The six day delegation was comprised of numerous introductions to both the Republic of Ireland’s and Northern Ireland’s technology pathfinders and forward thinking educational organizations. Just as in school districts in the United States, there were noted variations in pedagogical approaches, supporting structures, resources and paces of progress towards discovering and implementing best educational technology practices. However I came away believing that all three countries are committed to support the transformation of education to align with the digital age, and that all three place the intellectual and emotional growth of all learners at the center of decision making.
Some of the innovate takeaways I noted during the delegation:
- C2K (Provides a wide range of infrastructure and easy access to online resources to Northern Ireland schools that support and enhance the use of information and communication technologies for teaching and learning by working with with private and public sectors.)
- Future Classroom’s Creative Learning Centres (Funded by the Dept. of Culture, Arts and Leisure, there are three CLSs in Northern Ireland that support teachers and parents to bring innovation and creativity into the schools.)
- The new Junior Cycle / Post-Primary Education in the Republic of Ireland (Part of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the New Junior Cycle was created to meet the needs of the students and focuses on collaboration, creativity and choice. Poster of Junior Cycle Key Skills.)
- Le Chéile Secondary School in Tyrellstown just outside of Dublin, Republic of Ireland (The Principal’s choice not to have parents purchase textbooks but instead purchase an iPad for each child. Teachers design learning experiences that directly align with the Junior Cycle. Inside the school are interactive whiteboards in each classroom and an iPad in the hands of each student. An informal observation of a few classrooms revealed differentiated instruction, collaboration, and several examples of formative assessment using technology)
- Trinity College’s Science Gallery in the Republic of Ireland. “….A new type of venue where today’s white-hot scientific issues are thrashed out and you can have your say. A place where ideas meet and opinions collide….”
- Learnovate Technology Centre in the Republic of Ireland, where research and industry come together in ways that support teaching and learning.
On the last day we had 30 minutes of free time before the group met for dinner. I chose to walk through the campus of Dublin’s oldest university, Trinity College. I was surprised to see on a Friday evening, a Maker Space tent in the middle of the quad. It was open to all who wished to wander through to learn and create. Once inside the tent I examined microscopic parasites and their thick outer coat that ensured their survival in a variety of environments. Content to let others learn more I moved to an exhibit showcasing the BigFoot App created by researchers at the ADAPT Centre at Trinity. Apparently research reveals that we often perceive our digital footprint to be smaller than it’s actual size. The Bigfoot App was created to help you understand your online privacy needs by providing you with analytical data of actual usage. Using the data, you can make informed privacy setting decisions while using social media. Perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to begin tracking my own digital footprint. One more way to protect my online privacy, one more “coat” of protection in a digital environment.
As I left the campus families with young children were entering the quad, making their way towards the tents. I had no doubt that each child would spend the evening discovering and leaving with their own takeaways.