St Olaf’s N.S. –  A Digital Learning Journey

By Naoise Collins

St Olaf’s N.S. –  A Digital Learning Journey

Like many schools around the country, St. Olaf’s N.S. (Dundrum, Dublin 16) had a good understanding of the power of 21st century learning, but didn’t know how best to implement it.  They had big ambitions though, they wanted to embed ICT across all subjects to improve engagement, motivation and ultimately better results – they also wanted to achieve the Digital Schools of Distinction award.  St. Olaf’s began their digital learning journey in September 2016 – they contacted Cocoon for support.

After an initial strategy and planning meeting, St Olaf’s were ready to start their journey. They began with a new set of iPads, setup with our recommended list of apps and full training provided. It was decided to start the school’s journey with some inspiration for all staff. We started with in-class support on a weekly basis; Cocoon teachers started building projects with the students while the class teachers simultaneously developed their skills and confidence through observation and participation.

Coding with Hopscotch

Digital animating with Do Ink – 6th Class

During our Strategy and Planning meetings we helped the school create their ICT leadership team; we would meet with them regularly throughout the year to ensure we were building a strong foundation for the school’s development plan. Strategy and Planning meetings proved very helpful at St Olaf’s for:

    • Reviewing their digital learning plan
    • Providing extra support for individual teachers outside the classroom
  • Croke Park hour whole-staff training

The first task for the team was to decide priority learning areas for the school, they decided on:

    • Coding
    • eBooks
    • Animation (stop motion, digital and coding)
    • Documentaries
  • Green screen film making

As the teachers grew in skills and confidence it was decided by the principal, Ger Murphy, that it was time to begin the process of working towards achieving the Digital Schools of Distinction award for the school. Together with the ICT leadership team, we identified the key targets that were needed to develop and work on in order to achieve the award and began the process – by May 2017 they had achieved the award and the flag was raised outside the school.
Book Creator - Christmas eBooks

Here is 1st Class making their Christmas 2016 eBooks.

In January 2017 the students from Senior Infants to 6th class began to learn coding. A 5th class student is programming with Hopscotch below.

Writing Algorithms
The next step was to build on this fantastic digital journey.  The leadership team decided to get started on a new training model for the upcoming year (2017-18). With the help of Cocoon (Cocoon’s online training and planning tool for primary schools) and the newly invigorated staff, we were able to introduce an intermittent training model that would triple the amount of staff being supported and encourage the teacher-lead leg of the digital journey.

It is now February 2018, and teachers in the school are independently choosing to take out the iPad’s daily to teach new skills and lessons to their classes. The staff room is buzzing with questions and explanations about how various teachers are integrating ICT into their classroom and the development plan is in full swing. The school has truly become a model for the 21st century classroom.

‘The staff and students were expertly guided.’

Ger Murphy, Principal

St Olaf’s N.S.

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