The eTwinning action is an initiative of the European Commission that aims to encourage European schools to collaborate using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by providing the necessary infrastructure (online tools, services, support). Therefore, teachers registered in the eTwinning action are enabled to form partnerships and develop collaborative, pedagogical school projects in any subject area with the sole requirements to employ ICT to develop their project and collaborate with teachers from other European countries (at least two teachers from two different European countries are needed). The primary workspace for the eTwinning action, is the eTwinning Portal (www.etwinning.net) and it is available in twenty-five languages. Teachers registered in the eTwinning action, also called eTwinners, find each other, communicate, share resources and collaborate through the eTwinning platform. This growing and active community enforced the change in the motto of eTwinning from "School partnerships in Europe" to "The community for schools in Europe".
The project was born in 2005 under the European Union's e-Learning programme and it has been integrated in the Lifelong Learning Programme since 2007. eTwinning is part of Comenius, the EU programme for schools.
The eTwinning action was launched in January 2005. Its main objectives complied with the decision by the Barcelona European Council in March 2002 to promote school twinning as an opportunity for all students to learn and practice ICT skills and to promote awareness of the multicultural European model of society. More than 13 000 schools were involved in eTwinning within its first year. In fall 2008, over 50 000 teachers and 4 000 projects have been registered, while a new eTwinning platform was launched. In early 2009 the eTwinning motto has changed from "School partnerships in Europe" to "The community for schools in Europe". In June 2009, the eTwinning community consisted of nearly 65 000 members. Currently (June 2012), more than 20 000 projects have been developed between two or more schools across Europe, the total number of registered teachers is close to 170 000 and the number of involved schools is more than 90 000.
The main concept behind eTwinning is that schools are paired with another school elsewhere in the Europe and they collaboratively develop a project, also known as eTwinning project. The two schools then communicate using the Internet (for example, by e-mail or video conferencing) to collaborate, share and learn from each other. eTwinning encourages and develops ICT skills as the main activities inherently use information technology. Being 'twinned' with a foreign school also encourages cross-cultural exchanges of knowledge, fosters students' intercultural awareness, and improves their communication skills.
eTwinning projects last for any length of time ranging from only a week, to months, up to creating permanent relationships between schools. Schools (both primary and secondary) within the European Union member states can participate in the eTwinning project, in addition to schools from Turkey, Norway and Iceland.
In contrast with other European programmes, such as the Comenius programme, all communication is held via the internet and therefore there is no need for grants. Along the same lines, face-to-face meetings between partners schools are not required, though they are not prohibited and some schools organise face-to-face meetings.
European schoolnet has been granted the role of Central Support Service (CSS) at European level. eTwinning is also supported by a network of National Support Services (NSS).
Member States of the European Union participate in the eTwinning action: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Additionally, Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey take part.
- Crawley, C., Gilleran, A., Scimeca, S., Vuorikari, R. & Wastiau, P. (2009). Beyond School Projects - A report on eTwinning 2008-2009. Central Support Service for eTwinning, European Schoolnet, Rue de Trèves 61, 1040 Brussels Belgium, www.eun.org, published September 2009. Retrieved: 20 December 2010, http://www.etwinning.net/en/pub/news/publications.htm
- eTwinning CSS Portal (2012). Retrieved: 9 June 2012, http://www.etwinning.net/
- Gilleran, A. (2006). Learning with eTwinning. Central Support Service for eTwinning, European Schoolnet, Rue de Trèves 61, B-1040 Brussels Belgium, www.eun.org, published April 2006. http://www.etwinning.net/en/pub/news/publications.htm
- Gilleran, A. (2007) eTwinning – A New Path for European Schools, eLearning Papers
- European Schoolnet (2007) Learning with eTwinning: A Handbook for Teachers 2007
- European Schoolnet (2006) Learning with eTwinning
- European Schoolnet (2008) eTwinning: Adventures in language and culture
- The official portal for eTwinning (available in 23 languages)
- European Schoolnet
- German eTwinning website
- British Council eTwinning
- Greek eTwinning website
- eTwinning – Italy
- Spanish eTwinning website
- Press Release for 2008 etwinning prizes