Donegal school wins SmartClass digital education prize

24 May 2012

Sixth-year student Sean Sweeney pictured with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Loreto Community School in Milford, Co Donegal. Back row: Greg Tierney, Steljes Ireland, Patrick Barry of EDCO; and Brendan Cannon and Colin MacHale of Intel Ireland

One hundred and forty incoming first-year students at Loreto Community School in Milford, Co Donegal, are set to start studying their Junior Cert curriculum digitally this September, as the school has won the first-ever SmartClass €150,000 digital education prize.

SmartClass itself is a new collaboration between Intel, Steljes and The Educational Company of Ireland (Edco) to deliver the school curriculum for Junior Cert students digitally.

Post-primary schools competed to win a complete technology package for their entire first-year student population. It was sixth-year student Sean Sweeney at Loreto Community School who made the proposal that won the Donegal school the prize.

The three-year prize for the school includes a Fizzbook laptop for each student starting first year, with the entire Junior Cycle curriculum content pre-loaded onto it, including books and workbooks that Edco has pioneered.

The prize includes technical support to help the students study for their Junior Cert both at home and at school via integrated computer technology. A wireless local area network will also be provided for the school.

Dublin City University’s CASTeL group will be giving professional development to the teachers of Loreto Community School and will promote the integration of this technology across all Junior Cycle science subjects.

CASTeL itself is a research team involving scientists, mathematicians and educators from both Dublin City University and St Patrick’s College in Drumcondra, Dublin.

Greg Tierney from Steljes said the SmartClass initiative signals a more economic way for teachers and parents to provide a one-to-one e-learning environment for students.

“What we are offering here is a complete solution – a laptop designed specifically for the education market coupled with classroom control for the teacher and online access to the Junior Certificate curriculum,” he said.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic