Undoubtedly, the rapid advancement in technology innovations is transforming the classroom and learning environment today. This explosion of new technologies has altered traditional workplaces, communities and classrooms and has made new skills a prerequisite in everyday life.
Students in Ireland must be taught to embrace these new technologies and new ideas. The difficulty for educators is adopting and using technology in education and actually knowing how technology can support student learning and provide them with the necessary 21st century skills. Training and retraining, advice and support are all essential for providing educators with the confidence and skills required in integrating ICT in to curriculum and assessment.
Although the government has acknowledged the importance of technology in education and invested €150m to help bring technology to the classroom – momentum must be kept to support a fundamental change of curriculum. Whiteboards and projectors are not simply going to resolve this issue. Adequate IT training, high-speed Internet and sufficient resources must be made available to support this change.
However, despite the lack of resources available, teachers and schools are taking it upon themselves to experiment and use technology in the classroom. This is evident as the Digital Schools Status continues to grow and each month new schools are awarded with this status. These schools should be applauded for their proactive approach in integrating ICT in to curriculum and assessment. As daunting as ICT can be, not to mention the difficulty of ensuring it adds value to the teaching and learning process, these schools are an inspiration within the school community for helping develop their students ICT literacy.
It is in this context that we have decided to discuss the importance of the e-Learning plan that is now available to download on the NCTE website. This e-Learning planning is part of the whole school planning process as opposed to a separate subject in the curriculum itself. The plan emphasises the importance of principals spearheading the process but the involvement of several stakeholders, including the board of management, teachings staff, support staff, parents and students, is key.
The e-Learning handbook is simple, comprehensive and an easy framework to follow for integrating ICT into learning and teaching in your school. The handbook deals with the planning process in an organised four-step approach:
- Review and prioritise
- Develop the e-Learning Plan
- Implement and monitor the e-Learning Plan
- Evaluate the e-Learning Plan
Establish your team, develop your e-Learning vision and get started with your plan. Tools and case studies are available to give schools real life examples of how other schools are integrating ICT into teaching and learning. Examples of your colleague’s activities within subjects can be found on the ACTION website.
Integrating ICT in to your school can be overwhelming at first, especially for those who lack confidence in technology – one piece of advice we would give is take baby steps, share your resources and your knowledge with your colleagues and most importantly, support each other. Why not start this e-Learning roadmap in September and by this time next year you could also achieve the Digital School status!