What hardware should your classroom have?

Often you hear the cliché, "Back in the day, life was much simpler," and in terms of technology, despite companies spending millions on making life easier for us, things are much more complicated. Back when the "new" curriculum was invented, schools that had computers generally had PCs running Microsoft Windows. Any devices such as cameras and video cameras were built for Microsoft. The Internet was still in its infancy so sharing things like video, images and even text was either impossible or impractical or very basic. Fast forward almost 20 years of the technological era in schools and many things have changed. We now have 4 popular Operating Systems and several devices to play them on. Not sharing work online is now almost inexcusable and services such as YouTube, Wordpress and others have given us ways to do this. However, one problem...

Why I’m not excited about the latest coding announcement

Politicians are funny people. They seem to be completely obsessed with short term thinking while saying things like we need to look at the bigger picture. For example, every so often when a multinational company complains that they can't find workers, some politicians decide that the answer to this problem is to introduce coding into the primary and secondary school curriculum. As the years go on, the media become frenzied about this and everyone decides that schools now need to teach coding in schools. Everyone that is, except teachers interested in technology in education. Over the last 24 hours, I have been reading the comments on social media about Richard Bruton's announcement that he is recommending that coding is introduced into the primary curriculum. It seems he believes it should become a subject in its own right or it should be...

Google Sites getting a makeover at last!

Google Sites must be the forgotten child of Google Apps. While almost all of Google's services have been given a lovely makeover with nice new functionality, Google Sites has been left in its functional but reasonably outdated state for quite some time. Things like adding galleries or decent blogs or anything remotely modern looking have been missing for quite some time. However, good news is on the way with an all new Google Sites. Some Google Teachers have been lucky enough to have a sneak preview and it looks like the new Google Sites is going to be finally get the makeover it needed. I have only seen a video that was posted by a teacher on YouTube, which I'm pasting here below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSvnWUiCiFc The video shows that the new Google Sites looks very similar to the new Google Forms, which is good news. It seems...

Review: Adobe Slide

I am attending a PDST Tutor training 2-day course in Dublin today and tomorrow. I'm facilitating a PDST Tech in Ed course for teachers this July so I am bring brought up to speed with all the latest and most loved educational/tech resources that are being looked at by the PDST. Some of you may have heard of Adobe Spark but if you haven't, here is a quick guide to why it is so great! If you have used powerpoint/prezi/storybird/photostory, then you will know how good these storytelling resources can be when helping children learn in an integrated way for any subject. But, Adobe Spark is slicker and super easy to use than those mentioned. You create an account with a few clicks through Google / Facebook. You then need to set a focal point and after that you add images, videos, text, to make a social graphic, web stories, and animated...

How can you use Virtual Reality in Primary Education?

It's probably every teacher's worst nightmare: the children are plugged into virtual reality headgear and someone else is giving them their lessons while the teacher is redundantly hanging about or simply a bystander while the lesson is going on. Although the scenario is as unlikely as any virtual primary school teacher has so far proven to be, we have seen the benefits of utilising virtual learning environments such as YouTube, Minecraft, the Flipped Classrom and so on to compliment what is already happening in schools. Therefore, is there any argument for using Virtual Reality in some lessons? Right now, there are a few options for Virtual Reality: Google Cardboard is the main one as it is incredibly cheap and Google have already started making education content through Google Expeditions. Samsung have their VR headset too, which works with...

Not a SMART move

SMART, the company behind the Smartboard Interactive Whiteboard announced that their software "SMART Learning Suite" which includes the only program teachers probably ever used "Smart Notebook" can no longer be sold or used with  other displays. While this probably isn't going to affect that many Irish primary school teachers since we've moved way beyond Interactive Whiteboard software, it seems like a step in the wrong direction by SMART. Given that the software isn't that good, ultimately, it won't make people go out and buy Smartboards. Surely, it would be a better option to sell the software for use on other boards and have some sort of get out clause to say that the software is intended for use on Smartboards and that they can't take responsibility for how they work on other boards. Anyway, I'm sure there was some reason for this...

What Technology should you buy for a New School Building

Lots of new school buildings are being built lately around the country, which is lovely news, and I've noticed that I'm getting a lot of questions around how technology works in terms of a new building. There are all sorts of decisions that have to be made in terms of what to buy and what setup to choose so I'm hoping that this article will help any principals who might be baffled by the jargon and choices that have to be made. The Number One Question: Wired or Wireless Since 2014, schools have a choice to either have a wired or a wireless network setup. Before then, schools were generally set up with a wired network infrastructure and if they wanted wifi in the school, they had to buy this separately. (For the purposes of this article wifi and wireless are the same thing.) Before you make any decisions, check with the DES architect...

ClassDojo Cartoons

I discovered something new on the ClassDojo website today - a whole bunch of ClassDojo cartoons. The example below is the first episode in their second series and it focuses on a moral lesson about when the going gets tough. The cartoons are beautifully produced and the stories that I've watched are great. It's well worth having a browse and the cartoons could form part of an SPHE or Learn Together lesson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOaFwwLyTRo

#dojoChatEU: Learning from mistakes in the classroom

Every week, I delve through ClassDojo's Twitter chat and answer the questions that were posed. This week, our own Ciara Brennan, (@primedteacher), was the moderator and the topic was all about learning from mistakes. As usual, here and the questions and my answers. Q1. Failure is the mother of success. Do you agree or disagree? A good question to start us off. I like this phrase about mistakes being like a mother (or father!) In the same way as we can't get success without making mistakes, children can't happen without being born, usually from their mother. Effectively, if one compares efforts to generations, at some point one of the offspring will be a success! There's hope for us all :-D Q2. How do you cope with failure in your own role as an educator? I make mistakes all the time and usually they help me get better at my job. I've...

#dojoChatEU: Fostering Positive Relationships

Every week I answer the questions posed in ClassDojo's weekly chat, #dojoChatEU. It happens every Wednesday from 8:30pm and it brings together teachers from around Europe. This week's topic is fostering positive relationships. Q1. Which famous person would you like to be friends with? I know it's probably a cliché to say that I've never really thought about this, but I haven't. The first names that pop into my head pale into insignificance as I don't really know what we'd have to talk about. I guess I'd like to meet someone who I could chat to who might be in a position to empower change as I am limited in this aspect. There are certain aspects of the Irish Education System that I have serious issues with in terms of inequality, especially on the basis of religious discrimination. I don't know what famous person could sit down with me...