The Role of ICTs as a Support To Learning  


SIP Groups

Childrens Work

Project Objectives:

1.      To form a network of schools which will work together to:

·        develop teachers technical skills in the use of ICTs

·         develop their understanding of the pedagogical value of ICTs for all       students, but with particular emphasis on its potential as a motivational tool, and for building the self-esteem of the weaker student

·         develop a model of professional peer support which will overcome the isolation experienced by teachers in many smaller rural schools

·         develop models of classroom management by teachers in multiple class situations which allow students to use ICTs in their learning as part of their everyday school experience

·         develop ICTs as a means of providing learning support and, in particular, in integrating the role of the learning support (remedial) with the class teacher

·         explore the possibilities offered by ICTs for promoting individual, self-managed learning, and move the focus in the classroom from teaching to learning

2.      To enable all students in each of the schools to explore the full range of possibilities offered by ICTs as a learning medium to:

·         develop skills in co-operative learning

·         develop research skills

·         develop technical competence in the use of ICTs

·         broaden the range of experiences available to students in small rural schools by taking part in collaborative projects with other schools, locally and transnationally

3.     To provide the weaker student with an alternative means of motivation and learning which will enable him/her to participate more fully with the rest of the class.  In particular, to enable these students to:

·         build self esteem

·         experience success, and develop confidence and pride in their work

·         develop pride in their school

4.      To develop the role of the learning support teacher by using ICTs as a means of:

·         developing individual learning programmes for students in conjunction with the class teacher, which can be implemented by both

·         explore the value of specific software packages in remedial help

5.     To identify and share resources in the ICT area.

Project Actions:

The actions proposed in this section have all been attempted by all schools.  In this project it is envisaged that they will be further developed, and experienced by a wider range of students.

Every student in the all of the schools will took part in the project.  The actions outlined below were engaged in by particular classes.  In this way, the work of the project was shared by all teachers.  This sharing enabled them to develop their own competence and to learn from each other.

E-mail Section:

1.      Story Book:  Pupils collect local stories and e-mail them to each other.  All stories will be put into a book at the end of the year in both Gaeilge and English.  These books will be shared with each of the schools as well as with parents and the local community.  (Tiobraid Árann ag Labhairt will assist with translations).

2.      Key Pals:  Pupils in one or two junior classes will develop key pals with corresponding pupils in partner schools, e-mailing simple profiles of themselves and of their work.

3.      Hard-Copy Magazine:  Pupils from each school will share stories, poems, jokes, reports etc.  These they read and examine.  Each school then produces their own magazine by selecting the stories, poems, jokes, etc. they liked best from the full collection.  Six magazines will thus be produced, e.g. “Portroe News”, “Ballina Gazette” etc.  These will be sent to each of the schools and shared with parents and the community.

4.      Story Start – Story End:  One class in a school starts a story (first few paragraphs) and this is e-mailed to the corresponding class in each partner school, seeking endings.  A booklet made of all stories.  Different schools can produce the initial paragraphs in different terms.

5.      Group Newsletter:  One class in school e-mails a monthly newsletter re projects progress/activities to partners.  Each school takes turn of being newsletter editor.  Newsletter sent to parents.

Web Section:

1.      Research project:  A class in each school does a research project using the web (different classes my choose different topics, e.g. Titanic, Irish Presidents, etc).  Classes share possible sources of information with each other.  A hard copy of project then produced.  These projects are then shared with partner schools. 

2.      Current school web sites will be visited by teachers and pupils.

3.      Building a school web site

Software Section:

1.      Each partner school takes a piece of software and uses it in classroom extensively.  The teacher evaluates it and shares his/her experience at meetings between teachers.

2.      A class takes a multimedia software package and makes a programme for a specified class in a partner school, e.g. 5th class in Portroe uses hyperstudio and creates a reading multimedia programme for 1st class in a partner school – programme includes text, graphics, sounds, page links.

Transnational Section:

1.      Participating schools will take part in the European Net Days from October 1998 onwards

2.      The schools will make transnational links with schools in other countries.  This can be done in the first instance through the lead school’s COMENIUS partners.  LEARGAS should also be able to assist in making contacts.

3.      Transnational exchanges could include time limited projects on such topics as:

·           weather reports

·         playground games

·         customs/traditions (e.g., Christmas, Halloween etc)

·         features of local geographic and historical interest

·         cultural exchanges – games, music etc.

4.      The e-mail and web sections above could be extended to include the transnational partners

Project Outcomes:

1.      Teachers benefitted from the project by having:

·         acquired technical skills and class management techniques in using ICTs as a learning medium for all students, and in particular for those for whom traditional teaching methods fail.

·         established pedagogical principles which will inform the use of ICTs as a learning medium – their value and limitations

·         experienced the value of professional peer support, both within their own school and in co-operation with other schools, and will build on this after the life of the project.

·         acquired information regarding resources and educational sites and shared these with others through the school web site

·         used of the internet as a support for teachers

2.      Students have experienced a range of leaning opportunities which they would not otherwise have had.  These will include:

·         broadening of horizons by exposure to ideas and sources of information not previously available to small rural schools

·         opportunities for weaker students to produce hard-copy in which they can take pride.  (Many weaker students’ handwriting is a source of embarrassment to them, and written work often requires many corrections.  These factors mean that many cannot experience success in traditional classrooms.  The use of word-processing offers exciting possibilities for addressing these issues).

·         opportunities for co-operative learning

·         opportunities for developing skills in research and accessing information

·         technical competence in the use of ICTs; computer, scanner, digital camera etc.

3.      In conjunction with the Mol an Óige, the role of the Learning Support Teacher has been re-conceptualised, and a model for the use of ICTs as a support to learning has been iniatilised.

How the project worked:

The project is primarily a means of promoting new learning and new methods of learning – for teachers and students.  For this reason, the project used an Action Planning methodology.  Action Planning is an ongoing process of planning, monitoring, evaluating and learning designed to:

·         meet the needs of students

·         meet the needs of teachers

·         influence whole school practice in relation to the target group

The main elements of the process in this project was as follows:

1.      The project co-ordinator had responsibility for developing the project and drawing out the learning.  He was responsible for organising technical support for participants and also for supporting the development of teaching and learning methodologies.

2.      Each school had a co-ordinator who co-ordinated the project and facilitated the learning within the school and helped develop the project in conjunction with the project co-ordinator.  Meetings of school co-ordinators were held monthly to share ideas, to detail the learning and to develop networking between the schools.

3.      Participating teachers in each school formed an Action Planning team which met regularly to plan ahead, monitor and evaluate progress, identify the learning (for students and teachers) and explore how the lessons learned can be incorporated into the ongoing life of the school.

4.      Mol an Óige supported this process by making time available for Action Planning in individual schools.  The Mol an Óige personnel was also be available for support.

5.      The lessons from the project were shared between the schools, and will also be disseminated nationally through NCTE and Mol an Óige.