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(Writing & Reading with Information Technology in Education).

Kilkenny City Vocational School

Student Reviews of this project

IT Assistant own report on the project

The aim of this project is to integrate ICT across the curriculum wherever possible to help students increase their literacy, numeracy and overall motivation levels. It was felt that this would blend in with the Department of Education and Science Retention Programme, which the school is also participating in.

The computers had been installed in a computer room. Teachers were extremely anxious about bringing their whole classes into the computer room, as they were not confident of their own ICT skills. As a result, an IT assistant (Rita Lennon) has been appointed for the current academic year to assist with the delivery of ICT initiatives in the classroom, this is the first such appointment in the post-primary sector. She works in collaboration with the Mathematics and English teachers. Mary T Dalton is the Project co-ordinator. There are two first year groups and the students have been broken into groups of four and released from their classes for two to three periods a week to go to the computer room to develop their numeracy and literacy skills with the aid of ICT. The weekly spelling lists, written assignments and maths are provided to the IT Assistant so that the appropriate software packages can be used with the students. This approach reinforces the work being carried out in the classroom.

Initially, it was difficult for the first year students to remember when they were to go to the computer room. After a few weeks they got into the routine and now do not like missing out on their sessions. The IT assistant is providing individual attention to the students as they are attending the computer room in small groups. It is envisaged that early in the second term larger and whole class groups will be brought into the room by the class teachers and the teacher will be support by the IT Assistant. The photos illustrate a first year classroom and show students in the computer room.

Photo of students in classroom
Students in Project room

There are a number of factors that are contributing to the success of this project; the support provided by the Principal, project leader, I.T. co-ordinator and other staff members to the IT Assistant; the role of the IT Assistant was clearly outlined to the staff prior to the appointment; the IT Assistant has studied the JEB and has interpersonal and ICT skills. The success of the project hinges around the fact that there is a dedicated IT Assistant in place. The students involved in this project have specific educational, social and emotional needs and require a high level of support to be maintained within the education system and to have their specific needs met. The integration of ICT into the first year curriculum gives students a chance to use computers to improve their numeracy and literacy skills in a non threatening way.

The future development of the project will be stagnated without the vital assistance and expertise of the IT assistant (Rita Lennon). There will be a lost opportunity for both the present and incoming students, a lack of support for teachers and the time consuming nature of technical problems may also be difficult to overcome. It is hoped to build on what has been achieved to date and expand on this both in terms of what is undertaken within the individual student withdrawal groups and also in terms of curriculum planning and implementation for the future with particular emphasis on staff training and skill enhancement.

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