H2 Learning were key consultants for the Department of Education and Skills (DES) on the development of the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020; Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Assessment (published, Oct. 2015).
Digital Strategy Background
This strategy, which includes a €210m investment in digital technology in schools, is the latest in a series of strategies and policy statements since December 1997, when the Department launched Schools IT2000.
This strategy is based on evidence that was gathered over a period of three years to inform the vision and plan of action the DES will implement over the next 5 years. Dr Deirdre Butler and her colleagues in St Patrick’s College, DCU and in the Education Research Centre (ERC) conducted a comprehensive Census on the level of ICT use in schools and how it is being used in schools.
This Census report found that in the main, digital technology was being used in a limited way and that many teachers and principals want much more explicit help in maximizing its potential. From this, Deirdre and her colleagues created a consultative paper that was used to launch a period of public consultation. The Department received 124 submissions from the public arising out of this call and these views were reviewed and analysed in compiling the strategy.
The Digital Strategy for Schools Key Points
Among the key points of the strategy are:
- Dedicated multi-annual funding to schools to invest in technology.
- Build on the successful roll-out of high-speed broadband to every second-level school by investing in high-speed wifi networks in every school.
- Integration of digital skills in the curriculum and in assessment.
- Develop opportunities for students to take an in-depth ICT course at Leaving Cert, as well as embedding digital skills within other subjects.
- Promotion of the use of e-portfolios at primary and post-primary level.
- Provide enhanced digital content to schools, including working with cultural institutions, sporting bodies and other to expand this range of resources.
- Embed ICT skills as part of initial teacher education and ongoing training for teachers.
- Work with stakeholders to promote safe and responsible use of the internet and social media, including providing new resources to schools to better prevent cyber-bullying.