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Education in Schools

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ICT in Schools
Inspectorate Evaluation Studies

PROMOTING THE QUALITY OF LEARNING

I N S P E C T O R AT E

ICT in Schools
Inspectorate Evaluation Studies

I N S P E C T O R AT E

PROMOTING THE QUALITY OF LEARNING

ICT in Schools

The Inspectorate wishes to thank the following for the use of photographs: Clonakilty Community College, Clonakilty, Co Cork Saint Mark’s Community School, Tallaght, Dublin 24 Saint Mac Dara’s Community College, Templeogue, Dublin 6W Scoil Barra Naofa, Monkstown, Cork Scoil Nano Nagle and Talbot Senior National School, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 Whitechurch National School, Whitechurch Road, Dublin 16 © 2008 Department of Education and Science ISBN-0-0000-0000-X Designed by Slick Fish Design, Dublin Printed by Brunswick Press, Dublin Published by Evaluation Support and Research Unit Inspectorate Department of Education and Science Marlborough Street Dublin 1 To be purchased directly from Government Publications Sales Office Sun Alliance House Molesworth Street Dublin 2 or by post from Government Publications Postal Trade Section Unit 20 Lakeside Retail Park Claremorris Co Mayo €20

Contents
Foreword Executive summary xi xiii

Part 1 Introduction
Chapter 1 ICT in primary and post-primary education in Ireland 1.1 1.2 1.3 Introduction Background ICT policy and investment in education 1.3.1 1.3.2 1.3.3 1.4 1.4.1 1.4.2 1.4.3 1.4.4 1.5 Policy for ICT in education ICT in the curriculum Investment in ICT in education Computers in schools Other ICT equipment in schools Expenditure on ICT and technical support Other areas covered in the census 1 2 3 6 6 9 11 12 12 14 15 16 16 17 18 18 20 21 21 22 23 24 25 27 28 30 30 30 30 30

ICT infrastructure census in schools (2005)

Summary Evaluation methods

Chapter 2 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4

Introduction Approaches to evaluating ICT in schools Overview and aims of the evaluation National survey of primary and post-primary principals and teachers 2.4.1 2.4.2 2.4.3 2.4.4 Survey sampling methods Survey research methods Response rate Comparison of respondents and population

2.5 2.6

Case-study school evaluations 2.6.1 2.6.2 Primary schools Post-primary schools

Observations during classroom inspections (primary) and subject inspections (post-primary) 27

2.7 2.8

On-line evaluation Evaluation outputs and terms 2.8.1 2.8.2 2.8.3 Outputs Junior and senior classes Quantitative terms used in this report

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Part 2
Chapter 3 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5

ICT infrastructure and planning in schools
ICT infrastructure in primary and post-primary schools 31 32 33 37 38 41 41 42 45 45 49 53 56 57 59 59 61 64 64 66 69 70 70 72 73 75 79 80 81 90 98 99 99 101 102 102 105

Introduction The ICT advisory service ICT and funding ICT maintenance, technical support, and obsolescence Access to computers 3.5.1 3.5.2 Access by teachers Access by students Organisation of ICT facilities in case-study primary schools Organisation of ICT facilities in case-study post-primary schools

3.6

The use of computers in schools 3.6.1 3.6.2

3.7 3.8 3.9

ICT peripherals Software Use of e-mail 3.10.1 3.10.2 3.11.1 3.11.2 The learning platform The school web site Main findings Recommendations ICT planning in primary and post-primary schools

3.10 The on-line environment

3.11 Summary of findings and recommendations

Chapter 4 4.1 4.2

Introduction The planning process 4.2.1 4.2.2 4.2.3 4.2.4 The ICT steering committee The ICT co-ordinator The ICT plan The acceptable-use policy Teachers’ professional development Using ICT in classroom and lesson planning and preparation Planning for using ICT in teaching and learning Principals’ priorities for ICT development Teachers’ priorities for ICT development Main findings Recommendations

4.3

Implementation of ICT planning 4.3.1 4.3.2 4.3.3

4.4

Forward planning 4.4.1 4.4.2

4.5

Findings and recommendations 4.5.1 4.5.2

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Part 3
Chapter 5 5.1 5.2 5.3

ICT and teaching and learning in schools
ICT and teaching and learning in primary schools 107 108 108 111 111 112 113 114 116 120 126 127 127 127 128 129 130 131 133 134 134 134 135 135 137 139 140 141 141 145 148 149 151 152 153 155 163 167

Introduction Teachers’ ICT qualifications and skills Classroom practice and ICT 5.3.1 5.3.2 5.3.3 5.3.4 5.3.5 5.3.6 5.3.7 Planning Frequency of ICT use Organisation of ICT use Focus of ICT use Use of resources and applications in the classroom Quality of provision Provision for students with special educational needs by mainstream class teachers Access to ICT Planning for the use of ICT Frequency of ICT use Focus of ICT use Use of resources and applications Quality of provision

5.4

ICT in special education 5.4.1 5.4.2 5.4.3 5.4.4 5.4.5 5.4.6

5.5 5.6

Assessment Developing ICT in the classroom 5.6.1 5.6.2 Factors that constrain the development of ICT in the curriculum Factors that facilitate the development of ICT in the curriculum Main findings Recommendations ICT and teaching and learning in post-primary schools

5.7

Findings and recommendations 5.7.1 5.7.2

Chapter 6 6.1 6.2

Introduction ICT qualifications and skills 6.2.1 6.2.2 Teachers’ ICT qualifications and skill levels Students’ ICT skill levels Timetabling of dedicated ICT lessons Curriculum and content of dedicated ICT lessons School principals’ support for the use of ICT in the classroom ICT in practice in the classroom Quality of provision

6.3

Dedicated ICT lessons 6.3.1 6.3.2

6.4

Classroom practice and ICT 6.4.1 6.4.2 6.4.3

6.5

ICT and special educational needs

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6.6 6.7

Assessment Developing ICT in the classroom 6.7.1 6.7.2 Factors that constrain the development of ICT in the classroom Factors that facilitate the development of ICT in the classroom Main findings Recommendations

168 168 168 170 172 172 174

6.8

Findings and recommendations 6.8.1 6.8.2

Part 4
Chapter 7 7.1 7.2

Summary of findings and recommendations
Main findings and recommendations 177 178 179 179 181 182 184 184 186 188 188 189 191 194 197

Introduction Main findings 7.2.1 7.2.2 7.2.3 Infrastructure ICT Planning ICT in teaching and learning ICT infrastructure Professional development needs of teachers ICT infrastructure in schools Planning for ICT in schools ICT in teaching and learning

7.3

Main recommendations for policy-makers and policy advisors 7.3.1 7.3.2

7.4

Main recommendations for schools 7.4.1 7.4.2 7.4.3

References Appendix

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Abbreviations
AP AUP BOM CAD CEB CESI CPD DES ECDL EGFSN ERNIST ESI EU FETAC ICD ICT ISC LC LCA LCVP LSRT MLE NCC NCCA NCTE NPADC OECD PCSP PISA SCR SDP SDPI SDPS SDT SESE SESS SIP TIF VEC VLE WSE assistant principal acceptable use policy board of management computer-aided design Commercial Examining Board Computer Studies Society of Ireland continuing professional development Department of Education and Science European Computer Driving Licence Expert Group on Future Skills Needs European Research Network for ICT in Schools of Tomorrow Education Services Interactive (Project) European Union Further Education and Training Awards Council in-career development information and communications technology Information Society Commission Leaving Certificate (Established) Leaving Certificate—Applied Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme learning-support resource teacher managed learning environment National Competitiveness Council National Council for Curriculum and Assessment National Centre for Technology in Education National Policy Advisory and Development Committee Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Primary Curriculum Support Programme Programme for International Student Assessment student-computer ratio school development planning School Development Planning Initiative (Post-primary) School Development Planning Support (Primary) special-duties teacher Social, Environmental and Scientific Education Special Education Support Service Schools Integration Project Telecommunications and Internet Federation Vocational Education Committee virtual learning environment whole-school evaluation vii

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Tables
Table 1.1 Table 1.2 Table 1.3 Table 2.1 Table 2.2 Table 2.3 Table 2.4 Table 3.1 Table 4.1 Table 4.2 Table 4.3 Table 4.4 Table 4.5 Table 4.6 Table 5.1 Table 5.2 Table 5.3 Table 5.4 Table 5.5 Table 5.6 Table 5.7 Table 5.8 Table 5.9 Funding of ICT in education policy initiatives Student-computer ratio (SCR) in each school sector in given years Proportion of schools having at least one fixed and one mobile data projector Comparison of survey sample and population, primary schools Comparison of survey sample and population, post-primary schools Number and level of lessons observed, post-primary schools Quantitative terms used in the report Awareness and use of NCTE and ICT advisory services among teachers Teachers’ attendance at NCTE and ICT advisory service training courses Professional development preferences of post-primary teachers, by subject Teachers’ use of internet resources in planning and preparation for teaching Primary principals’ views on the strategic development of ICT Post-primary principals’ views on the strategic development of ICT Teachers’ priority areas for the development of ICT Proportion of primary teachers who rated their proficiency in ICT skills as either “intermediate” or “advanced” Proportion of primary teachers who rated their ability in each of three ICT tasks that facilitate teaching and learning as either “intermediate” or “advanced” Inspectors’ observations on the use of ICT to facilitate teaching and learning in classrooms Teachers’ use of software and the internet to facilitate learning Most frequently used applications in the teaching of individual curricular areas Applications used by members of special-education support teams to promote the development of skills Most frequently used applications to promote the development of individual learning priority areas Comparison of inspectors’ ratings of the quality of ICT provision in supporting children with special educational needs in mainstream and special-education support settings Table 5.10 Table 6.1 Table 6.2 Table 6.3 Sample of inspectors’ comments on the quality of ICT use in special-education support settings Proportion of post-primary teachers who rated their proficiency in ICT skills as either “intermediate” or “advanced” Proportions of post-primary teachers who rated their ability in each of three ICT tasks that facilitate teaching and learning as either “intermediate” or “advanced” 144 Timetabled dedicated ICT lessons in post-primary schools 149 142 133 132 131 130 113 117 117 111 109 12 13 14 24 25 29 30 36 83 88 93 100 100 102

Inspectors’ comments on the quality of use of ICT observed in teaching and learning 123

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Table 6.4 Table 6.5 Table 6.6 Table 6.7 Table 6.8 Table 6.9

Commonly taught topics in dedicated ICT lessons Principals’ descriptions of how ICT is used in some subjects Principals’ views on the impact of ICT on teaching and learning Location of lessons observed during subject inspections ICT resources available in the classrooms of lessons observed Use of the internet and software in teaching and learning

151 153 154 155 155 161

Diagrams
Fig. 2.1 Fig. 2.2 Fig. 2.3 Fig. 3.1 Fig. 3.2 Fig. 3.3 Fig. 3.4 Fig. 3.5 Fig. 3.6 Fig. 3.7 Fig. 3.8 Fig. 3.9 Fig. 3.10 Fig. 4.1 Fig. 4.2 Fig. 4.3 Fig. 4.4 Fig. 4.5 Fig. 4.6 Fig. 4.7 Fig. 4.8 Fig. 4.9 Fig. 4.10 Fig. 4.11 Fig. 4.12 Fig. 4.13 Fig. 5.1 Fig. 5.2 Fig. 5.3 Survey response rates Mainstream lesson observations in primary schools Subjects reviewed at post-primary level Teachers’ ratings of NCTE and ICT advisory services Access to computers by primary teachers Access to computers by post-primary teachers Access to computers by fifth-class students Access to computers by fifth-year students Frequency of use of ICT peripherals by primary teachers Frequency of use of ICT peripherals by post-primary teachers Provision and use of e-mail address by subject taught, post-primary schools The primary school web site: teachers’ responses The post-primary school web site: teachers’ responses Contents of ICT plans, primary schools Contents of ICT plans, post-primary schools Staff ICT training in primary schools within the previous three years Staff ICT training in post-primary schools within the previous three years Principals’ and teachers’ views on ICT training requirements, primary schools Principals’ and teachers’ views on ICT training requirements, post-primary schools Use of computers for lesson preparation Resources provided by mainstream primary teachers using ICT Use of the internet in planning and preparation for teaching, by subject Scoilnet visits by teachers The most popular sections of Scoilnet among teachers Teachers’ ratings of Scoilnet Teachers’ views on what Scoilnet should contain Use and related proficiency of applications in teaching Extent to which mainstream teachers plan for the use of ICT Organisation of teaching and learning during use of ICT 23 28 29 34 41 42 43 44 54 54 58 62 62 77 77 81 82 86 87 90 91 93 94 95 96 97 110 112 113

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Fig. 5.4 Fig. 5.5 Fig. 5.6 Fig. 5.7 Fig. 5.8 Fig. 5.9 Fig. 5.10 Fig. 5.11 Fig. 5.12 Fig. 5.13 Fig. 5.14 Fig. 6.1 Fig. 6.2 Fig. 6.3 Fig. 6.4 Fig. 6.5 Fig. 6.6 Fig. 6.7 Fig. 6.8 Fig. 6.9 Fig. 7.1

Frequency of ICT use to promote learning in curricular areas Frequency of ICT use among mainstream and special class teachers to facilitate development of skills Frequency of use of individual internet resources by internet users Inspectors’ rating of the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning Students’ proficiency in individual tasks Level of ICT support for students with special educational needs in mainstream classrooms Level of access by students with special educational needs in special-education support settings Extent to which special-education support team members plan for the use of ICT Inspectors’ observations of the use of ICT to facilitate teaching and learning in special-education support settings Frequency of ICT use in special-education support settings to facilitate development of skills Inspectors’ ratings of the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning observed in special-education support settings Proficiency and use of applications in teaching Students’ use of computers Students’ ICT skill levels Use of ICT in the planning and preparation of observed lessons Main uses of ICT in teaching and learning in the subjects inspected, as reported by teachers Frequency of use of computers in teaching Settings in which ICT is used in classrooms Use of the internet and applications, by subject area Inspectors’ rating of the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning observed International student-computer ratios from PISA 2003

114 115 119 122 125 126 127 128 128 129 132 143 146 147 156 157 158 159 162 164 179

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Foreword
Information and communication technology has brought profound changes to almost all aspects of our lives in recent years. It has transformed activities as basic as how we work, communicate with each other, treat illnesses, travel, shop and enjoy our leisure time. The pace of change shows no sign of slowing: indeed, the development of ICT and its applications to areas such as the integration of media, are continuing at even faster rates than heretofore. In a relatively short period of time, ICT skills have become as fundamental to living a full life as being able to read, write and compute. Ireland has been a leading player in the development of the ICT industry. We have been a leading exporter of ICT hardware and software, and many of the key businesses in the industry have important bases here. Like other countries, we have also recognised that if our young people are to live full lives in a world transformed by ICT, they need to have opportunities to acquire and develop ICT skills from an early age. Since the late 1990s, we have made considerable investments in ICT infrastructure in schools, and in training for teachers and other professionals. Until now, little national research evidence has been published on the impact that the new technologies have had on schools and especially on teaching and learning. This report examines the extent to which ICT has been used in schools at both primary and post-primary levels and, more importantly, assesses the impact that ICT has had on teaching and learning, including the ways in which ICT is used to support the learning of students with special educational needs. The evaluation shows that while much progress has been achieved in the roll-out of ICT in schools, considerable challenges remain. The report presents findings and recommendations that will be of interest to teachers, principals, school support services, curriculum developers and policy-makers. I hope that it will inform debate and policy decisions on how we can ensure that young people have the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to benefit from the opportunities presented by this powerful technology in the years ahead.

Eamon Stack Chief Inspector

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Executive summary

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ICT in Schools

Executive summary
An evaluation of the infrastructure, planning and use of information and communications technology in teaching and learning was conducted by the Inspectorate in primary and post-primary schools during the school year 2005/06. The objectives of the evaluation were: • to examine the extent to which ICT was used in primary and post-primary schools • to evaluate the impact of ICT on teaching and learning • to assess the ICT skills of students at selected points in the education system and to obtain their views on their experience of ICT in their schooling • to obtain the views of principals and teachers on their ICT skills and their opinions of the impact and future role of ICT in education • to make recommendations for policy development regarding ICT in schools.

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Executive summary

The evaluation methods comprised: • a national survey of primary (234) and post-primary (110) principals • a national survey of primary (1,162) and post-primary (800) teachers • case-study school evaluations by inspectors (32 primary schools, 20 post-primary schools) • observations during classroom inspections (77 primary schools) • observations during subject inspections (111 post-primary schools) • a follow-up on-line survey of teachers in case-study post-primary schools.

Summary of main findings
The findings and recommendations are summarised here and are elaborated in chapter 7.

Infrastructure
• The student-computer ratio (SCR) in Irish schools is 9.1:1 at primary level and 7:1 at post-primary level. Information available from the OECD suggests that countries that have taken the lead in the provision of ICT in schools are aiming for or achieving a SCR of 5:1. • In the main, schools make effective use of the grants provided by the DES for developing their ICT systems. However, schools generally spend considerably more on ICT than the sums made available through these grants schemes. • The lack of technical support and maintenance is a significant impediment to the development of ICT in schools. • At primary level, computer rooms are generally a feature of the larger schools. However, access by students to computers was found to be superior where the computers were located in the classrooms. At the post-primary level there is a greater permeation of computers in specialist rooms than in general classrooms. • Schools were found to use a limited range of ICT peripherals, mainly printers, scanners, and digital cameras. Digital projectors were found in post-primary schools. At primary level, interactive whiteboards were present in a small number of schools. • Schools that made dedicated computer facilities available to teachers reported that it led to the use of more high-quality and creative teaching resources in classrooms.

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Planning
• Responsibility for ICT in a school can lie with an ICT steering committee, the principal, the deputy principal, an ICT co-ordinator, or a combination of these personnel. Greater efficiency is achieved where a named person has responsibility for ICT within a school and where their role is clearly defined. • The majority (71%) of primary schools surveyed, but fewer than half (46%) of post-primary schools, were found to have a written ICT plan. These plans tend to concentrate more on infrastructural issues than on how ICT can be used to enhance teaching and learning. • Most schools (83% of primary schools, 87% of post-primary schools) were found to have an acceptable-use policy (AUP). This is a product of the requirements of the Schools Broadband Access Programme and the safety-awareness initiatives of the NCTE. It is also an indication of the seriousness that schools attach to the risks associated with the use of the internet. • The majority of teachers make some use of ICT in lesson planning and preparation. Newly qualified teachers are more likely to use ICT for this purpose than their more experienced colleagues. However, fewer teachers were found to plan for the use of ICT in teaching and learning. At the post-primary level, planning for the use of ICT in teaching varies between subjects. The programmes for Transition Year, LCVP and LCA specifically encourage planning for the use of ICT in teaching and learning. Teachers of these programmes regularly reported that their involvement also encouraged them to use ICT in their teaching with other class groups. • School principals and teachers identified the provision and maintenance of hardware in schools and the provision of professional development opportunities in ICT as being strategically important for the development of ICT in their school. Generic programmes of professional development, because of their wider appeal, were found to have a greater take-up among teachers than topic-specific programmes.

Teaching and learning
• Only 30% of primary teachers and 25% of post-primary teachers rated their ability as either “intermediate” or “advanced” with regard to using teaching and learning methods that are facilitated by ICT. Recently qualified teachers had a higher perception of their ICT skills than more experienced teachers. • At the primary level, the inspectors reported evidence of the use of ICT to facilitate teaching and learning in 59% of the classrooms visited. However, the inspectors observed ICT actually being used in only 22% of the lessons observed. Nearly a quarter of all inspections showed a competent or optimal level of performance in relation to the use of ICT in the classroom.

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Executive summary

• Where ICT is used in primary classrooms it predominates in core curricular areas, such as English and Mathematics, and in Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE). • The evaluation found that many fifth-class students in primary schools do not have the competence to complete basic tasks on the computer. While most students reported being able to perform many of the most basic computer tasks, such as turning a computer on and off and opening or saving a file, more than 30% reported that they were not able to print a document or to go on the internet by themselves. Almost half (47%) reported not being able to create a document by themselves. The majority did not know how to create a presentation (72%), use a spreadsheet (86%), or send an attachment with an e-mail message (88%). Competence in the use of ICT is limited for the most part to basic ICT skills, centred on the use of word-processing. • Only 18% of the post-primary lessons observed by the inspectors involved an ICT-related activity. Students’ interaction with the technology was observed in only about a quarter of these instances. The most common ICT-related activity observed was the use of a data projector to make a presentation to a class group. Inspectors judged that effective integration of ICT in teaching and learning was occurring in approximately half of the lessons in which the use of ICT was observed (i.e. in approximately 11% of all lessons observed). • Dedicated ICT lessons at the post-primary level are more prevalent among first-year classes, and are provided less frequently as students progress towards the Junior Certificate. The majority of schools concentrate on providing students with such lessons in their Transition Year, in the LCVP, and in the LCA. • High levels of integration of ICT were found at the post-primary level in the science and applied science subjects and in subjects in the social studies I group.1 Subjects were also identified that rarely made use of ICT, the most notable being Irish. • The evaluation found that fifth-year students in post-primary schools had the confidence to perform many basic computer operations by themselves, for example saving, printing, deleting, opening and editing a document. However, it also found that they generally needed some assistance to perform more complicated tasks, such as moving files, copying files to external storage devices, and writing and sending e-mail. A relatively low proportion of these students reported being able to create a multimedia presentation. Students required most help with attaching a file to an e-mail message, constructing a web page, or dealing with computer viruses. While the post-primary inspectors generally commented positively on the students’ ICT work that they observed, they were also concerned that the tasks undertaken by the students were largely word-processing and presentation tasks.

1

Social Studies I group includes History; Geography; Art, Craft, and Design; and Music. Social Studies II group includes Religious Education; Physical Education; Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE); and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE).

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• ICT is widely used to facilitate the provision by schools of special education. Generally, ICT is used more frequently by members of the special-education team rather than by mainstream class teachers. The emphasis in students’ engagement with ICT in special-education settings is mainly on the support of literacy.

Support for ICT
• The level of awareness among teachers of the ICT advisory service is generally low, with fewer than half the respondents at both the primary and the post-primary level reporting an awareness of it. Awareness is higher, however, among ICT co-ordinators than among other teachers. • The use of the ICT advisory service is also low. At the primary level only 22% of all respondents reported having used the service, while at the post-primary level the corresponding figure was 15%.

Summary of key recommendations for policy-makers and policy advisors • The level of ICT infrastructure in schools needs to be improved. Specifically, Ireland should be working towards equipping not just all schools but all classrooms with an appropriate level of ICT infrastructure. Consideration should be given to equipping all classrooms with a computer for use by the teacher, broadband internet access with adequate bandwidth, and a fixed data projector and screen for use by the teacher in presentations. Furthermore, to ensure appropriate access to ICT by students, Ireland should strive to reduce its student-computer ratio (SCR) from the present 9.1:1 in primary schools and 7:1 in post-primary schools. International evidence suggests that countries that have taken a lead in this area are aiming for or achieving a ratio of 5:1 or less in all schools. • Improvements in ICT infrastructure will need to be supported by the introduction of a national ICT technical support and maintenance system for schools. Schools also need to be provided with the capacity to regularly upgrade their own ICT infrastructure. • The pedagogical dimension of the ICT advisors’ role in an education centre could be more appropriately provided by the relevant school support services, in liaison with the ICT school coordinators. The technical dimension of the ICT advisors’ role could be provided in a number of ways, including for example, by having a commercially supplied ICT maintenance and support for schools. With an effective IT maintenance system in place, the pedagogical role of ICT coordinators within schools could be enhanced and supported with appropriate training.

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Executive summary

• Support services should give priority to the integration of ICT in teaching and learning. There is an opportunity for such services to work more closely with schools, and with school ICT coordinators in particular, to determine staff training needs and assist in organising appropriate professional development courses for teachers. Support service personnel should aim to be proactive in providing examples of how ICT can be used to facilitate teaching and learning in any programmes provided. Furthermore, course organisers should take greater account of the wide range of ICT abilities and experiences commonly found in groups of teachers and should provide differentiated ICT learning experiences for course participants. • Additional guidance should be provided to schools and teachers of students with special educational needs so that the needs of learners may be matched more appropriately with the technology available. • There needs to be an increased emphasis on the application of ICT in teaching and learning in teacher education at pre-service, induction and continuing professional development stages. It is recommended that teacher education departments in third-level colleges should provide student teachers with the skills necessary to effectively use ICT in teaching and foster in them a culture of using ICT in their work. Consideration should also be given to extending and expanding significantly the current range of professional development courses available for teachers. A major focus of such an initiative should be on how ICT may be integrated fully in the teaching and learning of specific subjects and curricular areas. The ICT Framework for Schools, which the NCCA will issue in the near future, will be a further assistance to schools in this regard.

Key recommendations for schools
• Schools and teachers should regularly review the use of ICT in their work. In particular, they should strive to ensure greater integration of ICT within teaching and learning activities in classrooms and other settings. • Teachers should exploit the potential of ICT to develop as wide a range of students’ skills as possible, including the higher-order skills of problem-solving, synthesis, analysis, and evaluation. • Principals should encourage and facilitate suitable ICT training for teachers. Schools should liase with relevant support services and should endeavour to establish mechanisms to facilitate the sharing of good practice among members of the staff. • Schools should endeavour to provide all their students with an appropriate and equitable level of experience of ICT at all class levels: at the primary level and at both junior and senior cycle at the post-primary level.

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• Schools should plan for the maintenance and upgrading of their ICT systems. • Computer rooms, where they exist, should be used to maximum effect. Staff members and students should be provided with adequate access to the internet. Post-primary schools in particular should aim to increase the permeation of ICT in general classrooms. • A designated staff member should be responsible for ICT development. An ICT plan should be developed, using a consultative process, and an appropriate-use policy (AUP) should also be established. • Teachers should endeavour to integrate ICT more in their planning and preparation for teaching. • Schools need to ensure that ICT is used to support students with special educational needs in the most effective and appropriate way. Schools need to ensure that they match students' needs to the most appropriate technology available, and that ICT is used to support not only the acquisition of literacy but the widest range of students' needs. • Schools should exploit the benefits to be had from ICT in their assessment procedures and also in their administrative practices.

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Chapter 1
ICT in primary and post-primary education in Ireland

Part 1 Introduction

1

ICT in Schools • Part 1 Introduction

1.1 Introduction
Information and communications technology (ICT) is an accepted element in all our lives and has a central role to play in education. Since the appearance of the first Government policy on ICT in education in 1997, a substantial investment has been made in ICT facilities and training in Irish schools. In Ireland, as in other countries, the debate about ICT in education concentrates on the potential impact of ICT on teaching and learning and on the measures that need to be adopted to ensure that the potential of ICT to enrich students’ learning experience is realised. This Inspectorate report presents the findings of a major evaluation of the impact of ICT on teaching and learning in both primary and post-primary schools in Ireland. The evaluation set out to establish the extent to which ICT was used in the schools at both levels and, more importantly, to assess the impact ICT had on teaching and learning, including the ways in which ICT is used to facilitate the learning of students with special educational needs. The views of principals and teachers about their own ICT skills, and their opinions about the impact and future role of ICT in education, were sought during the evaluation. This chapter examines the background to the provision of ICT in Irish schools. It first seeks to place the development of ICT in education in the wider social and economic context. The policy context for the development of ICT in schools is then considered. The findings of the census of ICT

2

ICT in primary and post-primary education

Chapter 1

infrastructure (2005) carried out by the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) are then reviewed.

1.2 Background
As the OECD has pointed out, ICT is now ubiquitous in the modern world (OECD, 2001). The OECD has reported that, in the twenty-one OECD countries for which data was available, employment in the ICT industry represented about 6.6% of total business employment (OECD, 2003). This translated into more than 16 million people employed in the industry. The European Union accounted for more than a third of this figure. The same OECD report noted that average employment growth in the ICT industry over the previous five years had been more than 4.3% annually, a figure that was more than three times that of business in general. A more recent and even more dramatic indicator of the growth in ICT, published by the OECD in 2006, shows an increase in broadband penetration of 33% in the OECD between June 2005 and June 2006 (OECD, 2006b). Similar statistics could be quoted for numerous indicators of the growth in ICT around the world. Such statistics provide irrefutable proof of the extent to which ICT is becoming an increasingly integral part of modern society, with ICT competence becoming increasingly important for effective participation in social and economic activity. In Ireland, no less than in other OECD countries, the impact of ICT on business and society generally has increased dramatically in recent years. In many respects Ireland has been a leader in the adoption of the technology and in capitalising on its potential to develop our economy. For example, in 2003 Ireland was the leading exporter of computer software, while, according to Eurostat, a third of all personal computers sold in Europe are manufactured in Ireland2. However, not all the indicators of progress towards a knowledge economy are as positive. The 2006 OECD report referred to above showed that Ireland was 24th out of 30 OECD countries in broadband penetration. It is clear that, at least in certain areas, Ireland still has some way to go to be a leader in the field of ICT. The increasing permeation of ICT in all aspects of modern life has led to the concept of a “knowledge-based society,” one aspect of which is the knowledge-based economy3. It is now widely accepted that the future prosperity of the country is predicated on our ability to develop a knowledge-based economy. Arising from the Lisbon agenda4, the development of such an economy is the stated aim of the Government. The Technology Foresight Reports recommended that the Government establish a major fund to develop Ireland as a centre for world-class research excellence in ICT and biotechnology (Irish Council for Science Technology and Innovation, 1999). As part of its

2 3 4

Statistical Office of the European Communities. It [a knowledge-based economy] may be defined as an economy in which the generation and the exploitation of knowledge has come to play the predominant part in the creation of wealth. (Accenture, 2004) The European Council of Heads of State and Governments held in Lisbon in 2000 set as a strategic goal that the European Union should become the world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010. The programme of reforms intended to implement this goal is referred to as the Lisbon Agenda or the Lisbon Process.

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ICT in Schools • Part 1 Introduction

response, the Government initiated the Technology Foresight Fund of more than €700 million in 2000. Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) was created to administer this fund, first as a sub-group within Forfás5 and subsequently on a statutory basis. In its Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation, 2006–2013, published in June 2006 (p.8), the Government committed itself to building on the achievements of SFI over the previous six years and reiterated its vision for the development of Ireland as a knowledge-based economy (Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment, 2006). Ireland by 2013 will be internationally renowned for the excellence of its research, and will be to the forefront in generating and using new knowledge for economic and social progress, within an innovation driven culture.

This commitment was reiterated in the current social partnership agreement, Towards 2016 (Department of the Taoiseach, 2006). In the section on education and training (p.31), one of the specific short-term commitments within the first phase is that “all children will have the opportunity to become ICT literate by completion of second level.” This commitment to the development of ICT underlines an appreciation of the fundamental role played by ICT in a knowledge-based economy. The critical sector which underpins and enables the transition to a knowledge-based economy is the ICT sector which provides the ability to create, store and distribute knowledge more cheaply than ever in human history. The ICT sector essentially enables the existence and growth of the knowledge-based economy (Accenture, 2004).

The world of education has not been immune to the development of ICT. As Michael Kompf (2005), in a review of a number of books on the subject, notes, “each author assumes ICT as a permanent feature in the landscape of teaching and learning”. The “ICT and education” page of the SURF6 web site takes this a step further when it says that It is no longer possible nowadays to conceive of education without information and communications technology (ICT). One can go even further by pointing out that education is increasingly being defined by ICT.

Much has been achieved in recent years in developing the ICT infrastructure in schools. This infrastructural development has required significant levels of investment, primarily by the State but also by individual schools and institutions. Given the level of investment of both time and finance, as described in this report, the need for a thorough evaluation of the impact of ICT in schools was clear. As pointed out by the OECD (2001) and others, there are three main rationales for promoting the use of ICT in schools, namely the economic, the social, and the pedagogical. These, of course, are not mutually exclusive. The first two derive directly from the proliferation of ICT in the modern world, referred to earlier. As described above, the economic imperative for promoting ICT in schools is well recognised in Ireland, as it is in other developed countries. The National Competitiveness

5 6

Forfás is the national policy and advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology, and innovation. It operates under the auspices of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. SURF is the Dutch higher education and research partnership organisation for network services and for information and communications technology.

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ICT in primary and post-primary education

Chapter 1

Council7, in its Annual Competitiveness Report for 2006, comments that “better use of ICT has been identified as one of the key factors required to improve Ireland’s productivity performance.” The report went on to point out that, while Ireland’s expenditure per capita on ICT was slightly above the EU 15 average, Ireland ranked ninth of the EU 15 countries in expenditure per capita on ICT. While funding for research has increased dramatically in recent years, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) continues to warn of shortfalls in the output of graduates in ICT. A submission to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in October 2005 by the EGFSN and Forfás notes that “existing EGFSN forecasts suggest that there will be significant shortages of graduates with ICT backgrounds in the period up to 2010” (Forfás, 2005). Though ICT is a vital sector of the economy, requiring highly skilled professionals, it nevertheless represents only a relatively small fraction of total employment. However, in the knowledge economy, as it is now and more so as it will be in the future, ICT competence is a prerequisite for employees in virtually every area. Furthermore, the need for a facility with ICT is not confined to the work environment but increasingly permeates all aspects of everyday life, including home and leisure. The social imperative for promoting ICT in schools, therefore, is clear: if students are to be prepared to lead fulfilled and productive lives in a knowledge-based society they should be ICT-competent on leaving the school system. The pedagogical rationale for promoting ICT in schools is concerned with the use of ICT in teaching and learning. It is intimately related, therefore, to the economic and social rationales, but ICT also has additional application in the teaching and learning process. It provides teachers with a range of new tools to facilitate traditional pedagogies; it also and perhaps more importantly, presents the teacher with the potential to develop new teaching methods. For the student growing up in a culture of all-pervasive technology, ICT provides new, and more exciting and relevant, learning opportunities. In 2002 a report by the Information Society Commission (ISC) noted that, compared with major competitors, Ireland lagged some distance in the application of ICT in education (Information Society Commission, 2002).8 The report recommended that basic ICT skills should, as far as possible, become a core component of mainstream education. The ISC made a number of recommendations to the Government, including: • priority for capital investment in ICT in schools • a commitment to establishing broadband connectivity for schools and other centres of learning • provision of technical support for the education system • integration of ICT in the curriculum • a review of ICT in teacher education, both pre-service and in-service.

7 8

The National Competitiveness Council was established in 1997 as a social partnership body and reports to the Taoiseach on competitiveness issues facing the economy. The Information Society Commission was an independent advisory body to the Government, reporting directly to the Taoiseach. The last commission served from November 2001 to December 2004.

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ICT in Schools • Part 1 Introduction

Developing an education system responsive to the demands of a knowledge-based society presents challenges for all the participants in education. Not the least of these challenges is the need for significant additional funding to provide the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the development of ICT in the classroom. The technical support and maintenance of this infrastructure, when it exists, is also a challenge and is an issue for many schools (as discussed in later chapters of this report). As noted above, ICT provides teachers with opportunities to develop new teaching methods. However, to realise the potential of ICT to expand their methodological repertoire, most teachers require continuing professional development and support in the use of the relevant technologies. Teachers in specific subject areas also require support in responding to the demands presented by the inclusion of ICT in revised syllabuses. At the school level the integration of ICT in teaching and learning puts additional demands on timetabling as schools expand their curriculum to include dedicated ICT lessons, particularly at the post-primary level, while ensuring equitable access to ICT facilities for students in the context of subject-specific requirements.

1.3 ICT policy and investment in education
The importance of developing ICT in education and responding to the challenges outlined in the previous section has been recognised by the Government for more than a decade. The White Paper on education Charting Our Education Future (1995) stated as one of the objectives of the junior cycle curriculum that “all students . . . will have achieved . . . competence and understanding in practical skills, including computer literacy and information technology.” In 1997 the Government published its first policy document on ICT in education, entitled Schools IT 2000. The publication of this policy document led in 1998 to the introduction of the ICT in Schools Initiative. This initiative established the basis for the development of ICT in the education system.

1.3.1 Policy for ICT in education
In 1998 the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) was established, with a brief to implement the Schools IT 2000 initiative. The NCTE’s brief also included the development of ICT policy proposals and the provision of ICT policy advice to the Department of Education and Science. The Schools IT 2000 initiative had three major strands: • the Technology Integration Initiative • the Teaching Skills Initiative • the Schools Support Initiative, including —the Schools Integration Project (SIP) —Scoilnet. The role of ICT in supporting children with special educational needs was a feature of all the IT 2000 initiatives.

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ICT in primary and post-primary education

Chapter 1

The Technology Integration Initiative was designed to support schools in developing their ICT infrastructure. Schools received grants for the purchase of computer hardware, and those schools that did not already have an internet connection were assisted in getting on line. (See section 1.3.3.) The aim of the Technology Integration Initiative was to have at least 60,000 computers in schools by the end of 2001. In the following year the NCTE census reported that there were some 84,000 computers in Irish schools. The Teaching Skills Initiative recognised that there was little point in putting computers in schools unless teachers were trained in their use. This initiative provided for teacher training in three distinct areas, namely ICT skills and awareness, professional skills development in ICT, and pedagogical skills development. The Schools Integration Project dealt with whole-school development and investigated a range of teaching and learning topics with regard to ICT integration. Approximately ninety pilot projects were established in a number of “lead” schools, which worked in partnership with education centres, businesses, industry, third-level institutions, and the community. Most of the individual projects implemented as part of the SIP concluded in 2001 and 2002, and the remainder were completed in 2004. The Scoilnet initiative is responsible for the promotion and use of the internet and ICT in education. The main emphasis of this initiative is on the development of the Scoilnet web site (www.scoilnet.ie)

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ICT in Schools • Part 1 Introduction

as a resource for teachers and students. Resource materials for the web site are reviewed by a panel of subject experts, thus ensuring their appropriateness for use in Irish classrooms. The Scoilnet web site is the Department of Education and Science’s official portal for Irish education. The Scoilnet initiative is also responsible for the development and maintenance of the NCTE web site, which provides comprehensive advice and support on all aspects of ICT in education as well as serving as a notice-board for the NCTE’s activities. Schools IT 2000 envisaged that ICT advisors would be appointed in education centres to support the work of the NCTE by providing leadership, training and support, including on-line support, at the regional level and by providing regular feedback on progress and issues arising. Ultimately some twenty ICT advisors (later increased to twenty-one)—one in each of the full-time education centres—were appointed. The main role of these advisors may be summarised as follows: • to advise and support teachers in their region in integrating ICT in their teaching and in their students’ learning • to build a knowledge base on all matters relating to the use of ICT in their local schools. A report on the implementation of Schools IT 2000 published in 2001 revealed a high level of satisfaction with the initiatives implemented under IT 2000 (National Policy Advisory and Development Committee)9. The report, however, identified three issues of concern: • the need for more training for teachers • the need for more funding (equipment and computers, maintenance, support) • the need for more support (technical support, encouragement to use ICT). Based on its findings, the committee made recommendations covering a range of areas, including policy, funding, the professional development of teachers, pre-service teacher education, infrastructure, and technical support. In 2001 the Government launched its second policy document on ICT in education, A Blueprint for the Future of ICT in Irish Education. This was a three-year strategic plan designed to support the continuation of the main initiatives begun under IT 2000 and to build on the progress achieved under that plan. The main objectives of the Blueprint policy were to: • expand ICT capital provision to schools • increase access to, and the use of, internet technologies • further integrate ICT in teaching and learning • enhance professional development opportunities for teachers. While support for children with special educational needs was a feature of all earlier initiatives under IT 2000, the Blueprint gave priority to provision for these students. A further focus of the Blueprint was planning for ICT at the school level. Arising from this focus, the NCTE in 2002 published a planning pack entitled ICT Planning and Advice for Schools. This pack was designed to facilitate

9

The National Policy Advisory and Development Committee (NPADC) was set up in 1998 under Schools IT 2000 to assist the NCTE in its work. The committee included representation from the education and social partners.

8

ICT in primary and post-primary education

Chapter 1

schools in developing ICT plans to meet the infrastructural and other ICT-related needs of their individual schools.

1.3.2 ICT in the curriculum
The revised Primary School Curriculum was launched in 1999. The introduction to the curriculum states: Technological skills are increasingly important for advancement in education, work, and leisure. The curriculum integrates ICT into the teaching and learning process and provides children with opportunities to use modern technology to enhance their learning in all subjects (Department of Education and Science, 1999, p. 29).

As this statement suggests, ICT in the primary curriculum is seen primarily as a tool for facilitating teaching and learning throughout the curriculum, rather than as a subject in its own right. The teacher guidelines that accompany the curriculum document for each area provide detailed suggestions on how ICT can be used to best effect in the teaching and learning of the particular subject. Thus, for example, the teacher guidelines for English open the section on ICT with the statement: Computers and other items of information and communication technologies enrich the teaching and learning of language considerably. The following are among some of the ways in which they may be used.

The guidelines then go on to list some eight ways in which ICT might be used, from CD-based reference materials to the internet and e-mail. In 2004 the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) completed a comprehensive set of guidelines for teachers on the use of ICT (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, 2004a). These guidelines were designed to complement the teacher guidelines provided with the different subjects in the Primary School Curriculum while reflecting developments in ICT since the launch of the curriculum five years earlier. In a discussion document published in the same year the NCCA set out seven key principles for guiding learners’ use of ICT (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, 2004b, pp. 31-34), which adds value to the curriculum when it facilitates: • students’ active involvement in their own learning • the development of students’ higher-order thinking skills • students’ learning in authentic environments • students’ interest and engagement in learning • differentiated learning for all students • collaborative learning • assessment of and for learning. At the post-primary level, computers were first introduced as a course of study to the curriculum in 1980, when an optional computer studies module was included in the Leaving Certificate

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ICT in Schools • Part 1 Introduction

Mathematics syllabus. Schools are required to develop their own syllabus for this option within broad parameters laid down by the DES (Department of Education and Science, 2006). The module is not examinable, but students who complete it satisfactorily are issued with a certificate by the DES. While only minor modifications have been made to the published course parameters since its introduction in 1980, anecdotal evidence suggests that the emphasis in those schools that continue to provide the module has shifted significantly towards the development of skills in such areas as word-processing and spreadsheets. When the Leaving Certificate computer studies module was introduced in 1980 it was intended that this would be a first step in the development of computer studies in the post-primary curriculum. In 1985 a computer studies course was introduced in the junior cycle. Unlike the senior-cycle module, no certification is provided for those who complete this course. The national survey of school principals reported that only 13% of them were providing this course. (See chapter 6.) Neither of the computer studies courses has been revised since their introduction, nor has there been any further development of computer studies courses, as such, as part of the curriculum in either the junior or the senior cycle. However, in the LCA programme there are two courses in information and communications technology. All students in the programme must complete a twomodule course entitled Introduction to Information and Communications. In addition they may choose, as one of their vocational specialisms, a four-module course in information and communications technology. Like all the vocational specialisms, this latter course is assessed in a written examination at the end of year 2. In 2007 this examination was taken by some 1,155 candidates, or 38% of the Leaving Certificate examination candidates who had followed the LCA programme. While the computer studies modules introduced in the 1980s were seen as independent subjects, with an emphasis on computer programming, more recent trends have concentrated on the crosscurricular applications of ICT. Many of the revised syllabuses introduced in recent years have included references to the relevant applications of ICT in the subject area as well as to the more general applications of ICT to teaching and learning. For example, the teacher guidelines that accompany the revised Junior Certificate Science syllabus, introduced in 2003, have a section on “Using ICT in the teaching and learning of Science.” At the Leaving Certificate level one of the stated aims of the Geography syllabus, introduced in 2004, is “to encourage the use of information and communication technology in the teaching and learning of Geography.” This syllabus also contains several other references to specific uses of ICT in the teaching and learning of the subject. In the LCVP, in addition to the use of ICT in specific subject areas, students are required to use ICT in the preparation and presentation of their portfolios. In Transition Year, many schools provide courses in ICT-related areas; these include such courses as “Computer Science”, “Computer Applications” and “Information Technology”.

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ICT in primary and post-primary education

Chapter 1

As part of its work on the place of ICT in the post-primary curriculum, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment commissioned research in the area. This resulted in two research reports being presented to the NCCA by the University of Limerick. The first study found that there was overwhelming support from both the education system and industry for the introduction of a computer-based subject to the Established Leaving Certificate programme (O'Doherty et al., 2000). The primary reason put forward by respondents for introducing such a subject was the promotion of “computer literacy.” The second study investigated the preferred nature of an ICT-related subject in more depth (O'Doherty, et al., 2001). This study reported general agreement on the need to introduce provision for “computer literacy” for all students as the first priority. However, there was no agreement on how best this might be achieved. The findings of the University of Limerick study were discussed at length by NCCA committees. The principal reasons for not proceeding with the development of a discrete Leaving Certificate subject were concerned with the inequalities likely to emanate from such a decision. Committees agreed that equity of access for all students would be compromised, as a discrete subject would, of necessity, be optional. The NCCA has now adopted a twin-track approach to promoting ICT in the curriculum. Firstly, it aims to facilitate the development of students’ competence in using ICT through its inclusion in revised syllabuses and in teacher guidelines. For example, ICT features significantly in the revised Leaving Certificate Design and Communications Graphics syllabus and also in its assessment. It also arises as a focus of learning in the core of the new LC Technology syllabus. Secondly, the NCCA aims to promote ICT as a resource for teaching and learning throughout the curriculum. It is now developing a “Framework for ICT in Curriculum and Assessment” for primary schools and for the junior cycle of post-primary schools. The ICT framework is not designed as a course in ICT but instead is intended to be a cross-curricular support for schools and teachers in developing their students’ competence in ICT. It is presented in four inter-related areas of learning, encompassing such attributes as basic knowledge and skills, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking and creativity. The framework is at present being tested in a number of schools, with resources and training being provided. It is hoped to have the framework and support materials ready for use in schools in September 2008.

1.3.3 Investment in ICT in education
Since the introduction of the ICT in Schools Initiative in 1998 the Government has made a substantial investment in the integration of ICT in teaching and learning. As manifested in the NCTE census described later in this chapter, this investment has resulted in significant progress in the development of ICT infrastructure in schools. Each of the policy initiatives described in the previous section was supported by substantial funding. The details of this funding are summarised in table 1.1.

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ICT in Schools • Part 1 Introduction

Table 1.1: Funding of ICT in education policy initiatives Initiative Schools IT 2000: A Policy Framework for the New Millennium Blueprint for the Future of ICT in Irish Schools Networking Schools Schools Broadband Programme Year begun 1998 2001 2004 2005 Funding €52 million €78 million €23 million10 €30 million11

From the 2005/06 school year schools are being provided with broadband internet access as part of a joint project between the Government and the Telecommunications and Internet Federation of the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation. The local schools connectivity is being provided by means of a Schools National Broadband Network. This network and the support services to schools are managed by the National Centre for Technology in Education and supported by HEAnet. The total costs of the Schools Broadband Programme, including the initial set-up and continuing costs to June 2008, are estimated to amount to approximately €30 million.

1.4 ICT infrastructure census in schools (2005)
Beginning in 1998, the NCTE conducted a number of censuses of ICT infrastructure in schools. The most recent of these, the fourth since 1998, was carried out in May and June 2005. The previous census was carried out in 2002. The report of the 2005 census gives a valuable insight into the development of the ICT infrastructure in schools at both primary and post-primary level (Shiel & O’Flaherty, 2006). In so doing it presents an overview of the results of Government investment in ICT while at the same time providing an indication of the need for further investment in the future. The census report provides a comprehensive overview of the ICT infrastructure in schools. The remainder of this section gives a summary of the salient features of the report.

1.4.1 Computers in schools
The NCTE census (2005) shows that since the previous census (2002) there was an increase of approximately 15% in the number of computers in schools. Allowing for schools that did not respond to the census, the total number of working computers in schools was estimated to be 97,709. These were approximately equally divided between primary and post-primary schools. However, as there are almost four-and-a-half times as many primary schools as post-primary schools, the number of computers per school is correspondingly lower at primary level. The census also collected data on the location of computers in schools. In primary schools and special schools approximately half the computers are in general classrooms. In post-primary schools only 4% of computers are in general classrooms; in those schools almost 60% of computers are in

10 Expenditure to August 2007. 11 Estimated cost of set-up and continuing costs to June 2008.

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Chapter 1

computer rooms. Computers at post-primary level were also found in a range of specialist rooms, such as science laboratories and technology rooms. The low penetration of computers in general classrooms at post-primary level was commented on in the evaluation reports provided by inspectors. (This is discussed in chapter 6.) Rather than the number of computers per school, a more appropriate indicator of the penetration of the technology in schools is the student-computer ratio (SCR).12 The SCR in 2005 for the three school sectors – primary, post-primary, and special schools – is shown in table 1.2. The table also shows the corresponding figures from the previous two censuses, in 2002 and 2000. It is clear from table 1.2 that there has been a significant improvement in the SCR over the past five years, particularly at primary level. At post-primary level the improvement is less marked, though still significant. Table 1.2: Student-computer ratio (SCR) in each school sector in given years Primary 9.1 11.3 16.3 Post-primary 7.0 7.4 10.9 Special 3.1 3.8 5.7

2005 2002 2000

While the improvement in the SCR is welcome, the ratio is still substantially below international standards. For example, in 2003 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) gathered data on the numbers of computers in schools.13 At that time the OECD calculated a SCR for post-primary schools in Ireland of 9:1. This compared with an OECD average of 6:1. The SCR for the United States was 3:1, while for a number of other countries, including Hungary and (South) Korea, it was 4:1. As can be seen from table 1.2, the SCR at post-primary level in Ireland was estimated to be 7:1 in 2005. However, this is still approximately twice what it was two years earlier in the other countries mentioned, and it is likely that those countries will also have shown improvements in the interim. As noted above, the stock of working computers in schools has increased significantly in recent years. However, this technology is changing rapidly, and what was considered “state of the art” in 2000 is now of limited value for running modern software. The NCTE report shows that in primary schools almost 29% of computers are more than six years old. The corresponding figures for postprimary and special schools are 19% and 21%, respectively. While these computers may be adequate for basic tasks, such as word-processing, they are not capable of running much modern software, and as computers age they become prone to technical problems.

12 The student-computer ratio (SCR) is the number of students enrolled in a school divided by the number of computers in the school. See note 19 (chapter 2) for further details. 13 PISA is administered to fifteen-year-old pupils, and therefore the data refers to post-primary schools.

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ICT in Schools • Part 1 Introduction

1.4.2 Other ICT equipment in schools
The NCTE census gathered data on other aspects of schools’ ICT infrastructure as well as computers. The most commonly found ICT equipment after the computer was a scanner. This equipment was found in more than 80% of schools across all sectors, with close to 90% of post-primary schools reporting having a scanner. The next most commonly found items of equipment across all sectors were printers and digital (still) cameras. While printers were commonly found across all sectors laser printers were much more common in post-primary schools, with almost 90% of those schools having a laser printer, compared with 38% of primary schools. Post-primary schools were also better equipped in a number of other areas. Not surprisingly, very few primary or special schools had a data-logger, while almost half the post-primary schools had this equipment. Perhaps more notable is the discrepancy in the availability of data projectors, particularly fixed data projectors, as illustrated in table 1.3. It is also worth noting the low penetration of interactive whiteboards. Only 5% of post-primary schools had an interactive whiteboard, while the corresponding figures for special schools and primary schools were 3% and 2%, respectively. Table 1.3: Proportion of schools having at least one fixed and one mobile data projector Primary schools 31% 6% Post-primary schools 78% 51% Special schools 28% 5%

Mobile data projector Fixed data projector

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Chapter 1

In relation to special-needs provision, the report shows that, outside of the special schools, there is relatively little provision of assistive technology devices. For example, “other computer control devices (e.g. touch-screens, alternative mice and keyboards)” were reported in only 13% of schools at both primary and post-primary level, compared with 55% of special schools. That such devices are more commonly found in special schools is not, of course, a surprise. While the NCTE report does show a low penetration of some ICTs relative to other countries, as discussed above, it also shows that, in relation to at least some of the technologies, there have been significant improvements since 2002. For example, the proportion of primary schools that have at least one data projector, either fixed or mobile, more than doubled, from 16.5% in 2002 to 36.4% in 2005. A similar increase was reported in special schools: from 13.3% in 2002 to 30.4% in 2005. The increase in post-primary schools was much less marked, primarily because most of these schools (84%) already had a data projector in 2002. In 2005 some 93% of post-primary schools had a least one data projector. In contrast to the increasing prevalence of data projectors the change in the adoption of interactive whiteboards has been very slow. This technology was reported in about 2% of primary schools and 5% of post-primary schools in both 2002 and 2005. By contrast, a survey by the Department for Education and Skills in England in 2004 estimated that 63% of primary schools had interactive whiteboards, while the corresponding figure in secondary schools was 92%.

1.4.3 Expenditure on ICT and technical support
As referred to earlier in this chapter, the DES has provided financial support to schools for developing their infrastructure. The NCTE census sought to establish the level of expenditure by schools in addition to grants received from the Department. The response rate to the questions relating to expenditure by schools was relatively low, with the proportion of non-respondents ranging from 20% to 45%. As the report suggests, data on schools’ expenditure must therefore be interpreted with caution. For schools that did respond to the relevant question, the average additional expenditure on ICT in the previous full financial year was €2,129 per school for primary schools, €11,583 for post-primary schools, and €5,679 for special schools. In relation to technical support, the average amount spent by responding schools was €741 for primary schools, €3,765 for post-primary schools, and €1,239 for special schools. As the report notes, approximately one-third of spending on ICTs was allocated to technical support at primary and post-primary level and about one-fifth in special schools.

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ICT in Schools • Part 1 Introduction

1.4.4 Other areas covered in the census
Other areas examined in the NCTE census included networking, ICT planning, the professional development of staff members, the certification of students, technical support and maintenance, and use of the internet.

1.5 Summary
That ICT should be an integral part of the education system is no longer a matter for debate. Students must be provided with the opportunity to develop the competence required to equip them for life in a knowledge-based society, while teachers cannot afford to ignore the potential of ICT for enhancing teaching and learning in their classrooms. Yet achieving an appropriate level of integration of ICT in teaching and learning presents a number of challenges. These range from the provision of the necessary physical resources to issues of curriculum development and assessment and the professional development of teachers. The remainder of this report describes the current stage of development of ICT in primary and post-primary schools. It presents examples of good practice as well as areas of concern and provides a series of recommendations for policy-makers and schools that, if implemented, would serve to enhance the learning experience of the young people in our schools.

16

Chapter 2
Evaluation methods

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ICT in Schools • Part 1 Introduction

2.1 Introduction
The Inspectorate’s evaluation on which this report is based took place in both primary and postprimary schools in the school year 2005/06.14 This chapter begins by looking at different approaches to evaluating ICT in schools and proceeds by giving an overview of the present evaluation. The purpose and aims of the evaluation are explained, and the research methods used are also described. An outline of the reporting procedures that pertained to the evaluations in schools is also given.

2.2 Approaches to evaluating ICT in schools
The pivotal role of ICT in the development of the knowledge economy is widely recognised. As described in chapter 1, there has been substantial investment in ICT in education over the past decade. Ireland, of course, is not unique in this respect: the integration of ICT in teaching and learning has been a feature of education systems in developed countries for many years. Given this level of investment, and the importance of ICT in a modern knowledge society, it is important that the impact of that investment be evaluated to establish the extent to which students’ learning and skills are being enhanced.

14 Special schools were not included as part of the evaluation.

18

Evaluation methods

Chapter 2

Almost a decade ago Barton (1998) remarked, in relation to Britain, that “despite the massive investment of time and money in information technology it is difficult to get clear evidence of ‘value-added’ in relation to IT use in our schools.” More recently, despite continued high levels of investment, Tearle (2004) noted that, “even today, the regular use of ICT by the majority of staff [members] and students within any one school is not commonplace”. In Britain the Office for Standards in Education, while noting that the importance of ICT as a tool for learning is now widely recognised, pointed out that “the government’s aim for ICT to become embedded in the work of schools is a reality in only a small minority of schools” (Ofsted, 2004). One type of ICT evaluation that is widely undertaken is the evaluation of the infrastructural development in schools. The NCTE censuses (which are referred to in chapters 1 and 3) are an example of this type of evaluation. This is an essential type of evaluation, and such statistics as the student-computer ratio are a useful indicator of the permeation of ICT in schools. However, it is a mistake to equate the availability of hardware with its productive use. To do so is an example of what Papert (1990) refers to as “technocentric” thinking and raises the question, “What contribution do these computers make to achieving the stated goals of education?” A different approach was that adopted by the authors of the Impact2 report, who investigated the correlation between the use of computers and attainment in National Tests and General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) results in Britain (Harrison et al., 2003). That research set out to determine whether or not those students who used and were familiar with computers attained better results in national tests than their counterparts who did not. The most common qualitative approach to assessing the impact of ICT is by observation of teaching and learning in classrooms. This is the approach normally adopted by school inspectorates. The report by the Office for Standards in Education referred to earlier was based mainly on visits to schools by inspectors between April 2002 and December 2003. A similar approach was adopted in the development of school portraits as part of the European Research Network for ICT in Schools of Tomorrow (ERNIST) project, the purpose of which was to identify and disseminate examples of innovative uses of ICT in the classroom. Van Oel (2004) reported that, in addition to observing classroom practice, inspectors examined school planning documents and discussed the issues and their findings with the wider school community. Haydn (2001) has pointed out that the types of ICT that may add value to a lesson vary from subject to subject. Similarly, some evaluation techniques may have specific applicability. For example, Barton (1997) carried out a study in which he compared the time students spent drawing graphs manually with the time taken using data-logging equipment. This type of comparative study seems attractive, as it appears to have the potential to demonstrate “added value” through the use of ICT. The present evaluation may be described as a combination of the quantitative and the qualitative.

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ICT in Schools • Part 1 Introduction

The combination of the two approaches was designed to provide a more comprehensive overview of the impact of ICT in schools.

2.3 Overview and aims of the evaluation
There has been little published research evidence on the efficacy of ICT initiatives in schools in Ireland, particularly with regard to teaching and its impact on students’ learning. This report aims to bridge that gap. The aim of this evaluation was to assess the impact that ICT is having on education in primary and post-primary schools. The evaluation also sought to assess the knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs of teachers and students in relation to the use of ICT in the teaching and learning process and in schools in general. The objectives of the evaluation may be summarised as follows: • to assess the extent of the use of ICT in primary and post-primary schools • to evaluate the impact of ICT on teaching and learning • to assess the ICT skills of students at selected points in the education system • to obtain the views of principals and teachers about their ICT skills and their opinions about the impact and future role of ICT in education • to assess the extent to which ICT is used to support students with special educational needs • to make recommendations that will inform the development of Department of Education and Science policy. The evaluation examined the availability of ICT in schools, the extent to which ICT was being used by teachers to enhance and expand their teaching methods, and the extent to which students used ICT to help them to learn, to obtain access to information, or for communication purposes. Evidence was collected from a number of sources: • a national survey of primary (234) and post-primary (110) principals that elicited their views on the level and use of ICT in schools • a national survey of primary (1,162) and post-primary (800) teachers designed to examine their beliefs about the effectiveness of computers and other forms of ICT in contributing to education. The teachers were also asked about their own skill levels in using computers and the degree to which computers were used to support implementation of the curriculum • visits by inspectors to a sample of case-study primary and post-primary schools to evaluate ICT provision (32 primary schools and 20 post-primary schools) • a questionnaire for students, administered by the inspectors during their evaluation visits to the case-study schools. The questionnaires asked students about the frequency with which they used computers at home and at school, the extent to which they believed they could perform basic operations with computers, and their expectations about whether their future studies or career would involve significant use of ICT • the use by inspectors of ICT review schedules during classroom inspections as part of whole-

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school evaluation (WSE) at primary level (77 schools) and during subject inspections at postprimary level (111 schools).15 This report presents analyses of quantitative and qualitative data collected from principals, teachers, students and inspectors at primary and post-primary level. Taken together, this wide range of data sources provided a much richer data set than would have been possible from any one source alone. It also allowed for cross-referencing and the triangulation of evidence.

2.4 National survey of primary and post-primary principals and teachers During the period October–December 2005 a national postal survey of school principals and teachers was conducted.

2.4.1 Survey sampling methods
A total eligible population of 3,024 primary schools16 and 711 post-primary schools17 were identified for participation in the surveys of principals and teachers. On the assumption of a minimum response rate of 40% from each sector a systematic sample of 260 schools was taken from the primary school population with a view to obtaining a statistically valid sample of at least 100 schools, while a sample of 155 schools was taken from the post-primary school population with a view to obtaining a statistically valid sample of at least 50 schools. Both school samples were selected using the following stratifying variables: (1) region (North and Dublin North, South-East and Dublin South, West and Mid-West, South, Midlands, and Dublin West)18 (2) school size (small, medium, large) (3) school type (mixed, all boys, all girls) (4) student-computer ratio (low, medium, high, not known)19 (5) disadvantaged status.

15 See www.education.ie for information and related publications on whole-school evaluations in primary and post-primary schools and on subject inspections in post-primary schools. 16 There were 3,284 recognised primary schools in Ireland in the 2005/06 school year, but special schools and those schools participating in whole-school evaluations at the time of the postal survey were excluded. 17 There were 735 recognised post-primary schools in Ireland in the 2005/06 school year, but those participating in whole-school evaluations at the time of the postal survey were excluded. 18 North and Dublin North Region (Cos. Cavan, Donegal, Dublin (Fingal), Dublin (North), Leitrim, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Sligo); South-East and Dublin South Region (Cos. Carlow, Dublin South, Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown, Kildare (North), Kilkenny, Wexford, Wicklow); West and Mid-West Region (Cos. Clare, Galway, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, Tipperary (North); South Region (Cos. Cork, Kerry, Tipperary (South), Waterford); Midlands and Dublin West Region (Cos. Dublin (West and South-West), Kildare (South), Laois, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath). 19 The student-computer ratio (SCR) for a school is the total number of students enrolled divided by the number of computers in the school. The median SCR for all primary schools sampled was approximately 9.7 students per computer. Accordingly, a school with fewer than 9.7 students per computer was classified as having a low SCR (more favourable), while a school with more than 9.7 students per computer was classified as having a high SCR. The SCR was obtained from the NCTE census (2005), and a SCR was available for 92 % of all schools sampled. In the case of post-primary schools the median SCR for those sampled was approximately 7.4. Accordingly, a school with fewer than 7.4 students per computer was classified as having a low SCR (more favourable), while a school with more than 7.4 students per computer was classified as having a high SCR. Again, the SCR was obtained from the NCTE census (2005), and a SCR was available for 80 % of all schools sampled.

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The populations of primary and post-primary schools were sorted by these variables. For primary schools a systematic random sample of 260 schools was selected by starting at a random point and selecting every nth school. The starting point was selected by choosing a number at random from 1 to 3,024. The n was determined by dividing the total number of schools by the total sample size, i.e. 3,024 divided by 260. (To increase the likelihood of obtaining a minimum response rate of 40%, an oversample was taken to account for the fact that some schools may not have been able to participate.) The list was subsequently treated as circular, i.e. school 1 followed school 3,024. This was approximately equivalent to selecting a proportionate stratified sample in accordance with the variables described above. The same selection principle was applied to the population of postprimary schools.

2.4.2 Survey research methods
In each of the 260 primary and 155 post-primary schools surveyed the principal received a letter of notification from the Inspectorate stating that their school had been chosen for participation in the postal survey. This letter provided schools with the background to the survey and also stated that survey questionnaires would follow. Subsequently, each school received one questionnaire for the principal and a number of questionnaires for the teachers. All teachers in primary schools that had eight or fewer teachers were asked to complete a questionnaire; primary schools with more than eight teachers were asked to ensure that one teacher per class group completed a questionnaire.20 For post-primary schools, all teachers in schools with nine or fewer teachers were asked to complete a questionnaire; those schools with more than nine teachers were asked to ensure that one teacher from each subject group completed a questionnaire.21 These questionnaires for principals and teachers were developed by a team of inspectors, in collaboration with the NCTE, following a review of relevant literature and an analysis of the content of previous questionnaires. With the assistance of a small number of practising principals and teachers, all questionnaires were piloted before being tested among a larger sample of principals and teachers. This piloting helped to refine the questionnaires and ensured that all questions asked were specific and accurate. Two weeks after the questionnaires were sent to schools a second mailing was issued to those schools that, at that point, had not returned their questionnaires. This was followed by a series of telephone calls to schools where the response rate among the chosen variables was lower than average.

20 Class groups: junior infants, senior infants, first class, second class, third class, fourth class, fifth class, and sixth class. 21 Nine subject groups: (1) English; (2) Mathematics; (3) Irish; (4) Foreign Languages; (5) Science (Physics, Chemistry, Physics and Chemistry, Biology, Applied Mathematics, Science); (6) Business Studies (Accountancy, Business, Business Studies, Economics); (7) Applied Science (Engineering and Metalwork, Technical Drawing and Graphics, Construction Studies and Materials Technology (Wood), Agricultural Science, Agricultural Economics, Home Economics); (8) Social Studies I (History, Geography, Art, Craft and Design, Music); (9) Social Studies II (Religious Education, Physical Education, Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE), Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE)).

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2.4.3 Response rate
Responses were received from 240 (92%) of the 260 primary schools surveyed. Completed questionnaires were received from 234 principals and 1,162 class teachers (an average of almost five teachers per school). At post-primary level, responses were received from 114 (74%) of the 155 schools surveyed. Completed questionnaires were received from a total of 110 principals and 800 teachers (an average of 7 teachers per school). Based on previous experience of similar surveys, the actual response rate in all schools was more than double what was projected. This high response rate reflected the degree of interest in the survey, the perceived importance of the topic, and the follow-up procedure adopted to ensure that replies were received. Fig. 2.1: Survey response rates Impact of ICT on teaching and learning – response rates

100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0%
Primary (n=260) Post-primary (n=155)
92% 74%

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2.4.4 Comparison of respondents and population
The profile of the final sample of primary and post-primary schools was compared with that of the population. This comparison is described in tables 2.1 and 2.2. Table 2.1: Comparison of survey sample and population, primary schools Primary Schools Size (students) Small ( 793) Proficiency is based on teachers using applications in their teaching (n > 63)

When asked about their ability to use teaching and learning methods that are facilitated by ICT, 30% of primary teachers felt they had “intermediate” or “advanced” ability. Table 5.2 also shows that approximately four out of ten teachers reported that they had “intermediate” or “advanced” ability to assess the potential of educational software (40% of teachers) or internet material (41% of teachers) to facilitate teaching and learning. Younger teachers and male teachers were more

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positive in the assessment of their abilities in all three areas. The SCR ratio had a negligible effect on teachers’ self-assessment. Table 5.2: Proportion of primary teachers who rated their ability in each of three ICT tasks that facilitate teaching and learning as either “intermediate” or “advanced” Age 35-45 25% 37% Gender Male Female 34% 29% 48% 38% SCR Low 28% 40% High 32% 41% Overall 30% 40%

Using teaching and learning methods that are facilitated by ICT Assessing the quality of educational software to support teaching and learning Assessing the quality of internet material to support teaching and learning n

Under 35 38% 46%

Over 45 20% 27%

50%

37%

26%

48%

40%

41%

41%

41%

569

270

281

155

893

533

534

1,162

The analysis also shows that teachers’ competence is not of itself enough to ensure the transfer of that competence into practice. Obviously other factors, such as the availability of resources, teachers’ motivation, and the school culture, will affect actual use in teaching and learning. If ICT is to be effectively integrated in teaching and learning it is clear that a holistic approach, embracing awareness-raising, professional development (pre-service, induction and in-service), planning, and infrastructure, will be required.

5.3 Classroom practice and ICT
5.3.1 Planning
Inspectors asked teachers during WSE inspections about their planning for the use ICT in their teaching. Some 43% of mainstream teachers, as shown in fig. 5.2, reported that their planning showed how they intended to use ICT in their teaching.

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Fig. 5.2: Extent to which mainstream teachers plan for the use of ICT Does your planning show how you intend to use ICT in your teaching?

No 57%

Yes 43%

Base: All mainstream class teachers (n = 127)

Of those teachers who showed how they intended to use ICT in their teaching, the main planning emphasis was on curricular areas (96%), followed by planning for the development of discrete ICT skills (74%), and the use of ICT to provide for students with special needs (56%). English was the most prominent curricular area for teachers who planned to use ICT in their teaching (94%), followed by Mathematics (64%). Teachers of senior classes were more likely than teachers of junior classes to plan for the use of ICT in the teaching of Science, History and Geography.54 Slightly more than three-quarters (76%) of all teachers stated that their planning was based on the school’s planning for ICT.

5.3.2 Frequency of ICT use
During their WSE inspections, inspectors distinguished between finding evidence of the use of ICT to facilitate teaching and learning in the classrooms visited and actual observation of the use of ICT during the inspection period.55 Table 5.3 shows that inspectors reported evidence of ICT being used to facilitate teaching and learning in 59% of the 127 classroom observations carried out as part of WSE inspections. However, in only 22% of instances did they observe ICT being used in the classroom during an inspection period of approximately two hours. The differences between the indirect evidence of the use of ICT and the inspectors’ first-hand observation of the use of ICT in teaching suggests that there is limited integration of ICT in the teaching and learning processes. Inspectors found evidence of higher levels of ICT use in senior classes (70% of classroom observations) than in junior classes (46% of classroom observations). This would suggest that the potential of ICT is not being fully realised in the critical early years of a child’s development.

54 Junior classes: infants to second class (inclusive). Senior classes: third class to sixth class (inclusive). 55 Examples of such evidence include samples of pupils’ work, displays of work involving ICT, and pupils’ responses to questions posed by the inspector or teacher.

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Table 5.3: Inspectors’ observations on the use of ICT to facilitate teaching and learning in classrooms Class Junior classes Senior classes Evidence of the use of ICT to facilitate teaching and learning Use of ICT observed in actual teaching and learning during the inspection period n 46% 70% SCR Low 60% High 62% 59% Total

20% 54

23% 67

27% 58

18% 55

22% 127

5.3.3 Organisation of ICT use
Inspectors who observed the actual use of ICT during inspection visits were asked to state how ICT activities were organised. It was found that the most frequently used organisational approach to the use of ICT in classrooms was one where the students used computers individually; this was followed by paired use and then whole-class use. Much of the individual ICT activity was organised in rotation. Similarly, respondents to the survey of teachers, as depicted in fig. 5.3, reported that the most frequently used approach was classroom activity in which individual students worked in rotation, followed by group activity and whole-class teaching in the classroom. In this instance, 46% of all primary mainstream and special class teachers reported that they organise the use of ICT in rotation at least once a week for individual students in the classroom. Fig. 5.3: Organisation of teaching and learning during use of ICT How is teaching and learning organised during use of ICT?

Individual students working in classroom on a 46% rotational basis Group activity in classroom 19% Whole-class teaching in classroom 11% Whole-class teaching in designated computer room 20% Group activity in designated computer room 11% 10% Individual students working in designated computer 8% 7% 6% room/library on a rotational basis 0% 20% 40%

12% 19% 25%

20%

18%

23%

9%

10%

13%

60%

80%

100%

At least once a week About 2/3 times a month Less than twice a month Base: All primary mainstream and special class teachers (n = 1026) 113

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It could be assumed that this predominant use of ICT with individual students has a relatively low impact, given the likelihood that each student would have access to ICT for relatively short periods. However, it is positive that both paired and group approaches, as well as whole-class approaches, are used. The findings of the evaluation also give an insight into how teachers organise the use of ICT in accordance with specific school factors, such as the level of resources available. Individual or paired activity in rotation reflects a sensible use of resources in situations where resources are confined to a stand-alone computer (or computers). In this regard it is important that classroom organisational matters be emphasised in support materials and courses for teachers so that they can exploit potential opportunities for using ICT within the classroom, regardless of the resources available.

5.3.4 Focus of ICT use
The evaluation found that ICT, where used, predominates in core curricular areas, such as English and Mathematics, and Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE), but that even this use of ICT is relatively infrequent. The national survey of teachers, as shown in fig. 5.4, demonstrated that ICT was used most frequently to promote learning in English. However, only 39% of these teachers used ICT in their teaching of English at least once a week. This weekly use was high relative to that for Mathematics and SESE, which had a weekly use of 28% and 14%, respectively. Furthermore, the case-study evaluations suggest that the use of ICT in the teaching of English, Mathematics and SESE is mainly to support and reinforce aspects of these subjects already taught. Fig. 5.4: Frequency of ICT use to promote learning in curricular areas

English 39% Mathematics 28% SESE 14% The Arts SPHE Irish Religious Education Physical Education Modern Languages 0%
8% 6% 7% 5% 7% 6% 19% 17% 14% 19% 30% 27% 29% 29%

28% 29% 33% 42%

25%

20%
At least once a week About 2/3 times a month Less than twice a month

40%

60%

80%

100%

Base: All primary mainstream and special class teachers (n = 1026)

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Both teachers and inspectors reported limited use, if any, of ICT in the teaching of other curricular areas. The low level of use in the teaching of Irish relative to the other core subjects is particularly disappointing given the potential of ICT as a tool in enhancing students’ motivation to learn the language. Teachers were asked in their national survey how frequently they used ICT to develop certain skills in their students. Fig. 5.5 shows that ICT is most frequently used to develop numeracy, reading and writing skills and less frequently to develop other important cross-curricular skills, such as research, presentation, social, problem-solving and communication skills. The use of ICT in developing reading, numeracy and writing skills, however, was infrequent, with fewer than 30% of teachers reporting using ICT at least once a week to develop these skills. Fig. 5.5: Frequency of ICT use among mainstream and special class teachers to facilitate development of skills Frequency of ICT usage to develop the following skills

Skills in numeracy Reading skills Writing skills Referencing/research Presentation skills Social/team/collaborative Problem solving/analytical Communication skills 0%
6% 7%

25% 29% 22% 14% 10% 10% 8% 13% 13% 18% 21% 26%

31% 26% 29%

27% 27% 30%

20%
At least once a week About 2/3 times a month Less than twice a month

40%

60%

80%

100%

Base: All primary mainstream and special class teachers (n = 1026)

In the course of WSE inspections, however, inspectors noted the prominent use of ICT to support the teaching of reading and writing. Furthermore, the case-study school evaluations showed that the use of ICT in reading and numeracy was mainly for the purpose of consolidating learning, and that the use of ICT for the teaching of writing was generally limited to presenting personal writing and writing for projects, with little emphasis on the writing process. The case-study evaluations showed that the development of research skills was conducted mainly in the context of SESE and looking-and-responding activities in the Visual Arts, while the use of ICT to develop discrete skills was concentrated on word-processing and typing skills.

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The evaluation showed a degree of correlation between a school’s SCR and the range of skills taught. An analysis of inspectors’ observations during classroom inspections, for example, found that schools with a low SCR were more likely to teach presentation, social, team and collaborative skills or communication skills than schools with a high SCR. The use of ICT to develop numeracy and reading skills was more prevalent in these schools. Similarly, the survey of teachers found that those in schools with a low SCR were more likely to use ICT to develop most skills. In the questionnaires for students a slightly higher proportion of those in schools with a low SCR said that they learnt more about computers at school than those in schools with a high SCR. The evaluation found a degree of progression in the development of ICT skills from junior to senior classes. Inspectors’ observations during WSE inspection visits showed that ICT was used more prominently to develop writing skills and referencing, research and investigation skills in senior classes and to develop reading skills in junior classes. The survey of teachers similarly showed that teachers of senior classes were more likely to use ICT for writing purposes and referencing, research or investigation skills, while teachers of junior classes were more likely to use ICT to develop reading skills. A range of inspectors’ reports on case-study schools showed a similar progression. It is clear from this examination that the use of ICT is somewhat limited in primary schools, and that the potential for using ICT to develop critical life skills, such as communication, problem-solving and independent working skills, is not being realised. Evaluations of the implementation of the primary curriculum in recent years have also drawn attention to the deficit of provision in relation to the development of higher-order skills. The narrowness of the range of skills developed, particularly in the junior classes, is of concern, given that this is a critical time in a child’s development. It is important that these students should have the same opportunity as those in senior classes to develop their presentation, research and higher-order skills through the use of ICT. There is a great need, therefore, to promote the development of these skills through ICT with regard to the implementation of the curriculum. The “Framework for ICT in Curriculum and Assessment” at present being developed by the NCCA will provide schools with advice in this area.

5.3.5 Use of resources and applications in the classroom
Software
The national survey of teachers explored the extent to which software was used to facilitate teaching and learning. In general, as shown in table 5.4, some 86% of teachers used software to facilitate teaching and learning. Teachers of senior classes were slightly more likely to use software to facilitate teaching and learning (90%) than teachers of junior classes (83%). A lower SCR tended to have a positive impact on the use of software to facilitate teaching and learning, with 89% of teachers in schools with a low SCR reporting such use, compared with 83% of those in schools with a high SCR. It was also found that the three most common sources of advice regarding the selection of applications for particular curriculum areas were colleagues (85%), educational software suppliers (52%), and the ICT advisor (29%).

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Table 5.4: Teachers’ use of software and the internet to support learning Class Junior classes Senior classes Use of internet resources in planning and preparation for teaching Use of the internet in classroom practice Use of software to facilitate teaching and learning n SCR Low High Total

69% 15% 83% 486

74% 37% 90% 430

71% 28% 89% 533

67% 20% 83% 534

69% 24% 86% 1,162

Case-study school evaluation reports emphasised the importance of software in facilitating the use of ICT in schools. A number of reports, for example, made explicit links between the availability of software and the extent to which ICT was used in a given school. The inspectors found widespread use of software resources in literacy and numeracy; however, they found that this was limited for the most part to consolidation (that is, reinforcing number facts and phonic skills), especially in junior classes and in the special-education setting. Apart from the use of software in SESE, casestudy school evaluations found a dearth of software in use for other aspects of the curriculum. Teachers of mainstream and special classes were asked in their survey to state which applications they used in their teaching in different curricular areas. Table 5.5 shows that the use of software predominated in the subject areas where ICT is used most frequently (that is, English, Mathematics, SESE, and the Visual Arts). The reliance on word-processing and the internet for other subjects, such as Irish, could be due to the relative lack of software available to support the use of ICT in those curricular areas, in contrast to that available for the other core areas. Table 5.5: Most frequently used applications in the teaching of individual curricular areas Subject English Mathematics Social, Environmental, and Scientific Education (SESE) Visual Arts Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Irish Religion Physical Education Modern Languages Application(s) Word-processing or desktop publishing [page layout] and content-rich software Content-rich software Reference software Painting and drawing programs Word-processing or desktop publishing Word-processing or desktop publishing Word-processing or desktop publishing and internet Internet Word-processing or desktop publishing and internet

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Given the importance of software in facilitating the integration of ICT throughout the curriculum, there is a need to make primary teachers aware of the range of materials available in all curricular areas. It is also important that teachers are able to assess the potential of computer applications for use in their classrooms; developing this ability should be a central consideration in ICT training opportunities. As recommended by inspectors in the case-study school evaluations, schools should consider drawing up an inventory of computer applications in accordance with their suitability for class levels. Teachers also need to become more aware of the potential of other ICT applications, to become more competent in their use, and to engage in planning for their use in order that they can more fully integrate ICT in the teaching of the curriculum.

The internet
The survey of teachers asked them about their use of internet resources in planning and preparation for teaching and the use of the internet in classroom practice. As already seen in table 5.4, the internet was reported to be used as a resource in planning and preparation for teaching by 69% of all teachers. It was also found that such use was related to teaching experience, with recently qualified teachers being more likely to use internet resources in planning and preparation for teaching than their more experienced colleagues. However, teachers’ reported use of the internet in classroom practice was much lower than its use for planning and preparation. Only 24% of all teachers reported using the internet in classroom practice. The main reason for this difference was lack of internet access in the classroom, as cited by 58% of teachers. Presumably teachers have access to the internet outside school for the purposes of planning and preparation, while access within school is still somewhat limited. Other reasons reported by teachers for not using the internet in their classroom practice were lack of time (9%), lack of knowledge (9%), lack of computers (8%), and lack of suitability for children of this age (8%). Teachers of senior classes were more likely to use the internet in classroom practice (37%) than teachers of junior classes (15%). A low SCR had a slightly positive impact on the use of the internet to facilitate teaching and learning: some 28% of teachers in schools with a low SCR reported using the internet in their classroom practice, compared with 20% of teachers in schools with a high SCR. Those teachers who stated that they used the internet in their classroom practice (24% of all teachers) were also asked how frequently they used various internet resources. Fig. 5.6 shows the findings with regard to the use of internet resources in descending order of frequency of use.56

56 Any percentage on or below 5 % is not labelled.

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Fig. 5.6: Frequency of use of individual internet resources by internet users How frequently do you use the following internet resources in your teaching?

Teaching resources Educational news/current events E-mail Strategies for integrating ICT in teaching and learning On-line resources for students with SEN On-line professional development On-line subscription-based content On-line discussions On-line collaborative projects Webquests E-twinning Videoconferences Wikis Blogs 0%

14% 20% 8%

35% 30% 17% 37% 33% 28% 20% 14% 16% 8%

36% 36% 22%

26%

13% 14% 12%

7%

20%
At least once a week About 2/3 times a month Less than twice a month

40%

60%

80%

100%

Base: All primary teachers using internet in teaching (n = 275)

Of the teachers who used the internet in classroom practice, the most frequently used internet resources were teaching resources, educational news, information on current events, and e-mail. More than a third (35%) of all teachers using the internet used it at least once a week to obtain access to teaching resources. In their visits to the thirty-two case-study schools inspectors found that teachers made very limited use, if any, of the internet in their classrooms. In many of these instances there was an expectation that the installation of broadband would greatly facilitate the use of the internet as a teaching and learning tool. Where the internet was used, activities included carrying out research activities (for example project work in SESE and Visual Arts) through the use of search engines and educational sites. One school used e-pal web sites for the development of students’ communication skills. In another school, students had used interactive web sites in support of their science programme.

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It is clear that the use of the internet by teachers in the classroom is limited (for the most part because of a lack of infrastructure), despite the fact that teachers themselves appear familiar with internet use, particularly in planning and obtaining access to resources and ideas for teaching. However, the practices observed in case-study schools, though engaged in on a limited scale, illustrate the potential for use of the internet in the classroom for developing such abilities as communication skills. Recent assistance to schools from the Department of Education and Science with regard to enhancing connectivity in schools should help to facilitate teachers in realising the potential of the internet.

Peripherals
Chapter 3 has already shown that there is little general use of peripherals, apart from printers, in primary classrooms. This is a cause of concern, given the role that the effective use of peripherals can play in the integration of ICT in teaching and learning, and the additional potential for their effective use in tandem with other ICT resources. For example, one inspector in a case-study school commented favourably on integrated ICT activity involving internet research, recording with a digital camera during field trips, and presenting findings using presentation software. Other inspectors commented favourably on the use of digital video recorders for the production of films. It is clear that teachers need to be made more aware of the potential of software, the internet and peripheral resources and to become more confident in their use. This may be addressed in more focused ICT planning and enhanced training opportunities.

5.3.6 Quality of provision
The national survey of principals explored their views on how existing use of ICT in their school was benefiting teaching and learning. The comments of principals were mainly positive. They expressed the view that ICT is useful for motivating students, for consolidating their learning, for improving how they present their work, and for presenting an additional challenge. They also suggested that ICT motivates children, promotes imagination and creativity, and develops problem-solving skills. In general, 51% of the principals surveyed were of the view that using ICT contributed to improved ICT skills, while 34% felt that it contributed to improving class content and support of the curriculum. Teachers also expressed positive attitudes in relation to the impact of ICT on teaching and learning. In the course of interviews in the case-study schools, teachers suggested a number of factors as having a positive impact in the classroom. • The visual impact and interactive nature of ICT has a positive effect on students’ motivation and levels of interest. It enhances their confidence, particularly those with special educational needs, and it increases students’ enjoyment of learning.

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• ICT assists the development of good social skills in the classroom, the development of cooperation between students and teachers, and the promotion of peer tutoring in classrooms. • ICT facilitates the development of students’ recording and presentation skills, followed by independent and self-correcting skills and research and information retrieval skills. • ICT is important in reinforcing and consolidating skills and learning. However, while teachers, both at the principal and the classroom level, were generally quite positive about the role of ICT in teaching and learning in primary classrooms inspectors found that the undoubted potential of ICT was frequently unrealised. As noted earlier inspectors found relatively limited evidence of the integration of ICT in teaching and learning in the classroom, with, for example, the use of ICT in only 22% of classroom observations.

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As well as frequency of use inspectors also reported on the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning where it was observed during the inspection period in classrooms visited during WSEs. Fig. 5.7 shows that 34% of inspectors’ reports on classroom observations reveal limited or inappropriate use, or no use, of ICT in teaching and learning. In 42% of instances the inspectors reported that there was scope for development, while in 24% of instances they reported a competent or optimal level of performance. The proportion of competent or optimal levels was higher for senior classes (30%) than for junior classes (15%). Fig. 5.7: Inspectors’ rating of the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning

60%

40%
34%

42%

20%
19%

0%
No, very little, or inappropriate use of ICT Scope for development Competent practice

5%

Optimal level of performance

Base: All mainstream class observations (n=127)

Inspectors also provided some commentary in relation to their rating of the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning in the classroom. These comments point to a reliance on software for ICT use, and show that such factors as lack of planning and preparation constrain the effective use of ICT in classrooms and the systematic development of curricular skills using ICT. Table 5.6 provides a sample of these comments.

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Table 5.6: Inspectors’ comments on the quality of use of ICT observed in teaching and learning Rating (class) Inspector’s comment Very little use, or inappropriate Discussions with the teacher reveal that ICT is used incidentally and for very short periods. use, of ICT (junior classes) Two programs were used intermittently, which are designed to enhance the students’ literacy skills. The teacher uses the internet to research work occasionally. In general, the use of ICT in the classroom is incidental rather than being planned or systematic. Scope for development The work the children were doing during the course of the evaluation was not adequately (senior class) prepared, and they were simply transcribing from the screen. It is worth noting, however, that they did have the ability to operate the search engine to obtain access to information on the topic of their choice. Competent practice Students are somewhat familiar with the use of Powerpoint as a medium of presentation (senior class) but still need clear direction from the teacher and are clearly dependent on her to an extent in manipulating the computers in the room. The teacher uses Powerpoint in presentation. Optimal level of performance Software on Ancient Egyptians: excellent stimulation of students, clarification of (middle class) information and consolidation. ICT used in project work; also video and camcorder use.

Inspectors who visited case-study schools gave additional insights into the quality and range of ICT activity in primary schools. Many commented favourably on the attitude, enthusiasm and confidence of fifth-class students in using ICT, citing, for example, good use of relevant internet sites and reference software, both for project work and incidental research. Other commendable practices observed by the inspectors in case-study schools included: • the use of ICT to facilitate the writing process of drafting and redrafting and students’ writing in a variety of genres • the use of ICT in higher-order activities, such as the development of students’ critical skills in looking and responding to art, the use of exploratory software to develop problem-solving skills and logic capabilities, and the use of spreadsheets • the use of ICT to develop creative skills, such as drawing and design, listening and responding, activity in music, and construction skills (through the use of robotics) • the use of the digital camera in producing group and class projects • the use of ICT in teaching Irish poetry • the use of ICT to create and to record musical compositions • the use of databases for the collation, examination and presentation of data • the use of computer-generated presentations by students to present their project work.

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However, the inspectors found that the range of skills and knowledge displayed by students varied significantly among case-study schools, and that competence in the use of ICT was limited for the most part to basic ICT skills, centred on the use of word-processing for personal writing and project work. One inspector described this in the following terms: A number of students in senior classes have developed some competency in ICT skills relating to the use of word-processing and the internet. They have also used the computer in the writing process and have access to content-rich mathematics and reading software. Students enjoy opportunities to paint and draw using the computer. Students are enthusiastic and confident in their discussion in respect of this relatively simple use of ICT.

Despite this emphasis on the development of basic ICT skills, the survey of fifth-class students showed, as illustrated in fig. 5.8, that many lack the competence to complete basic tasks on the computer. While most reported that they were able to perform many basic computer tasks, such as turning the computer on and off and opening or saving a file, more than 30% reported that they were not able to print a document or to go on the internet by themselves, while almost half (47%) reported not being able to create a document by themselves. The majority were unaware of how to create a presentation (72%), use a spreadsheet (86%), or send an attachment with an e-mail message (88%).

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Fig. 5.8: Students’ proficiency in individual tasks
How well can you do each of these tasks on a computer?

Shut down the computer Turn on a computer Open a file Save a document or file Print a document or file Go on the internet Create a document Delete a document or file Move files from one place to another Open an e-mail Write and send an e-mail Copy or download files from the internet Copy a file from a floppy disk Create a graph Create a presentation Send an attachment with an e-mail Use a spreadsheet 0%

12% 14% 23% 28% 28% 37% 39% 40% 31% 31% 28% 53% 63% 77% 66% 64% 95% 82%

95%

5% 4% 15% 14% 24% 26% 36% 25% 34% 33%

38% 39% 39% 33% 24%

20%

40%

60%

80%

100%

I can do this very well by myself I can do this with help from someone Base: All primary students (n = 437)

Interestingly, more than four out of five students (82%) in the case-study schools who completed questionnaires stated that using a computer helped them with their schoolwork. This was mainly through the use of the internet for projects. Only 39% reported that they used their home computer for homework. A higher proportion of girls (87%) than boys (77%) stated that using a computer helped them with their schoolwork; this was primarily through typing stories, poems, and essays. Similarly, slightly more girls (43%) than boys (36%) stated that a computer helped them with their homework, again primarily for typing poems, essays, and stories. In general, it can be said that limited use is at present made of ICT in teaching and learning in primary schools. However, despite the constraints that inhibit the greater use of the technology, there are examples of its effective use that could be extended and built on through taking such steps as sharing good practice within and between schools.

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5.3.7 Provision for students with special educational needs by mainstream class teachers The evaluation found that the level of ICT used to assist students with special educational needs within mainstream classrooms is quite low, despite the fact that the great majority of classrooms have children who have access to additional support. As shown in fig. 5.9, 53% of teachers in the schools visited by inspectors during WSE classroom inspections reported that they used ICT to assist students with special educational needs. Of those who did, teaching and learning was primarily facilitated by a student working individually on a computer (64% of teachers). These teachers reported using programs and web sites to assist their students. Teachers of senior classes were more likely to use ICT to assist students with special educational needs in their class (63%) than teachers of junior classes (39%). Given the predominantly individualised nature of the ICT-related activity involved, this may be related to the greater ability of older students to work independently, compared with that of the younger students. Fig. 5.9: Level of ICT support for students with special educational needs in mainstream classrooms Do you use ICT to support students with special educational needs in class?

No 47%

Yes 53%

Base: All mainstream class teachers (n = 127)

However, in only 11% of classroom observations did the inspectors on WSE visits observe the use of ICT in mainstream classrooms to assist students with special educational needs. Similarly to what was reported by teachers, the inspectors observed that the use of ICT to assist students with special educational needs was highest for senior classes and was primarily organised individually. The low level of ICT use with students with special educational needs in mainstream classrooms shows that the potential of ICT to provide a differentiated curriculum for those students is not being realised. There is clearly a need for teachers to become more aware of how to use ICT to differentiate work for their students. It is also of note that where children with special educational needs are given the opportunity to engage in ICT-related activity it is primarily as individuals. The potential for embracing paired or group activity in this regard could be further explored.

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5.4 ICT in special education
Over the past decade there has been a significant increase in the level of resources provided for students with special educational needs within mainstream primary schools. The evaluation attempted to gain an insight into the extent and quality of the use of ICT in special-needs education. This section of the report looks at the provision for children with special educational needs by members of the special-education support team.57

5.4.1 Access to ICT
Inspectors on WSE inspections explored the level of access that students had to ICT in the specialeducation setting. Some 85% of the seventy-one members of special-education support teams interviewed in schools, as shown in fig. 5.10, stated that their students had access to ICT. Of those with access, 90% said that ICT activity took place in the special-education support setting. Half (50%) of all respondents said that teaching and learning using ICT was organised by individually working with students with special educational needs. Somewhat less than half (45%) of respondents said that a combination of individual and group or paired work was used. Fig. 5.10: Level of access by students with special educational needs in special-education support settings Do students have access to ICT in this context?

No 15%

Yes 85%

Base: All special education team members (n = 71)

5.4.2 Planning for the use of ICT
Approximately 57% of the members of special-education teams interviewed by the inspectors on WSE visits, as illustrated in fig. 5.11, reported that their planning showed how they intended to use ICT in their teaching. Of those who displayed an intention to use ICT in their teaching, the main emphasis was on reading (92%), followed by numeracy (82%) and writing (56%). Some 60% of special-education support teachers who planned for the use of ICT in their teaching reported that this planning was based on the school’s planning for ICT.

57 Members of the special-education support team include the resource teacher, learning-support teacher and resource teacher for Travellers. It should be noted that, in accordance with Circular 02/05, learning-support teachers and resource teachers are now referred to as learning-support and resource teachers (LSRTs).

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Fig. 5.11: Extent to which special-education support team members plan for the use of ICT Does your planning show how you intend to use ICT in your teaching?

No 43%

Yes 57%

Base: All special education team members (n = 71)

5.4.3 Frequency of ICT use
Inspectors were asked to distinguish between evidence of the use of ICT to facilitate teaching and learning in the classrooms visited and actual observation of ICT in teaching and learning during the inspection period.58 Fig. 5.12 shows that 63% of the inspectors reported that they saw evidence of the use of ICT to facilitate teaching and learning in these classrooms, while 42% observed ICT being used in teaching and learning during the inspection period. This use is much higher than the level of ICT use observed by inspectors to provide for mainstream students (24%) and students with special educational needs within mainstream classrooms (11%). Most ICT use by members of the specialeducation team was through individual work with the student (69% of instances). Fig. 5.12: Inspectors’ observations of the use of ICT to facilitate teaching and learning in special-education support settings Is there evidence of the use of ICT to support teaching and learning? Was use of ICT observed in actual teaching and learning during the inspection period?

No 37%

Yes 63%

No 58%

Yes 42%

Base: All special education team observations (n = 71)

Base: All special education team observations (n = 71)

58 Examples of such evidence include samples of pupils’ work, displays of work involving ICT, and pupils’ responses to questions posed by the inspector or teacher.

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5.4.4 Focus of ICT use
The extent to which members of special-education support teams were using ICT to facilitate teaching and learning in a number of priority areas was explored as part of the evaluation. The special-education support teachers who responded to the national survey reported, as shown in fig. 5.13, that the main use of ICT in the special-education setting was for reading, numeracy, writing, and the development of motor sensory skills. Some 75% of these special-education teachers reported using ICT to develop reading skills at least once a week, which was far more frequent than that reported for writing skills (40%), motor sensory skills (46%), and numeracy skills (54%). The inspectors observing classroom practice during WSE inspections also found that the main skills being developed were (in declining order of frequency) reading, numeracy, and writing. The evaluation found that there is a greater general range of skills development in the specialeducation support setting than in mainstream classrooms. While ICT is used much less frequently for the development of other skills, such as communication, referencing, presentation, and higher-order skills, the use of ICT for the development of these skills is still much more frequent than that reported for mainstream classrooms.59 Fig. 5.13: Frequency of ICT use in special-education support settings to facilitate development of skills How frequently is ICT used as a strategy to achieve learning targets for students attending resource teaching and learning support in each of the following areas?

Reading skills Writing skills Skills in numeracy Motor sensory skills Communication skills Referencing/research skills Presentation skills Behavioural management skills Problem solving/ analytic skills Social/team/ collaborative skills 0%

16% 15% 23% 25% 21% 30% 21% 40% 54% 46%

75% 39% 25% 23% 28% 32% 24% 23% 17% 17% 14% 17% 19% 16% 10%

18% 14% 11%

28%

20%
At least once a week About 2/3 times a month Less than twice a month

40%

60%

80%

100%

Base: All primary learning support teachers (n = 136)

59 This can be seen when fig. 5.5 and fig. 5.13 are compared.

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In general, the relatively high frequency of use of ICT by members of the special-education support team to promote the development of literacy and numeracy is not surprising, given the priority attached to these core curricular skills in schools in this learning context. ICT facilitates a multisensory approach to the teaching of essential skills through the use, for example, of data projectors, speakers, and interactive whiteboards, and this should be exploited in special-education settings wherever appropriate.

5.4.5 Use of resources and applications
The survey of teachers explored the degree to which different applications were used in the development of a range of special educational needs priority areas. Members of the specialeducation support teams, as illustrated in table 5.7, were found to use applications most frequently for the development of reading and writing skills.60 Table 5.7: Applications used by members of special-education support teams to promote the development of skills Problem-solving and analytical Referencing and research Behavioural management 44% 25% 16% 31% 6% 16% 9% 6% 0 0 3% 3% 3% 0 32

Communication

Motor sensory

Presentation

Numeracy

Reading

Writing

Content-rich software Word-processing Reference software Painting and drawing programs Internet Assistive technology software Presentation Graphics programs Multimedia E-mail Spreadsheets Other Databases Programming or scripting n (valid)

72% 67% 30% 8% 19% 26% 16% 7% 7% 6% 2% 4% 2% 0 110

37% 89% 10% 12% 4% 18% 16% 11% 6% 7% 1% 1% 0 0 103

84% 25% 5% 5% 8% 16% 0 1% 3% 3% 6% 3% 1% 1% 80

15% 74% 11% 40% 12% 11% 26% 21% 11% 4% 6% 0 1% 0 73

51% 63% 10% 40% 5% 21% 6% 2% 6% 2% 0 3% 0 3% 67

46% 61% 16% 15% 18% 23% 18% 13% 13% 16% 2% 2% 5% 0 61

83% 16% 28% 5% 16% 7% 0 2% 4% 2% 5% 2% 0 0 57

16% 13% 71% 4% 45% 4% 5% 9% 4% 13% 11% 2% 4% 2% 56

50% 37% 9% 15% 24% 7% 13% 15% 13% 13% 0 2% 0 2% 46

60 Care should be taken when interpreting the percentages from this table, as sample sizes are low. Only 14 % of respondents were considered to be support teachers.

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Furthermore, table 5.8 reveals that those members of special-education support teams surveyed made prominent use of word-processing and content-rich software to facilitate teaching and learning in the different priority areas. Table 5.8: Most frequently used applications to promote the development of individual learning priority areas Skills Reading skills Writing skills Numeracy skills Presentation skills Motor sensory skills Communication skills Problem-solving skills Referencing and research skills Social skills Behavioural management skills Applications Word-processing, content-rich software Word-processing Content-rich software Word-processing, painting and drawing programs Word-processing, content-rich software, painting and drawing programs Word-processing, content-rich software Content-rich software Reference software Content-rich software Content-rich software

However, this reliance on content-rich software and word-processing suggests that the full potential of ICT is not being realised in special-education support settings. Teachers should explore the possibility of making greater use of other applications such as exploratory, reference and assistive technology software with students with special educational needs

5.4.6 Quality of provision
Inspectors were asked to describe the quality of ICT in special-education support settings during WSE evaluations. Their observations on the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning, as illustrated in fig. 5.14, show a range of quality in provision. A third of the observations reveal very little or inappropriate use, or no use, of ICT in the classroom. Another 38% of the observations reveal scope for development. Approximately 29% of the observations stated that there was a competent or optimal level of performance in the special-education setting. The proportion of observations rated “competent” or “optimal” was higher (36%) for schools with a high SCR.

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Fig. 5.14: Inspectors’ ratings of the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning observed in special-education support settings

60%

40%
38%

33%

20%

23%

0%
No, very little, or inappropriate use of ICT Scope for development Competent practice

6%

Optimal level of performance

Base: All speacial education team observations (n=71)

Inspectors’ ratings of the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning in special-education support settings are comparable, for the most part, with ratings on the use of ICT in mainstream classes. However, as table 5.9 shows, slightly more special-education support settings were allocated a “competent” or “optimal” rating (29%, compared with 24%). Table 5.9: Comparison of inspectors’ ratings of the quality of ICT provision in supporting children with special educational needs in mainstream and special-education support settings Mainstream settings and special classes 34% 42% 24% Special-education support settings 33% 38% 29%

Very little or inappropriate use Scope for development Competent or optimal use

Inspectors also provided some comments on the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning in the special-education support context in line with their ratings. These comments, a sample of which are provided in table 5.10, suggest that quality of provision is mainly constrained by lack of resources, lack of planning and timetabling, and lack of competence on the part of teachers. The accessibility of such resources as computer applications would appear to be an important factor influencing provision. Where competent practice was identified, the inspectors drew attention to the integration of ICT in learning and the learning benefits that accrue from ICT-related activity.

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Table 5.10: Sample of inspectors’ comments on the quality of ICT use in special-education support settings Rating Very little use, or inappropriate use, of ICT Comment There is potential for more frequent and structured use of ICT to support the development of students’ literacy and numeracy skill. While a laptop computer has been purchased to support the work of learning support, it was not available or in use in the classroom during the inspection period. It is mainly used to support teachers’ planning and preparation. The activity noted took the form of games only. The work was done independently, with little verbal interaction between teacher and student to ascertain whether understanding was deepening. Teacher has a broad range of software to support her work with individual students and groups of students in a learning-support role. Hardware and software positioned in a very easily accessed corner. Excellent work done, where ICT is an integral part of the teaching and learning that takes place. A wide range of software used, and the work done is very well integrated in all curricular areas.

Scope for development

Competent practice

Optimal level of performance

Inspectors’ reports on case-study schools suggest that there are some good practices in the use of ICT to support children with special educational needs, but that these are not widespread. For example, inspectors commented favourably on effective use of ICT to promote creative writing, the development of project skills, independent learning, social skills, and co-ordination or motor skills. The use of creative writing software was also reported as a useful means of managing the teaching of a range of abilities within a group. In general, it is clear that there are some good practices in ICT use to facilitate teaching and learning in special-education settings but that there is also significant room for development.

5.5 Assessment
While the evaluation found some evidence of administrative use of ICT by teachers during the assessment of students, it found limited evidence of teachers engaging in the assessment of ICTrelated activity and its impact on teaching and learning. More than two-fifths (42%) of teachers interviewed as part of classroom inspections during WSEs said that they used ICT to record students’ progress. Only 12% of respondents in the survey of teachers, however, reported that they had attempted to assess the impact of ICT on teaching and learning. Of the teachers who attempted to assess the impact of the use of ICT on teaching and learning in the class, 46% reported using observation, while 22% reported using an assessment test. An analysis of inspectors’ reports on case-study schools also illustrates the lack of attention to assessment of students’ progress in ICTrelated activity throughout the curriculum.

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It is clear that very little assessment of ICT-related activity takes place in primary school classrooms, which is critical, given that assessment, followed by planning, is the starting-point for improving the use of ICT in teaching and learning. Recent evaluations of the implementation of the curriculum reveal that this lack of attention to assessment is not confined to ICT. The ICT framework from the NCCA should help to address this deficit with regard to assessment of the use of ICT in the curriculum. However, given the difficulties that teachers have with assessment, it is very important that training be provided to facilitate the effective use of the framework and its assessment mechanisms.

5.6 Developing ICT in the classroom
The evaluation identified factors that both constrain and facilitate the development of ICT in primary classrooms. It is important that schools take account of these issues and work towards overcoming the constraining factors and building on those factors that contribute to the development of ICT.

5.6.1 Factors that constrain the development of ICT in the curriculum In their reports on case-study schools, inspectors commented on the factors that constrained the development of ICT in schools. The main factors related to poor infrastructure and lack of technical support, low levels of competence and confidence on the part of teachers, insufficient time and funding, and planning-related issues. Respondents in the survey of teachers also reported infrastructural issues and lack of time as factors constraining the use of ICT in teaching and learning.

5.6.2 Factors that facilitate the development of ICT in the curriculum The most prominent factors facilitating the development of ICT in the curriculum include the knowledge, enthusiasm, competence and experience of the teacher. The availability of appropriate and accessible professional development clearly has a critical role to play in developing teachers’ skills and confidence in the use of ICT. While teachers’ attitudes and competence are crucial, it is also essential that they have ready access to functioning hardware and appropriate software. In this regard, access to the internet and the availability of suitable peripherals are important factors in facilitating the development of ICT in the classroom. In the responses to their survey, teachers emphasised the ready availability of quality hardware in sufficient quantity as a central factor. An analysis of the responses to this survey also suggests that more experienced teachers gave priority to teacher training in ICT, while younger teachers gave priority to the improved use of existing hardware and software in teaching and the updating of specific software.

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Adequate funding is clearly an issue in relation to the provision of resources, including both hardware and software. The grants provided to schools by the DES were recognised by teachers as making a significant contribution to the development of their school’s resources. However, as reported in chapter 1, schools find it necessary to supplement these grants through fund-raising and other local contributions. As the availability of resources continues to be a constraining factor on the development of ICT in schools, it must be concluded that additional funding for the development of schools’ ICT infrastructure is required.

5.7 Findings and recommendations
5.7.1 Main findings
Teachers’ confidence and competence in the use of ICT
• Only 30% of primary teachers rated their ability either “intermediate” or “advanced” with regard to using teaching and learning methods that are facilitated by ICT. Younger or more recently qualified teachers had a higher perception of their ICT skills than more experienced teachers.

Incidence of ICT use
• At primary level, inspectors reported evidence of the use of ICT to facilitate teaching and learning in 59% of classroom observations carried out as part of WSEs. However, they observed ICT actually used in only 22% of the lessons observed.

Integration of ICT in teaching and learning
• ICT is mainly used for the development of students’ writing, reading and numeracy skills. However, even this use of ICT is infrequent. • There is limited integration of ICT in the classroom. Where it is used, ICT predominates in core curricular areas, such as English and Mathematics, and SESE • There is limited use of ICT for the development of higher-order thinking skills, creative skills, social skills, independent working skills, and communication skills. • Students in junior classes experience a narrower range of ICT activity than their counterparts in senior classes. • Greater use is made of individual approaches to ICT-related activity than of paired, group or whole-class approaches.

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• The evaluation found limited evidence of teachers engaging in the assessment of ICT-related activity in their classrooms or of its impact on teaching and learning.

Students’ ICT use and competence
• Most students reported being able to perform many basic computer tasks, such as turning a computer on and off or opening and saving a file. • More than 30% reported that they could not create a document, print a document, or log on to the internet, or would need help to do so. • The majority of students did not know how to create a presentation, use a spreadsheet, or send an attachment with an e-mail message.

Use of resources
• There is a reliance on computer applications in both mainstream and special-education classes to facilitate the use of ICT in teaching and learning. This use is mainly for the consolidation of numeracy and literacy skills. • While 69% of teachers reported using internet resources in planning and preparing for their teaching, fewer than a quarter (24%) use the internet in classroom practice. • There is very limited use of peripherals in primary schools, apart perhaps from the printer.

Quality of provision
• Inspectors were asked to describe the quality of the use of ICT in the teaching and learning they observed during the inspection period in classrooms visited. Only a quarter of inspectors’ reports on classroom observations suggest a competent or optimal level of performance. This proportion was higher for senior classes than for junior classes.

Special-education settings
• Approximately half the mainstream teachers reported using ICT to assist students with special educational needs in mainstream settings. A significantly higher use was reported by members of schools’ special-education support teams. • ICT is mainly used in special-education settings to develop reading, writing and numeracy skills, with the most common applications used being word-processing and content-rich software. • Inspectors’ observations of the use of ICT during classroom inspections suggest a range of quality of provision in special-education settings, with only a third of instances rated “competent” or “optimal.”

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Factors constraining the use of ICT
• Factors constraining the development of ICT in the curriculum include poor infrastructure and technical support, lack of competence or confidence on the part of teachers in the use of ICT, and funding.

Factors facilitating the development of ICT
• Factors facilitating the development of ICT in the curriculum include knowledge, competence and experience on the part of the teacher and access to functioning hardware, as well as funding.

5.7.2 Recommendations
Recommendations for policy-makers and policy advisors
Teachers need to be supported in meeting the challenge of effectively integrating ICT in their classroom practices so that Irish classrooms can be placed at the forefront of advances in teaching practices and students’ learning techniques. This can be done in the following ways: • Consideration should be given to ensuring that teachers are provided with opportunities to develop skills that are directly applicable to the use of ICT in the classroom. This should be addressed in a strategic way through a combination of pre-service, induction and in-service training methods. • It is critical that teachers receive training in how to engage with the forthcoming “Framework for ICT in Curriculum and Assessment” to be published by the NCCA. • Education departments in third-level colleges should consider giving priority to the integration of ICT in the different curricular areas when preparing students for teaching. • It is important that classroom organisational matters be emphasised in support materials and courses for teachers so that they can exploit potential opportunities for using ICT in the classroom in accordance with the resources available.

Recommendations for schools
Teachers’ confidence and competence in using ICT • Schools should endeavour to adopt mechanisms to facilitate the sharing of good practice among members of the staff. For example, teachers who make effective use of ICT could act as mentors to colleagues who are not as confident in their use of the technology. • Teachers should be encouraged to become more critically reflective of their classroom practice, particularly their practice with regard to ICT.

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Integration of ICT in teaching and learning • Schools should endeavour to provide all their students with an appropriate and equitable level of experience of ICT at all class levels. • Continuous efforts should be made in schools to develop the level of teachers’ access to ICT equipment. The provision of internet access in classrooms and access to a school network should be a priority for schools. The relevant DES grants will help facilitate this provision. • Teachers should regularly review their use of ICT with a view to expanding their repertoire of teaching strategies, including opportunities for students’ engagement with the technology. • Schools and teachers should make greater use of ICT to differentiate the implementation of the curriculum within the mainstream classroom. • Teachers should fully exploit the potential of ICT to facilitate the development of students’ literacy and numeracy skills. • Teachers should exploit the potential of ICT to develop a range of skills in students, including research and collaborative skills, creative writing skills, communication skills, and the higher-order skills of analysis, evaluation, and problem-solving. Resources • Schools should explore the use of as wide a range of resources and applications as possible, including educational software, peripherals, e-mail, presentation software, Scoilnet, the NCTE web site, and the internet. Schools could consider drawing up an inventory of software in accordance with its suitability for class levels and curricular applications. The NCTE’s Software Central web site, which provides advice and support to teachers on the use of software in their classrooms, is a useful resource in this regard. Special-education settings • In using ICT as a teaching aid for students with special educational needs, schools should endeavour to ensure that it is being used to support the widest range of students’ needs possible, both within classrooms and in withdrawal settings. • Schools should exploit the benefits of ICT in their assessment procedures and practices beyond purely administrative functions. This could include using ICT to assess, track and analyse students’ progress, using appropriate applications.

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6.1 Introduction
This chapter deals with ICT and its contribution to the teaching and learning process in post-primary school classrooms. It begins by looking at teachers’ ICT qualifications and skills as a means of exploring the level of their familiarity with the relevant technology and its applications. It also looks at the present extent of students’ use of ICT as a means of determining their ICT skill levels. The chapter then turns to addressing how ICT is used at present in classrooms. Firstly, the nature of dedicated ICT lessons is examined. A number of areas are examined in detail, including the support that school principals give to the use of ICT in the classroom, the extent of ICT facilities in classrooms, the focus, organisation and frequency of its use, teaching activities that incorporate ICT, the extent of its use in different subjects, the quality of its provision, and its impact on the teaching and learning process. The use of ICT in special education settings and in assessment are also considered. Finally, the chapter identifies factors that contribute to the successful integration of ICT in classrooms, as well as those that tend to constrain its development.

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6.2 ICT qualifications and skills
This section examines teachers’ ICT skills and qualification levels as well as students’ ICT skills levels. It draws primarily on the findings of the national surveys of teachers and students.

6.2.1 Teachers’ ICT qualifications and skill levels
An analysis of the survey of teachers showed that approximately 6% of post-primary teachers had a postgraduate qualification in ICT in education, while a further 12% had other informal qualifications in ICT.61 The survey showed that teachers of Business Studies (33%), science subjects (26%), Mathematics (25%) and the applied science subjects (24%) were most likely to have such qualifications. When other academic qualifications in ICT are included, a substantial 25% of all post-primary teachers reported having a qualification in ICT.62 Of the 737 teachers who reported that they had the higher diploma in education (HDipEd), only 213, or 29%, reported that they studied a module in ICT as part of this qualification; this increased to 60% of all teachers under the age of thirty-five. This higher figure for younger teachers would seem to suggest a growing shift on the part of teacher educators to equipping trainee teachers with the necessary ICT skills to enable them to use ICT as part of their teaching methods in the classroom. This shift is perhaps in response to, among other things, the wider repertoire of teaching methods that ICT makes possible, to the impact that it can have on teaching and learning, and to the pervasiveness of ICT in schools. Teacher education departments in third-level colleges should consider giving priority to the study of a module on ICT in education for students following a postgraduate diploma in education course. Indeed the study of ICT in education should be given priority within the course content of any teaching qualification provided by teacher educators. The questionnaire for teachers also asked respondents to state their perceived level of proficiency in a number of ICT skills areas.63 The responses were arranged in descending order of proficiency, as shown in table 6.1, by combining “intermediate” and “advanced” from the principal variables of teacher’s age group, gender, and SCR.64 The highest levels of perceived proficiency were in use of the internet, e-mail, and word-processing, where more than half the teachers rated their proficiency as “intermediate” or “advanced.” The lowest level was for programming and scripting, assistive technology, and careers software: fewer than 10% reported an intermediate or advanced level of proficiency in these areas. Again it is noteworthy that teachers under thirty-five considered themselves to be more proficient in practically all ICT skills areas, especially the internet, e-mail, word-processing, and presentation. The proficiency

61 “Informal qualifications” refers to such courses as the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). 62 Other academic qualifications in ICT might include a BSc in computer science or a BEng in computer engineering. 63 Respondents were able to state their level of proficiency in the different skill areas as “none,” “basic,” “intermediate,” or “advanced.” 64 See note 19 (chapter 2) for a definition of SCR.

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of teachers of Irish in most skills areas was noticeably lower than that reported by teachers of other subjects. Table 6.1: Proportion of post-primary teachers who rated their proficiency in ICT skills as either “intermediate” or “advanced” Age 35–45 60% 58% 57% 33% 32% 30% 26% 31% 24% 22% 19% 16% 13% 13% 10% 8% 14% 6% 7% 5% 210 Gender Female 66% 62% 61% 41% 37% 33% 30% 32% 28% 26% 19% 16% 16% 14% 10% 10% 6% 9% 7% 6% 468 SCR Low 66% 61% 58% 41% 37% 34% 30% 33% 30% 26% 23% 20% 17% 16% 9% 9% 11% 7% 4% 7% 323 High 68% 66% 65% 43% 39% 37% 35% 33% 31% 26% 22% 18% 20% 19% 12% 11% 9% 7% 9% 7% 321 Total 66% 63% 61% 42% 38% 35% 33% 33% 31% 27% 23% 20% 18% 17% 11% 11% 10% 8% 7% 7% 800

Under 35 Internet 84% E-mail 81% Word-processing 76% Presentation 59% Operating systems 51% Spreadsheets 46% File management 42% Reference software 39% Graphics programs 41% Databases 34% Multimedia 33% Troubleshooting 25% Content-rich software 18% 20% Exploratory software65 Networking 14% Data-logging software 13% Drawing programs 13% Careers software 7% Assistive technology software 8% Programming or scripting 10% n 272

Over 45 55% 50% 52% 30% 29% 29% 29% 29% 25% 22% 16% 17% 21% 16% 9% 9% 6% 9% 6% 5% 290

Male 70% 66% 61% 43% 42% 39% 38% 36% 36% 27% 30% 26% 20% 21% 14% 13% 19% 6% 9% 8% 260

The survey also explored how often teachers used these ICT skills (by means of a range of applications) in their teaching. The internet (79%) and word-processing (79%), as fig. 6.1 shows, were the most popular applications used by teachers. Furthermore, the teachers who used these applications revealed a high level of proficiency in each application (i.e. at least 86% of teachers who use the applications had at least an intermediate level of knowledge of these applications).66 On the other hand, teachers who reported using reference (for example encyclopaedias), contentrich and exploratory software in their teaching had a relatively low level of proficiency. The findings also reveal that in many instances the level of reported proficiency was not reflected in the actual use of the application. The relatively low level of use in classroom practice of e-mail, spreadsheets, graphics programs and databases, for example, does not reflect teachers’ high levels

65 Exploratory software can be described as simulation-type software, usually subject-specific but with a high level of interactivity. 66 Note: The “proficiency of user” scale in fig. 6.1 is based on the small number of teachers (15) who stated that they used these applications in their teaching.

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of proficiency in these applications. It can be assumed, therefore, that other factors, such as teachers’ motivation or computer access, may influence the transfer of teachers’ competence in particular applications to classroom practice. Fig. 6.1: Proficiency and use of applications in teaching

79% 88% 79% 86% 59% 87% 47% 59% 42% 90% 41% 79% 36% 52% 35% 77% 31% 71% 30% 57% 25% 68% 21% 65% 16% 73% 16% 63% 12% 43% 6% 47%

Internet Word-processing Presentation Reference software E-mail Spreadsheets Content-rich software Graphics packages Databases Exploratory software Multimedia Datalogging software Drawing packages Careers software Assistive technology software Programming/scripting 25% 50% 75% 100%

100%

75%

50%

25%

0%

Usage in Teaching (at least once)

Proficiency of User (Intermediate or Advanced)

Base: Usage is based on teachers using applications in their teaching (n > 247) Proficiency is based on teachers using applications in their teaching (n > 15)

Teachers were also asked in their survey to rate their ability at different tasks related to the application of ICT and related materials in the classroom. Table 6.2 shows that slightly more than a quarter (26%) of all teachers rated their ability as “intermediate” or “advanced” in relation to using teaching and learning methods that are facilitated by ICT. A similar proportion (27%) rated their ability as “intermediate” or “advanced” in relation to assessing the quality of educational software to facilitate teaching and learning, while four out of ten (40%) reported their ability to assess the quality of internet material to facilitate teaching and learning to be at that level.

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Table 6.2: Proportions of post-primary teachers who rated their ability in each of three ICT tasks that facilitate teaching and learning as either “intermediate” or “advanced” Age 35–45 19% Gender Male Female 30% 25% SCR Low 26% High 27% Total 26%

Using teaching and learning methods that are facilitated by ICT Assessing the quality of educational software to facilitate teaching and learning Assessing the quality of internet material to facilitate teaching and learning n

Under 35 38%

Over 45 22%

33%

20%

27%

30%

25%

27%

28%

27%

54%

30%

33%

40%

40%

37%

43%

40%

272

210

290

260

468

323

321

800

The perceived ability level in all three tasks was higher for teachers aged thirty-five or under; but it is interesting to note that while the reported ability levels decreased somewhat for the 35–45 group they increased again for the over-45 category. This trend is also apparent from table 6.1 in perceived levels of proficiency in the areas of content-rich and exploratory software. This increase in skills level could be correlated with length of teaching experience. There was a negligible difference between the stated ability of teachers in schools with a low or high SCR. It is noteworthy that teachers of Irish, English and the subjects in the social studies II group (Religious Education, Physical Education, CSPE, and SPHE) provided a lower than average rating in each of the three ICT tasks. As mentioned earlier, the survey found that 25% of teachers had a qualification in ICT. For the 75% who had no such qualification it can be deduced that their main means towards mastering the technology and its application was through their own enthusiasm for ICT and self-learning, or by availing of relevant professional development courses. The survey also found that, apart from the internet, e-mail, and word-processing, the majority of teachers–those with and without formal ICT qualifications–stated that they did not consider themselves to be proficient in an entire range of ICT skills and applications. Finally, significant numbers of teachers rated their ability in each of the three ICT tasks that facilitate teaching and learning (see table 6.2) as basic or stated that had no ability in the area. In general, the findings show that significant numbers of teachers lack intermediate-level ICT skills or better (table 6.1). This impedes them in integrating the technology in their teaching practice. Furthermore, of those who consider themselves to have these skill levels, many declare themselves

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unaware of how to apply them so as to facilitate improved teaching and learning (table 6.2). Also, younger teachers perceive themselves to have higher levels of proficiency in a range of ICT skills than more established teachers. While this may reflect changes taking place in teacher education, it may also reflect the pervasiveness of technology in younger people’s lives. If ICT is to be effectively integrated in the teaching and learning process it is apparent that these issues will need to be addressed in a strategic way, through, for example, a combination of pre-service, induction and inservice training.

6.2.2 Students’ ICT skill levels
In general, the evaluation found that fifth-year students have a positive attitude towards the use of computers. There was a negligible difference between the attitudes of those in schools with a low SCR and those in schools with a high SCR. In their questionnaire, students were asked to state how frequently they used computers to perform certain tasks. Fig. 6.2 shows that more than threequarters (77%) of respondents specified that they used the internet to look up information at least twice a month. More than half (53%) reported using the internet to download music at least twice a month.

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Fig. 6.2: Students’ use of computers
How often do you use:

The internet to look up information Word-processing Games on a computer Drawing or graphics programs on a computer The internet to download music The computer to help you learn school material E-mail The internet to download software (games) The internet to collaborate with a group or team Spreadsheets The computer for programming Educational software such as Maths programs 18% 13% 6% 8% 4% 13% 13% 12% 15% 33% 14% 30%

43% 34% 30% 23% 23% 25% 14% 22% 16% 20% 29% 19% 17% 21% 26% 26% 29%

34% 25% 22% 35% 15%

18%

18%

0%

20%
At least once a week About 2/3 times a month Less than twice a month

40%

60%

80%

100%

Base: All post-primary students (n = 450)

Responses also showed that students used a computer to perform the following activities at least twice a month: word-processing (63% of respondents), games (56%), and e-mail (47%). There was a negligible difference in how often those in schools with a low SCR performed these tasks compared with those in schools with a high SCR. This may be explained by the fact that schools with a high SCR were generally larger, where access to centralised computer rooms was more favourable. Students were also specifically asked to state what kinds of tasks they used computers for at school. The most frequent replies were research on the internet (71%), word-processing (62%), and general IT skills, for example file administration (32%). As will be seen in section 6.3.2, these are strikingly similar to the topics commonly taught in schools’ dedicated ICT lessons. Nearly two-thirds (64%) reported using a computer to help them with their homework. However, only 19% of these did this at least once a week. This is perhaps an area that could be exploited further by schools and teachers, as some 89% of students reported having access to a computer at home. Interestingly, 36% of students surveyed stated that they learnt most about computers by teaching themselves (45% stating that they taught themselves how to use the internet), while 33% stated

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that they learnt most through their teachers. Those in schools with a low SCR were more likely to use a computer for recreational use (32%) or e-mail (22%) than those in schools with a high SCR (19% for recreation, 13% for e-mail). More students in schools with a high SCR stated that they were using computers to work with word-processing, presentation, and other applications. Students also reported on how well they could perform certain tasks. As can be seen from fig. 6.3, they were confident that they could undertake many basic operations by themselves, for example saving, printing, deleting, opening and editing documents. It was found that, with some assistance, they could generally perform more complicated tasks, such as moving files, copying files to external storage devices, and writing and sending e-mail. A relatively low proportion, however, reported being able to create a multimedia presentation. It was found that they would require most help to attach a file to an e-mail message, construct a web page, or deal with computer viruses. Fig. 6.3: Students’ ICT skill levels How frequently do you use the following?

Get on to the internet Print a document or file Save a document or file Delete a document or file Open a file Play computer games Scroll through a document on a screen Start a computer game Draw pictures using a mouse Create/edit a document Move files from one place to another Copy or download files from the internet Write and send e-mails Copy a file from a CD / memory stick / floppy disk Use a database Attach a file to an e-mail message Create a presentation Create a multi-media presentation Use software to find/get rid of computer viruses Construct a web page 0%

98% 96% 98% 95% 95% 95% 93% 92% 91% 87% 71% 68% 70% 68% 42% 38% 40% 27% 30% 14% 34% 36% 29% 28% 26% 36% 21% 22% 18% 20% 5% 6% 6% 10%

20%

40%

60%

80%

100%

I can do this very well by myself I can do this with help from someone Base: All post-primary students (n = 450)

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When developing ICT courses, schools should take account of students’ previous ICT knowledge and skills, with a view to expanding and consolidating their repertoire of skills. This entails tracking the development of their ICT skills through their post-primary schooling and planning the content of dedicated ICT lessons accordingly. Little emphasis (as will be seen in section 6.3) is placed on more complicated ICT tasks during students’ experience of ICT in their classrooms. Interviews conducted by inspectors with fifth-year students in case-study schools revealed that they used computers mainly in the social studies I group of subjects (History, Geography, Art, Craft and Design, Music), in the LCVP link modules, and, unsurprisingly, in dedicated computer lessons. Inspectors also observed examples of work done by these students during evaluations. It was common for the work displayed to relate to the LCVP link modules or LCA tasks. One report described the work observed as follows: Students presented examples of work they had produced using different software packages. These included word-processing to produce curricula vitae and questionnaires, Excel for problem solving in Mathematics and to produce timetables and lists of teams for sports, Publisher to produce notices and Paint to produce images which they then incorporated into the Publisher documents. The students interviewed were able to talk knowledgeably about the work they had done. They were also able to discuss [the] functionality of software that was not demonstrated in the work shown and could suggest likely locations within menus for functions with which they were not familiar.

Another report mentioned that
examples of word-processing, as well as digital camera work undertaken as part of their work for Art, Craft and Design lessons, were made available for examination. The work observed was of a high quality and students were able to hold a discussion about it in a capable and confident manner.

There was a strong correlation between the samples of students’ work observed by inspectors and those activities students performed most often (as shown in fig. 6.2), as well as the tasks for which they reported themselves as being most proficient (as shown in fig. 6.3). In general, the quality of the students’ ICT work observed in schools was described in very positive terms by inspectors. In all the reports in which students’ work was commented on it was mentioned that they were capable of discussing it in a competent and confident manner. Nevertheless, it was also clear that the range of work observed was somewhat limited. It is recommended, therefore, that teachers broaden the range or type of ICT work that they cover with students.

6.3 Dedicated ICT lessons
This section begins by examining how dedicated ICT lessons are timetabled, with particular reference to levels of provision in both the junior and the senior cycle. It also refers to the curriculum that schools implement during these lessons.

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6.3.1 Timetabling of dedicated ICT lessons
In their national survey, school principals were asked to provide details about all timetabled dedicated ICT lessons in their schools. Table 6.3 provides details of the provision of these lessons in 110 post-primary schools. Table 6.3: Timetabled dedicated ICT lessons in post-primary schools First year Second year Third year Transition Year Leaving Certificate year 1 69% Leaving Certificate year 2 66%

Proportion of schools 70% 45% 35% that timetabled ICT lessons Average number of 1 1 1 lesson periods per week Base: All post-primary schools with timetabled ICT lessons (n = 110).

62%

4

2

2

The proportion of schools that timetabled ICT lessons fell from 70% to 35% from first year to third year (that is, as the Junior Certificate examination drew closer for students, their exposure to dedicated ICT lessons ceased in many schools). The average number of lesson periods per week throughout the three years of the junior cycle was one. However, the proportion of schools that timetabled ICT lessons increased to more than 60% of all schools for senior cycle students (Transition Year and Leaving Certificate). For Leaving Certificate students in particular, the high proportions were attributed primarily to the LCVP and LCA programmes. The average number of lesson periods was greater in the senior cycle than in the junior cycle, especially for Transition Year students. A similar pattern in the provision of dedicated ICT lessons was found in the case-study schools. In the majority of inspectors’ reports, junior cycle students were reported as not being timetabled with any dedicated ICT lessons. In such instances the school management usually commented that these lessons had been dropped as a result of timetabling pressures to provide access to new junior cycle subjects. In other schools, ICT lessons had been reduced to one lesson period per week in first or second year, with no provision in third year. It was clear from reports that the majority of case-study schools concentrated on providing their students with dedicated ICT lessons in their Transition Year, LCVP, or LCA. The Transition Year programme was provided in 14 of the 20 case-study schools visited. Dedicated ICT lessons formed part of the programme in most of these schools. Problems arose, however, in schools where the Transition Year was an optional programme and students had chosen to transfer directly to the established Leaving Certificate programme. In a number of these schools, students

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expressed concern about the fact that they were not provided with any dedicated ICT lessons. In contrast, those who had opted for the Transition Year, or for either the LCVP or LCA, had significantly greater access to dedicated ICT lessons. ICT lessons in the Transition Year usually took the form of a discrete ICT module, the content of which varied from the completion of the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) programme to desktop publishing or web design. While teachers generally viewed the ECDL as a comprehensive and well-recognised qualification, they also reported that it had some pitfalls. It necessitated, for example, significant numbers of timetabled lessons per week, it required refresher courses to be completed at future intervals, and it was costly. Transition Year students in all the case-study schools were frequently exposed to ICT in ways other than dedicated ICT lessons. Many Transition Year activities, for example, involved students using ICT (for example the production of publicity material about a school show or the production of a school memorial calendar). The LCVP was provided in 16 of the 20 case-study schools. Students are required to study two link modules as part of this programme.67 In essence, it was this requirement that encouraged these schools to furnish their students with lessons in a computer room, with many even facilitating them with access to computers outside timetabled lesson time. Students are part-assessed in these link modules by means of a portfolio of work, and the items for inclusion in this portfolio require the use of ICT for both their research and their presentation.68 It was interesting to note that during interviews with fifth-year students in case-study schools it was predominantly those following the LCVP who stood out as being able to speak most about their use of ICT in school. These students were also more likely to show inspectors samples of their work. (This issue is examined further in section 6.4.2.) The LCA requires all candidates to study a mandatory introductory module on ICT. It also requires the provision of access to ICT within the subjects provided on the programme, and there is also a significant cross-curricular aspect to ICT. Furthermore, LCA students have an option to study a vocational specialism in ICT as part of the programme; if they opt for this they are required to study four modules out of a possible six.69 LCA students are assessed through the presentation of tasks, and these are normally presented using ICT. For these reasons the programme was found to stimulate a significant integration of ICT in classroom activities in the 11 of the 20 case-study schools that were found to offer the programme. It was clear that these schools had embraced the use of ICT as an integral aspect of teaching and learning within the programme. LCA students interviewed were competent and confident in discussing their use of ICT within subjects and in the completion of tasks and assignments. The quality of tasks and assignments was described in one evaluation report as showing “good range and breadth,” while in another they were described as being of a “high quality” and “impressive.”

67 Link modules: (1) Preparation for the World of Work and (2) Enterprise Education. 68 There are four compulsory core items: a CV, a career investigation, a summary report, and an enterprise or action plan. Pupils must also submit any two of the four optional items: a diary of work experience, an enterprise report, a recorded interview or presentation, or a report on “My own place.” 69 The six modules are word-processing, databases, spreadsheets, desktop publishing (page layout), internet, and text entry.

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The LCVP and LCA have both embraced the use of ICT in their curriculum, and this no doubt goes some way towards explaining the frequency with which they were noted in evaluation reports. The Transition Year programme makes possible a flexibility in approach and the use of alternative and additional teaching methods, and this may account for its strong association with the use of ICT by teachers and students. It was noted by some teachers that their experience of teaching Transition Year, LCA or LCVP had encouraged them to integrate ICT in their work with other classes not associated with these programmes.

6.3.2 Curriculum and content of dedicated ICT lessons
Approximately 17% of the 800 teachers surveyed stated that they taught ICT as a discrete subject in one or more of the junior cycle, Transition Year or Leaving Certificate programmes. These teachers were asked to state the kind of material they covered in these lessons. The topics found to be most frequently taught at each level are shown in table 6.4.70 Table 6.4: Commonly taught topics in dedicated ICT lessons Junior cycle Transition Year Established LC LCA LCVP Word-processing Word-processing Word-processing Word-processing Word-processing (83% of ICT teachers) (76% of ICT teachers) (74% of ICT teachers) (87% of ICT teachers) (93% of ICT teachers) Second most Internet Internet Spreadsheet Spreadsheet Internet frequent (65% of ICT teachers) (76% of ICT teachers) (64% of ICT teachers) (83% of ICT teachers) (46% of ICT teachers) Third most Spreadsheets Presentation Internet Internet Presentation frequent (61% of ICT teachers) (72% of ICT teachers) (62% of ICT teachers) (73% of ICT teachers) (37% of ICT teachers) n 77 58 42 30 41 Most frequent

An analysis of the survey also found that Computer Studies as a subject in the junior cycle (an optional and non-examination subject) was provided in only 13% of the 110 post-primary schools that responded.71 At Leaving Certificate level Computer Studies (again an optional and nonexamination subject) was provided in 23% of those schools.72 The syllabuses for these subjects are given in the Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools. At Leaving Certificate level, students who take Computer Studies and who perform satisfactorily are issued with a statement to that effect by the DES. The Department issued such statements to 5,419 students from 102 post-primary schools for the 2005/06 school year. With 50,995 sitting the established Leaving Certificate and LCVP in 735 schools in 2006, it can be seen that a relatively small proportion (approximately 11%) received Computer Studies statements.

70 Care must be taken when interpreting the results from this table, as sample sizes are low. 71 Junior cycle computer studies was provided in 6 of the 31 vocational schools whose principals responded to the survey, in 8 of the 63 secondary schools, and in none of the 16 community and comprehensive schools. 72 Computer studies at the Leaving Certificate level was provided in 6 of the 31 vocational schools whose principals responded to the survey, in 16 of the 63 secondary schools, and in 2 of the 16 community and comprehensive schools.

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Further analysis of the survey of principals showed that this statement was not the only form of certification offered by schools. It was found, for example, that approximately 70% of schools surveyed provided ECDL courses, while 28% provided FETAC courses. Other forms of certification that were mentioned included Commercial Examination Board (CEB) certification and City and Guilds of London certification. The syllabuses for Computer Studies at the Leaving Certificate level and in the junior cycle, as contained in the Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools, are virtually unchanged since their introduction in 1980 and 1985, respectively.73 At this point, much of their content may be considered outdated. In the absence of a review, many schools, as alluded to above, have made other arrangements to provide students with a comprehensive and modern programme of study in ICT. The emphasis in these newer programmes is on covering popular computer applications, as distinct from the more detailed study of computing found in the Computer Studies syllabuses. Given the outdated nature of the syllabuses, the relatively low numbers of schools availing of the subject, and the dynamism of schools in devising and organising their own ICT curricular programmes, consideration now needs to be given to either removing these syllabuses from the Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools or reviewing them. This would be complemented by the application in schools of the “Framework for ICT in Curriculum and Assessment” at present being developed by the NCCA. (See chapter 1 for further details of this framework). Notwithstanding both these developments, schools would still need to be advised about what constitutes an appropriate education in ICT in the senior cycle. The NCCA, in collaboration with the NCTE, is best placed to advise schools on this issue. In general, the evaluation found a low level of provision of dedicated ICT lessons in the junior cycle. However, there is significant integration of ICT in the senior cycle Transition Year, LCVP, and LCA, including the provision of dedicated ICT lessons. It was also found that schools generally approach the organisation of these lessons differently. They can, for example, use one of a range of ICT programmes or syllabuses, as well as different forms of certification. While bearing in mind curricular and timetabling pressures, schools should endeavour to balance the ICT experience they plan to provide within a particular programme throughout the life span of that programme (for example the junior cycle or senior cycle). The NCCA “Framework for ICT in Curriculum and Assessment” will assist schools in this regard. In situations where this cannot be done by means of dedicated ICT lessons, other ways of providing access to ICT could be explored, for example the setting up of a school computer club.

6.4 Classroom practice and ICT
Inspectors completed ICT review schedules during 168 subject inspections carried out in 111 schools. These review schedules comprised a short questionnaire on ICT issues. Some questions

73 At the Leaving Certificate level schools devise their own syllabus, but the broad outlines of the subject are specified by the DES.

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were directed to the principal, while others were asked of the teacher (or teachers) of the subject (or subjects) being inspected. The questionnaire was completed in separate interviews with both principals and teachers. The review schedule also required the inspectors to comment on the integration of ICT in teaching and learning in the lessons observed. A total of 311 lessons were observed.

6.4.1 School principals’ support for the use of ICT in the classroom Principals in each of the 111 schools visited reported to inspectors that some level of ICT resources was available to the subject (or subjects) being evaluated in their school. (The case-study school evaluations yielded a similar finding: the principals of all twenty schools visited claimed that each subject on their school’s curriculum had access to ICT facilities.) Inspectors were provided with various descriptions of these resources; these included the level of hardware available to a subject (such as the number of computers and peripherals) as well as the range of computer applications and the type of internet connection installed, if any. In some schools the ICT resources available for a subject were in the classroom while in others the subject inspected was described as being able to avail of the school’s general ICT facilities, such as the computer room. Principals were asked to distinguish between the resources available to a subject (or subjects) and those which were used in the teaching and learning of that subject (or subjects). Altogether, 60% of principals in the 111 schools visited reported that available resources were being used in the teaching and learning of subjects. These principals provided examples of how ICT resources were being employed; some of these are summarised in table 6.5. Table 6.5: Principals’ descriptions of how ICT is used in some subjects Example from school principal of how ICT resources are used in teaching and learning in this subject English Students use the internet for research. Science Used in the general preparation of materials and tests. One teacher is particularly skilled at ICT and has developed multimedia presentations that include animations and video clips. Music Twenty computers in the library have music software installed and are used to teach the technology component of the Leaving Certificate course. Construction Each class goes to the computer room about once a week. All students of the subject do some computer-aided Studies design (CAD) work and produce a working drawing for their examination design brief. The computer room is also used for researching project work. History Two history teachers use the classroom with the interactive whiteboard to teach their students weekly. All four history teachers prepare lesson materials and examination papers using word-processing and web sites. The teachers maintain computerised records of students’ progress.

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An analysis of principals’ views found that ICT resources were being used more frequently and effectively to assist teaching and learning in the science and social studies I subjects (History, Geography, Art, Craft and Design, and Music). The lowest use of resources, according to the principals, was in foreign languages. Interviews with principals during case-study school evaluations confirmed this finding: subjects reported as being prominent in making effective use of ICT included Science and applied science subjects, Guidance, and History. The national survey of principals asked them to comment on how the use of ICT in their school was benefiting teaching and learning. A sample of the comments offered by principals in different school types and sizes is provided in table 6.6. It was found that 51% of the 110 principals surveyed were of the view that ICT contributed to improving lesson content, 39% felt that its use in lessons contributed to improved ICT skills, while 20% described how ICT contributed to improving teaching skills. Of the 40% of principals who reported during subject inspections that there was no use of ICT in subjects, even though ICT facilities were reported as being available, many cited a number of reasons for this. It was reported, for example, that there were inadequate facilities or access problems, or both, in some schools, as well as scheduling difficulties, inadequate teacher education and support, and a lack of confidence or interest on the part of the teacher. Table 6.6: Principals’ views on the impact of ICT on teaching and learning School sector, type, size Principals’ views on how ICT benefits teaching and learning Vocational, co-educational, Improved access to information, teaching aids and learning aids through use of internet and large (600+) learning software. Students have become more “computer-literate.” They have become more familiar with diversity of uses attributable to the computer. ICT is an important aid in selfdirected learning. ICT is very useful for project work and in the implementation of alternative programmes, such as JCSP and LCA. Secondary, single-sex, Preparation of class materials. Increasing use of data projectors. Quality of prepared hand-outs medium (400–599) and examination papers. Use of internet for research in various subjects. Secondary, single-sex, ICT allows for varied teaching methods; students attuned to screen presentation; multi-sensory large (600+) approach; use of internet and reference resources for project work. The ability to produce and distribute hand-outs facilitates students’ focus on content. ICT cuts out repetitive and timeconsuming blackboard work. It facilitates exchange and sharing with other teachers and students. Secondary, single-sex, Teachers feel challenged and empowered. Students find the use of ICT in lessons to be special large (600+) and exciting. Vocational, co-educational, ICT facilitates research. It improves presentations of work and acquaints students with medium (400–599) technology of the work-place. Secondary, co-educational, ICT makes learning more interesting and interactive for students. It motivates both students small (fewer than 400) and teachers and increases knowledge of the latest technology and methods of learning.

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6.4.2 ICT in practice in the classroom
ICT facilities in classrooms
It was clear from inspector’s observations that the extent of use of computers is subject-related or classroom-related. Details of the location of 307 of the 311 lessons observed are given in table 6.7. Table 6.7: Location of lessons observed during subject inspections General classroom Computer room Science 15% 0 Applied Science 10% 4% Social Studies I 49% 4% Foreign languages 89% 7% English 86% 3% Mathematics 81% 10% Business Studies 88% 6% Irish 100% 0 Social Studies II 0 0 Other 45% 45% n = 307 Specialist room 85% 87% 45% 5% 11% 10% 6% 0 0 9% Other 0 0 2% 0 0 0 0 0 100% 0 n 54 52 51 44 36 21 16 14 8 11

Specialist rooms were used more extensively for science or applied science subjects and, to a lesser extent, subjects in the social studies I group (History, Geography, Art, Craft and Design, and Music). Foreign-language, English, Business Studies and Mathematics lessons were predominantly conducted in a general classroom. All the Irish lessons observed were conducted in a general classroom. Table 6.8: ICT resources available in the classrooms of lessons observed No ICT resources Science Applied Science Social Studies I Foreign languages English Mathematics Business Studies Irish Social Studies II Other n = 282 42% 54% 76% 86% 85% 75% 59% 100% 86% 20% Computer (or computers) 58% 44% 18% 11% 15% 25% 41% 0 14% 80% Data projector 27% 17% 8% 8% 0 5% 18% 0 0 60% Other 11% 21% 13% 6% 3% 15% 12% 0 0 20% n 55 52 38 36 34 20 17 13 7 10

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Table 6.8 gives details of ICT resources available in the classrooms where lessons were observed. As can be seen, excluding the “other” category - which includes Computer Studies - computers and data projectors were more likely to be observed during a science lesson (58% of the science lessons observed had computers available in the room, while 27% had a data projector). Nevertheless, where a computer was present in a Science lesson, the majority of rooms (72%) had only one computer. The majority of classrooms in which foreign-language, English and Mathematics lessons were conducted, which were predominantly general classrooms, had no ICT facilities present. None of the Irish lessons observed had ready access to ICT facilities. The findings of the national survey of teachers also showed that computers were most frequently used in classrooms by teachers of the science subjects (70%), applied science subjects (64%), and Mathematics (61%). A lower than average proportion of teachers of Irish (41%) reported using computers in teaching. The case-study school evaluations also found little evidence of students’ engagement with ICT in general classroom settings. It is clear that there is a greater permeation of computers in specialist rooms than in general classrooms. However, as already recommended in chapter 3, efforts need to be aimed at equipping general classrooms also.

ICT use in the planning and preparation of observed lessons
Inspectors reported evidence of ICT being used in the planning or preparation of 128 (41%) of the 311 lessons observed. The level of use by subject area is illustrated in fig. 6.4.74 Fig. 6.4: Use of ICT in the planning and preparation of observed lessons Evidence that ICT was used in planning/preparing for this lesson Social Studies I Business Studies Irish Science Applied Science Mathematics English Foreign Languages Social Studies II 16% 13% 36% 33% 30% 57% 53% 50% 48%

0%

20%

40%

60%

80%

100%

Base: All post-primary lesson observations (n = 311)

74 All social studies II lessons were Physical Education.

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ICT was used in the planning and preparation undertaken by teachers in 57% of the social studies I subject lessons observed (History, Geography, Art, Craft and Design, and Music). A higher than average rate of ICT use in planning and preparation was noted in the Business Studies and Irish lessons observed. This finding for planning for Irish lessons contrasts sharply with the low level of use of ICT in Irish lessons reported earlier. The lowest rate of use of ICT in planning and preparation was for social studies II subjects (Religious Education, Physical Education, CSPE, and SPHE) and foreign-language lessons.

Focus of ICT use
During the subject inspections in schools inspectors interviewed all the teachers of the subject being inspected. Specifically, they asked them what use they made, if any, of ICT during teaching and learning in their subject (or subjects). The findings are illustrated in fig. 6.5. Fig. 6.5: Main uses of ICT in teaching and learning in the subjects inspected, as reported by teachers

Research and investigation skills Writing skills Presentation skills Communication skills Problem solving/analytic/evaluative skills Team/collaborative skills 21% 28% 27% 65% 64%

81%

0%

20%

40%

60%

80%

100%

Base: All ICT Review Schedule subject questionnaires (n = 168)

The interviews revealed that the main use for ICT in all subjects inspected was to help students develop their research and investigation skills (81% of teachers interviewed). Teachers also reported using ICT frequently to develop students’ writing and presentation skills (65% and 64%, respectively). ICT was less likely to be used to develop higher-order skills, such as problem-solving, analytical and evaluative skills (27%). It was found that ICT was least likely to be used to develop students’ teamwork and collaborative skills (21%). In an era when the essential skills of the work force include an ability to handle and process large amounts of information and an ability to work collaboratively as part of a team, it is important that the school curriculum would provide teachers with opportunities to integrate the development of these ICT skills in their teaching.

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Frequency of ICT use
Evidence from the subject inspections suggests that the incidence of ICT use in teaching and learning is low. Furthermore, of the teachers who integrate ICT in their classroom practice many have come to rely on only a small repertoire of teaching methods that use the technology. Only 56 (18%) of the 311 lessons observed during subject inspections incorporated the use of ICT. Students’ interaction with the technology was observed in only about a quarter (24%) of these. Two activities in particular dominated these fifty-six lessons. The first was where the teacher used a computer and data projector to give a presentation to a class group. The majority of these presentations were text-based and did not fully use the potential of the medium.75 The second was where the teacher used a computer to search the internet during a lesson. In most of these instances the teachers had a printer that made it possible to print material that could be used as a teaching aid. However, in most instances a digital projector would have saved valuable teaching time and might have contributed more to engaging students in the lesson. The survey of teachers suggested a higher degree of computer use in teaching and learning than that observed by inspectors—55% of teachers reported using computers in their teaching at some time (see fig. 6.6). However, teachers’ use of ICT in teaching and learning on either measure was significantly less than their use of ICT in planning and preparing lessons (78% of teachers). Fig. 6.6: Frequency of use of computers in teaching How frequently do you use computers in your teaching?

60%

40%

45%

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24%

22%

9%

0%
At least once a week About 2/3 times a month Less than twice a month Never Base: All post-primary teachers (800)

Organisation of ICT use
It is clear that the most common teaching mode in which ICT was used in those lessons observed by inspectors was where the teacher took charge of the technology. When interaction with students did occur it usually involved the individual use of the computer, in rotation, in general classroom 75 For example, there was little use of such resources as video clips, animations, sound or internet simulations in any of the presentations observed.

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settings; but some examples of small-group work on the computer were also observed in specialist room settings. It was possible for group work to take place in these rooms because they usually had more than one computer. However, the use of computer rooms, where individual students had access to a computer, was rare in most subject inspections. Of the 311 lessons observed, only 11 were held in computer rooms. Fig. 6.7 gives details of how frequently teachers reported using ICT with their students in a range of settings. Fig. 6.7: Settings in which ICT is used in classrooms How frequently do you use ICT with your classes in each of the following contexts?

Whole-class teaching in designated computer room Group activity in designated computer room Whole-class teaching in general classroom or specialist room

18% 9% 12% 6% 18% 6% 4% 12% 11% 6% 5%

4% 18% 13% 13%

17%

Individual students working on computers in general 8% classroom, or specialist room, on a rotational basis Field work/out-of-school activities 3% 4% Group activity in general classroom or specialist room 6% Individual students working in designated computer room/ 7% library on a rotational basis 0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

At least once a week About 2/3 times a month Less than twice a month Base: All post-primary teachers (800)

The survey found that the most popular teaching mode in which ICT was used was whole-class teaching in a dedicated computer room (implemented by 39% of all teachers). In such instances all students would generally have individual access to a computer. The survey revealed that this mode was employed most frequently by teachers of Business Studies, Mathematics, and English. The next most frequent teaching mode (32%) involved group activity in a dedicated computer room; this was followed by whole-class teaching in a general or specialist classroom (30%).76 It is noteworthy that the SCR in a school had a negligible effect on the use of ICT in any of these settings. It can be concluded, therefore, that teachers’ willingness to use ICT is at least as important as the availability of ICT equipment.

76 The survey found that approximately 17 % of the 800 teachers who responded taught ICT as a discrete subject. This may have had an influence on the numbers of teachers who reported teaching in a dedicated computer room.

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Teaching activities incorporating ICT
As mentioned earlier, the range of activities employed by teachers during subject inspections that incorporated ICT was limited. (The two most popular activities observed were where the teacher used ICT equipment to give a presentation or to look up information on the internet.) While a limited number of other activities were employed during observed lessons, a greater range was either evidenced or reported by teachers during the evaluations undertaken in the case-study schools. These activities included the following (presented in no particular order): • word-processing (by teachers and students) • internet searches by students, for example finding foreign-language newspapers as part of a language lesson, or visualising earthquakes on line as part of a geography lesson. The internet was seen as a particularly useful resource in some schools for “newcomer” students, who used it for translation and communication purposes • the use of subject-specific software by students individually, in pairs, or in small groups, for example CAD in the applied science subjects and Qualifax in Guidance • creating video stories from text • using digital cameras • using graphic calculators, especially in Mathematics • data-logging and using digital microscopes in science lessons • using DVD resources, for example for case studies • recording students’ work, including photographic material, on DVD • using specific ICT equipment related to particular subjects, for example computer numerically controlled (CNC) lathe and router in Engineering and Construction Studies. The survey of teachers explored two of these ICT-related activities in greater detail, namely use of the internet and use of applications.

Use of the internet
The survey of teachers asked them about the use they made of the internet to facilitate teaching and learning. Only 34% of respondents, as shown in table 6.9, stated that they used the internet in their classroom practice. Approximately 66% of teachers, therefore, do not use the internet in their classroom practice. The reasons for not using it included the fact that there were no computer facilities or internet access in classrooms (see table 6.8), and that the teachers lacked the necessary knowledge of how to use it, or the time to devote to it.

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Table 6.9: Use of the internet and software in teaching and learning Proportion of respondents answering “yes” to— Under 35 using the internet in their 41% classroom practice using software to facilitate teaching and 56% learning n 272 Age 35–45 30% Gender Male Female 37% 33% SCR Low 38% High 31% Total 34%

Over 45 29%

46% 210

48% 290

51% 260

50% 468

50% 323

51% 321

50% 800

With regard to both use of computers and use of the internet, it seems that teachers are more amenable to using these resources in lesson planning and preparation than in the classroom environment. There is little doubt that this is directly related to the current limited availability of ICT resources in classrooms.

Use of software
Computer applications were used to facilitate teaching and learning, as shown in table 6.9, by 50% of the teachers who responded to the survey. The most popular type of application used was wordprocessing (71%); this was followed by presentation software (59%), reference software (47%), and content-rich software (36%). These teachers reported that the most common method they used for selecting applications was by asking other teachers for their advice or by consulting educational web sites. It is worth noting that teachers’ age had a bearing on the proportion using both internet and software resources in lessons: teachers under thirty-five (as can be seen from table 6.9) were more likely to use these resources.

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ICT use in subjects
The ICT review schedules, the survey of teachers and the case-study school evaluations all reported that ICT was used in different subject areas to varying degrees. It is clear, however, that a number of subject areas excel in this respect. Significant integration of ICT was found to occur in the teaching of Science and applied science subjects, as well as in the social studies I group of subjects (History, Geography, Art, Craft and Design, and Music). The use of data-logging was popular in the science subjects, along with computer-aided design (CAD) software in the technology subjects. One casestudy school report in particular mentioned that the students demonstrated their use of the parametric CAD software to develop and rotate drawings. These students were quite enthusiastic about the support the use of this program brought to their learning in the subject, mentioning that the ability to view a three-dimensional drawing and to rotate it through different angles made it much easier to visualise the actual artefact. Like other applications of ICT being used in the school, this is a good example of how ICT can be used to enhance the students’ learning experience.

A number of subjects were also identified as regular users of ICT, including Guidance and foreign languages. The use of ICT for pen-pal projects and e-twinning to support the study of modern languages was regularly mentioned by inspectors in their case-study school evaluation reports. The use of specialised programs for careers research in whole-class settings, particularly in the LCA and LCVP, was also emphasised in numerous case-study evaluation reports. In other instances ICT was used individually to assist with career guidance for students. Finally, subjects were identified in which there was minimal use of ICT, most notably in Irish. This was not helped by the fact that all the Irish lessons observed during subject inspections took place in general classrooms that had no ICT facilities present. Fig. 6.8: Use of the internet and applications, by subject area

100% 80%
71%

60%
50%

60% 53% 44% 37% 28% 47% 32% 44% 37% 34% 45% 33% 43% 34% 26% 23%

40% 20% 0%
Social Studies I

Social Studies II

English

Foreign Languages

Science

Applied Science

Mathematics Business Studies

Irish

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Fig 6.8 shows that a high proportion of teachers of science subjects (71%) and applied science subjects (60%), as well as Mathematics (53%), reported using software to facilitate teaching and learning. The internet was used mostly by teachers of applied science subjects (45%). A relatively low proportion of teachers of Irish reported using the internet (23%) and applications (26%). It was noteworthy from case-study school reports that the provision of recent continuing professional development by support service teams had an effect on the level of integration of ICT in teaching and learning for the subjects concerned. Teachers interviewed during the case-study school evaluations mentioned that the support services had introduced them to the idea of engaging with ICT as part of their approach to teaching. This support was provided, in all instances, in the context of syllabus revision. This in turn would point to the fact that the NCCA policy of “ICTproofing” syllabuses and guidelines of subjects as they are being reviewed or revised is paying dividends. This ICT-proofing process has the effect of establishing the role of ICT as a teaching and learning tool, and as an integral part of the curriculum and assessment procedures. Building on the recommendation already made in chapter 3 on providing all teaching spaces in schools with ICT facilities, schools should also become active in promoting the integration of ICT in the subjects they offer on their curriculum. Regular audits of ICT facilities in schools should be undertaken, to include information on whether the available facilities are being used in subjects and, if so, in what ways. Strategies should be developed in schools, supported by the appropriate second-level support services, to help teachers to integrate ICT in their teaching practices. For example, schools might revise the functions of their ICT co-ordinators with a view to giving them a more educational or pedagogical role regarding ICT. Schools could also organise appropriate professional development opportunities for teachers, peer mentoring arrangements, and the development of targets for the acquisition of facilities.

6.4.3 Quality of provision
Inspectors were asked to state the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning during those lessons observed as part of the subject inspections. Fig. 6.9 shows that 54% of inspectors’ reports on lesson observations revealed limited or inappropriate use, or no use, of ICT in teaching and learning. This is supported by the observation that an ICT-related activity took place during only 18% of observed lessons (predominantly undertaken by the teacher) and that only 24% of postprimary teachers used computers in their teaching at least once a week.77 In 35% of instances the inspectors reported that there was scope for development, while in 11% of instances they reported a competent or optimal level of performance.

77 See fig. 6.6.

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Fig. 6.9: Inspectors’ rating of the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning observed

60%
54%

40%
35%

20%
9% 2%

0%
No, very little, or inappropriate use of ICT Scope for development Competent practice Optimal level of performance

Base: All review schedules from Post-Primary Inspectors (n = 168)

One ICT review schedule arising from an inspection of English, which showed that ICT was used either sparingly or inappropriately in the lessons observed, mentioned that none of the classrooms in which English teachers were based had been wired for broadband at the time of the inspection. The English teachers reported that the school’s plan for using the networking grant was to create another computer room rather than to wire all general classrooms for internet access. One teacher, who regularly creates her own resources on her home laptop, stated that she would like to be able to show students particular websites to support her teaching, but that [the] management was more interested in centralising ICT resources.

A history lesson in which it was reported that there was scope for development of the use of ICT in the subject stated: Teachers could make greater use of word-processing to prepare worksheets and involve students in researching suitable aspects of lessons at appropriate times from the websites. Clips of DVDs would help to give a visual dimension to the delivery of some lessons.

Only 2% of the inspectors’ reports on lesson observations stated that optimal use of ICT in teaching and learning was observed. In a Latin lesson an inspector reported seeing very good practice in this school, particularly in the case of the two main teachers of Latin. The facilities are very good and in the case of one of the lessons observed, the organisational skills were excellent since half of the class was conducted in the classroom and the second half in the computer room. This was managed very efficiently and no time was wasted. It is also understood that the Classical Studies teachers use ICT too. Evidence was presented which indicated this to be the case.

The social studies I, science and applied science groups of subjects achieved the highest ratings from inspectors for the quality of use of ICT in teaching and learning. An analysis of inspectors’ review schedules that showed the use of ICT to be either “competent” or “optimal” revealed that:

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• ICT was available in the classrooms, and teachers and students therefore had ready access to appropriate ICT hardware and software • ICT-related activities were regular features of lessons, and students regularly engaged with the ICT during such lessons • teachers were committed and enthusiastic about using ICT as part of their teaching strategies • ICT permeated the subject area in the school • ICT was being used to develop students’ skills in a range of areas, for example writing, research and presentation skills.

The impact of ICT on teaching and learning
Inspectors were of the view that, when used effectively, ICT contributed to teaching and learning in varying ways. In the 56 (out of 311) lessons observed during subject inspections that incorporated an ICT-related activity, practically all inspectors reported that the activity contributed in some way to effective teaching and learning. The benefits that ICT can have for teaching and learning, as viewed by inspectors, included: • using ICT means that information can be obtained almost instantly. The worldwide web, for example, contains a vast amount of easily accessible information. Such information can provide learners with different viewpoints and a wider understanding of issues • ICT helps teachers to tailor teaching materials to suit the needs and ability levels of their students • ICT acts as an incentive for students to learn. The technology can be effective in engaging them in their schoolwork • ICT helps make learning more interesting. It increases levels of interest, for example through the use of colour, animation, and sound. It also facilitates multi-sensory learning through, for example, multimedia presentations, animation, and video • ICT helps students to work at their own pace and level. Some programs, for example, have “intelligent” tracking systems that adjust the pace of learning. ICT contributes to the development of a personalised or step-by-step learning scheme. It provides opportunities for students to learn in different ways • some programs affirm students’ efforts, and this can encourage them in their learning. This facility also provides them with timely feedback on their work and provides them with an understanding of their progression • ICT facilitates student-centred learning and can encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. Some software individually identifies students’ problem areas for extra reinforcement. ICT encourages self-directed learning

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• ICT helps develop numerous skills, including critical thinking, literacy, numeracy, typing, presentation, creativity, and research skills. It also allows a higher level of analysis to take place than would otherwise be possible • for some students the action of typing material can be an aid to understanding it • ICT helps teachers and students to improve how they present information. It facilitates the creative and professional presentation of material and encourages students to take pride in their work • ICT captures students’ attention for significant time spans. The visual impact facilitated by ICT, for example, helps to hold their attention and helps them to retain information. The visual nature of working with ICT allows links to be made through visual imagery • ICT helps increase the amount of work that can be taught in a lesson. Some programs are tailored to the curriculum • effective use of ICT puts the teacher in a facilitative rather than an instructional role • the use of ICT increases students’ understanding of concepts and helps consolidate learning. In general, it makes learning more memorable and brings the subject matter to life • using ICT can help raise students’ self-esteem • ICT helps to prepare students for life after school. Proficiency in ICT skills, for example, can improve job prospects • effective use of ICT, especially in individual, pair and group work with computers, can lead to improved classroom discipline and improved management of learning. Inspectors also emphasised some of the negative effects that ICT can have if it is not employed effectively. These included the following: • students can become frustrated with ICT hardware and software in schools that have regular technical problems. This can discourage them from wanting to use school computers • the security of personal work is important. Teachers and students dislike their work being interfered with, and the provision of secure storage space for work done is therefore crucial • students can become irritated when there is no one-to-one access to computers in their lessons (that is, when they don’t “get their turn”). In a lesson that involves interaction with the computer it is important that teachers endeavour to allow all students an opportunity to use the computer. In summary, it is clear that ICT has the potential to positively influence teaching and learning. While there can be certain drawbacks in using the technology, these are outweighed by the potential it offers. It would seem incumbent on teachers to maximise the potential offered by ICT whenever and wherever possible.

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6.5 ICT and special educational needs
The NCTE and NCCA provide a wide range of information for schools on the use of ICT in the area of special educational needs.78 The evaluation attempted to gain an insight into the extent and quality of use of ICT in this area. An analysis of the survey of teachers found that 37% reported teaching students with special educational needs. Most reported using specific applications to aid the teaching process, while some reported using specialised technology devices. While inspectors’ subject inspections and the casestudy school visits allowed this finding to be explored further, it was the latter that proved more insightful. It was clear from lesson observations associated with subject inspections that the use of ICT to help students with SEN was not prominent in the mainstream classroom. Inspectors reported being aware of students with special needs being present in 23% of the 311 lessons they observed during subject inspections. There was very little evidence, however, of ICT being used to support these students’ learning. Indeed the majority of inspectors’ comments stated that ICT was not used. When it was used it usually took the form of students working individually with specialised software on laptop computers. One review schedule pertaining to a science lesson, for example, stated that “one student with a sight problem used a laptop on which the diagrams were enlarged.” Case-study school reports provided evidence of the contribution of ICT to teaching and learning for students with special educational needs. The use of ICT in special education in all the case-study schools was organised to take place in small but discrete teaching areas with computer facilities or by withdrawing students from mainstream lessons to a classroom with such facilities. In many instances schools had developed a separate resource area for students with SEN that contained a number of laptop or desktop computers. In other schools they used laptops provided by the school (but stored centrally) for either individual support or within small groups. In most schools the extension of the network had included these small teaching areas. The emphasis of students’ engagement with ICT was mainly on supporting literacy. Software for reading, comprehension and spelling was most in evidence; there was less evidence of ICT support for numeracy. Teachers interviewed spoke of the positive impact ICT had on these students, as well as the impact of animation, music, and colour. They described how students felt comfortable with the technology and the positive and affirming effects on them of the self-assessment and achievement feedback aspects of software.

78 The NCTE’s Planning and Advice for Schools contains an advice sheet (number 28) for teachers getting involved for the first time in the purchase of ICT for special needs. Other sources of advice from the NCTE include the booklet Information and Advice: Special Educational Needs and Information and Communications Technology and the Special Needs Technology section of Scoilnet. The recently published NCCA document Guidelines for Teachers of Students with General Learning Disabilities (2007) contains advice on the ways in which ICT can facilitate and increase access to learning and communication for pupils with general learning disabilities.

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6.6 Assessment
The evaluation found no evidence of ICT being used to assess students’ academic progress at postprimary level. Furthermore, it found limited assessment being undertaken of students’ ICT skills. Where this was done it was mainly confined to dedicated ICT lessons in Transition Year. Two of the case-study schools visited provided the ECDL course as part of their Transition Year programme; on completion of Transition Year students were accredited with the ECDL modules successfully completed. In another school the City and Guilds Level 2 keyboarding and word-processing examinations were used to assess and accredit achievement in ICT. The assessment of ICT skills was integrated in the formal assessment of tasks and assignments in the LCA, the ICT Vocational Specialism in LCA, and the portfolio assessment for LCVP. Teachers used ICT mostly for administrative purposes in assessment. During the course of subject inspections, for example, 55% of teachers interviewed reported using ICT to simplify or streamline their assessment practices. Examples of the ways in which ICT was used in subjects included: • using the internet to research topics or questions for inclusion in examination papers • designing and preparing examination papers or worksheets • entering the results of examinations in a student database system • recording and storing students’ results • creating student profiles • generating student reports • using the computer for e-tests (for example on Scoilnet). It is evident that the potential of ICT for use in assessment in many subjects is not being harnessed. This could include, for example, the use of ICT to assess, track and analyse students’ progress by the use of appropriate software. Schools should consider exploiting the benefits of ICT in their assessment practices to go beyond purely administrative functions. The NCCA, in collaboration with the NCTE and SEC, should advise schools on how this can be achieved in different curricular areas. The outcome of the e-portfolio project at present being organised by the three organisations will contribute to the development of advice and guidelines.

6.7 Developing ICT in the classroom
6.7.1 Factors that constrain the development of ICT in the classroom Inspectors commented in case-study school evaluation reports on the factors that constrained the development of ICT in schools. One of the most common factors was the reluctance of some

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teachers to engage with the technology. This reluctance had a number of sources. One was the fact that some teachers seemed reluctant to change their own classroom practice and techniques that they had developed successfully over many years. It was also reported that some teachers were reluctant to facilitate any change to their role in the classroom, or to their relationship with their students. Teachers were also reported to be reluctant to engage with the technology because of their lack of technical knowledge, a general lack of enthusiasm, or unfamiliarity with, or fear of, the technology. It was generally noted by inspectors, however, that this reluctance was for the most part a skills-dependent issue. Like many others, one report mentioned that “teachers interviewed expressed a desire for training in both general and subject-specific skills.” Teachers who were considered to have good ICT skills tended to act as a positive influence on their colleagues, in encouraging others to engage with the technology. Inspectors felt that the lack of ready access to ICT facilities in teaching areas in schools constrained the integration of ICT in the teaching and learning process. Many were also of the view that the time required to set up ICT equipment, or to move students to a computer room, was a significant erosion of teaching time and therefore acted as a constraint to integration. Many also referred to technical issues that can arise with equipment and to a lack of available technical support. Inspectors also identified the following factors (presented in no particular order) as contributing to constraining the development of ICT in classrooms: • limited finance, the result being insufficient or out-of-date hardware and software • curricular pressure of subjects • packed timetables, for example the issue of restricted access to the computer room and the inconvenience experienced by some teachers in having to take students from their base classroom to a computer room. The timetable was sometimes viewed restricting for conducting cross-curricular collaborative and project work • lack of time on the part of the ICT co-ordinator to research or install ICT infrastructure, and lack of time available to teachers to research and engage with the technology • lack of training available to and availed of by teachers • the amount of work involved in adapting or generating relevant subject-specific materials • a lack of awareness in the wider school community of the value of ICT as a learning tool • space restrictions in classrooms • the absence of planning • the existence of an examination-driven curriculum, coupled with the fact that school assessment procedures, for the most part, do not reflect an emphasis on using ICT

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• the fact that a teacher can be regarded as an excellent teacher without the use of ICT, so there is a disincentive to risk change.

6.7.2 Factors that facilitate the development of ICT in the classroom Inspectors identified the following factors (presented in no particular order) as facilitating the development of ICT in classrooms: • the availability of grants and funding (provided by various sources, for example DES, parents, board of management) • the positive attitude, encouragement and vision of the school management • teachers’ enthusiasm and interest, teamwork and collegiality, and a positive and open attitude among the teaching staff • the needs of the curriculum, Transition Year, LCVP and LCA in the senior cycle, which encourage the use of ICT in the classroom

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• professional development training for teachers (whether provided by the NCTE or ICT advisory service as part of in-service support for revised syllabuses, organised at the school level or acquired as part of academic courses) • the availability of technical support that contributes to making the technology more reliable • professional dialogue with other teachers who are using the technology (for example facilitating departmental meetings, allowing discussion and development to take place at the departmental level) • access to appropriate ICT hardware, software, and the internet (for example availability of a computer room, availability of laptop computers and mobile data projectors for use in general classrooms, internet access and broadband) • whole-school evaluations, subject inspections, and visits from other professionals • the professionalism and expertise of the ICT co-ordinator • study visits to other schools that are advanced in using ICT • the availability of computers in the staff room • an awareness among staff members of what ICT facilities are available to them in their school • easy access to resources on the internet, such as the NCTE and Scoilnet • participation in ICT for school initiatives, for example the NCTE Laptops Initiative • pressure from students and peers • the fact that ICT holds students’ attention and so contributes to better discipline. Foremost among the facilitating factors was the enthusiasm and motivation of staff members to engage with ICT. This engagement related both to the development of their own skills and to their motivation to integrate ICT in teaching and learning. It was clear from discussions with both teachers and principals in case-study schools that they shared the desire to increase the integration of ICT in classroom teaching. The level of DES, NCTE and other funding was also viewed as an important facilitating factor. Most schools, however, made it clear that they had raised extra funds above and beyond those provided by the DES and NCTE to develop their ICT infrastructure. (See also chapter 3.) When asked to express their level of agreement with the statement that these were facilitating factors, teachers expressed the highest level of agreement with having a computer in the classroom. All respondents either “agreed strongly” (almost 70%) or “agreed” with the statement that having a computer in the classroom facilitated the development of ICT.

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6.8 Findings and recommendations
6.8.1 Main findings
Teachers’ ICT skills
• Significant numbers of teachers lack intermediate (or better) ICT skills in a wide range of areas. Of those who are proficient in ICT skills, many do not use them in their teaching practice. It can be assumed that other factors, such as access to computers and teachers’ motivation, may influence the transfer of teachers’ competence in individual applications to classroom practice. Recently qualified teachers had a higher perception of their ICT skills than more experienced teachers.

Dedicated ICT lessons
• Dedicated ICT lessons are more prevalent among first-year class groups, and are provided less frequently as students progress towards the Junior Certificate. The majority of schools concentrate on providing dedicated ICT lessons in their Transition Year, LCVP, or LCA. The most popular topics taught in these lessons are word-processing, the internet, spreadsheets, and presentations. • The computer studies subject in the junior cycle was provided by only 13% of the schools surveyed, while at Leaving Certificate level it was provided by 23%. The majority of schools surveyed provided ECDL courses for their students.

Use of ICT in teaching and learning
• The principals of case-study schools reported that not all ICT resources provided to subject teachers were being used in teaching and learning. The factors inhibiting their use included problems with access and scheduling, inadequate teacher training and support, lack of confidence or interest on the part of the teacher, and inadequate facilities. • Interviews with teachers in case-study schools found that the main use for ICT in all subjects was the development of students’ research, investigation, writing and presentation skills. ICT was least likely to be used to develop teamwork and collaborative skills. • Schools give priority to furnishing specialist classrooms with ICT facilities over general classrooms. • Of the 311 lessons observed by inspectors during subject inspections, 56 (18%) involved an ICTrelated activity. Students’ interaction with the technology was observed in only about a quarter of these. The most common ICT-related activity observed was the use of a computer and data projector to make a presentation to a class group.

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• Only 11% of inspectors’ reports on 311 lesson observations during subject inspections reported that there was competent practice, or that ICT was effectively integrated in the teaching and learning process. • The survey of teachers found that the most popular setting in which ICT was used was wholeclass teaching in a dedicated computer room. • In relation to the use of ICT in teaching, the survey of teachers showed that 55% used computers, 50% used applications, and 34% used the internet. • The Transition Year, LCVP and LCA programmes greatly encourage the integration of ICT in teaching and learning. • High levels of integration of ICT were found in the science and applied science subjects, Mathematics and the subjects in the social studies I group. A number of subjects were identified as being regular users of ICT, such as Guidance and foreign languages. Subjects were also identified that rarely made use of ICT, the most notable being Irish. • The provision of continuing professional development by support services, particularly in syllabus revision, has a positive effect on the level of integration of ICT in teaching and learning for the subjects concerned. The “ICT-proofing” policy being implemented by the NCCA for subjects that are being reviewed or revised is a positive contribution to integrating ICT in teaching and learning. • Principals, teachers and students stated that ICT has the potential to improve students’ motivation and engagement and to make learning more exciting. In particular, principals and teachers stated that it contributes to improved teaching materials and methods and to improved learning outcomes. • While nearly two-thirds of students reported using a computer to help them with their homework, only 19% of these reported that they did this at least once a week.

ICT in special education and assessment
• ICT is widely used to support schools’ provision of special education. The focus of students’ engagement with ICT in special-education settings is mainly on supporting literacy. • No clear evidence was found of ICT being used in the assessment of students’ academic progress. Furthermore, the evaluation found limited assessment being undertaken of the development of students’ ICT skills.

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Students’ ICT skills and ICT work
• Students use computers most frequently to find information using the internet. They also use computers regularly for word-processing, games, and e-mail. The majority of students are able to perform many basic operations by themselves, for example saving, printing, deleting, opening and editing documents. However, they require assistance in performing more complicated tasks, such as moving files or creating multimedia presentations. • Students become discouraged from using computers if they continually have technical problems. They also become discouraged if they don’t “get their turn” on the computer and if their personal work is interfered with. • The quality of students’ ICT work observed in schools was described in very positive terms by inspectors. Students were always capable of discussing their work in a competent and confident manner.

6.8.2 Recommendations
Recommendations for policy-makers and policy advisors
• Teachers need to be supported in meeting the challenge of effectively integrating ICT in their classroom practices so that Irish students are placed at the forefront of advances in teaching practices and learning techniques. • Consideration should be given to ensuring that teachers are provided with opportunities to develop skills that are directly applicable to the use of ICT in the classroom. This should be addressed in a strategic way through a combination of pre-service, induction and in-service training. • Consideration needs to be given to either revising or removing the junior cycle and Leaving Certificate Computer Studies syllabuses from Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools. Such a move would be complemented by the “Framework for ICT in Curriculum and Assessment” at present being developed by the NCCA. Notwithstanding these developments, schools would still need to be advised about what constitutes an appropriate education in ICT in the senior cycle. The NCCA, in collaboration with the NCTE, is best placed to advise schools on this issue. It is important, as Irish society moves increasingly into a digital-information environment, that the curriculum facilitates the development in students of relevant skills in information-competence. • The NCCA, in collaboration with the NCTE and SEC, should advise schools on how ICT can be used effectively in assessment procedures and practices. The outcome of the e-portfolio project at present being organised by the three organisations will contribute to the development of advice and guidelines.

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• Teacher education departments in third-level colleges should consider giving priority to the study of ICT in education for students following a postgraduate diploma in education course. Indeed such studies should be given priority in any teaching qualification provided by teacher educators.

Recommendations for schools
• Schools should endeavour to balance the ICT experience they plan to provide for their students within a particular programme throughout the life span of that programme (for example the junior cycle or senior cycle). At present such exposure seems to be concentrated in the first year of the junior cycle and, in the case of most students, in the Transition Year of their senior cycle. • In providing a programme of discrete ICT lessons, schools should first attempt to ascertain students’ existing ICT skill levels and thereafter develop or implement a syllabus that would expand their knowledge and their repertoire of skills.

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Integrating ICT in teaching and learning
• Schools should be active in promoting the integration of ICT in the subjects they offer. • There should be continuous efforts within schools to improve the level of teachers’ access to ICT equipment. • Management should undertake regular audits of ICT facilities in all subjects, to include information on whether available resources are being used and how they are being used. • Teachers with good ICT skills should act as mentors to colleagues whose ICT skills are not as well developed. Good practice within schools should be disseminated among members of the staff at every opportunity. • Teachers should regularly review their use of ICT with a view to expanding their repertoire of teaching strategies, including opportunities for interaction by students with the technology. This should include exploring the use of as wide a range of resources and applications as possible, including Scoilnet, educational software, peripherals, e-mail, presentation software, and the internet. • Teachers should exploit the potential of ICT to develop a range of students’ skills, including research and investigation, writing and presentation, communication, teamwork and collaborative skills, and the higher-order skills of analysis, evaluation, and problem-solving.

ICT in special education and assessment
• When using ICT as a teaching aid for students with special educational needs, schools should endeavour to ensure that it is being used to support the widest possible range of students’ needs. It should be used, for example, to support the development of students’ numeracy skills, as well as their literacy skills. • Schools should exploit the benefits of ICT in their assessment procedures and practices beyond purely administrative functions. This could include using ICT to assess, track and analyse students’ progress through the use of appropriate software. Consideration could be given to assessing students’ ICT skill levels also.

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Main findings and recommendations

Part 4 Summary of findings and recommendations
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7.1 Introduction
This chapter summarises the main findings and recommendations of this report. The findings show that, while strides are being made in certain areas of schools’ ICT infrastructure, ICT planning and the integration of ICT in classroom practices, there is still significant scope for development, integration and expansion of the use of the technology in practically all facets of school life. The recommendations are divided into two categories. The first is directed at policy-makers and policy advisors; these include such bodies as the Department of Education and Science, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, and the National Centre for Technology in Education, as well as other relevant support services. The recommendations are aimed at making significant improvements in the ICT capacity of schools as well as improving standards of teaching and learning. The adoption of these recommendations would also facilitate schools in their endeavour to implement those recommendations specifically aimed at schools. The second category of recommendations is directed at schools, both primary and post-primary. These recommendations seek to encourage greater and more effective use of ICT in the teaching and learning process. The recommendations suggest how schools could make better use of the ICT infrastructure already available to them and how this ICT infrastructure could be improved. They also consider how the quality of schools’ ICT planning and the contents of their ICT plans could be improved as well as ways in which the plans could be implemented more effectively. School management authorities, boards of management, principals, schools’ ICT co-ordinators and subject teachers can all play a role in the implementation of these recommendations. Schools could

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also seek to involve the wider school community, such as parents and local businesses, where possible. They should adopt a strategic approach to implementing the recommendations. This could involve, for example, schools establishing their level of development with regard to ICT use, perhaps by making use of the ICT planning matrix provided by the NCTE. An ICT plan should then be developed that would emphasise those aspects that warrant priority for immediate action. In implementing the recommendations schools should seek advice and support from relevant support services.

7.2 Main findings
7.2.1 Infrastructure
Funding for ICT
The evaluation showed that the average student-to-computer ratio (SCR) ranged between 8:1 and 12:1 in primary schools and between 5.2:1 and 8.4:1 in the post-primary schools. These ratios were in line with the findings of the surveys conducted by NCTE which show that the average SCR is 9.1:1 for primary schools and 7:1 in post-primary schools. Data from the OECD shows that in comparison, Ireland lags behind other countries in the provision of computers to schools. Countries that have taken the lead in this area are aiming for or achieving a SCR of 5:1 or less. (OECD, 2003). Fig. 7.1 International student-computer ratios from PISA 2003

50 45
Number of students per computer

40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5
United States Australia Korea Hungary New Zealand Austria Canada Japan Denmark Luxembourg Iceland Norway Switzerland Finland Sweden Belgium Netherlands Italy Czech Republic Ireland Mexico Greece Spain Germany Portugal Slovakia Poland Turkey Russian Federation Brazil

0

Country

Source: OCED PISA 2003 Database, Table D5.1 available in Are Students Ready for a Technology-Rich World: What PISA Tells Us. (OCED, 2006a).

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The evaluation found that schools, in the main, made effective use of the grants provided by the Department of Education and Science to develop their ICT systems. It was also found that schools generally spent considerably more on ICT than the sums made available through such grants. This could have the unintended outcome of exacerbating the digital divide in society, as some schools may not be in a position to raise private funding.

Technical support
One of the major burdens on schools’ budgets with regard to ICT was found to be their spending on technical support and maintenance and dealing with computer obsolescence. The lack of technical support and maintenance is a major impediment to the development of ICT in schools.

Location of computers in schools
The evaluation showed that at primary level the computer room is generally a feature of larger schools. However, in response to their national survey, teachers stated that access to computers was superior when they were located in classrooms. While practically all post-primary schools were found to have a dedicated computer room, many were found to experience difficulties with regard to its timetabling. It was clear, for example, that certain cohorts of students were given priority when schools timetabled access to the computer room. Typically, students in Transition Year and those following the LCA and LCVP programmes experienced better access to the computer room. The evaluation also showed that in post-primary schools a greater permeation of computers occurred in specialist rooms, such as science and applied science subject rooms, than in general classrooms.

Peripherals
Printers were found to be the most widely used ICT peripheral in both primary and post-primary schools. Scanners and digital (still) cameras were the next most widely used, with digital projectors being more common in post-primary schools than primary schools. Interactive whiteboards were generally uncommon in both primary and post-primary schools.

Use of applications
Some teachers were found to make effective use of computer applications to facilitate teaching and learning. (This was usually dependent on the class groups being taught at primary level and on the subject being taught at post-primary level.) The use of computer applications was prevalent in the area of special-needs education at both primary and post-primary level, but many teachers were uneasy about their ability to match applications (and other specialised technology) with students’ needs. It was also clear that many teachers in both primary and post-primary schools were unaware of the range of peripherals and applications already available to them in their school.

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Dedicated ICT facilities for teachers
Schools that made dedicated computer facilities available to teachers reported that it led to improvements in the quality of the teaching resources used in classrooms. This was found to be more a feature of the post-primary level and included such strategies as making dedicated equipment available in staff rooms or work rooms or in a teacher’s classroom. Many primary schools did not have a staff room, and so this option was not open to them. A small number of schools provided ICT facilities for teachers’ home use.

Local ICT advisory service
The level of awareness among teachers of the local ICT advisory service was found to be quite low: fewer than half the respondents in both the primary and the post-primary national survey of teachers reported being aware of the service. Awareness was found to be higher, however, among ICT co-ordinators than among other teachers. The use of the ICT advisory service among those who were aware of it was also found to be low: at primary level only 22% of all respondents reported having used the service, while at post-primary level the corresponding figure was 15%.

7.2.2 ICT planning
Responsibility for ICT planning
The evaluation found that the responsibility for ICT in a school can lie with an ICT steering committee, the principal, the deputy principal, an ICT co-ordinator, or a combination of these personnel. ICT steering committees were not prevalent in schools, while named ICT co-ordinators were more common in post-primary than primary schools. It was clear that greater efficiency was achieved where a named person had responsibility for ICT within a school and where their role was clearly defined. Few ICT co-ordinators had opportunities to work with colleagues regarding relevant ICT pedagogical issues.

Schools’ ICT plans
The majority of primary schools surveyed (71%) but fewer than half the post-primary schools (46%) were found to have a written ICT plan. These plans tended to concentrate more on infrastructural issues than on how ICT can be used to enhance teaching and learning. This finding was supported by inspectors’ analysis of ICT plans in the case-study schools visited. In schools that were found to engage in ICT planning there was usually a greater emphasis on whole-school ICT planning than on such planning at the level of the individual teacher.

Acceptable-use policy (AUP)
Most schools were found to have an acceptable-use policy (83% of primary schools surveyed, 87% of post-primary schools surveyed). This is an indication of the seriousness that schools attach to the risks associated with use of the internet and of the requirements of the Schools Broadband Access Programme.

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Teachers’ use of ICT in planning and preparation
The majority of teachers (both primary and post-primary) were found to make some use of ICT in their lesson planning and preparation work. Newly qualified teachers were more likely to use ICT for this purpose than their more experienced colleagues. However, fewer teachers were found to plan for the actual use of ICT in teaching and learning. At post-primary level, planning for the use of ICT in teaching and learning varied among subjects. The Transition Year, LCVP and LCA programmes were all found to encourage increased planning for the use of ICT in teaching and learning. Teachers of these programmes also regularly reported that their involvement encouraged them to use ICT in their work with other class groups.

Future priorities for schools in ICT planning
Principals and teachers identified the provision and maintenance of hardware in schools and the provision of teacher training in ICT as being strategically important with regard to the development of ICT in their schools. Generic programmes of professional development because of their very nature were found to attract large numbers of teachers.

7.2.3 ICT in teaching and learning
Teachers’ ICT skills
In responses to their survey, only 30% of primary teachers and 25% of post-primary teachers reported themselves to be comfortable users of ICT; fewer again felt they knew how to apply it effectively in their teaching. Recently qualified teachers had a higher perception of their ICT skills than more experienced teachers.

Use of ICT in teaching and learning
While it is recognised that not all lessons lend themselves comfortably to the use of ICT, or indeed would benefit from it, it can be said that there is a limited integration of ICT in classrooms. At primary level inspectors reported evidence of the use of ICT to facilitate teaching and learning in 59% of classroom observations carried out as part of WSEs. However, they observed ICT actually being used in only 22% of observed lessons. Furthermore, students in junior classes were found to experience a narrower range of ICT activity in their classrooms than those in senior classes. Nearly a quarter of all inspections revealed a competent or optimal level of performance in relation to the general use of ICT in the classroom. At post-primary level only 18% of the 311 lessons observed by inspectors involved an ICT-related activity. Students’ interaction with the technology was observed in only about a quarter of these instances. The most common ICT-related activity observed was the use of a computer and data projector to make a presentation to a class group. Inspectors judged that effective integration of ICT in teaching and learning was occurring in approximately half of the lessons in which they observed the use of ICT, i.e. in approximately 11% of all lessons observed.

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Teaching and learning that makes use of ICT, takes a number of different forms in schools. Individual students working at a computer in a classroom in rotation is the most frequently used method at primary level. At post-primary level the most popular approaches include whole-class teaching in a designated computer room as well as whole-class and individual work on computers in general or specialist classrooms.

Dedicated ICT lessons
At post-primary level, dedicated ICT lessons were found to be more prevalent among first-year class groups and their provision declined as students progressed through the junior cycle. The majority of schools were found to concentrate on providing students with dedicated ICT lessons in their Transition Year or for students following the LCVP or LCA programmes. The majority of post-primary schools provided ECDL courses, while slightly more than a quarter provided FETAC-accredited modules. The most popular topics taught in dedicated ICT lessons were word-processing, the internet, spreadsheets, and presentations.

ICT and the curriculum
Where ICT is used in primary classrooms it predominates in core curricular areas such as English and Mathematics, and in Social, Environmental and Scienctific Education (SESE). Furthermore, it is mainly used for the development of students’ writing, reading and numeracy skills; there is limited use of the technology in the development of higher-order thinking skills, creative or social skills, independent working skills, or communication skills. At post-primary level, high levels of integration of ICT were found in the science and applied science subjects as well as in the subjects of the social studies I group (History, Geography, Art, Craft and Design, Music). Subjects were also identified that rarely made use of ICT, the most notable being Irish. The main use for ICT in all subjects was the development of students’ research, investigation, writing and presentation skills. It was least likely to be used to develop teamwork and collaborative skills.

Students’ ICT skills
The survey of fifth-class students showed that many did not have the competence to complete basic tasks on the computer. While most reported that they were able to perform many of the most basic tasks, such as turning a computer on and off and opening or saving a file, more than 30% reported that they were not able to print a document or to go on the internet by themselves. Almost half (47%) reported not being able to create a document by themselves. The majority were unaware of how to create a presentation (72%), use a spreadsheet (86%), or send an attachment with an email message (88%). Competence in the use of ICT is limited, for the most part, to basic ICT skills, centred on the use of word-processing. In their survey, fifth-year students reported confidence in performing many basic computer operations by themselves, for example saving, printing, deleting, opening and editing a document.

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It was found that, with some assistance, they could generally perform more complicated tasks, such as moving files, copying files to external storage devices, and writing and sending e-mail. A relatively low proportion reported being able to create a multimedia presentation. Students required most help in attaching a file to an e-mail message, constructing a web page, or dealing with computer viruses. While post-primary inspectors generally commented positively on the ICT work that they observed, they were also critical of the narrow range of work produced.

ICT and education for students with special educational needs ICT is widely used to support schools’ provision of special education, more often by members of the special-education team than by mainstream class teachers. The emphasis of students’ engagement with ICT in special-education settings is mainly on the teaching of literacy.

ICT and assessment
No clear evidence was found of ICT being used in the assessment of students’ academic progress. The evaluation also found limited assessment being undertaken by schools of the development of students’ ICT skills. Furthermore, there was limited evidence of teachers engaging in the assessment of ICT-related activity in their classroom, or of its impact on teaching and learning.

7.3 Main recommendations for policy-makers and policy advisors 7.3.1 ICT infrastructure
Improving schools’ ICT infrastructure
The level of ICT infrastructure in schools needs to be improved. To ensure adequate access by students to ICT, Ireland should strive to reduce its student-computer ratio. A reduction in Ireland's SCR would have the effect of facilitating an increased permeation of ICT in all teaching and learning spaces. In this context, it is worth noting that countries that have taken the lead in this area, including Japan, Canada, Austria, New Zealand, Hungary, (South) Korea, Australia and the United States, are aiming for or achieving a SCR of 5:1 or less. Ireland should be working towards equipping not just all schools but all classrooms with an appropriate level of ICT infrastructure. Consideration should be given to equipping all classrooms with, at the least, a computer for teachers’ use, broadband internet access with adequate bandwidth, and a fixed data projector and screen for presentations. There is some evidence that growing numbers of schools are installing interactive whiteboards. While these whiteboards have considerable advantages, the cost of this technology is prohibitive and its use is heavily dependent on training and the presence of an ICT culture in schools. As

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recommended above, priority should be given to equipping each classroom with a computer and data projector. In due course, consideration should be given to how interactive whiteboards can be made available to schools over time.

ICT technical support and maintenance
Provision needs to be made for ICT technical support and maintenance for schools. While an increase in the level of ICT infrastructure in schools will go some way towards increasing their ICT capacity, this is not the only criterion for ensuring an increased impact of the technology on teaching and learning. ICT maintenance in schools needs to be addressed in a co-ordinated fashion at the system level, so that all schools can benefit from having a secure and reliable infrastructure that will facilitate the integration of ICT throughout the school. A strategy is required to ensure that a comprehensive ICT maintenance and support service is available to schools. A range of models whereby this service could be delivered needs to be explored. These models could include clustering schools for the purpose of taking out maintenance contracts with commercial IT companies, national or regional contracts for technical support for schools, or other options. The effectiveness of these models could be explored on a pilot basis

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initially, so as to identify the most cost-effective and efficient way in which the necessary support could be provided to schools.

ICT upgrading
Funding for ICT infrastructure should not only provide schools with the capacity to acquire ICT facilities but also to regularly upgrade these facilities and to dispose of obsolete computers and other equipment in a planned way. This increased funding may be delivered by way of increased capitation grants or direct grants. As recommended in section 7.4.1 below, schools should plan to use the available funding to acquire ICT facilities, to provide for maintenance of their ICT systems and to manage their computer obsolescence more effectively. Advice regarding the spending of schools' ICT budgets could be provided by the NCTE and other relevant support services.

Local ICT advisory service
It is clear from the evaluation that the impact of the local ICT advisory service is limited. The technical dimension of ICT advisors’ role in an education centre could be more adequately fulfilled by other means as discussed under ICT technical support and maintenance above. Furthermore, the current pedagogical support role of the advisory service could be more appropriately provided by the relevant support services (for example the Primary Curriculum Support Programme and the SecondLevel Support Service, including the various support programmes for second-level subjects) in liaison with the ICT school co-ordinators. With an effective ICT maintenance system in place, the pedagogical role of school-based ICT co-ordinators could be enhanced and supported with appropriate training.

7.3.2 Professional development needs of teachers
ICT in teacher education
There needs to be an increased emphasis on the application of ICT in teaching and learning in teacher education during pre-service, induction and in continuing professional development. The evaluation found that a lack of appropriate training for teachers acted as a major barrier to the effective use of ICT in schools. It is recommended that teacher education departments in third-level colleges should provide student teachers with the skills necessary to effectively use ICT in teaching and foster in them a culture of using ICT in their work. The colleges should also develop appropriate postgraduate courses to offer to the teaching profession in general, for example a higher diploma for school ICT co-ordinators. The resource demands of these developments need to be examined by the colleges and the appropriate funding bodies.

Continuing professional development for teachers
The IT 2000 initiative included the implementation of a national professional development initiative for teachers. This initiative attracted significant numbers of teachers at the time of its launch and its

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main emphasis was on the cultivation of basic ICT skills among teachers. While opportunities continue to be provided for teachers to engage with relevant professional development courses in ICT, consideration should now be given to expanding and extending significantly the current range of courses on offer. The main emphasis of this expanded initiative should be the development of teaching skills that facilitate the integration of ICT in teaching and learning. A major element of the initiative should have a subject-specific focus and should be developed and implemented in conjunction with the existing school support services.

School support services
School support services need to give priority in their work with schools to the integration of ICT in the teaching and learning process. Support services should work more closely with schools, and with schools’ ICT co-ordinators in particular, to determine the training needs of staff members and assist them in organising appropriate training programmes. Using ICT in lessons requires alternative teaching approaches and classroom practices. Particular attention, therefore, should be given to organising professional development courses that concentrate on the development of teaching methods that encourage the use of ICT.

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Support services should also ensure that examples of how ICT can be used to facilitate teaching and learning are included in all general professional development programmes that they provide. Course organisers and presenters should take account of the wide range of ICT abilities and experience commonly found in groups of teachers when organising courses, and should employ strategies for working with mixed-ability groupings.

Support for setting up an association of ICT co-ordinators
ICT co-ordinators should be supported in setting up an association or network of schools’ ICT coordinators. Such a forum would allow co-ordinators to engage with a “community of practice” and to learn from one another.

7.4 Main recommendations for schools
7.4.1 ICT infrastructure in schools
Budgeting for ICT
Schools should move promptly in making use of any ICT grants they receive. Given the importance of technical support and maintenance in ensuring the continued operation of their ICT system, schools should endeavour to allocate a separate budget annually for the maintenance and development of their ICT systems. Furthermore, schools need to manage their computer obsolescence more effectively.

Location of ICT resources in schools
It is recommended that, as resources permit, schools should work towards providing all teaching and learning spaces with ICT facilities. This should include general classrooms and should not be confined to specialised rooms, as tends to be the case at present. As an interim measure schools could consider setting up a mobile ICT facility, comprising, for example, a laptop computer (or computers), a printer, and a digital projector. Schools with computer rooms should ensure that they are as fully accessible as possible. This could be achieved by a combination of effective timetabling and the adoption of a system that allows teachers to book the room as necessary. Schools should also explore ways of facilitating students with access to ICT facilities outside lesson times. The setting up of a computer club, for example, could contribute to making computer facilities more accessible to students.

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Developing ICT resources in schools
As opportunities arise, schools should develop the range of ICT peripherals and software available to facilitate teaching and learning. Furthermore, efforts should be made to promote awareness within schools, particularly among staff members, of the availability of such resources. Schools should also carry out a regular ICT needs analysis in the area of special educational needs. This would help ensure the best match possible between specialised technology and software and the needs of students with special educational needs.

ICT facilities for teachers
Schools should endeavour to provide staff members with adequate access to ICT facilities for the purpose of planning and preparing for their teaching. Many schools have already done this by providing such facilities in their staff rooms or in work rooms. It should be remembered that the provision of facilities in individual classrooms could also provide teachers with access to ICT for planning and preparation purposes and not just for teaching purposes. Consideration could also be given to acquiring a small number of laptop computers, or other mobile facilities, that could be used by members of the staff at school or at home, as necessary.

7.4.2 Planning for ICT in schools
ICT co-ordinator
To ensure efficiency in the organisation and capacity of a school’s ICT system, one member of the staff in every primary and post-primary school should take the lead in the management and coordination of ICT. It is also suggested that the duties of this staff member be incorporated in the school’s schedule of posts of responsibility. The duties attaching to such a post should be clearly specified and should include the following: • co-ordinating the production and development of the ICT plan • identifying training needs and facilitating staff training • developing strategies for the integration of ICT throughout the curriculum • liaison with the senior management and advising on ICT strategies • evaluating the use of ICT in the school and encouraging greater use by teachers and students • liaison with ICT maintenance personnel • developing and maintaining a school learning platform and web site.

ICT steering committee
Schools should consider convening an ICT steering committee, which could assist in managing the development of the ICT plan and in monitoring and reviewing its continuing implementation.

ICT plan and an acceptable-use policy
Schools should have an ICT plan and an AUP, both drawn up in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and both updated regularly. The plan should have a clear emphasis on the integration

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of ICT in teaching and learning throughout the curriculum. Ideally it should include guidelines for teachers in setting out appropriate learning objectives for each class level in relation to the use of ICT in supporting the implementation of the curriculum.

ICT and individual teachers’ planning
All teachers should exploit the benefits to be gained from ICT in their lesson planning and preparation. They should endeavour, for example, to make more use of Scoilnet. Ready access by teachers to computer facilities and the internet would obviously aid this process. Furthermore, teachers should plan for the integration of ICT in all aspects of their teaching, as appropriate. As resources become more readily available, so too should their use in the classroom.

Using support services
Schools should monitor the ICT training needs of their staff and develop and implement professional development plans as appropriate. Professional development opportunities for teachers should

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Chapter 7

concentrate on the integration of ICT in teaching and learning. Schools should utilise the services of their local education centre, and other relevant school support services, as fully as possible, in planning and delivering professional support to teachers, and in planning and developing their ICT infrastructure.

7.4.3 ICT in teaching and learning
Integrating ICT in teaching and learning
The process of school and teacher self-review should support the effective integration of ICT throughout the school curriculum. As schools review and seek to improve the quality of teaching and learning in curricular areas and subjects, they should examine their current and potential use of ICT. School self-review should include regular audits of ICT facilities in all classrooms and subjects, and should gather information on how effectively existing available resources are being used. Schools should endeavour to adopt mechanisms to facilitate the sharing of good practice among staff members. For example, teachers with good ICT skills and who make effective use of ICT in their own classrooms could act as mentors to colleagues whose ICT skills are not as well developed. Schools should endeavour to provide all their students with an appropriate and equitable level of experience of ICT at all class levels at primary level and at both junior cycle and senior cycle at postprimary level. Teachers should regularly review their use of ICT with a view to expanding the settings in which it can be used and their repertoire of teaching strategies, including opportunities for students’ engagement with the technology. This should include exploring the use of as wide a range of resources and applications as possible, for example educational software, peripherals, e-mail, presentation software, and the internet. Teachers should also exploit the potential of ICT to develop as wide a range of students’ skills as possible, including research and investigation skills, writing and presentation skills, communication skills, teamwork and collaborative skills, and the higher-order skills of problem-solving, analysis, and evaluation. If schools are providing a programme of discrete ICT lessons at post-primary level, the content of the programme should reflect closely the existing level of the students’ ICT skills. Any syllabus developed by the school should have the effect of expanding on the students’ knowledge and their repertoire of ICT skills.

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ICT and students with special educational needs
Schools should exploit more fully the potential of ICT to support the learning needs of students with special educational needs. Currently, ICT is used mainly to support the acquisition of literacy, but the technology has the potential for much wider application in special education settings and for supporting students with special educational needs within mainstream classrooms.

ICT and assessment
Schools should develop strategies for evaluating the impact of ICT at different levels in the school, so that staff members are confident in assessing its influence on teaching and learning. Schools should exploit the benefits of ICT in their assessment procedures and practices beyond purely administrative functions. This could include using ICT to assess, track and analyse students’ progress through the use of appropriate software. Consideration could also be given to assessing students’ ICT skill levels at particular times during their schooling.

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References & Appendix

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References
Accenture (2004). ICT—the Indispensable Sector in the Knowledge Based Economy. Dublin: ICT Ireland. Barton, R. (1997). “Computer aided graphing a comparative study.” Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education, 6(1), 59-72. Barton, R. (1998). “IT in practical work: assessing and increasing the value added.” In J. Wellington (Ed.), Practical work in school science: which way now? London: Routledge. Department for Education and Skills (2004). DfES Annual Survey of Information and Communications Technology in Schools. Retrieved 5 March 2007, from http://www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000480/SFR27-2004v6.pdf Department of Education (1995). Charting our Education Future: White Paper on Education. Dublin: Stationery Office. Department of Education and Science (1997). Schools IT 2000: A Policy Framework for the New Millennium. Dublin: Stationery Office Department of Education and Science (1999). Primary School Curriculum. Dublin: Stationery Office. Department of Education and Science (2005). An Evaluation of Curriculum Implementation in Primary Schools: English, Mathematics and Visual Arts. Dublin: Stationery Office. Department of Education and Science (2006). Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools. Dublin: Stationery Office. Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment (2006). Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013. Dublin: Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Department of the Taoiseach (2006). Towards 2016 - Ten-Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006-2015. Dublin: Department of the Taoiseach. Forfás (2005). Skills Needs in the Irish Economy: The Role of Migration. Dublin: Expert Group on Future Skills Needs/Forfás. Harris, J. (2006). Irish in Primary Schools: Long Term National Trends in Achievement. Dublin: Department of Education and Science. Harrison, C., Comber, C., Fisher, T., Haw, K., Lewin, C., & Lunzer, E. (2003). The Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on Pupil Learning and Attainment London: Becta. Haydn, T. (2001). Subject Discipline Dimensions of ICT and Learning: History, a Case Study. Retrieved December 03, 2005, 2, from http://www.centres.ex.ac.uk/historyresource/journal3/haydn.doc IMD (2003). World Competitiveness Yearbook 2003 Lausanne, Switzerland: IMD.

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References & Appendices

Irish Council for Science Technology and Innovation (1999). Technology Foresight Report. Dublin: Irish Council for Science, Technology and Innovation. Kompf, M. (2005). “Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the Seduction of Knowledge, Teaching, and Learning: What Lies Ahead for Education.” Curriculum Inquiry, 35(2). National Centre for Technology in Education (2000). Information and Advice: Special Educational Needs and Information and Communications Technology. Dublin: National Centre for Technology in Education. National Centre for Technology in Education (2002). Planning and Advice for Schools. Dublin: National Centre for Technology in Education. National Centre for Technology in Education (2006). Engaging Learners - Mobile Technology, Literacy and Inclusion. Dublin: Brunswick Press Ltd. National Competitiveness Council (2006). Annual Competitiveness Report 2006, Volume 1: Benchmarking Ireland's Performance. Dublin: National Competitiveness Council. National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (2004a). Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the Primary School Curriculum Guidelines for Teachers. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (2004b). Curriculum, Assessment and ICT in the Irish Context: A Discussion paper. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (2005). Primary Curriculum Review: Phase 1 (Final Report). Dublin: Government of Ireland. National Policy Advisory and Development Committee (2001). The Impact of Schools IT 2000. Dublin: National Policy Advisory and Development Committee. O'Doherty, T., Gleeson, J., Johnson, K., McGarr, O., & Moody, J. (2001). Computers and Curriculum Difficulties and Dichotomies. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. O'Doherty, T., Gleeson, J., Moody, J., Johnson, K., Kiely, L., & McGarr, O. (2000). An Investigation into the Interest in and Feasibility of Introducing a Computer-based Subject to the Established Leaving Certificate Programme. Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. OECD (2001). Learning to Change: ICT in Schools. Paris: OECD. OECD (2003). OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2003 - Towards a KnowledgeBased Economy. Paris: OECD. OECD (2006a). Are Students Ready for a Technology-Rich World? What PISA Tells Us. Paris: OECD. OECD (2006b). OECD Broadband Statistics to June 2006. Retrieved 01 December 2006, from www.oecd.org/sti/ict/broadband Ofsted (2004). ICT in Schools: The Impact of Government Initiatives Five Years On. London: Ofsted.

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Papert, S. (1990). A Critique of Technocentrism in Thinking About the School of the Future. Retrieved 10 March 2005, from http://www.papert.org/articles/ACritiqueofTechnocentrism.html Shiel, G., & O’Flaherty, A. (2006). NCTE 2005 Census on ICT Infrastructure in Schools: Statistical Report. Dublin: National Centre for Technology in Education. Tearle, P. (2004). “A theoretical and instrumental framework for implementing change in ICT in education.” Cambridge Journal of Education, 34(3), pp331-351. van Oel, B. J. (2004). ERNIST ICT School Portraits Summary Document. Netherlands: Inspectorate of Education.

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References & Appendices

NCTE ICT planning matrix
The ICT planning matrix is designed to help schools establish their level of development with regard to the use of ICT. It includes a wide range of issues for consideration in the development of a school’s ICT plan. Within the categories of the matrix, issues are discussed in accordance with certain criteria, and these are graded into three stages of integration: initial, intermediate, and advanced. The matrix offers a clear means of assessing a school’s ICT status. Schools may find that they are primarily in the advanced stage as regards their ICT resources and infrastructure but are in the initial stage when it comes to ICT and the curriculum. Having established that this is the case, such a school should give priority to the integration of ICT throughout the curriculum. The integration of ICT is not simply a linear process, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Every school needs to analyse its present position with regard to ICT integration and to develop a plan that will allow it to progress to the next stage. It is recommended that each school work through the ICT planning matrix to identify its strengths and weaknesses with regard to the current use of ICT within the school. Having established their strengths, they should then grade their weaknesses under the five headings and devise a realistic plan to progress to the next level. Such a process should be monitored regularly to ensure that progress is being made. The five categories are: • Management and planning • ICT and the curriculum • Professional development of staff members • School’s ICT culture • ICT resources and infrastructure.

Management and planning
Is your school at the initial, intermediate or advanced stage for ICT management and planning? Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced ICT plan is developed ICT plan is regularly updated ICT planning is considered an integral part of general school planning ICT plan is developed by one or a few individual teachers All staff members are given the opportunity to make an input to the ICT plan A team approach is adopted for ICT planning and integration

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Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced

No teacher is co-ordinating the integration of ICT within the school One teacher or a group of teachers informally assume responsibility for ICT in the school There is a designated co-ordinating teacher The ICT plan concentrates heavily on computer hardware and the acquisition of basic skills The school enlists the support of the local ICT advisor or ICT support group network The school ethos encourages the exploration of new approaches to ICT integration An audit of ICT resources has not been carried out The process of identifying relevant software and internet resources in all subject and special-needs areas has begun An annual audit and needs assessment of ICT infrastructure is conducted, in terms of the curriculum needs of all classes, subject areas, and special needs The extent and level of ICT use is decided by each teacher individually The principal is active in integrating ICT throughout the school The impact of ICT in all areas of teaching and learning is regularly reviewed The ICT plan concentrates on equipment rather than on the school’s usage policy Health and safety standards are considered when writing the ICT plan A range of school ICT policies is developed, for example use of the internet, use of applications, health and safety issues, and management of ICT resources An internet usage policy does not exist, as internet access is restricted to staff members A basic internet use policy is developed An acceptable-use policy (for internet use) is developed with the involvement of parents

Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced

Initial Intermediate Advanced

ICT and the curriculum
Is your school at the initial, intermediate or advanced stage for ICT and the curriculum? Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Students and teachers acquire basic ICT skills ICT is integrated in a number of subject areas ICT is integrated in project-based learning ICT is considered a stand-alone activity A range of ICT issues is commonplace (teachers’ preparation and classroom management; whole-class teaching; group and individual work) Teachers and students use open-ended software to support curriculum activities, for example Logo, authoring, programming Students use computers in isolation from the school curriculum E-mail is incorporated in the communicative and research aspects of the curriculum Teachers and students use ICT to create digital content, for example project presentations, web and multimedia authoring, students’ electronic portfolios

Initial Intermediate Advanced

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Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced

Internet use is confined mostly to e-mail and web browsing The web is used as part of general class teaching Students use ICT to collaborate on curriculum activities, both within the school and with other schools ICT use is experimental, and the emphasis is on applications, such as word-processing ICT use reinforces existing curriculum activities Problem-solving and questioning learning approaches are supported by ICT

Staff development
Is your school at the initial, intermediate or advanced stage for staff development in ICT? Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Some staff members have participated in basic skills training All staff members have met the level of basic skills training Staff members are participating in third-level ICT professional development Staff members are aware of training opportunities Specialist staff members have received or are receiving appropriate skills training Staff members are investigating new hardware and software solutions No contact has been made with the local ICT advisor The school has contacted the local ICT advisor for support Staff members are actively sharing new ideas with each other and with other teachers Staff members have not been encouraged to attend ICT courses Some staff members have participated in, or are participating in, ICT courses emphasising the integration of ICT in the classroom Staff members are integrating relevant solutions in their teaching Staff members are not aware of local ICT support structures Members of the staff are attending relevant ICT support group meetings Staff members are participating in on-line ICT support groups

School ICT culture
Is your school’s ICT culture at the initial, intermediate or advanced stage? Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Students are guaranteed a “turn” on the computers Structured ICT access is available during school time The school environment encourages independent ICT use by both teachers and students Teachers have limited access to computers during school hours ICT access is facilitated outside teaching time ICT use outside normal teaching time is encouraged Classroom displays are supported by computer-produced labels Classroom displays contain computer-produced content Computers are considered a school resource that students can use to support their work when applicable

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Initial Intermediate Advanced

The school does not have a web site The school has an active and up-to-date web site with some student involvement The school web site is developed and maintained by teachers and students; it concentrates on students’ activities and curriculum resources The school does not engage with other schools on ICT issues The school is involved in ICT projects (national or international) The school is seen as an exemplar of best practice by other schools Computers are used reluctantly by teachers The school is an “ICT-friendly” zone A positive, supportive ICT culture exists throughout the school

Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced

ICT resources and infrastructure
Are the ICT resources and infrastructure in your school at the initial, intermediate or advanced stage? Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Initial Intermediate Advanced Computers are confined to a computer room Computers are located throughout the school in classrooms A network of computers is distributed throughout the school Computers are not networked There is a peer-to-peer network within the computer room but not throughout the school All computers are networked; internet access is available throughout the school There is no provision for technical support Provision is made for the maintenance of computers A technical support contract exists There is an internet connection through one telephone line to a computer There is an internet connection via ISDN to most computers There is an internet connections to all computers via multiple ISDN, leased line, ADSL, or broadband cable Limited software is available, but not enough for all classes, all subject areas, or all students with special needs Some software and internet resources are available for each class or year level; multiple licences have been obtained for whole-class use Appropriate software and internet resources are identified and made available by age, subject, and special need Desktop computers and printers are the only ICT equipment available in the school A digital camera (or cameras) and scanner (or scanners) are used for project and web site work A digital projector (or projectors) and interactive whiteboard (or whiteboards) are in use throughout the school

Initial Intermediate Advanced

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Initial Intermediate Advanced

Some computer equipment does not work and has not been repaired or replaced Equipment is fixed or replaced only when absolutely necessary Provision is made for regular renewal of equipment

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