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The futuristic classroom

The futuristic classroom

fibre-in-schools

More than half (54%) of Irish teenagers now use the internet on a daily basis in school, according to research from the OECD. Increasingly, teachers are embracing technology to engage pupils and add a new layer to lessons. As the digital wave continues to stimulate the classroom, high-speed broadband has become a vital resource for every school.

Scoil Mhuire Coolcotts in Wexford Town has found that moving towards a more digital workplace and classroom is benefiting teachers and students alike. Principal Pat Goff says: “High-speed broadband has transformed what we do; both in the classroom and in the administration side of things.” The school now uses cloud computing to store files and for the morning roll call; helping teachers and staff cut down on paperwork. “From an administration point of view, it’s essential that I have broadband,” says Pat. “Otherwise that system does not work – it’s that simple.”

THE NEED FOR HIGH-SPEED

Fast internet in the school of 564 students also helps Scoil Mhuire Coolcotts cater to its autistic pupils. The school has its own dedicated autism unit and students are encouraged to embrace technology to aid their learning. About half of the students that use the autism unit work with iPads. “There are some very good programmes that they can access online, but again, you’d need the high-speed broadband,” explains Pat. “As with any child, particularly with an autistic child, you cannot be waiting minutes and minutes and minutes for something to download; it has to be instant.”

Teacher Susan Somers has also found that through high-speed internet access in the school, she can blend digital learning with traditional teaching methods. Recently, she taught her students about dolphins, using YouTube videos to help them understand the mammals’ movements and sounds. “We followed that lesson by giving the children the iPads and letting them do individual research; choosing their own animal and using the internet to look up different facts on that animal.”

Despite her belief that technology can enrich the classroom, Susan was previously restricted by slow internet speeds. “Before we had proper, reliable broadband I really wouldn’t have attempted a lesson like that,” she says. “It’s very frustrating and discouraging as a teacher to plan a lesson using digital resources, but then when you actually go to teach the lesson, the website crashes, the page freezes, or it take five minutes to load and you’re sitting there with a class looking at you. The reliability and the speed is really important when you want to use technology and use the internet in planning a lesson.”

INCREASING INTERNET IN SCHOOLS

Now, Scoil Mhuire Coolcotts has access to open eir’s high-speed fibre broadband. Susan believes that presents limitless opportunities for her school – and all schools across the country. “I think we’re probably going down a road where children will be using the internet more and more and teachers will be using it more and more to plan lessons and prepare lessons,” she says. “It opens up a whole new selection and variety that the kids can do because there’s just so much information out there.”

Principal Pat agrees, adding that internet access should be a top priority for any school. “Everything is dependent on high-speed broadband,” he says. “To me, number one on any IT list for a school to look at would be high-speed broadband.”

WATCH THE FIBRE IN SCHOOLS – WEXFORD VIDEO