LORD David Puttnam, in his capacity as ‘Ireland’s Digital Champion’ visited Saint Finbarr’s Boys’ National School of Bantry last week.
Puttnam was accompanied by Sean Kelly, chairman of the Board of Management, as they heard about the school’s involvement in digital media and the positive benefits of technology in education.
The younger classes enjoyed an enthusiastic discussion with Lord Puttnam about the educational benefits of Google Earth and Apps such as ‘Save the Pencil’.
Puttnam enthused them all by exploring the advantages of their Edmodo system, in which the children can, and have, safely shared photographs and experiences of foreign and national trips.
Fifth class students, who happen to be particularly interested in agriculture and farming, found Puttnam’s input fascinating and a lively discussion followed.
All methods of integrated technology within farming practice was discussed – from sensors in wellington boots that can measure the density, growth and condition of field grass and transfer the relevant information, to a computer screen to the high tech apps that allow veterinarians to accurately diagnose a sick cow by applying some of its saliva to a screen.
David ended the morning by chatting with sixth class students about creativity and digital art. He examined all the children’s creations and emphasised that ‘they must never lose sight of the ability to work in teams or groups’ and that ‘tenacity’ is the core word.
‘The one thing that everyone needs to do is to work hard and stick with it,’ he said.
Saint Finbarr’s is proud to be listed as a digital school since 2006 and was the first primary school in Ireland to employ the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) system whereby students own their own iPad.
‘The evidence and research for the benefits of digital education is staggering,’ said principal Teresa Piggott, who is attending a conference in Galway this weekend, where the keynote speaker, professor Mishra from Michigan State University will be talking about the value of incorporating mobile technology into classrooms.
Mrs Piggott fully embraces the enormous potential that being a digital school can offer in terms of teaching and learning.
‘Internet safety is at the core of online education and programmes such as Edmodo are closed virtual learning environments which offer control over any shared content, while allowing children to grasp the potential of the power and scope of the internet,’ she explained.
Mrs Piggott firmly believes in a positive learning journey and says that she would encourage all to say ‘I don’t understand that – yet!’ when faced with learning challenges.