Nearly half of all those who took part in digital media learning programmes in the Liberties area of Dublin plan to pursue careers in digital media, an independent evaluation has found.
The evaluation was carried out by FGS Consulting on behalf of The Digital Hub, which has rolled out the learning programmes to 15 schools and 17 community groups since 2002.
One of the key findings of the evaluation is that the Diageo Liberties Learning Initiative (DLLI) raised the levels of achievement of students who were academically weak. Overall it showed a marked increase in digital literacy among participants. It concluded that The Digital Hub’s approach – which includes a high level of targeted education for teachers – resulted in increased confidence among teachers who are using technology in the classroom.
The Minister for Communications Noel Demspey TD launched the evaluation in The Digital Hub yesterday, where he referred to the DLLI as “a unique testbed” for establishing the importance of technology across the Irish education system.
“We are moving much closer to having technology as a day-to-day tool in the teacher’s repertoire, as valuable as blackboards,” Dempsey said.
“It is important that the lessons learned here can be replicated in the future because we are living in a digital age and that those with these skills can advance and that everyone gets that opportunity.”
There are almost 80 cpmpanies located in The Digital Hub, employing over 500 people. It is anticipated that the digital media market will be worth more than €1bn by 2009.
Tom Murray of FGS said that the evaluation was carried out on the basis of what objectives and outcomes were achieved from the view of stakeholders and participants alike and found that all the boxes were ticked.
It was found that 46pc of participants in the community learning projects expect to seek employment in the digital media sector and 44pc intend to pursue further education.
Murray said of the programme: “In terms of the future, there is tremendous potential for broader applicability. It is a sustainable proposition that works.”
He said that The Digital Hub programme showed the government the benefits of stepping outside mainstream education.
In a key example of how the programme integrated technology into the everyday education of its participants, Fiona Collins, principal of participating school St Francis’ CBS, said that technology was “engrained in their teaching” and that an Interactive Whiteboard was used with every subject.
Philip Flynn, CEO of the Digital Hub Development Agency, said: “We have been aware since the beginning of the learning programmes that they are making a significant impact on local schools and the local community. Now we have evidence to back this up, and this will help us to continue and grow the programmes.”
It is likely that the evaluation will be use to inform future government policy in this area.
A bursary to support talented students to pursue studies in digital media was also launched yesterday. The William Burgess bursary, named after the late chairperson of the DHDA, has €100k committed over a three-year period.
By Marie Boran