The SIP 011 project began with an identification of training needs.
As eight schools were brought together from across the country it was important for the school co-ordinators to be briefed on the aims, intended outcomes and methodologies of the project.
The first step was to solicit the training needs of the group. This was done in during the summer term of 1999 by means of a questionnaire and a series of telephone conferences.
The training needs for SIP011 participating schools / teachers were assessed under three categories:
Phase 1 & 2 ICT skills training
Generic ICT for English skills
SIP011 ICT for English: training in the protocols and practice of the project.
Training was then organised in the following way:
Firstly, the teachers' level of basic IT competence in terms of the NCTE IT2000 phase 1 and phase 2 courses was identified. Phase 2 completion had been identified as a minimum standard for SIP011 teachers. Where participants needed to complete the introductory courses, they were directed to liaise with their local education centre. The IT co-ordinators at these education centres had been asked to assist such teachers in accessing the courses.
Secondly, a series of training sessions, known as SIP011 unique sessions, was organised for SIP011 participating teachers. These sessions provided a forum for discussing the terms of reference of the project, for agreeing and delegating work and for scheduling and providing more specific training. Two teachers from each school usually attended giving a training group size of sixteen.
Thirdly, many of the English related needs identified were generic. To meet these needs training courses were provided at 5 regional venues: Dublin; Limerick; Ballincollig; Kilkenny and Waterford. These were courses of 20 hours duration under the title, 'ICT for English'. The courses were well attended and met the needs of the SIP schools as well as offering training places for other interested teachers from the region.
A 3 day training programme was then organised for June in Dublin. This was used to induct the group to the working practices of SIP011 and also to agree the distribution of work.
Two more training sessions were held during the lifetime of the project. These proved invaluable as a means of maintaining contact and momentum. While routine contact was maintained by e-mail, web discussion fora and phone calls, face to face contact proved to be a critical factor in ensuring success. E-mails, after all, can easily be overlooked or even ignored.