Digital schools – digital citizens

14 Sep 2010

Interactive learning is much more effective and exciting than traditional “chalk and talk” models. It is multi-sensory, allowing students to learn in schools the same way they socialise and learn at home.

Literacy and numeracy are foundation skills for learning. However, creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship can sometimes be left behind if we encourage our children only to learn by rote. They need to learn by doing. We need a new approach in Irish schools.

High-speed internet access is at the core of this new approach. Access to new technologies provides for personalised learning for each student, enabling them to access the curriculum at their own pace and express themselves using the digital tools at their disposal.

Our economy needs students adept in new technology. Our schools need to modernise their methods of learning.

Convinced of these twin objectives, I set about the Digital Schools initiative upon entering government.

In the next few weeks, 78 schools all over Ireland will have 100MB broadband connections. Thousands of digital projectors and laptops have been distributed to the schools involved.

This is one of my proudest achievements in government.

Connected schools across Ireland

We will not stop at the 78 schools. I am determined that every single post-primary school in Ireland will have 100MB connections in the next two years.

The €13m Digital Schools demonstration project deliberately chose 78 schools around the country with a mix of gender, geography and socio-economic backgrounds to ensure we could measure the impact across a wide range of secondary schools. This will help us as we continue to roll out this infrastructure nationwide.

Teachers and students are already reporting greater enthusiasm for learning. It has transformed the way teachers prepare for their classes. It allows Irish students to get “under the bonnet” of this new technology and indeed outstrip their teachers in some respects.

We are creating the inventors, the writers, the engineers and the businesspeople of the future. They can only do this if they have world-class speeds and can use the latest technology in an imaginative way. I believe the provision of 100Mbps broadband to our secondary schools will transform education in Ireland and place our children at the forefront of the digital revolution, which is where they need to be.

All secondary schools in Ireland will soon reap the benefits.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources