Calls to scrap teacher email system… did you even know it existed?

A couple of years ago when Ireland had money, the government, through the National Centre for Technology in Education, the NCTE, decided to pay a company to develop an email system for teachers.  Every teacher was going to be given an email address  I was one of the teachers chosen to pilot it in my school so I went for the training.  There was nothing particularly wrong with the system apart from the fact that it wasn’t very good.  First of all, you didn’t get to choose your email address.  Your address was your initial and surname followed by a random set of 4 numbers.  Mine was slewis7796 which is impossible to remember.  In fact, I gave it to all the people who were on the course with me and not one has written to that address in 3 years.  Maybe they just don’t like me.  In turn I instantly forgot their 4 digits and therefore their email address.  Other problems like no spam filtering and general unreliability made the system dodgy at best.  Hence nobody uses it anymore.
Three years on, and about €1 million later, Brian Hayes is calling for it to be scrapped.  However, some people are trying to resurrect it or continue to roll it out even though nobody will ever use it.   Unless [email protected] is working?  Supporters of the scheme, i.e. bokeeffe7346 and the guys who wrote it, someguy3477 and someotherguy3423, say that it will be useful for collaboration.  To quote our fine clued-in minister:

“If a history teacher comes across a good
history website, she can just email all her history colleagues – or
senior cycle history students – in one go. Resource shared. Students
who are out of school for extended periods of time (illness) are now
regularly corresponding with teachers to keep up with their studies. I
could go on and on…”

I gave a response on the CESI mailing list, which suggests a better and free solution:
I think in principle the teacher email system is a good idea but its main problem is in how rubbish it was in comparison to most web based email systems.  No spam filtering and not being able to choose a decent email address, were two basics that were missing.  Receiving emails was also unreliable.  From my own testing when I was piloting it in my own school, several emails were dropped and never to be seen again.
I guess its criteria for success was how many people are still using it from the pilot scheme.  I gave 28 members of my staff at the time a Scoilnet email address. Not one teacher still uses it.
I believe that the whole aim of collaboration with this scheme, e.g. sending a history plan to every history teacher, is excellent but we’re already doing it in mailing lists like this. I don’t see the need to get a new email system in order to get history lesson plans or messages from the DES.  If I want to receive the latest messages from the DES, why can’t I simply subscribe to a DES mailing list and receive these messages using my own address?  As for piggybacking other services, e.g. VLEs etc., again there is no need for us to get new email addresses.  It’s time to stop wasting money on things that already exist.

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The Newsletter features my thoughts on the Irish Primary Education System. Read the full newsletter here I was on the radio a few times

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