PME in Post-Primary Education
In drawing on his life experiences in diverse roles, Stephen has realised his dream in helping students reach their full potential.
Research Paper Title
Effective Integration of ICT with Teaching and Learning in PostPrimary Education in Ireland
Irish government policy promotes the integration of Information Communications Technology (ICT) into teaching and learning in post-primary education to support a constructivist, student-focused classroom. Guidance on how to best use ICT in the classroom is, however, unclear, and benefits to students appear to be superficial. The aim of this dissertation focused on barriers to the integration of ICT and strategies to integrate the medium for effective teaching and learning. Using documentary research in the form of an Integrative Literature Review (ILR), twelve peer-reviewed papers that focus on ICT integration in post-primary education were selected. Through thematic analysis and coding, four themes became apparent, namely: pedagogy, the policy-reality gap, teacher attitudes and beliefs, and the digital divide. The themes were critically analysed and discussed in relation to Irish policy and with wider literature. Key findings demonstrated that a greater critical perspective on the use of ICT is required from policy makers and educational leaders; more focus on pedagogy, teacher beliefs and attitudes is needed in the continuing professional development (CPD) of ICT; and finally, a positive school leadership and a collaborative school culture encourages teachers to use ICT.
Having graduated with a BA in English and Sociology from NUI Maynooth and later, achieving a Postgraduate Diploma in Technical Communication from University of Limerick, Stephen O’Dowd has worked in customer-facing, business development roles for a number of years. In 2017, he undertook a Masters of Business in Management and Marketing Strategy in Limerick Institute of Technology (now TUS). In 2021, Stephen pursued a career in teaching and graduated with a 2.1 honours Professional Master of Education (PME) degree from Hibernia College. In drawing on his life experiences in diverse roles, Stephen has realised his dream in helping students reach their full potential. Currently, Stephen has a keen interest in the use of technology in Post-Primary education.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project?
Irish government policy promotes the integration of Information Communications Technology (ICT) for teaching and learning in post-primary education to support a constructivist, student-focussed classroom. Guidance on how to best use ICT in the classroom is however unclear and benefits to students appear to be superficial. My research project focused on barriers to the integration of ICT and to determine strategies to integrate the medium for effective teaching and learning.
What motivated you to undertake this research?
As someone who uses a smartphone more than I should, I am conscious of the superficial use of technology and how distracting it can be. While on my school experience and professional practice placements, I was advised to integrate ICT with my lesson plans and subsequent teaching to promote active teaching and learning methodologies. There were times when I doubted if it was always necessary to use ICT. By determining the learning intentions and success criteria, there were some lessons where, apart from the use of PowerPoint, I concluded that the use of ICT was not essential. The promotion of ICT use seems to go unquestioned.
What impact has it had on your practice?
Apart from students who need Assistive Technology, when preparing lessons I always start with the content I plan to teach and the learning intentions rather than starting with the ICT I want to integrate.
How important do you feel research will be in your future practice?
Given the distracting and often superficial use of technology, I think research is essential so that the best learning environments are provided for students. UNESCO (2018) and Irish Government Policy (DES, 2015) promotes the use of ICT in post-primary education so that teachers integrate it with teaching and learning. However, as reported by Emma O’Kelly of RTE, a UNESCO (2023) report ‘Technology in Education: A tool on whose terms?’ has advised caution when it comes to the use of laptops and other digital technology in the classroom, warning that the moderate benefits associated with such use could be overstated.