Proceedings of The 4th International Academic Conference on Education, Teaching and Learning
Exploring Student Teachers’ Experiences of Engaging in Hands of the World, a Contextualised Global Intercultural eTwinning Project
Sharon Tonner-Saunders and Jill Shimi
This paper considers the impact of student teachers’ engagement in the award-winning eTwinning international Hands of the World (HOTW) project which connects over 2000 students and their teachers in 50 schools across the world to undertake a wide range of educational collaborative work to develop their knowledge and understanding of intercultural education. Student teachers live and work in an interconnected and intercultural world and having a knowledge of how to embed diversity, inclusion and cultural awareness into their practice is important to ensure that their pupils develop a positive intercultural mindset. This study, therefore, examined the experiences of student teachers as they engaged in the HOTW project, pre-COVID-19 lockdown and during lockdown, with a focus on their various levels and types of engagement alongside the associated benefits to their professional practice. An explanatory design analysed students’ reflections on participating in the project, which were publicly available on the project’s Padlet™ page: https://padlet.com/sharon_tonner2/zrxrkvr8tukd.
Data were analysed thematically focusing on participation (types, levels and enablers) and benefits (pedagogy and practice). Participation in the project enhanced the students’ awareness of intercultural learning and provided ways to work collaboratively with teachers and pupils from around the world. Our analysis enabled us to identify that although there were various barriers to participation, the design of the project enabled students to participate at various levels of engagement with a higher level of engagement evidenced during the COVID-19 lockdown. This paper demonstrates that engagement in a contextualized project enabled student teachers to develop their knowledge and understanding of intercultural learning to prepare them for their future professional careers.
keywords: intercultural pedagogy, diversity, global citizenship, inclusion, teacher education.