How to cope with an unsuccessful project
I have been working in eTwinning for more than three years and I must say that not always all the projects have been good. During all those months of interesting work, our school have created about twenty projects.
What are the reasons of the problems to finish the project?
• the number of the students on one side is much larger than on the other side. It has happened to us with Portugal this year and my students were confused each having two Portuguese children as their pen friends. Then we preferred using the forum where all the kids talked together.
• we had a plan but we forgot about the partner’s holiday and the end of the school year. We had to change the plan and make the project shorter.
• the technical equipment of the schools was not on the same level. I had to explain to the children that they were lucky to go to our school and they had to accept the conditions of the other side. It was a problem because the children didn’t get as many letters as they had wished. But on the other hand I could use it educationally. My students were proud of our school ICT rooms more than before.
• ICT knowledge of the partner teachers wasn’t the same. It can often happen but then, the more experienced teacher can help the new friend. It happened to us with Greece, but my friend from Greece was a good student and today she is just perfect. We spent a lot of chats discussing technical problems. There are seminars in all the EU countries for the teachers who are not sure what to do. Those teachers can also use the help from their local NSSs.
• But the worst problem is when one of the partners finishes without saying a word. Then we have to tell the children and explain the situation. If it happens ones, it can be explained easily but if it happens more times, it is not easy to motivate the children for a new project. They should always feel that their work was useful.
What to do with an unfinished project?
• If the children are registered in the Twinspace in My team section, we can go on with the project as if nothing has happened. We can try to find another partner who would replace the first one, which can be a bit confusing but sometimes it is better than nothing.
• If you do not find a new partner, then you still can use the Twinspace. You can divide the children into two groups and they can choose the country they will represent. I know that it is not the same like with a real partner, but we need to finish the project. The students can still write letters, work in the Forum, and create folders and photo galleries. They can work with the Internet and create PowerPoint presentations about various details of the chosen countries. Maybe they will become interested in a new country and they will be motivated to start a new project. The only thing is that we probably will not be successful in the National or International competitions.
But what is more important? Definitely not to discourage the children from other contacts but make them happy that they had done a good job.
How to protect our partnership?
• set clear conditions at the very beginning
• discuss the school year holidays
• be in touch regularly- it is important especially at the beginning of the project
• try to get to know your partner better before you promise anything to the children
• prepare the project with the children - you can help them but they should be involved as much as possible
• keep the list of the students with their partners- they may forget them. It is useful to put the list in the Twinspace
• keep the list of the students‘ usernames and passwords for the eTwinning web page. If you do not go regularly into the Twinspace, younger children might forget them.
• be diplomatic when you chat or write to your partner. We are different nations and different mentalities and so we can hurt our friend unintentionally.
Be optimistic and believe that every new project will be better and more successful than the first one. The friendship which is offered to in an eTwinning project is a treasure. So do not waste it, keep it, look after it, enlarge it and you will never be alone in this world.
Naděžda Kadlecová, Gymnázium Česká Lípa, Czech Republic
Visit her blog at http://et-friendship.blogspot.com/