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Action 68 in Ireland flag Ireland

Member States to mainstream eLearning in national policies

Indicator Status Evidence
Is e-learning present in national programmes and action plans? Yes The ICT in Schools Programme as outlined above is a national programme funded by the Department of Education. This Programme facilitates the inclusion of e-learning across education at primary and post primary level. The Programme for Government contains commitments in relation to ICT in schools and is committed to ending the treatment of ICT in education as a stand-alone issue, but will integrate it across education policy. One of the key actions under the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2012 is the rollout of 100Mbps broadband to post primary schools. Also under this plan, FÁS are administering the Labour Market Education & Training Fund (LMETF) under which €20 million Euro has been committed by the Department of Education & Skills through the National Training Fund. The aim of the LMETF is to provide a range of quality, relevant education & training interventions for up to 6,500 individuals who are long term unemployed. Under the eligibility criteria of the LMETF, all unemployed participants must be pre-approved by the Department of Social Protection before they can participate in the programme. The LMETF will be co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) www.eCollege.ieis a national eLearning service providing access to flexible self-paced learning on a continuous intake basis for clients throughout the country. In the restructuring of Further Education and Training currently being undertaken in Ireland this service will continue as a National eLearning Programme.
Is e-learning present in national curricula? - The curriculum in schools is devised on the basis that ICT is not a subject but rather a tool to be integrated into the teaching and learning of all subjects. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has developed an ICT framework which sets out a structured approach to ICT in curriculum and assessment. This sets out the types of learning appropriate for students during the period of compulsory education, and provides a guide to teachers for embedding ICT across the curriculum. The overall implementation of ICT in schools is supported by the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) which provides for extensive training and guidance for schools on the integration of ICT into teaching and learning. To further support teachers in using ICT in the curriculum, the NCCA developed the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the Primary School Curriculum: Guidelines for Teachers as a supporting document to the Primary School Curriculum 1999. The guidelines were launched by the Department of Education and Science in 2004. At post-primary level, one of the Statements of Learning in the Framework for Junior Cycle reform is to ensure that all students "Use ICT effectively and ethically in learning and in life". The forthcoming Junior Cycle reform will allow for the introduction of optional school developed short courses of 100 hours duration. This will provide opportunities for schools to progress the provision of courses to enhance students' ICT skills which will be embedded in all their learning. One of the objectives of junior cycle reform is to promote increased creativity and innovation, to create space for active learning, and to better embed key skills such as ICT, teamwork and communications. It is envisaged that the existing range of subjects in junior certificate will be continued, supported by more flexible forms of assessment. Each student would have to complete 24 statements of learning, which include communicating, creating, appreciating and interpreting texts, including written, oral, visual, and other texts, using technologies to meet a design challenge, applying practical skills to develop models and products using a variety of materials and technologies, and using ICT effectively and ethically in learning and life. There is also a Transition Year option in relation to "Having Fun with Computer Programming and Games" and, under the ICT Action Plan this is being expanded nationally. Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) are also significant components in the syllabuses of Technology and Design and Communication Graphics. E-learning is present across the education system: - Consideration is currently being given to providing the national curricula in an e-book format to teachers. - Many schools now have their own Virtual Learning Environment whereby a collection of integrated tools enables the management of online learning. The system can include student tracking, assessment and access to digital resources. - Many of the PDST ICT courses are now available on line for teachers. - In relation to vocational training e-learning is part of the content of courses provided under the range of Further Education full-time and part-time options. • In the Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) programme, over 50% of courses are either IT courses or courses with high IT content. • Under VTOS, 280 places are provided in the Dublin region for training long-term unemployed adults through Fast-track to Information Technology (FIT). This includes the provision of specialised IT staff for the programme. • Through the Back to Education Initiative (BTEI), the Department provides funding for part time learning opportunities for adults. ICT courses feature prominently within BTEI provision. • Under the Adult Literacy scheme, VECs also provide classes in basic IT tuition and learning through the use of computers. Under Community Education, computer classes, language classes and hobby type courses are funded mainly through the provision of tutor hours. - FÁS Training Specifications are amended for delivery through Blended Learning and Online Learning and are available nationally.
Are there training initiatives (for teachers, enterprises) using eLearning tools on the national level? Yes Primary and Post Primary In relation to Initial Teacher Education, the Teaching Council’s Criteria and Guidelines for Programme Providers, approved in 2011, include ICT in Teaching and Learning as a mandatory element of ITE programmes. The learning outcomes for graduates include knowledge of ICT as a cross-curricular theme. In addition, two teacher training colleges - University of Limerick and St. Patrick’s now recognise certain courses provided by the PDST in part fulfilment of their own qualifications. The PDST which now includes the functions of the former National Centre for Technology in Education provides courses and other continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities to support the integration of ICT in the curriculum and help teachers to develop e-learning in their school. Approximately 12,000 ICT CPD places for teachers are provided each year across a broad range of free-of-charge courses and e-learning seminars for teachers and school leaders, mainly through national Education Centres. The suite of courses includes Basic ICT Skills, Training in ICT Pedagogical Practice, technical skills such as website design, system management and troubleshooting as well as a range of Special Needs courses. There is also collaboration with subject-specific CPD support services to provide bespoke ICT programmes for teachers of particular subjects, such as maths. 3rd Level E learning is becoming an increasingly important part of the process of teaching, learning and research in higher education institutions. Teaching and learning centres in the institutions provide advice and support to teaching staff on integrating ICT into programmes. In addition, the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, which was launched at the beginning of 2011, sets out key policy priorities for the development of higher education in Ireland in the coming decades. The importance of the development of more flexible learning opportunities, including e-learning opportunities, is a point that is emphasised in the Strategy. Implementation of strategy recommendations is underway and a progress report is available at www.education.ie." Further Education/vocational/job seekers Skillnets is a state funded, enterprise-led support body dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of training and upskilling as key elements in sustaining Ireland's national competitiveness. Skillnets support and fund networks of enterprises to engage in training under the Training Networks Programme (TNP). Many of the networks deliver technology related training and there are five networks dedicated to high tech training in the ICT /digital/broadband sector. These are ICT Ireland Skillnet, Software Skillnet, ITAG Skillnet, Digital Media Forum Skillnet and CITA Skillnet. Skillnets networks have embraced the delivery of both pure eLearning and blended eLearning training programmes in a wide range of industries. In 2012 approx. 30 pure eLearning training programmes are being delivered and over 300 that would be considered blended eLearning. Some examples are below. Law Society Finuas Network and Law Society Skillnet delivered a number of online training courses to up-skill unemployed solicitors. These courses were funded by the Job-seekers Support Programme (JSSP). An eLearning platform was designed that was cost-effective, allowed trainees to use existing resources and fulfilled all requirements. The network used work iPhones to record lectures and Law Society iPads were used as a back up in the event that the iPhone storage file exceeded its capacity during the lecture. The network then commissioned an eLearning company, Learn Skills, to design a cost effective eLearning platform to hold all the recorded lectures and a Learning Management System (LMS). This platform was smart phone-compatible and provided back end reports which presented all the documents, details and activity logs required. Participants were offered a choice of learner participation: on-site learning or eLearning. This use of technology enabled 67 job-seekers, who would not otherwise have had access to the courses, to avail of the training. First Polymer Skillnet – Online bachelor Eng in Polymer Processing delivered jointly by Sligo and Athlone Institutes of Technology (ITs) addresses a growing skills shortage in the area nationally. This is the only qualification of its kind currently available on the island of Ireland and is delivered online chiefly as a distance learning programme, with some practical sessions scheduled throughout the year. CITA – MSc Construction Informatics CITA Skillnet is using some of the latest communication technologies to allow course participants to cut down on travel time for courses. Most of the delivery of their MSc in Construction Informatics relies on Adobe Connect software which creates an online virtual classroom for lecturers and participants. The software allows for interaction via combined audio and visual portals. Participants can share documents on screen and make presentations online. Sharing of webcams mean lecturers can ensure participants’ attention is maintained during lectures and tutorials. Digital Media Forum Skillnet – I-CAN-DO The I-CANDO Digital Skills programme offers 60 hours of online, interactive, guided learning to help you learn all the skills needed to get the most from everyday technology as it relates to music, photos, videos and living online. CCMA SKILLNET - Sales and Client Relationship FETAC LEVEL 6 Major Award and Front Line Technical Support Skills have eLearning as part of their delivery and are blended. When blended learning option is selected there is a one day face-to-face induction where all assessments are covered and a brief run through of course outline is given. Access is then given to the online system where there is both a multimedia and text version of the course available along with copies of assessments etc. The courses are quite interactive with end of module assessments, YouTube clips etc. A minimum of three live conference calls are run per module where the trainer would be available for what is like MSN instant chat. All participants log in to the conference centres and are given the opportunity to ask questions and everyone can see both the questions and answers as they are asked. Sales and Client Relationship FETAC LEVEL 6 Major Award (120 credits) (modules are: Consultative Selling, Customer Service Level 6, Supervisory Management, Account Planning and Management, Sales Negotiations, Sales Presentations, Business Development, Communications). This is currently delivered to employees and job-seekers but it will soon be offered as a 100% funded course for job-seekers under the Job-seekers Support Programme (JSSP). Taste 4 Success Skillnet - General Certificate in Brewing Accredited by the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, the programme is delivered part-time and blends classroom tuition with online learning. FÁS deliver Blended Learning Course that incorporates the best of eLearning with Face to Face Classroom Learning. These courses are developed on a national basis and delivered throughout the training Centre network.
Are there dissemination initiatives for awareness raising in place? Yes An e-learning handbook was provided to all primary and post primary schools and this was supported by the national delivery of e-learning seminars for school leaders. This initiative gives schools a comprehensive approach to multi-annual ICT planning and enhances local leadership capacity. Information relating to all aspects of the integration of ICT in education and ICT courses is easily accessible and made available to schools. In relation to further education and vocational training a range of stakeholder groups are involved in promoting awareness of the need to upskilling ICT, e.g., NALA and AONTAS, both grant-aid funded by this Department. VECs would undertake awareness raising activities
Are there national projects on creative classrooms and creative learning environments in place? Yes The national ICT in Schools programme recognises in particular the pivotal role of local school leadership in delivering creative learning environments in daily practice, and has recently completed delivery of a national series of "e-learning" seminars equipping school leaders with a systemic roadmap for ICT integration. In addition, the Department of Education and Skills also funds a number of specific innovative projects, including: - the Film in Schools project (FÍS), which helps teachers and students generate original short films using digital video tools, and which provides an annual showcase for the best work nationwide (the FÍS film festival) - the Digital Schools Award, a national certification initiative recognising excellence in a school's approach to the integration of ICT in learning and teaching. - the Scoilnet Blogs service, supporting schools in setting up their own blogs free of charge. www.ecollege.ie provides an online Learning Environment for use by all FAS courses including Evening Classes and in-centre courses – providing additional supports for Teachers and Learners.

Best Practice Case

The ICT in Schools Programme is very successful. The services offered by the former NCTE are delivered nationally on a relatively small budget. The availability of almost 12,000 curriculum-relevant digital content resources through the Scoilnet website (www.scoilnet.ie), the national portal for ICT in Education is an example of best practice. This resource is widely used by primary and post primary schools. The newly restructured PDST has a Deputy Director with responsibility for ICT in primary and post primary education. This new structure will ensure that ICT is part of all aspects of teaching and learning and not a stand alone function.

Other initiatives:

September 2012 will see the commencement of a professional diploma in mathematics for teaching, which will be available free of charge to certain post-primary teachers of mathematics. The programme will be delivered through a blended learning model, with up to 75% of the course available online. The content of the diploma also includes a focus on the use if ICT as a tool for teaching and learning mathematics. The Department funds a distance learning initiative as part of a media literacy project organised by the National Adult Learning Agency (NALA). Their www.writeon.ie website enables adult learners to avail of literacy tuition online with the support of a tutor. Accreditation is available at FETAC levels 2 & 3 for learners. Over 23,000 people have accessed the website and over 1,300 have achieved accreditation at FETAC levels 2 & 3. The eLearning at the Library Project assists in addressing the issue of the lack of basic digital literacy skills by providing access to tutor led workshops in local libraries. Participants can then progress to higher level courses. 4000+ persons per year participating in gaining new IT skills.

External contribution

External contributions are more than welcome. If you would like to share with us a country, regional or local-level initiative relevant for this DAE action, you can do it via the online form.