NewsOct Etwinning

eTwinning conference: COFACE reflects on how to make the internet more inclusive

On October 26, 27 and 28, eTwinning brought together 700 teachers and officials responsible for education from Europe and beyond to facilitate cross-national projects between schools and reward successful cooperations through an official ceremony broadcasted live. The theme of this year’s conference was on inclusion and COFACE Families Europe was invited to present the outcomes of its work on digitalization and how it could transform the Internet and the web, making it more inclusive.

Drawing from the conference “Families on the Move”, Martin Schmalzried prepared a short training, raising awareness on the potential of decentralized technologies, which enable users to take control of their data and the services they use.

The training consisted in four main parts:

1.Examining alternatives to centralized online service providers like Facebook, Uber or Google. Some of the examples included:

  • Cloudron which allows people to host their own website and run a server directly from home.
  • Mastodon and Diaspora, both of which are decentralized alternatives to Twitter and Facebook.
  • Open Bazaar which is a decentralized market place to sell goods directly to other people, in replacement of Amazon.
  • Wikipedia, although it is hosted in a centralized manner (Wikimedia data centers), allows for decentralized participation and contribution from users from all over the globe.

2. Learning about Blockchain technology and its applications:

  • Musicoin: an innovative way to compensate musicians for their work, without the need for record labels.
  • Golem: a way to share your computer’s computing power to people that might need it.
  • Sia: a system that allows anyone to rent unused space on their hard drives.
  • Ethereum: a project which allows for the execution of “smart contracts” in a decentralized way.

3. Raising awareness about the work of the European Commission and its support of decentralized technologies:

  • The CAPSSI (Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainable and Social Innovation) projects were funded by DG CNECT and aimed at providing decentralized solutions for a variety of challenges like direct participation in democracy, sustainable development and several other areas. See the official webpage:

4. Reflecting on the societal implications such technologies will bring in the future:

  • The trade-offs between more control and direct liability for one’s actions.
  • The impossibility for censorship which may be positive (in the case of political persecution in certain countries) or negative (the spread of child abuse material)
  • The transfer of power back to the people and the possibility of direct democracy and direct action by citizens.

For more information, please contact Martin Schmalzried: or download the report from the workshop “Digital Move” from the Families on the Move conference.

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