Yesterday I was just outside Dublin, running a workshop entitled Integrating ICT Tools for French on behalf of the French.ie website in the Education Department at NUI Maynooth. The workshop was organised by Angela Rickard and Mona Metcalfe who run French.ie and was funded by the French Embassy in Ireland and the National Centre for Technology in Education.
Angela is project manager and Mona who teaches French at Beech Hill College, Monaghan liaises with the NCTE resource reviewers and administrates the information that appears on the web-portal. She is also very active at the Monaghan Education Centre coordinating a support group for Irish teachers.
Angela and Mona wanted to put on the workshop to provide free training for colleagues on the potential of using ICT for learning French as well as to encourage them to create a sense of community by sharing their ideas and resources via French.ie. One suggested way of doing this, was through the site's forum which since its launch has been mainly used by people from France requesting information on how to qualify as a French teacher in Ireland, what it is like to move and how to set up exchanges.
When the workshop was advertised on the French.ie and by email, there was a huge demand for places as the event sold out within a day and could have been filled twice over. This took everyone by surprise, particularly as some teachers were willing to travel from as far away as Donegal, Cork and Limerick to attend the event.
Delegates came from a range of backgrounds. Most were secondary school French teachers and the others were from institutes for technology, primary school teachers and masters students.
Chatting with the delegates on the day, it was clear that the type of ICT infrastructure and funding that we possibly take for granted in England simply doesn't exist in Ireland. Although all colleagues said that they had some access to an ICT suite, far fewer had the luxury of a data projector or interactive whiteboard in their department let alone in their classroom.
The workshop took place in the computer room of the Education Department, a former chapel and accommodation for the Salesian brothers with beautiful stain glass windows which were unfortunately covered over by modern blinds.
The training itself was great fun and all the delegates were full of energy and enthusiasm. They were also great sports when I asked them to pass round my iRiver at the end of the day and record their impressions in either English or French. Click on the following link to listen to what they had to say:
Apart from the course itself, another highlight of my trip to Ireland was being able to stay in the magnificient, Harry Potteresque Maynooth College, a seminary built in the late 18th Century for Irish Diocesan priests. The grandeur of having breakfast in Pugin Hall is something I won't forget in a long time.
Like Angela and Mona, I hope the training does help to kick start a culture of sharing ICT ideas and resources amongst Irish teachers. In England, we have certainly benefitted from such sites as
- Teacher Resource Exchange
- TES Resource Bank
- SSAT Languages Lead Practitioner Forum
- Languages Colleges Discussion Forum
- Linguanet forum
- TES Modern Languages Staffroom
There is no reason why French.ie cannot be the catalyst for this vision too. Why not start the ball rolling and share your thoughts on their forum right now or leave a comment here? Who knows what might happen?