Summary of plenary sessions - Day 1

  • Lights, camera and action!

    This year’s eTwinning conference of Digital Citizenship is off to a great start.  Mix over 500 teachers and educationalists from 39 different countries, and welcome to the wonderful world of eTwinning!

    Education is the glue that holds society together! Sophie Beernaerts (Head of Unit “Schools and Educators; Multilingualism”, DG Education and Culture, European Commission) opened the eTwinning conference 2016 by thanking eTwinning teachers for promoting inclusion, fundamental values and growing digital citizens. She also highlighted the importance of eTwinning and the School Education Gateway to support educators in the difference challenges they face. 

    Pafsanias Papageorgiou, Secretary General of the Greek Ministry of Education, congratulated and welcomed eTwinners to Athens. He also underlined that eTwinning has an important role to play in promoting digital citizenship and understanding cultural differences.

    Prize giving ceremony  

    After the official welcome, the afternoon delighted in hearing about the winners of this year’s prizes for projects involving students working together from many countries – in subjects covering both arts and sciences, primary and secondary, and in different languages.  

    We heard about the chemistry cookbook, which promised more than exciting flavours!  The time capsule, where students wrote letters for the next generation. For all the truly inspirational projects that were presented, we saw the teachers and the students from all the different participating countries, bringing it all to life and talking with the passion and motivation that identifies and unites the eTwinners.  As one of the prize winners so aptly put it, "Vive le projet!”, “Vive eTwinning!”  

    The overall 2016 winners, with the project “Mirror, Mirror” talked about the growing confidence that eTwinning gave them, with their students talking about how the projects made them feel more like Europeans. An important, and vital point being made at the end during the presentation, that this was the first time that original project founders had met, after 6 years of working together virtually!


    The strength of this virtual community, was echoed in the closing keynote address by Emma Mulqueeny, founder of Rewired State and Young Rewired State who talked about the 97’ers. The generation that was born in 1997 and how their world differs and will impact us all going forward. Emma talked about a generation that in some ways is the first to 'beat the path’ as the first truly, digital citizens.  

    What is exciting about this generation is the rise in entrepreneurialism, reflecting the pioneering spirit of ages gone by. To help navigate in this new world, Emma referred to one of the quotes from President Obama when talking about the advice he gives to his teenage daughter in this era of digital citizens -  "Be useful, Be Kind”.  That certainly strikes a chord.  

    Here’s to the workshops tomorrow!  

    TEXT AND PICTURES: Dorothy Cassells and Beatriz Romero