Irish Education Company leads the way by inviting teachers to co-design their own training!
2nd June 2009 – An Irish Education company is delivering a welcome positive message for teachers this Summer. Despite a challenging year which saw teacher / student ratios continue to increase, combined with the imposition of an effective salary reduction for teachers with the Government pension levy, Flúirse Education Solutions announced an innovative new approach to teacher’s annual summer training programmes…they’ve invited teachers to assist in designing their own courses!
“It’s not as crazy as it first sounds,” explained Tomás Finneran, co-founder of Flúirse Education Solutions and Director of the company’s Teacher Training Programme. “Each year we train and support thousands of teachers in all aspects of using ICT in the Classroom. Teachers are not concerned with the inner workings of a digital camera, or the processor speed of their computer, they’re looking to us to help them use and integrate computers and technology into their classrooms and everyday teaching”
Speaking at the launch of the company’s 2009 Online Teacher Training Programme, Finneran explained the genesis of the idea. “While delivering courses to teachers last summer through our online training system, some of the best ideas and suggestions came from teachers themselves. By the end of the course, our forums and chat rooms were buzzing with teachers offering novel ways to really make the most of technology in their daily work with children, from simple technologies like a Digital Camera or MP3 player, right up to Interactive Whiteboards and School Websites. That’s where we got the idea for this. Why not let the teachers offer suggestions to our course authors directly before the courses commence using a simple message-board on our website? That way, these ideas can be shared from the first day of the course, with all participants, and even better, it makes our courses even more relevant to teachers…it’s a win-win situation for all of us”
Flúirse led the way in 2007 by delivering the first full independent programme of ICT related online courses for Primary Schools Teachers; an initiative responding to research they conducted showing almost one third of teachers struggled with ICT in the Classroom. They are now the largest provider of Web-based courses for primary school teachers with 32 courses announced at this year’s programme launch.
“Teachers were really up against it then, clearly lacking the support and training necessary to effectively use what limited ICT resources were then available to them in the classroom. We just couldn’t believe the findings from our research at the time.”
So, how much has changed in the past two years for teachers? Finneran is critical of the current Government’s support for teachers.
“Obviously it hasn’t been easy, especially for primary schools and their teachers. They lack many essential resources and unfortunately, the computers and everyday gadgets most of us take for granted in our daily work, are simply not available to teachers…they remain vastly under-resourced and under increasing pressure with larger class sizes”
“We’ve been critical of the current government for the past few years in their lack of support in this countries most valuable resource: our children, the leaders and entrepreneurs of the future. In continuing to delay the €252 million investment in ICT in Education, as laid out in the National Development Plan, and ultimately compounding this failure by withdrawing the ICT Advisors from each education centre, teachers are now on their own when it comes to ICT in their schools and classrooms” he added.
Despite this, he believes that some positives can be drawn despite the current challenges.
“Teachers are now doing it for themselves, and looking to organisations like ours for support. I think there is now a sense of reality and perhaps that’s a good thing. Schools now know that they can expect little by way of support or investment in the coming years from the Department of Education and Science, but perhaps a new public-private approach similar to the approach the National Roads Authority are taking in completing major infrastructure developments is the best way forward.”
“The summer course programme is a perfect example of what can be achieved. We feel that we’re the best-placed organisation in Ireland to offer training to teachers in all aspects of ICT in Education. We do this each year with the approval of, and under strict guidelines set out by, the Department of Education and Science. The model clearly works well, combining the efficiencies and innovation of the private sector, with the reach, direction and coordination of the public sector bodies.” he concluded.
Flúirse Education Solutions’ courses are available to primary school teachers and commence this July. To suggest an idea for adding to any course, visit the Flúirse website and click on “FORUM”. For information on any of their courses or to reserve a place, visit www.fluirse.com/courses or call Flúirse at (066) 712 9828