stereotypes and true values because these are the issues every student has to think about when participating in an international project. After lunch we went on an excursion to Porto and strolled beside a riverside while enjoying some local delicacies and fado-songs.
On Thursday we discussed about how strongly internationalisation was considered in every nation’s national curriculum. Different countries had very different ways to execute their national curriculums in general. We also took a look at the Open Badge –platform. It can be used to recognize student’s skills for example while being abroad for training. Badges can also be used for gamification, which motivates students.
Friday was the last day for me because I had to leave early on Saturday due to my early flights. We discussed how to arrange video conferences for planning and executing international projects. A few platforms were introduced (Skype, Hangouts, Zoom etc.) and we tried Zoom. We also discussed how and why evaluate international projects: what platforms to use and what aspects to evaluate.On a break we went to see a short rollerblade show, because two of the school’s students had just won a world championship in that sport.
On Friday the municipality and Soares Basto school arranged a sightseeing tour to a local mill. We were served local bread and wine and thoroughly enjoyed the lovely atmosphere and surroundings by the river.
I got a few cooperation proposals from two local schools and one from Germany during the course. They study electrical engineering and catering in the Portuguese schools and office clerk training in the German school.
I gained a lot of new friends and contacts, both personal and professional, a lot of information on internationalisation in schools and a lot more of ideas, a bit weight and a few sunburns also. What a great week!