MEDEA Awards Audience Favourite 2012
The eTwinning project Schoolovision is a primary schools' version of the Eurovision Song Contest, organised annually by Michael Purves (Yester Primary School, UK) and teachers of more than 30 partner countries.
In the contest one class from each participating European country is asked to choose a song, representative of their country, practise it, record it, and finally upload the music video to the project blog one week before the real contest. This gives participating children the chance to view all songs in their classes, and vote for their favourite songs. On the day before the real Eurovision Song Contest, each country meets using the online video conferencing tool FlashMeeting to cast their votes, in the same way as in the Eurovision Song Contest.
The showcase video of Schoolovision including an interview with Steffen Töppler
On the occasion of the first edition of the project in 2009 the special Schoolovision trophy was personally delivered to the winning school in Brno, Czech Republic by the project co-ordinator, Michael Purves, and since then a new trophy has been awarded, engraved and posted to the winning country each year. The 2012 version of the contest was the biggest yet, with highly professional entries from a total of 38 countries -from Iceland in the north-west, to Azerbaijan in the south-east. Around 1,000 pupils collaborated successfully, along with 38 teachers and all their helpers in their own countries.
What the judges said
“Schoolovision is a really nice idea and very well executed, also it is great to see the continuity and the fact that it is growing each year. The pupils clearly enjoy the experience and gather some interesting insights into different European cultures. ” “Very good choice of media - video for what it is good at and a blog site to support - it is easy and can be done by everybody.” “The entry is very interesting; it shows that song can connect people in all Europe - not only grown-ups but school children as well, and it develops creativity of students.”
About the creation of Schoolovision
Project founder Michael Purves on the background of Schoolovision: “When the project was created in 2009, I had no idea if it would be a success or not, but I was sure it would be a huge amount of fun. It certainly did prove to be, as the 30 partners of that first edition worked very hard with their pupils (more than 700 in total) who, I believe, had a superb learning experience through this working together.
Schoolovision was created to enable primary schools from across Europe to collaborate in a fun but challenging way through eTwinning. Music is a wonderfully creative way to bring pupils from different cultures together and the project allows creative use of ICT generally, but above all - the project fosters the notion that collaboration is crucial to success...it shows pupils directly that they can succeed with what looks like an impossibility if they work together at the task! The entry from Spain in 2012, which finished 3rd overall, demonstrates this more than most.
At the end of each year, the participating teachers gather and are asked to choose a song with their pupils which they can work on up to May, the time when they upload their song to the project blog. Each country decides their planning and relevant lessons individually, it is our expectation that each class does what it can; this is after all a fun project, as well as a contest with a competitive side!
Many things need to be considered and a lot of areas of the curriculum are addressed: what begins with a discussion with pupils in music lessons, quickly develops into a team collaboration, an investigation into the other countries taking part (geography) and how the class will take up their own challenge and in what manner. The project allows pupils to foster and deepen their values of citizenship, and their understanding of different countries and cultures. It also allows them to make use of drama (through their singing), practise their language skills and develop their maths skills (during the voting). Each class can use their imagination, innovation and creativity to decide what they will sing, and how they will record a video in their own context to allow the other pupils to see something of their culture, country and way of life. Some countries also have annual "auditions" for the entire school, through which they choose the pupils who can sing in the video.
Thanks to the web conferencing tool Flashmeeting and the dedicated blog pupils can meet each other virtually prior to the live voting session, get to know their partners and rivals and, practise their English skills. During the finals they can give their votes in a big videoconference, which is organised in much the same manner as in the real Eurovision Song Contest.
As we take copyright issues very seriously, we decided to purchase a special online licence to allow schools to use work that has been used before. We also insist that all partners must get written permission from all original owners of copyright before recreating their own versions of the work. This is a big challenge, but once writers/singers are contacted and they realise that there is no commercial gain from this educational project, most of the time they are happy to help.
By 2012 the project has already won several international contests, being awarded 1st place in the 2009 Global Junior Challenge (Category: Up to 15 years old) ,the 2010 European eTwinning Awards (Category: Creative use of digital media) and the eLearning Awards 2009 (Category: Cross border cooperation in Europe). Please spend a little time viewing the interesting entries from the previous years- for example Iceland in 2009, Czech Republic in 2009 and 2011, Belgium in 2010 and 2011. There is little doubt that everyone has created wonderful examples of educational media, and I congratulate them all!”
About Michael Purves and Steffen Töppler
Michael Purves is a primary school teacher in Yester Primary School in the small village of Gifford, around 30 minutes from the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. In 2007, after teaching for 12 years, he registered with the eTwinning organisation and this particular moment in his educational timeline allowed a fundamental change to take place in his teaching.
He quickly began running eTwinning projects, and early in 2009, at the dinner table with his wife, he expressed a wish to try to create a project that could involve countries from right across Europe. “Something like the Eurovision Song Contest perhaps?” asked his wife. Michael replied, “Yes! Eurovision… Schoolovision!” and from that eureka moment, Schoolovision was born!
Michael loves this international way of working, as do his pupils, who have made many contacts through their work in Schoolovision and other projects.
Steffen Töppler teaches at Freie Schule Kassel, a small primary school in the heart of Germany which was founded by a parents' initiative some 20 years ago. He has been the German partner of Schoolovision since the project first started in 2009. He represents eTwinning as an ambassador in the State of Hesse and is involved in a number of projects, among them 2011 MEDEA Award winner “The European Chain Reaction”.
Steffen represented this entry at the MEDEA Awards 2012 Ceremony and talked about it in further detail during a presentation at the Media & Learning Conference 2012 Brussels. During the MEDEA Awards Ceremony, that took place during this conference, Schoolovision was announced the winner of the audience favourite prize and received a MEDEA medal and a Camtasia & Snagit software bundle.