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An Apple for the Teacher

8 October 2013

Ruth Stevens
The School of Education at the University of Ulster has launched an exciting collaboration with the Nerve Centre in Derry~Londonderry to enhance the learning experience of postgraduate student teachers. The initiative – funded by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and Ulster’s Faculty of Social Sciences – aims to deliver a new generation of digitally-skilled teachers fit for the modern learning environment.

Professor Linda Clarke, School of Education at Ulster, said: “This collaboration with the Nerve Centre demonstrates Ulster’s commitment to delivering professional education for professional life. All of our student teachers across all of our subject specialisms will have access to personal iPads and a wide range of other resources and training, enabling them to enhance teaching and learning through the use of technology.

“This alliance with the Nerve Centre will allow us to harness their expertise in digital media and support us to produce teachers with 21st century skills. When the project is complete, 80 teachers will graduate the PGCE post-primary course with a developed portfolio of digital skills, focused around mobile devices and the curriculum.”

Commenting on the longer-term impact of the project, Professor Clarke added: “We are developing a model of teacher education around creative digital technologies which can be shared with other teacher education providers, ensuring that key skills around creativity and digital devices are advanced in all teachers in Northern Ireland at the earliest possible stage.”

The Nerve Centre’s Creative Learning Centre (CLC) has been contributing to the growth and expansion of a dynamic, innovative economy by developing and delivering training programmes using creativity and digital media. The joint initiative will enable student teachers to link the theory behind the curriculum with practical skills such as digital filmmaking and sound recording.

Welcoming the project, John Peto, director of education at the Nerve Centre, commented: “Introducing these skills into the teacher training curriculum is of vital importance if we are to keep our schools up to date with the new crop of digital tools. We are delighted to partner with Ulster in this project, which will have a direct impact in our classrooms for years to come.”

Students are embracing the challenge of using the iPads to develop their own knowledge and ultimately to pass that understanding on to their pupils.

PGCE student, Simon Jess, explained: “I’m training to become a PE teacher and there are a number of iPad apps I can use, which will support me in my teaching. For example, I’ll be able to use the technology to analyse a student’s swimming strokes against those of an elite athlete, or assess how a student’s golf swing improves over time.

“This project will enable me to improve my digital skills and hopefully, I’ll be able to bring my lessons to life by applying that knowledge in my classroom."

Ruth Stevens, a PGCE Music student, from Garvagh added: “The iPad will be an invaluable tool for me. As a music teacher, I’ll be able to use a wide range of apps to simulate a studio environment, compose music, experiment with sounds and help young people develop knowledge in the different musical elements. The opportunities for using digital media in the curriculum are endless and I have every confidence that the pupils of the future will be as excited and motivated by the technology as I am.”

This project builds on the key teaching and research strengths of the School of Education and is one of a series of initiatives being developed by the School to enhance learning through the use of technology.