Tapping into technology as students get to work on iPads

Transition-year students at Coláiste Pobail Osraí are now set to lead the way in the school’s transition to becoming even more technology-focused.

Transition-year students at Coláiste Pobail Osraí are now set to lead the way in the school’s transition to becoming even more technology-focused.

Last Wednesday, the 20 students received the iPads that they will be using for their schoolwork over the coming year as part of a pilot project in conjunction with Dublin-based wriggle.ie.

The students received their first lessons on how to use the tablet devices on Wednesday, from activation and setup to how to use its various features, how to back up their files and how to get onto the network.

“Other schools have used first-years” in their pilot programmes, noted transition-year coordinator Máire Uí Shluain, but the school decided to try out the iPads in line with the project-based transition year. So the students will be writing blogs about their work during the year, keeping diaries and accounts, and taking videos and photographs of all of the different projects that they’re doing over the course of the year.

The iPads have been provided to the students at a subsidised cost, and the teachers have also been provided with tablets. In fact, said principal Cathnia O’Muircheartaigh, the teachers are already using them in planning their class material.

Through Moodle (or Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment), a “virtual learning environment,” teachers can put up their work for students to access when they are out sick, for example.

“I think it is fantastic,” Mayor Seán Ó hArgáin said as the students had the first day of trying out the technology. And likewise of Gaelscoil Osraí, where he is principal, he said: “We are considering going this route in a couple of years.”

As with many schools, the aim of lessening the weight of students’ school bags is a primary consideration, in addition to the technological boost.

“The weight of school bags is one of the biggest disincentives of students cycling to school,” he said, emphasising that for such a scheme to work, “the books have to be made available in an affordable way.”

Ms Uí Shluain said the technology would also have the benefit in language learning, with new apps as Gaeilge being introduced by the day. And who knows – these Coláiste Pobail Osraí students could be the next generation of designers of such apps.