Schools and information technology
The Department of Education and Skills (DE) is responsible for developing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in schools. It aims to help teachers to incorporate ICT into their skill sets and teaching practice, and to develop curriculum and learning resources that make use of ICT.
This document outlines the strategies and programmes in place to achieve these aims. Most of these programmes are operated and managed by the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST).
COVID-19 and technology for students
The Department of Education provided a special €10 million fund to support the purchase of technology and devices for students, particularly those at risk of disadvantage from school closures due to the Covid-19 public health emergency. All devices remain the property of the school. Schools must also put in place a communication and learning platform that supports the school to respond to partial or full school closure in the future.
Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST)
Since 1st June 2012, the role and functions of the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) has come under the remit of the Professional Development Service for Teachers.
The PDST provides advice and support to the Department and other bodies on the development and use of ICT in education. It also provides a number of ICT support services to schools through:
- Designing and implementing a series of in-career ICT training programmes for teachers
- Developing and maintaining ScoilNet - an online educational portal. It also has responsibility for the development of other websites with specific relevance to the curriculum and content to support teachers providing distance learning
- Supporting and facilitating school leadership in e-learning planning
- Supporting the innovative use and integration of ICT in schools through pilot projects
- Providing a general ICT advice service to schools
Schools Broadband programme
PDST is responsible for coordinating the Schools Broadband Programme. This provides integrated services, including broadband connectivity, and hosted services, such as content filtering, web hosting-blogging and security services. These services are managed by the Schools Broadband Team which includes the PDST, the Department and HEAnet.
PDST also manages the Broadband Service Desk. This is a single point of contact for schools for all broadband related issues.
PDST is responsible for managing and developing internet safety programmes and subject modules, and advising on the development and use of Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) in schools. Webwise, the Irish Safer Internet Centre promotes the safe, responsible use of the internet and mobile devices by children and young people. It is co-funded by the European Union Safer Internet Programme and the Department.
Special education and ICT
PDST provides advice relating to the use of technology with students who have special educational needs.
Department of Education also provides assistive technology grants for individual students with special educational needs. Applications for this funding must be made by the local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO).
Digital Strategy for Schools
In October 2015 the Department published the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 Enhancing Teaching Learning and Assessment.
The strategy provides a rationale and a Government action plan for integrating ICT into teaching, learning and assessment practices in schools over five years.
Some key priorities of the Digital Strategy for Schools are:
- Address the ICT infrastructure requirements of school through the ICT infrastructure grant. Schools can use grants to purchase key technology including tablets, cloud based tools, projectors and software or ‘apps’ to support learning. Schools can get more information on the scheme.
- Explore and recommend technical support solutions for schools.
- Extend the scope and reach of student learning beyond the walls of the classrooms.
- Roll out the Digital Learning Framework to assist schools in effectively embedding digital technologies into teaching and learning. You can watch a video guide on the Digital Learning Framework.
The Department of Education produces an annual Digital Strategy Action Plan. Under the Strategy, each school must also have a Digital Learning Plan which is reviewed at least annually.
Support resources on the Digital Learning Framework for primary and post-primary schools are available on the page dlplanning.ie. Information and guidance is available to schools from the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) Technology in Education - see ‘where to apply’.