Scoil Mhichil Naofa in Athy is paving the way in information and communications technology with its successful cross-border community initative Dissolving Boundaries.
The young girls at Scoil Mhichil Naofa were linked with a school in Cairncastle, Co Antrim for the year. The project, Dissovling Boundaries, uses ICT to facilitate cross-cultural educational links between the two schools North and South of Ireland.
They maintain links using the most updated communications technology, including videoconferencing and online forum discussions. Teachers Mary Brennan, Tommy Wallace and Marian Flaherty spearheaded the project.
“Cairncastle is a tiny village outside Larne. It is the complete opposite to here. We have 750 students, they have 120 in the entire school. It’s a very rural community up there. They are beside the beach. Their shop opens three days a week. They have a Post Office that is 20 minutes away. It’s complete different from the students here. So basically they link up and we started our forums. They are safe emails and dicussions they can send and talk to each other, “ Ms Brennan explained.
The main benefit of the project for the children is ICT skills, confidence and connecting communities, said Mr Wallace. It his second year spearheading the Dissolving Boundaries project.
“Everything they do is through a computer. There is forums to start off with. Make their own profiles and then email back and forth. That carried on until Christmas,” Ms Brennan added.
“We sent Christmas Cards up to them. They sent e-cards to us. When we came back in January we decided to make a video about the Day in the Life of our School because it is so different. We researched the history, geography and science aspects of the school and local area. We made a video on that and sent it off. The girls were really involved in reporting and editing,” said Ms Flaherty.
The students gained in confidence, talking in front of their classmates and in front of the camera, said Mr Wallace. “It was their questions and their ideas, it wasn’t our work, it was their input,” he added.
Cairncastle also did a DVD and was keenly watched by the girls at Scoil Mhichil Naofa. “They were emailing eachother and saying ‘We got the DVD, it was brilliant. Which girl are you?’ They loved it,” said Ms Flaherty.
The innovative project is a linkup between University of Ulster and NUI Maynooth.
Here are some of the children’s comments about the project:
Aimee O’Brien: “It was really fun. We got to meet loads of people and making the DVD was good fun.”
Megan Lalor said “We went of a trip and made loads of friends.” Eve Brennan: “I loved making the video and getting to chat to them on the phones. We have learnt to do a lot more on the computer and alot about Cairncastle.”
Daniela Curdoglo, who was wearing the Dissolving Boundaries T-Shirt with pride: “We showed the other kids in third and fifth class what we were doing during the year.”
Fiona Trioute: “Learning more about our school was our favourite bit. The history of it and what they did years ago that we didn’t do. Sr Mary Josephy was a nice interview.” Chloe Molloy: “Making friends with Cairncastle was great. There was a DVD too.”
Liah Ayegoro: “I liked when we find out things in school about science and other subject.” Gabrielle Laput: “Me and my friends we did the DVD. We went around on a school tour to Navan and we meet our friends there.” Justyna Parscz: “I like making the video and going around the school.”