Internet giant Google has donated €1.5m to a new project at Trinity College Dublin aimed at transforming computer science in Irish schools over the next 10 years. Under the project, some 1,000 teachers will undertake a certified course in 21st-century computer science teaching skills.
The multi-faceted project will also include targeted efforts to improve computer science and STEM capacity within Deis Schools and specific supports will be developed in order to drive educational and social change through these schools.
The projects will link in with the reforming agenda of Ireland’s Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, TD, who said: “In the context of the major reforms in teaching and learning that I am implementing, I particularly welcome initiatives which can further enhance student outcomes.
“Since coming to office, I have instigated a number of radical changes in curriculum and teacher education designed to foster greater innovation and creativity in the classroom. I am sure that this project can contribute to that positive change. Interventions such as this are most effective when they are consistent with national policy and I look forward to the project leaders liaising with my department and the teaching council in this regard.”
To enhance engagement with computer science and coding, more than 1,000 Raspberry Pi computers will be provided to participating students and teachers so they can start to learn programming in a practical and fun way.
‘Computer science is the fuel of the 21st century’
Roisin Murphy and Niamh Ellis, both students at Colaiste Bhride secondary school in Clondalkin, Dublin
The programme is built on the success of the Trinity Access 21 and Bridge 21 programmes, explained Trinity College provost Dr Patrick Prendergast. “Trinity Access 21 made up of Trinity Access Programmes and Bridge21 is a proven success and this sponsorship enables Trinity to make an evidence-based contribution to changing the education system, so that our teachers and students develop strong 21st-century STEM skills.
“The project will be developed in consultation with key educational stakeholders and Trinity’s School of Education, which has welcomed this major investment and the opportunity to influence significant change in Irish education.”
The head of Google in Ireland, John Herlihy, said computer science education is the fuel for 21st-century innovation and development.
“Every year, there is a 15pc growth in the number of people and machines, and by the end of the decade everyone on the planet could be on the internet.
“Dublin is rightly known as the digital capital of Europe. If we are to maintain that position, computer science skills will become even more critical as companies create new business models through the cloud and the web,” Herlihy said.