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A Look at the Digital Strategy for Schools:
A Three-Part Series

Sponsored By. . .

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 1:

What is the
Digital Strategy for Schools
how does
it affect your school?

In this 3 part mini-series of articles we will look at the Department of Education’s Digital Strategy for Schools here in Ireland, what it means for your school and what it means for the country.

This introductory article we explore at what the strategy actually means and look at its efficacy, with the UK’s new computing curriculum as a comparison point.

In part 2 we will look at the four key themes of the strategy and then we conclude with part 3 which asks the question if ‘the Digital Strategy is bringing a positive change to education in Ireland’.

The Digital Strategy is a Government action plan for integrating ICT into teaching, learning and assessment in Irish education.

The strategy is more like a vision rather than something that prescribes specific criteria or objectives that must be met by schools.

This is what gives it such potential to create a really positive impact in Irish education, and definitely not something that should not be a cause concern for educators.

I have spent many years in the UK training teachers to use ICT as part of their computing curriculum. The computing curriculum provides a comprehensive set of criteria for developing 21st Century Learning skills in schools - and in theory it is an excellent curriculum.

It can be argued that the computing curriculum was introduced too quickly though, suddenly creating an expectation on teachers to be experts in niche areas such as coding, digital literacy and IT. So the curriculum is excellent, if you happen to have a staff of experts - which not many schools do!

The approach of the Digital Strategy in Ireland has been to introduce an ICT plan as a vision, and to provide CPD courses to get people familiar with its content before any real expectation or curriculum requirements come along.

The Digital Strategy provides a relatively thorough overview of what schools around the country need to do in order for us to progress as a nation and successfully introduce 21st Century Learning to our classrooms.

It avoids going into any real specifics regarding what this means for your school on a local level, rather the Department of Education refers to itself as an ‘enabler’ that ‘recognises the importance of ICT for teaching, learning and assessment'.

This is an opportunity for educators to dip their toe in the water to see what can help develop teaching and learning at their school. It gives schools the freedom to speak in their clusters about what’s working and what’s not working, and more importantly why something is working or not working.

Schools should first decide upon priority areas for using ICT to advance teaching and learning and then look into the best options to deliver on these priorities.

Next they must develop an effective implementation plan and there is plenty of help to ensure this is done properly - no school is an island.

There are many exciting community groups such as Coder Dojo and initiatives like Social Entrepreneurs and BT Young Scientist and Technology; there is also free support for schools, including the PDST and Education Centres as well as companies with varying levels of capabilities when it comes to ICT support for schools.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our mini-series, ‘The Four Themes of the Digital Strategy for Schools’, for a more in-depth look at these themes.

Article by Gavin Molloy, Education Manager at Edanu

Gavin is a qualified primary school teacher that has taught in Dublin & London as well as lecturing in Digital Learning at St Patrick’s College. He has a BSc in Multimedia, an Ma in Globalisation & a PGCE from DCU. Before working at Edanu, Gavin owned his own education consultancy, Get Smart Media, & managed a team of education experts at the City Learning Centre in London.

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