EXCITED about the future of technology in education (video)

21 May 2015

The second annual EXCITED Digital Learning Festival, which runs from May 21st to 23rd in the Printworks, Dublin Castle, features a host of notable Irish and international speakers.

Under the theme ‘Growing our Network – Recruiting Revolutionaries,’ EXCITED will officially launch on Friday at 6pm, starting proceedings with two evening events incorporating keynote addresses and panel discussions.

However, the festival kicked off in truth on Thursday, with early sessions – closed to the public – dedicated to the Digital Youth Council, which celebrates its first birthday this week.

Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com, Caitlin Donnelly – an incoming member of the Digital Youth Council – spoke about the importance of EXCITED.

“[It gives] students a voice in education. We are the future and we need to be heard.”

RTÉ Digital were on hand on Thursday to run a workshop on smartphone-driven content creation. In a later session, Mags Amond and Niall McCormick showcased littleBits, highlighting how the handy kits can be used to teach electronics in schools or, in the words of Amond, give students the scope to “unleash their creativity”. During the workshop, McCormick talked about how EXCITED (and littleBits) are making a difference.

“I think [EXCITED] is something that’s badly needed and it’s great that Ireland has the opportunity to become the world leader in digital education and digital technologies. I think it’s a fantastic thing to be a part of and I think it’s great that we can showcase products like [littleBits] that can really, really make a massive difference to the Irish education system.”

Members of Digital Youth Council

Members of the Digital Youth Council – Edel Browne, Caitlin Donnelly and Christine Costello – at the EXCITED festival

The pre-launch events will continue on Friday, with students competing in a Dragon’s Den challenge. Students from four schools (two primary, two secondary) will create business ideas relating to technology-in-the-classroom innovations and present them to a panel of three ‘Dragon’ judges.

Friday’s schedule also includes a breakfast briefing and panel discussion hosted by Accenture. Moderated by Accenture’s Director of Marketing, Eithne Harley, and open to industry leaders, the discussion will focus on how industry leaders, educators, students, parents and policy makers can work together to expand the network of advocates for innovation in Irish education through the use of technology.

Saturday will feature a full day of presentations, panel discussions and student exhibitions.

EXCITED and the EXCITED Digital Learning Festival provide an opportunity for those with an interest in Irish education to engage with each other. It gives those with a stake in the Irish education system an opportunity to speak about global innovations and, in particular, how Ireland can lead the way in the digital learning revolution.

Bernard Kirk, one of the festival’s co-founders, spoke to Siliconrepublic.com about the unique place EXCITED has in the Irish tech and education scene, and the valuable role it plays – and will play – in defining how those sectors intertwine.

“What we’re trying to do is get engaged with, specifically, young people, and provide an opportunity for the voice of young people to be heard in digital. We think that will have a huge influence on policy makers, but also it will influence the teachers who are really, really enthusiastic to go along with what’s happening in digital in the future.”

Niall McCormick had one last piece of advice for students and EXCITED festival goers – one that encapsulates the spirit of the festival: “Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. Don’t be afraid to go where no one has been before.”

Tickets and the full programme are available at www.excited.ie

Inspirefest 2015 is Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-20 June in Dublin that connects sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

Kirsty Tobin
By Kirsty Tobin

Kirsty Tobin served as careers editor of Silicon Republic from 2015 up to August 2017. When she was younger, she had a dream where she started and won a fight with a T-Rex, so she’s pretty sure she kicked butt at this, too. Passions include eating all the cake, watching more TV than is healthy and sassy comebacks.

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