From the Avicenna International College (AIC) in Budapest, I took part in an Erasmus short term mobility course in the Eternal City in the first week of December 2021 as part of our project called Building a network in the field of education within the EU.

The name of the course organised by our host Alessandro Gariano from Enjoy Italy was: Cultural Heritage Education and Storytelling. I took this opportunity for a variety of reasons, mainly to acquire novel approaches to education in the 21st century, to get the chance to meet international colleagues for future cooperation to then organise a range of joint activities together and last but not least for the unparalleled splendour this City, Rome has to offer.

The famous Trevi Fountain was built in the 17th century

Trevi Fountain

The famous Trevi Fountain was built in the 17th century

From a strictly managerial point of view, certainly, there were a few flops and gaps to fill, technological aspects (repeated internet blackouts in the classroom) to improve but all in all, I can say that it was a fulfilling experience to remember for years to come.

Our class had 26 colleagues, the majority of them came from elementary school and about 35% of us came from a high school. The nationality make-up of our class was a mixed bag of mainly Spanish (Alicante, Alcantara, Andalucía) teachers and the rest of us came from Portugal, Greece, Poland, with two colleagues from Germany and myself from Hungary. Among them all, I could liaise with the Spanish the best, as we have quickly found a common voice and spent much of our time together.

The classes were held from 9 am to 2.30 pm from Tuesday to Friday. On the first day, which was Tuesday, the 10 different schools introduced themselves with demo materials highlighting their cities as a tourist attraction and also describing the profile of their institutions, giving out gift packages. I introduced Budapest in pictures and in a mini video followed by the introduction of the educational culture at my high school the AIC. 

In the next three days, we have learnt about visual education, the European Skills Agenda, the Digital Education Agenda and the flipped classroom approach.  We have also covered a range of ICT apps as we explored a handful of digital classroom managing systems.  Among these, we were introduced to Edmodo, Blendspace, Nearpod, Edshelf, Padlet and Coggle. What I have found the most useful tool to use in my classes back at home was the Blendspace multimedia creator to make rich content cutting edge videos to capture the attention and the imagination of my students when teaching them the usual material in Biology.  We had to create and present our very own video material and my choice was climate change as a burning topic for the classroom. The other equally useful digital tool from this end was Coggle which is a collaborative mind-mapping tool that helps you make sense of complex systems. My task was to draw up the structure of our education system with its branches at the AIC. I have already put it to good use to sketch out lesson plans.

What I was truly missing from the programme was a visit to a local high school for brainstorming activities with staff members, as it was originally part of the programme. Neither we had an introduction instead to the Italian educational system, which was a pity to miss.

What we had instead on the last day was a group activity called City Bingo. We had to go out to take pictures and interview locals on the street in the Prati district regarding typical pressing issues like the disastrous waste and garbage management in Rome to make and publish a video diary about.

The most memorable parts will definitely remain the joint activities, the cultural exchanges, the time spent together in a good company and the cultural walking tours in the historical centre of this eternally fascinating city that has an ancient church and a restaurant at every step of the way and a vibe and chemistry that leaves you ‘a mozzafiato’ or breathless. 

I have to emphasise the outstanding importance of the support of the European Commission who has funded this mobility through Erasmus+, for which I am truly grateful. 

This mobility was funded by the European Commission.

The information presented here does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.

Steve Szabó
Rome 29 Nov-3 Dec 2021

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