Visit to Ireland

I spent a couple of days in Dublin this week with former Becta Chief Executive Owen Lynch. Owen is working with LTS to benchmark what we are doing with ICT in Scotland against the policy and strategy of other countries across the world.

The Irish Government’s Department of Education and Science recently published two reports the first ‘ICT in Schools’ is a very thorough description and evaluation from the schools inspectorate.  The second ‘Investing Effectively’ is the report from the ministerial strategy group which suggests that Ireland’s 7 priorities for  investment 2008-13 should be:
1. Continuing professional development
2. Software and digital content for learning and teaching
3. ICT equipment – additional and replacement
4. Schools broadband and services
5. Technical support and maintenance
6. Implementation structures and supports
7. Innovative practice and research

We met with senior staff from the Government’s ICT Strategy Unit, Schools Inspectorate and National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) and took the opportunity to share ideas and challenges. There was much interest in what we are doing with Glow.

MIT used to have a presence in Dublin and we visited their former home at The Digital Hub for an extended conversation with two members of the Ministerial Strategy Group, Michael Hallissy (Director of The Digital Hub Development Agency) and Dr Conor Galvin of the School of Education and Lifelong Learning at UCD.

Ireland has a thriving business cluster around ‘e-learning’ and we spent a morning with Brendan O’Sulivan CEO of Third Force and his senior staff. This company has developed from start-up to having a $40m turnover in 5 years with over 2,000 online courses and a growing capacity in assessment. I really don’t like the term ‘e-learning’ but was intrigued by the business model and how the company is responding to and seeking to develop the market in online professional/skills development. Lots to learn here for the world of education and the future development of Glow.

Anyway enough travelling for a few weeks. Next week it’s The Scottish Learning Festival and the world comes to Glasgow.

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1 Comment

  1. Whilst these documents, particularly the one from the inspectorate, present quite a comprehensive report, and make for interesting reading, I do think they fall into the trap of many such government-type previous reports (to my mind, anyway) of not actually saying anything we don’t already know. The BECTA impact2 report is quoted as usual (a piece of work which comes from a particular viewpoint and I and others believe contains some major flaws because of that) and the review of the literature adds nothing to the debate, concentrating as it does on qualitative measures, again, as usual.
    I’ve spent months trawling through the available literature on this area (including most of that which is quoted in the first of these reports) and have come to the conclusion that if governments are really serious about ICT transforming teaching and learning, then they have to carry out good quantitative research which measures attainment as well as achievement, because this will do more than anything to win over faint hearts and minds in schools. More of the same (which these two reports are I’m afraid) from the optimist rhetoric of government bodies does not really do much to widen the debate. I was particularly disappointed not to see this quantitative type of research specifically mentioned in the list of Irish government priorities you listed above.
    Why not, I wonder. What is it that they are afraid of ?