Choice in Networked Rooms
One of the original goals of
the Ennis Primary Schools Sip project was to evaluate the usefulness of
an Integrated Learning System in our school networked Computer rooms.
The possibility of using a central server to serve the needs of the Ennis
computer LAN's was regarded as an exciting possibility.
Meetings were arranged at the
Clare Education Centre to discuss the issues involved with a view to making
an informed choice about the type of Integrated learning system we would
investigate. The school principals and steering committee attended these
The issues addressed :
- Educational merit of this
type of learning.
- Availability of programmes
in the various curriculum areas.
- Age groups that could use
- Amount of time that would
be required in networked Rooms.
- Amount of time left for
pupils who were not availing of the programme.
- Amount of preparation and
follow up work required in order to integrate the ILS with classroom
- Amount of time needed for
- Other types of software
that each individual school might find more relevant to its own situation.
- The cost involved.
Type of Programme
The first area that the group looked at was at the curriculum areas
offered by this type of software. The steering committee contacted all
the major software companies and key members of the committee met representatives
from these companies as well as attending major software exhibitions
in the U.K.
Eventually, it was considered that a Maths learning programme might
be the most suitable for the Ennis situation.
The steering committee and school principals were carefully monitoring
the experience of our near neighbours in the U.K. In the "ILS A Guide
to Good Practice" published by Becta in 1999 the group had the opportunity
to study the findings from their extensive research. The steering committee
felt confidant that the teachers involved in future use of the programme
were already committed enough to integrate the content with the curriculum
for their classes. However, this would necessitate staff training in
the use and management of ILS and also integration in the whole school
Principals were open to teachers having time out of class for this training
but only if the entire group were convinced that this type of learning
were superior to other types of learning that could be facilitated in
Time on the System
Clarina, 1992 has pointed out that in order to justify the investment
in ILS Software large numbers of pupils will need access to it for most
or all of the school day and even beyond. This will tie up the use of
the LAN for other purposes. The steering committee felt that staff would
need to be highly motivated and convinced of its benefits to sustain
such intense use.
Evaluations in the U.K. have shown that pupils benefit from a break.
The steering committee had reservations that staff might not wish to
return to the ILS after a break or feel that they have had enough.
Decisions of Individual Schools
Each principal & staff took some time to weigh up the possible benefits
against the possioble negative aspects of introducing ILS to their schools.
It was felt that the programme under consideration was suitable for
the junior end of the school. This would mean that senior would have
a very limited time available to them in the Networked Laboratory. There
would be continued movement into and out of the laboratory for fairly
short periods and that could become extremely tedious for the classed
To justify the huge outlay on the programme, very little else would
be done in the Networked rooms.. Some teachers were anxious to get involved
in using multimedia authoring tools, DTP packages and Web design. These
teachers were excited about using software that would promote higher
order thinking skills and assist their pupils to construct their own
learning, goals that are consistent with the Revised curriculum.
Each school drew up a submission stating the type and title of software
they wished to work with and evaluate. These packages were to be compatible
with sharing on the networks. This list was passed on to the N.C.T.E
Below are some of the options chosen by the schools.
- Hyperstudio - Multimedia
- Microsoft Publisher - DTPublishing
- Primary Toolkit - Child
Friendly Authoring package
- Curriculum Based Software
- All Primary Curriculum Subjects
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