Fota Learning Zone partners with Promethean Planet

24 Aug 2011

To mark its first anniversary today, Fota Learning Zone in Fota House, Co Cork has partnered with Promethean Planet to introduce a new element to its digital learning programme.

Last year, Fota House received €28,000 in funding from the Heritage Council, which allowed it to develop and launch its learning zone during National Heritage Week 2010.

Head of learning and access for the Irish Heritage Trust, Jennifer McCrey came up with the idea with architectural history and web-based learning specialist Dr Danielle O’Donnovan.

“Promethean Planet has given us devices, similar to a BlackBerry, which will get students actively involved in data gathering and analysis during the onsite workshops,” said McCrey.

“Students will be divided into teams to debate the topic of ‘Politics or Parlour maids’, ie which can tell you more, our social or political history.

“The audience votes using the devices and the results will come up on an interactive whiteboard. We feel this exciting new approach will appeal to our digitally literate teenage audience as it takes the place of hard copy activity sheets, clipboards and pens.”

Film director and advocate for technology in schools, David Puttnam will be chairing the debate at the event today.

Online heritage planning

Fota Learning Zone allows teachers and students (from both transition and Leaving Cert year) to work online to plan and develop their visit to Fota, based on their specific curriculum needs. It encourages students to use skills in areas such as self-directed learning via ‘Web Quests’. These refer to learning exercises that give the student an authentic task they must complete and are usually undertaken as a group project.

The Leaving Cert resources contain a number of themed learning units, such as ‘Land Acts’ and ‘Essential Exhibitions’, while the transition year resources are more multi-disciplinary and cover topics relating to the social, functional and architectural history of Fota. They offer students the opportunity to develop skills in real-life situations.

There is also a ‘Teachers’ Area’ on the Fota Learning Zone containing fact packs for pre and post-visit activities and a guide on possible curriculum linkages.

“The Fota Learning Zone underpins the Heritage Trust’s mission to foster an engaging route into heritage. We want to be young and vibrant and embrace technology. Historic houses could be such a huge education resource for senior students, which to date hasn’t been exploited,” adds McCrey.

Photo: Students in Fota House

Promethean’s Chief Education Officer Jim Wynn,will be a panelist at the upcoming Digital Ireland Forum in Dublin on 30 September 2011. For further information on speakers and panelists go to the website.