Connect Education Conference 2012

Connect Education Conference 2012

The Connect Education Conference takes place on October 11th in the Dublin West Education Centre with the theme "The Future's not what it used to be".

The nature of ICT in the classroom has changes so much over the past few years that at times its difficult for teachers and school managers to know the correct direction to go in. And so while some technologies have seemed like a sure bet, invariably disruptive technologies have emerged that have challenged long-term thinking. Current disrupters would, I suppose, include the ipad and the self-publishing revolution, while netbooks and laptops would have been disrupters in the past.

So while it is true that "The futures not what it used to be" it is also true that stronger concensus is emerging on what the future of the classroom looks like. This concensus would probably adhere to the idea that:

  1. Classrooms should be internet-connected.
  2. Students should have personal learning devices.
  3. Textbooks should be on those devices and interactive.
  4. Schools should have an online aspect to their educational community, VLE's etc.

These are just some of the ideas emerging. The beauty of the emergence of ICT in Schools is not that it allows schools to do more efficiently what has always been done, it's the fact that it allows schools to do things that may not have been considered before. Things like getting our Geography students to record and upload a gps trace of their local area, or having language students brush up on their grammar using apps, or having History students work with their County Library's local history group.

Our half-day conference will look at some of these ideas and speaker, David Puttnam CBE, will have some very interesting input. In a time when the Junior Certis undergoing change is there a role for agencies like the Local Authority or the County Library to get involved in co-developing short courses for the new Junior Cert. And what about the role of Local Authorities in Education, can we learn from the British experience? There have already been successful partnerships in the delivery of new schools.

Other areas we'll be looking at include how students learn outside of formal educational settings and also how improved administrative processes can free up teachers to do what teachers do best - teaching.

We anticipate that our conference will have lots to offer to teachers, student teachers, school managers, and also to other agencies which are informally involved in education. The Conference is free but booking is essential. To book your place add your details to this booking form.

For updates please keep an eye on this blog and our facebook page over the coming weeks.

Fix Your Street dot ie.

I’ve been working on FixYourStreet since September of last year. I’m tasked with organising information events here in South Dublin County Council to support other local authorities in rolling out FixYourStreet. I’m the first point of contact for Local Authorities in rolling out FixYourStreet, the “Community Manager” if you like.

Fix Your Street (FYS) is a crowd sourced public realm fault reporting platform. What does that mean? It means that the public can use FYS to submit reports on faults like broken footpaths, overgrown trees, streetlights not working etc. And they don't need to login or set up an account.

Linus Torvalds, the lead developer of Linux, the open source operating system, famously said in relation to software development that “with enough eyes all bugs are trivial.” FixYourStreet aims to bring this same power, the power of “many eyes” to the management of the public realm.

At a time when government is leaner and we need to do more with less FYS has proven that the ideals of open source and crowd-sourcing can be applied to the public realm. The time was that a pothole, a litter problem or a broken public light necessitated a letter or phone call to the local authority to bring it to their attention. Now all the citizen need do is submit a report via the website or app (android only so far). This means that the many eyes of the citizens can have problems notified much more quickly which in turn means we can provide a better response. We can identify patterns and problem areas more quickly and can therefore better manage our resources.

So if you spot something amiss and you report it using what happens next?

First the report is moderated, it’s checked for inappropriate language or images. Then it’s published and assigned a county identifier. Local authorities who are not yet live will receive an email notifying them of the report and its details. Local Authorities who are already live with FYS will automatically get the report through their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or other application. The Local Authority with responsibility for that area has the ability to update the report with comments and to change the report status from “Open”, to “In Progress”, to “Closed with Commitment” and finally “Closed”. These are the only relevant statuses applicable to FYS.

FYS is possible because of the profusion of gps or Global Positioning Systems in devices nowadays. To submit a report it’s as easy as dropping a pin on a map for where the fault is, taking a picture of the fault, adding a note and selecting the appropriate fault category.

FYS was developed, tested and piloted by South Dublin County Council. The underlying technology is open source. The mapping platform itself is Ushahidi, an open source system developed in Africa, originally as an election monitoring tool. And the infrastructure the platform sits on is the open source stack LAMP – Linux Apache MqSql and Php.

Because South Dublin County Council is committed to using Open Source Software and to Open Data, we have developed a Public API to allow 3rd parties to integrate with the FixYourStreet dataset. This means that reports on FixYourStreet can be accessed by third parties and new reports can be generated outside of FixYourStreet and added to our database.

It is envisaged that FYS will go live throughout the entire country by the end of the year. At the moment FYS is live in the South Dublin County, Dublin City, and Galway County Council areas. A significant number of other Local Authorities are currently testing their integration with FYS.

The use of FixYourStreet by Local Authorities adds an element of crowd sourcing to the management of the public realm. The citizens’ eyes and ears on the ground become an invaluable tool in letting the Local Authority know of problems as they arise. This means that resources can be better managed by Local Authorities and patterns identified much earlier than through traditional methods. The use of FYS by the public is growing steadily and the response to date has been very positive. We find that our citizens appreciate the ability to report issues directly to their Local Authority and receive updates on those reports that are timely and meaningful.

by @rherron

NDRC's Design for Learning 2012 Competition.

I absolutely have to give this National Digital Research Centre competition a quick mention for a number of reasons:

Firstly it combines a number of my favourite things, education, innovation, invention and technology.

And secondly because I was lucky enough to be involved briefly in the NDRC's Swequity Program this summer. Unfortunately I felt couldn't continue with my involvement as I was going to be away from Dublin for much of the programme. But the swequity finals are on tomorrow and I intend being there.

I got involved with Swequity by entering a few ideas early in the summer. Although my ideas didn't make it into the 16 selected, the process was very informative. I then joined a team and the idea was that the 16 "idea owners" would present to the teams and the teams would then bid to work on the various ideas in exchange for an equity stake.

I'll certainly be hoping to enter Swequity again.

For more info see the NDRC's website -

The "equity for sweat" exchange model is a very interesting approach - could there be something here that might feed into the Design for Learning Competition itself?

I say this because I've been working with a large group of teachers within a Community of Practice for a few years now. The idea is that teachers come together and create and share digital curriculum content - so that by virtue of creating and sharing, each teacher ends up with loads of content.

This sounds simple but in practice is quite difficult to implement for many reasons. Perhaps it's time to look beyond the Creative Commons model  - to a model where content creators get a little more in return than the kudos afforded by ones colleagues' appreciation of ones work.

For more on the NDRC's Design for Learning Competition see -