Schools report a number of barriers to integrating ICT and online resources across classrooms
A new report published by the ESRI today investigated the potential of high-speed broadband provision to transform teaching and learning in second-level classrooms. The research examined how students, teachers and principals have responded to the opportunity for increased use of ICT resources in schools and assessed how such changes impacted on the experiences of both students and teachers across second-level schools in Ireland.
The research was conducted in response to the rollout of high-speed broadband to second-level schools as part of Ireland’s National Digital Strategy undertaken by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment in collaboration with the Department of Education and Skills, focusing on the role of technology in schools shortly before and after schools received connectivity. The study used data from large-scale surveys of principals and teachers in over 400 schools and an in-depth case study of ten schools. The study is unique in that it placed importance on the views of students, which are largely absent from studies of ICT adoption.
The report found that broadband provision made a noticeable impact on the quality and use of the internet in schools and that staff had a very positive reaction to the development, with many reporting that broadband provision had a significant impact on teaching and learning. However, participants reported a number of persistent challenges that are likely to hinder further progress, largely centred on requirements for investment in infrastructure, enhanced technical support and accessible professional development for teachers.
Infrastructural investment and technical support
Experiences of using ICT for teaching and learning
Seán Lyons, Associate Research Professor and an author of the report, commented “The report finds broadly positive attitudes to increased usage of ICT in the classroom and evidence of a growing place for technology in schools. Developing leadership at both national and school levels to support staff in responding to the changes involved, in addition to providing the required infrastructural supports, is critical to cultivating successful use of ICT in classrooms”.
Responding to the publication of the report, Mr Denis Naughten, TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action, and Environment, commented “The classroom needs to reflect the reality of the world outside and a key priority for me as Minister for Communications is to build on the State’s investment in broadband connectivity to every second level school in Ireland by continuing to actively support the transition to digital technology in teaching and learning. Under the Programme for Partnership Government commitments, a coding course for the Junior Cycle and ICT/Computer Science as a Leaving Certificate subject will be introduced. This will see technology further embedded in our education system which not alone enriches the educational experience, but importantly, will equip our young people with the skillset required to meet the demands of an increasingly connected workplace and society. I welcome the commitment of teachers and principals, and the appetite of students for more technological learning at school which is evident in today’s ESRI’s research report, which my Department funded.”
Commenting on the research findings, Mr Richard Bruton, TD, Minister for Education and Skills said “This report highlights how ICT usage can further our aims in the Irish education system and highlights the numerous benefits of online resources in the classroom, from allowing teachers flexibility to respond to diverse students needs to developing transverse skills among students. As a whole, the report contains useful insights for ICT in education in Ireland that is aligned with international progress in this space, and reflected in the policy objectives my Department will be implementing in the area, contained in the Digital Strategy for Schools. I have asked the NCCA to consider how coding can be introduced into the primary school curriculum. Coding is already a short course at junior cycle and the NCCA is considering the introduction of computer science as a full leaving certificate subject.”
The ESRI works towards a national vision of ‘Informed policy for a better Ireland’. This means producing high-quality analysis to provide robust evidence for policymaking, with the goals of research excellence and policy impact.
The ESRI produces research that contributes to understanding economic and social change in the new international context and that informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland.