Since 2007 Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, Cork have been at the forefront of ICT in Education. Here we look at what has made this school so good at developing digital schools for its students.
Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh (CSN) is an Irish all-boys secondary school in Bishopstown, Co Cork. They have always been the forefront of technology in education and have taught ECDL, mainly in TY, for almost 20 years.
The school boasts a new state-of-the-art computer lab and exceptional technological infrastructure developments including:
The installation of a fibre optic network
Smart boards and video conferencing capability
Institute-wide wireless network coverage
The reason CSN invested in their IT resources is because management and academic staff realise that their students need to develop their digital skills earlier in the curriculum.
Using the ECDL Ireland ICT School Curriculum students can access eLearning from 1st year and find it hugely beneficial.
‘It gives the students the opportunity to use ECDL eLearning early in their schooling when they actually need, rather than waiting until TY and wondering why no-one let them use ECDL when they actually needed it’, said Fiona Sneddon, Education Manager at ECDL Ireland.
So how does CSN make this all happen?
CSN began by making sure school staff, including teachers, receive training from the ECDL School Coordinator.
It is a requirement for teachers to achieve ECDL certification in at least one ECDL course ensuring they have been through the same process as students and understand how to navigate their way around the ECDL resources and eLearning.
When students are using ECDL eLearning to help them find the features they need for practical projects in core subjects they are much more enthusiastic about improving their digital skills and getting them certified because they have have already seen how it can make work in other subjects easier.
ECDL for 1st Years!
CSN has taken a different approach by making eLearning available to all students from 1st Year.
ECDL is scheduled for 40 min classes in first year where students can get help with the ECDL courses they need for core curriculum projects.
They then mix these ICT skills with basic computer science and internet safety over the Junior Cycle years.
For example, CSN uses the ECDL Presentations courses to support 1st Year students on projects where they will need PowerPoint or similar software.
Then do the ECDL assessments, practice tests and exam later in the year once they are comfortable with them.
The school finds that by instilling these basic skills in students at a younger age gives them some autonomy with their further training in 4th year and is more practical with the new Junior Cycle and CBA’s etc.
Students can still do their ECDL in TY but the difference is that their students are already familiar with the eLearning, have got value from what they have learned before and in some cases students are able to do Advanced ECDL courses or more challenging subjects like Data Protection rather than the more basic modules which cover the MS/Google Office software suites.
Impact for the school and students
This new approach to developing students’ skill-sets complements the schools investment in ICT infrastructure. Now, staff and students are empowered to embrace the technology that surrounds them.
Past students have told them of the many advantages they had by already having these user skills for entering the workplace and universities (e.g. a nearby university required ECDL for students completing work experience as part of their Business degree courses, local employers recognise the standard and use it as a way to identify core IT skills of staff)
Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh really make the most of ECDL for their students. Staff and the general student body now have a complete set of basic skills in the use of software like word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and a whole lot more.