Try to find two primary schools in Ireland with exactly the same technology set up and you’d be hard pressed to do so. Every school has a mishmash of different operating systems, hardware and so on. This is generally to do with a policy failure which continues to this day.
The last time there was a good ICT model in Irish schools was a Schools Integration Project coded SIP041 – The Thin-Client Server Solution in Irish Schools. Headed up in 1998 by a pioneering teacher, Tom McFadden, this project linked a number of schools in the Dublin Bay area using thin-client technology. Students and teachers logged on to dumb terminals that were centrally controlled by one server. It was 20 years ahead of its time in so far that the technology that was used back then is only really now very cheap and easy to do.
Right now, almost everything one needs to do on a computer is Internet-based. There is almost no need for software that downloads on to a computer.
My idea is to resurrect Tom’s project and give it a 21st century makeover.
I am not naive enough to think that everyone would use exactly the same operating system or hardware but I am suggesting that the government could invest in a centralised portal that worked with all devices through an Internet browser.
The useful thing is that these devices could be remotely accessed by the central platform for technical support. Apps could be created and shared on the platform. However, everything would basically work through a browser so any device at all that could connect to the Internet would be able to access the system.
I propose we call it Project 041.