€150m for Smart Schools isn’t smart at all

I feel that I should reiterate that I have deep concerns about the €150m investment in “Smart Schools”, which I wrote about a couple of months ago (http://anseo.net/?p=1538), as it’s just been published this week.

My main problem is with the impression that our ICT infrastructure in our schools is even adequate.  There appears to be a lot of denial in the report, suggesting that we have ratios of 9.1:1 in primary schools when so many of these computers are broken, ancient or in computer rooms (or all three).

We have had almost nothing in the way of ICT investment since 2000, which means that schools had to have a haphazard adhoc response to funding ICTs.  Thus schools will have a mixture of equipment from donations, Tesco, fundraising and perhaps sponsorship.

Although there is now a lot of optimism in ICT circles, in my opinion, this is only because of Interactive Whiteboards, yet they are not recommended in the report.  Since the announcement of the ICT grant, I am getting dozens of calls asking about IWBs, even though they aren’t recommended in the €5,000 per classroom grant.  Schools are ignoring the NCTE advice and are buying these boards in favour of laptops, projectors, etc.  We need to ask why this is instead of completely ignoring it.

I also find it astounding that the committee contained zero teachers at any level, primary or otherwise.  As much as these heavyweights of Irish business and government officials know their ICT, it is difficult to see how they can relate to pedagogy seeing as neither have any training in educational matters.  Why were there no members of the CESI committee involved in this report?  They are the voice of teachers in all three levels of our education system with both knowledge of ICT and pedagogy.

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