This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Group 5 Kevin Kaiser 88480975 Suzanne Tompkins 21984067 University of British Columbia ETEC 511 64B Marianne Justus, Ph.D. October 15, 2006
Ireland’s Technological Development 2 Ireland’s Technological Development The Celtic Tiger roars, but does it roar for all socio-economic areas of Ireland? Like all countries, Ireland must juggle the past, present, and future to meet the needs of its students who will drive the future economy of the country. The unique aspect of Ireland’s school system is the changing face of the economy and the socio-economic divide within its region. The small country of Ireland is experiencing growing pains in terms of the social impact of educational technology and the strategies used to implement technology into the school system. Educational Divide The economic boom in Ireland is known as the Celtic Tiger. It is this very economic boom that has brought many of Ireland’s sons and daughters back home from abroad. These people have not only brought money, but they brought many new skills and youth back into the country. This has put a strain on the education system to live up to already high expectations and understandings of what is needed from the schools. This also gave the entire island of Ireland an opportunity to share ideas through technology. “The Dissolving Boundaries Programme uses Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to facilitate cross-cultural educational linkages between schools in the North and South of Ireland and jointly funded by the two governments.” (DB, 2006. Para. 1) What was once a very separate island; Northern and Southern Ireland are attempting to come together through the use of technology. Still, the divide among the rich and the poor within Ireland continues to trouble the education system. In a country that has seen tremendous growth in wealth and stability, there remains the educationally disadvantaged. “310 primary schools are
Ireland’s Technological Development 3 included in the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme serving 64,700 pupils in disadvantaged areas with 293 additional ex-quota teaching posts in 250 of these schools.” (DES, 2006) The disadvantaged schools are a major concern in the school system. The Educational Disadvantage Committee (EDC) states, “In the In-service: provide continuing professional development for teachers, and leadership and management development for principals, linked to the strategic goals of educational inclusion and equality (for example active learning methods, using ICT, classroom interaction, group work)” (EDC, 2006) Within the EDC’s strategy to help these schools, it states that their 35 page plan must be carried out using “… existing resources and expertise to best effect, and adequate additional resources need to be made available to implement the strategy. Implementation is most effective when resources are employed flexibly, concentrated in priority areas, and not spread too thinly.” (EDC, 2006. p. 35) The need for a technological implementation is obvious to the planners, but they have limited resources to rectify the plan. Ireland has steadily made its already demanding K-16 education system more rigorous, creating links between industry and education and formalizing and supporting work-place education. The disadvantaged schools will have trouble not only graduating their students, but they will also have trouble putting their students to work in the lucrative IT sector of Ireland’s economy. “Designated schools also fared better in terms of pupils’ access to computers, with an average of 37 pupils to each computer compared with 75 pupils to each computer in non-designated schools.” (Weir, 2004. p.19) The IT sector is the heart of Ireland’s economic growth, and if the growth is to be sustainable, the schools must address this problem with a feasible plan.
Ireland’s Technological Development 4 Implementing Strategies Ireland's information and communication technology (ICT) discourse is tied to its economic incentives. As a small open economy, Ireland's knowledge-based development is increasingly linked to the globally networked economy. The conflicting innovation and social practice discourse reflect the growing pains Ireland is enduring during its economic transformation. Policy developments by government organizations reflect an optimistic, inclusive ICT approach, investing heavily in technological programs to lever social, political and economic changes. While public funds have been invested in numbers as high as forty-eight million dollars in some programs, the discourse of the public is not unified. Historically, Ireland's government has worked in a long-standing collaboration between Church and State to establish the values and structure of education programs. With the development of new for-profit education services, such as "Hibernia" a commercial, non-denominational college offering post-graduate teacher education courses, controversy has further divided views of Ireland's educational future and the role of ICT. A portion of the discourse dissention is reflected in the diverse needs of the public. "Results of literacy surveys are of concern with approximately one-fifth of adults identified as having severe literacy difficulties. Approximately 10% of Irish 15-year olds scored at the lowest level of literacy in the recent PISA survey of reading literacy." (Carr-Chellman, 2005, p. 72) This has increased the government focus on the inclusion of disadvantaged people and regions in the national ICT plan. Despite criticism and challenges, government rhetoric remains innovative, focused on possibility. The result of a census following the implementation of two major
Ireland’s Technological Development 5 programs provides solid evidence against the social practice counter-argument that their outlook is merely another example of rampant techno-utopic thinking. The three-year policy, Schools IT2000 originally implemented in 1997 with a 50 million dollar budget outlined a plan to target ICT infrastructure, teacher professional development and integration of ICT into the curriculum. A second policy targeted broadband access, and the third is directed toward advancing online learning through improved school networking. To monitor the progress of these programs a 2004 ICT School Census was effected which notes that "75% of all Irish teachers have availed of ICT courses."(CarrChellman, 2005, p.74) Both policies were considered a success with regard to improving pupil-computer rations. “37:1 in 1998, 18:1 in 2000, 11.8:1 in 2002.” (Carr-Chellman, 2005, p. 74) These statistical results form part of the governments current functionalist approach to education, emphasizing cost/benefit analysis over a humanist respect for different perspectives, or the more radical humanist voices concerned with cognitive limits to social fulfillment. David Noble's perspective that "the technology education trend is deeply embedded in the interests of trans-national capital which constructs education as a commodity to be sold on the free market" is thinly disguised, if at all in the government’s agenda. Despite the governments promising census results social practice discourse can find strength in the counter argument by noting that access in primary schools is still only 39%, post-primary 66%, special schools 33% and that internet service "typically provided through a standard telephone, thus limiting users to having one computer online at a time." (Carr-Chellman, 2005, p. 75) Prohibitive costs of leased lines "means that satellite is often the only realistic
Ireland’s Technological Development 6 option" which "depending on the location can be 20 times higher than the comparative cost in Dublin." "This imbalance of access to broadband services, alone with price differentiation, puts rural areas at a disadvantage, exacerbates the digital divide, and puts an additional cost burned on Irish companies, affecting adversely their ability to compete internationally, while inhibiting their expansion plans." (Carr-Chellman, 2005, p. 83) Conclusion Ireland's drive to integrate ICT's into its education system reflects the economic rationale inspired by the increasingly dominant functionalist global market order. It's incentives and approaches are similarly echoed in other countries around the world. Implementing ICT’s fairly and effectively to all of Ireland’s populace is the greatest challenge for Ireland. The eyes of the international community are watching Ireland, as their struggle and success gives hope and direction to other countries striving to participate in the same global knowledge market.
Ireland’s Technological Development 7 References Carr-Chellman, A. (Ed.) (2005). Global Perspectives on E-Learning: Rhetoric and Reality. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Department of Education and Science (2006). The Disadvantaged Area Scheme. Retrieved October 09, 06 from http://www.education.ie/home/home.jsp?pcategory=17216&ecategory=34279&la nguage=EN Dissolving Boundaries (2006). The Dissolving Boundaries Program. Retrieved October 09, 2006 from http://www.dissolvingboundaries.org/ The Educational Disadvantage Committee (2005) Moving Beyond Educational Disadvantage, Retrieved October 10, 2006 from http://www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/edc_moving_beyond_educational_dis advantage.pdf?language=EN, October 11, 2006 Weir, S., Archer P. (2004). Report to the Educational Disadvantage Committee, Educational Research Centre, Dublin. Retrieved Oct 9, 2006, from http://www.education.ie/home/home.jsp?pcategory=17216&ecategory=34354&la nguage=EN