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(In association with Educate.ie)
It may be time for some fresh thinking when it comes to technology in the classroom. Staff in one of the country’s most modern schools have been telling us about new tech tools bringing learning and the world to life for students.
Principal Donal O’Sullivan says Coláiste Mhuire in Buttevant, Co Cork became an ‘iPad school’ in 2016 when they moved into their brand new school campus. A robust wifi system and supporting technology means all 362 students can use their iPads at any time to support classroom learning.
The school has long used Educate.ie’s physical textbooks, favouring their quality, layout and low cost, so Donal had no hesitation in introducing the company’s ebooks to teachers and students. All schoolbooks are available on the Educate.ie app which students download onto their iPad and refer to right through the schoolday. The heavy textbooks stay at home.
Donal said the reaction has been extremely positive.
“Teachers find the Educate.ie books really useful for preparation and enjoy a much more interactive and real classroom dynamic by using the ebooks. Rather than seeing something stationary on a physical book, students can see the world at work before their eyes and that is hugely powerful - tap on a photograph of a volcano and you can see it erupting.
“Students learn in different ways – listening, visualising, interacting. Parents are happy to have the physical textbooks at home, where pupils still write out their essays and learn the traditional way. They then use the ebooks in school.
“Educate.ie has tutorials set into the books, so even if a student does not grasp it in the classroom he or she can click on a tutorial at home that evening.
“It has worked brilliantly for us over the last three years. It was a huge step for our school and we have monitored it closely but I think every teacher here now would say it has been transformational in terms of how students work.”
Donal added that while Coláiste Mhuire has been able to fully embrace ebooks, even schools without the technology advantage of a brand new, tech-equipped campus will enjoy the physical Educate.ie schoolbooks due to their superior layout and cost models. These include a rental option, with many of the books available to rent at €6 per year, which includes both the physical book and the ebook.
Buying outright never costs more than €20 per title for the Kerry-produced Educate.ie books.
“They’re fantastic value,” said Donal, “but quality is our top priority. If the books weren’t also top quality, we would not buy them.”
So what do the teachers have to say?
“I think it just brings learning to life. It is great to see students really engage and get creative with a subject and then spark ideas off each other”.
Science teacher Elaine Whyte:
“The Educate.ie books are a great resource both for the students, and especially for teachers. We get a teacher resource book with sample schemes to work off which are really helpful.
“Students really like the ebooks because they can interact with them so easily and they really enjoy the videos, which are excellent for a recap and are a great way to introduce a new topic in the classroom.
“While traditionally you might have had an exam question at the end of a chapter, now there are a host of research options to do (for example) with stem cell research or with smart technology which really engages the students.
“It is a great, complete package for the students. They get a text book and, a little keywords book - which is excellent as it pulls out all the keywords that they should know from each chapter. The workbook is excellent and has a really good layout of questions between diagrams or labelling or short questions, and the portfolio book is excellent as well.
“Traditionally with the old course they would have had to write up the experiments on sheets of paper and I would collect them whereas now they get a portfolio book which keeps everything together.
“We have a new section in the science syllabus this year called Earth and Space. For that, we have posters and chapter quizzes on that which students can download.
“Parents feel the students get more scope to write about a part of the subject that really interests them, so while they have written questions for homework they also have options and an opportunity to focus on what interests them.
“They really are enjoying the whole process of learning science in a new and exciting way.”
Geography teacher at Coláiste Mhuire Maire Guiney:
“Definitely the students are more animated about geography since we started using the ebooks. We are using the Geography In Action book at the moment and it is excellent. They can see videos of the maps which makes a huge difference...they are really enjoying the word searches and the cross words.
“I really like the exam tips at the end of the page which are really helpful and keep the students engaged. Animation and videos help make learning that bit different and more fun - which is very important.”
For more information, contact educate.ie.