Posted by Martyn Farrows

There’s been a lot of airtime over the past couple of weeks dedicated to the use of technology to support education in schools.  First the now infamous OECD report and today the National Digital Strategy for Schools.

Opportunists saw a bandwagon and jumped on it.  The media elected to ignore the real findings of the OECD report in favour of attention-grabbing headlines.

Technology denialists came out of the woodwork to promote their ‘old ways are the best’ notion of what a good education looks like.  No matter that they are out of touch with the latest research, the expectations of their own learners, or the demands of a growing knowledge economy.

And a ‘national digital strategy’ that should have been published almost 12 months ago has been saved for the lead-in to a general election.  Opportunism is a reality of life and it’s far too easy to become cynical.

So, let’s leave aside the opportunism and try and focus on the real issues.

Here are just 5 reasons why today’s National Digital Strategy should be welcomed:

  1. We need to get better at using technology to support learning.  This was a principle finding of the OECD report.  We can only do that if we have structures in place to help schools to plan and to support the teaching profession to engage with new and informed pedagogies.  It’s about effective and appropriate use of technology.
  2. Broadband connectivity is a utility: it’s a must-have not a nice to have.  Why should education be denied a utility that is taken for granted in every other aspect of daily life?
  3. Ubiquity of devices.  Children have increasing access to devices and adoption levels are going to increase, not decrease.  We need to plan for that and stop denying that it will happen – and we need to help our students better engage with their technology to support their own learning.
  4. We live in a connected and hyper-competitive global economy.  For Ireland to remain competitive, we need an education system that provides students with the skills they need to survive in a technology-driven world.
  5. Because it’s long over due and we are playing catch-up.  Take a look at what’s happening over in the US ( to understand just how much catching up needs to be done.

It’s really very simple.  Start with the premise that we are preparing children for their future, not our future.  And work backwards from that.  Of course we need a national digital strategy.

The strategy is available here.