Successful classroom tech is about educating the educators

25 Sep 2008

A pedagogical approach to learning, combined with ICT resources, is transforming the learning process

Prime-Ed has been in the business of educational publishing in Ireland since 1994 and specialises in the production of teacher resources, with more than 50pc of schools in Ireland using its spelling series.

However, in the past seven years, the company has also been producing software for schools, and this has shaped the thinking of managing director, Seamus McGuinness. He believes that a pedagogical approach to learning, combined with ICT resources, is transforming the learning process.

It is not merely the presence of technology in the classrooms, but rather how educators are now becoming more comfortable with using it, says McGuinness.

“First off, the great thing about technology in Ireland is that it has come a long way since the first computer rooms were installed in the late Nineties with the first Government grants.”

“The past few years really has seen greater use of technology in the classroom by teachers. We have been working with Promethean interactive whiteboards in the UK for a number of years, and in the past three years we have been supplying the Irish market.

“We didn’t see a market for it before then, but teachers nowadays are accepting and using technology at a much higher level than ever before, and a lot of that confidence has come through better training.”

McGuinness says the important thing is not that his company simply sells ICT equipment and software, but that it also provides training course for the educators: “Many of the teacher-training colleges around the country like St Patrick’s use our technology as part of their cours,e and graduates now emerging have a level of competence in the use of these.”

While McGuinness says this is creating a new wave of technology-savvy teachers, it is important to realise that those who have been teaching for years are also keen to adapt to the new technologies.

“Educators bringing new technology skills such as the use of school networks or interactive whiteboards have shared this knowledge with current teachers who have readily picked the skills up.”

It is also a matter of perspective, says McGuinness. Where someone sees simple technology like a digital camera and assumes it is just for taking pictures, a pedagogical approach sees teachers incorporating this into the learning process in a fun way.

“You are beginning to see photo-documented nature studies or step-by-step pictures of science experiments. They are taking those digital photographs and integrating them into lesson plans.”

“All these primary-schools teachers in training are exposed to e-learning methodologies, and when they enter their first job they push the use of the interactive whiteboard because it is an integral part of that training,” McGuinness concludes.

By Marie Boran

Pictured: Seamus McGuinness, managing director, Prime-Ed