A NEW national plan on the use of technology in classrooms is being prepared – and parents, schools, academics and industry are being asked for their views on how it can best be delivered.
A digital revolution is underway in classrooms around the world, and the strategy is aimed at ensuring that pupils in Irish primary and post-primary schools are not left behind.
Digital literacy is now widely regarded as the fourth literacy – alongside reading, writing and maths – and an essential skill that all students will need.
While the use of technology in Irish schools is growing, its spread is uneven and the new strategy will set out a system-wide plan for the next five years.
A key focus on the consultation process will be how it can be delivered in an affordable way for all parents, particularly in the current financial environment. So far, technology has featured mainly as a tool in teaching and learning, but its value in assessing students – as an alternative to written exams – is now also emerging.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn yesterday launched the public consultation phase on the development of the new Digital Strategy for Schools, with a closing date for submissions of January 31.
It follows an online survey of principals and teachers earlier this year.
"Our challenge now is to ensure that every child in every school has the same opportunities to engage with technology across all aspects of the curriculum," Mr Quinn said.
The minister added that a key aspect to supporting the use of technology was broadband in schools and referred to the rollout of high-speed broadband to all post-primary schools.
However, there are no such plans to deliver high-speed broadband to all the country's primary schools, many of which are in remote rural areas.
The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) said effective and reliable broadband was one of the key barriers to the everyday use of information and communications technology in Irish primary classrooms.