The Keep on Track Project will represent Ireland at the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum that takes place in Moscow from the 22nd to the 24th of March. It consists of sixteen schools taking part in a unique collaborative, cross curricular project called Keep on Track that connects schools from Galway to Dublin along the Inter City Rail Line.
The Microsoft Innovative Education Forum has been since 2004 an international gathering of exceptional educators presenting their learning projects achieved through innovative usage of technology. It is an integral part of Microsoft’s Global Partners in Learning Program. So far European Innovative Education Forums (www.innovativeteachers.com) were held in London, Stockholm, Tallinn, Paris, Zagreb, Berlin and now Moscow. The purpose of this event is to promote international sharing of innovative practices of technology integration and provide Europe-wide networking opportunities among top innovators. It also focuses international attention on the importance of technology innovation in education.
Dr. Kevin Marshall, Academic Programme Manager in Ireland stated that “Microsoft is proud to facilitate this exciting opportunity to bring the most innovative teachers from around the continent together to share their experiences and practice.” The agenda for the Forum includes keynotes by well known experts on education and education technology issues. It will focus on structured collaborative sessions that allow the sharing of best practices with teachers from around Europe. The Forum will culminate in a Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony on the evening of March the 24th 2011.
The Keep on Track Project has been chosen to represent Ireland at this event. As part of the project each school has adopted their local station to tell the rich story of that station in a variety of formats. Classes from Senior Infants to Sixth class are taking part in the project, researching materials and engaging in learning experiences relevant to their own curricular level. Schools have compiled their work across all curricular areas and present project materials and outcomes on a joint project blog, the first project blog of its kind in the country using the Scoilnet Blogs platform. www.keepontrack.scoilnet.ie
Keep on Track offers huge opportunities for teachers and students to engage with ‘real life’ learning experiences in a cross curricular manner. It also cements the collaboration between schools, Irish Rail, Education Centres and the NCTE and provides a model for co-operation between schools and industry.
Irish Rail (www.irishrail.ie) as Keep on Track Sponsor has offered huge commitment and support. It is making archive materials available to aid the implementation of the project and is facilitating Railway Station visits from each school. The project is supported by Galway, Athlone, Portlaoise, Kildare and Drumcondra Education Centres. Director of Kildare Education Centre; Dolores Hamill says “Kildare Education Centre is proud to be involved with the Keep on Track Project. According to the teacher’s involved it is very exciting for the pupils to see the results and practical application of their work. It is a hugely interactive experience for the pupils as they prepare for visits to the local railway station, interview present and former Irish Rail Staff, examine original documents from the Irish Rail archive, use digital media to record their findings for uploading to the Keep on Track Blog. ”
NCTE, the National Centre for Technology in Education (www.ncte.ie) has committed to the project through the use of Scoilnet Blogs and also through access to Scoilnet Maps www.maps.scoilnet.ie This is the first opportunity for Primary Schools in Ireland to access this resource. The Schools Library Service led by Josephine Vahey has offered their services to the project and are providing sets of Class Novels such as ‘The Railway Children’ by Edith Nesbit and ‘Stop the Train’ by Geraldine McCaughrean, and research material to the schools involved. This will allow schools to operate online book clubs to discuss and explore the novels. Nemeton TV; www.nemeton.ie provided the group with copies of their excellent programme on the history of Irish trains, Bóithre Iarann. This will aid school research in the area of history. Teachnet; www.teachnet.ie have supplied schools with free copies of Microsoft’s Education Package, which has been hugely beneficial in the execution of the project.
A launch day will be held in the Radisson Hotel in Galway on June 9th 2011 where schools will present their Project Findings. A Special Irish Rail train will bring all schools involved to and from Galway for the day of celebration. The project’s blog www.keepontrack.scoilnet.ie is updated by schools on a regular basis. During the Innovative Education Forum updates from school mascots will appear on the blog to inform everyone of the progress of the project in the competition. Read more about this exciting project on www.keepontrack.scoilnet.ie
One of the teachers coordinating the project, Cathal O’Connell, will be attending the Forum in Moscow to represent the project and will be posting reports back from Moscow here on the blog.