Leading Digital Learning Series: Digital Technology Infrastructure Overview
In this video from our Leading Digital Learning series, Tom Lonergan, National Coordinator of the Technology Integration Initiative, and Deirdre Redmond, Project Officer, outline two main areas their team focuses on:
- Providing guidance to schools around all elements of digital technologies.
- Managing the Schools Broadband Programme with the objective to improve the quality of broadband in schools
What does digital technology infrastructure look like in schools?
Tom outlines the basic infrastructure that all schools need to support teaching and learning. A fundamental requirement is a broadband connection. Within the school you need networks and WiFi and they have to be able to communicate with each other. Next, you have teacher and student devices, as well as equipment such as projectors, interactive whiteboards, visualisers etc. Building on this we have learning platforms, which are a set of useful tools for teachers and students to support teaching, learning and assessment.
What is the purpose of technology in the classroom?
Tom advises that technology should never be looked at in isolation. The key question to always ask is how will a piece of technology improve learning and achieve learning goals? He emphasises that technology is there to support teachers and help bring engagement alive in the classroom. If it can’t do that then it’s not fulfilling its purpose.
What can schools do themselves?
Tom recommends looking at the Oide TIE website for advice on what components a school can manage themselves and what elements they may need support with. School leaders can feel that they need to know the technical aspects of technology, but they don’t. What they do need to be clear on is what they want technology to do in the classroom and how it fits into the Digital Learning plan. A school may have members of staff that have interest or qualification in a specific area. For example, troubleshooting of projectors, interactive panels, etc. Schools should talk to other schools and teachers and share experiences. This will help them identify what they want the technology to do in the classroom and how it can fit into their plan.
Areas school may need support with
- Technical specifications. Get an outside company to do a technical audit on the infrastructure and give a report.
- A company who can supply the required technology and support on the journey with it.
- A technical support provider is essential to keep things running smoothly and this allows a school to focus on teaching and learning.
- Awareness of how to protect school data and prevent cyber attacks.
Current broadband situation
At the moment, two thirds of all primary schools have broadband in excess of 100MB per second. The aim is to have every primary school in the country with this. All post primary schools have a minimum of 200MB per second. If a school is using its provided bandwidth and they need more it is possible to upgrade their connection.
Both Deirdre and Tom refer to the supports on the website. These include digital technology audit sheet, a technical purchasing consideration section, leadership guide, network and WiFi guide, and protecting data and cyber security checks. Tom ends with a message for all school leaders – “don’t be shy about contacting us, we’re here to help and we’d be delighted to hear from you”.
This interview is from our Leading Digital Learning course.
Visit our Digital Learning Hub for information and resources on planning and embedding digital learning.