Monday, January 31, 2011

ICT and Education - A New Blog

ICT and Education is a new blog aimed at providing teachers (and their pupils) with advice on ICT issues as well as offer information on new technologies and resources that could be of use in a learning environment. The site is run by Scott Crombie, a colleague of mine in St. Columba's College, and is primarily aimed at the teachers of our school. However, many will find the articles extremely useful and practical for their day to day computer use. A couple of the articles of interest include Scott's excellent guide to Prezi, the importance of a good password, the Google Apps Training Centre and tips on how to save YouTube videos and embed them in presentations. Click here to visit ICT and Education.

Thoughts on Using Prezi as a Teaching Tool

Friday, January 28, 2011

CESI Conference 2011

The Computers in Education Society of Ireland (CESI) hold their annual conference on Saturday February 5th in Portlaoise College from 9:00am to 4:30am. The CESI is an association of practicing teachers from primary, post primary and third level with the common interest of using ICT to benefit teaching and learning. The conference will see a blend of workshops and talks aimed at providing educators with additional information to help them incorporate computer technology into their teaching. Those who wish to attend are asked to register here before February 2nd. A full programme of events is available to download here and the cost of the event is just €30, which includes lunch. The conference is preceded by a CESI Meet on Friday evening in the Heritage Hotel Portlaoise (unfortunately this event is now currently booked out).

At 2:30pm on Saturday, I will be co-presenting a talk on "Building and Growing a Subject Blog", along with St. Columba's College colleague and SCC English front-man Julian Girdham. This 45 minute talk will look at the ways both of our subject blogs (The Frog Blog & SCC English) have developed and expanded over the past number of years, their benefits for students and teachers, and the extent to which they reach beyond the school to wider blogging, educational and intellectual communities. We will also discuss their use of podcasts, Twitter, self-publishing and other tools. This year's CESI Conference is sure to be a brilliant event and we look forward to meeting you all there!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2010 - The Year Irish Education Fell to Earth

With Ireland’s OECD ranking in maths and literacy slipping dramatically and our universities falling in global rankings, 2010 was a traumatic year. Here we revisit some of the headline moments from Se├ín Flynn, Irish Times Education Editor.


The OECD/PISA study published last week was the most significant event of the year. On reading levels, Ireland has slipped from fifth place in 2000 to 17th place – the sharpest decline among 39 countries surveyed. Almost one-quarter of Irish 15-year-olds are below the level of literacy needed to participate effectively in society. In maths, Ireland has fallen from 16th to 26th place, the second steepest decline among participating countries. Ireland is now ranked as below average in maths. In science, we rank 18th – despite all the hype about the knowledge economy. Cumulatively, the results represent a body blow to a system which has long traded on its “world class” reputation.

In response, the INTO – to its great credit – acknowledged the “complacency’’ which had settled on the Irish education system. But the OECD report left no one in any doubt – the Irish education system needs a radical overhaul.


The Department of Education stopped acting as a cheerleader for the education system this year. Secretary general Brigid McManus and chief inspector Harold Hislop put a new focus on quality and accountability. Already, reviews of teacher training, numeracy and literacy have been ordered. There are encouraging signs that the Department’s notorious “light touch regulation’’ of standards in schools may be ending.