ICT in Education conference 2014


The 10th ICT in Education conference took place on Saturday 10th May.  As in previous years CESI hosted a TeachMeet on the previous evening, and, as always, it provided attendees with a relaxing evening of catching up with old friends and new.  The sharing began on the Thurles campus and continued later in the Anner Hotel.  It was great to see new faces begin to share what is working for them in their classrooms.  All in all, a great kickstarter for the conference to come.


Saturday saw the busiest conference we’ve had with a vibrant exhibitor presence as well as an increased student presence.  LIT President, Maria Hinfelaar, welcomed attendees to the ‘Global Voices’ themed conference before handing over to Minister for Training and Skills, Ciaran Cannon.  We are very fortunate, to have a Junior Minister who is so interested and engaged in making progress in the integration of technology across all levels of our education system.  Next up was former Teacher of the Year, Evelyn O’Connor.  Evelyn’s heartfelt sharing of her experiences rang true for so many in the room.  Too often, people gloss over the difficulties when sharing their experiences.  It’s good to hear the a balanced view of the rough with the smooth to enable us to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it all seems to be going wrong!

Next came the experimental part of the day.  We decided, with some prompting from Conor Galvin and Bernie Goldbach, to try an open workshop format for a portion of the day.  This section was titled ‘The W@lk’ and our aim was to showcase some of the work that is going on in classrooms across the country allowing attendees to observe rather than participate.  We had six stations on the W@lk.

  1. Bridge 21 – an education programme based in Trinity which can be adapted for use in secondary schools. The model is team based, technology mediated, project based and cross curricular.  On the day Kevin Sullivan worked with a group of local secondary school students to produce video clips on what students should learn in school and also a more frivolous clip 


  2. MissionV – a creative, immersive games based learning environment for schools and industry.  On the day John Jennings and Esther Lambe provided attendees with an opportunity to try out the Oculus Rift as well as sharing the experience of Esther’s school while using Mission V.DSC_6837
  3. CoderDojo Thurles – a free coding club for young people.  Jacqueline Humphries along with the team of mentors and Dojo ninjas showcased some of the projects the Dojo has been working on throughout the year including HMTL, App Development, electronics and so much moreDSC_6929
  4. Radio TY from St. Wolstan’s in Celbridge – a youth media team based on our own YMTfm.  Noeleen Leahy brought a group of students who shared their experiences of setting up a media team in a school.  They managed to squeeze in an interview or two along the way as well as take some selfies 🙂DSC_6999
  5. Makey Makey workshop – Bianca Ní Ghrógáin assisted by Hassan Dabbagh led a workshop with some local primary school children in the use of the Makey Makey kit in conjunction with Scratch.DSC_6914
  6. Project Spark – Stephen Howell from Microsoft demonstrated the Project Spark applicationDSC_6965

While the W@lk was a new departure for us, and there are definitely areas which need a little polishing, the initiative was very well received by both participants and attendees alike, with many commenting that it was a timely reminder placing students at the centre of what we as educators do.

In his own inimitable way Stephen Howell pulled many of the mornings strands together in his plenary session, before attendees got to choose from a wide variety of workshops led by educators across the levels.  The hum of conversation at lunch time was an indicator of the level of engagement and enthusiasm from the teachers who came from far and wide on a Saturday to keep themselves up to date on the use of technology in the classroom.

After lunch saw a continuation of the parallel workshops before the closing session with Julie Cullen and Helen Keegan.  Julie is the Young Advisor to Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, and she shared her experiences of EU Code Week which saw Ireland punch far above our weight with the most events.  Helen Keegangave the closing presentation of the day, sharing her global collaborations which she undertook with her third level students.


The Youth Media Team returned to their ‘home’ conference after a hugely successful year and under the guidance of Joe Dale, Conor Galvin and Catherine Cronin they produced an eBook of the days’s proceedings.  We’re currently in the process of getting it published.


It was a jam packed day of sharing, chatting and being happy 🙂





CESI Conference 2014


It’s been more than 2 weeks since the 2014 CESI conference and it’s only now that I’m getting to reflect on the event.  Because of my involvement with the Youth Media Team on the day, I didn’t get to sit in on as many of the presentations as I would have liked.  Having said that, working with the team was great so it was worth the sacrifice.

After CESI Chair, Adrienne Webb, welcomed us all to Galway Minister Ciaran Cannon then delivered his opening address.  He reminded us that we need to educate our students for their future not our past and spoke of the way in which technology will facilitate global collaboration in the classrooms of the future.  This really resonated with me as ‘Global Voices’ is our theme for the 2014 ‘ICT in Education’ conference.  He then spoke about a Digital festival of Learning to be held in Dublin Castle on May 30th and 31st May.  I’m looking forward to hearing more about this event and to being involved with the Youth Media Team.  There was a bit of discussion on the backchannel on Twitter about the Minister’s reference to coding.  My thoughts on coding are well known.  I lecture in a technology department to computing students and I’ve been involved in CoderDojo for more than two years.  I do however agree that coding must have a context in an educational setting and that it’s not just about teaching coding but about another way of thinking.


The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Spark the Imagination’ and I think it’s fair to say that Dr. Daithí Ó Murchú did just that! One of the things I most enjoy about conferences like the CESI one is the mix of inspirational keynote addresses and practical workshops and presentations.  Daithí’s keynote was certainly inspirational.



He asked us to look to 2050


Daithí reminded us of the need to develop coping strategies.  He spoke of Continuous Partial Attention as opposed to Multitasking. His parting shot was to remind us of the need to take time out.  Turn the phone off, meditate …  This is something that becomes harder to do but which becomes more and more important  in this ever changing, connected world.

Next up were Dr. Michael Hallissy and Dr. Deirdre Butler who spoke about the National Digital Strategy and the future of education.  Unfortunately I missed this session but judging from the proliferation of tweets they provided attendees with plenty of food for thought.

The packed schedule of breakout sessions provided lots of variety for attendees, so much so, that the Youth Media Team found it difficult to find people who had time to give their thoughts on the event, for  much of the early part of the day!

The closing plenary sessions were a great way to round off what was a fantastic day, of sharing all that is good about technology in education across all levels.  James Corbett, from MissionV, combined the past and the future in his presentation using the Oculus Rift.  Stephen Howell, from Microsoft, then took us on a tour of Project Spark.  Dave even got the chance to have a play


Sending people home with their heads filled with inspiration, ideas and lots of practical ways to make changes in their classroom is what you hope for as an organiser of any conference.  I think the organisers of the CESI conference certainly fulfilled this remit.  All I can hope for, is that we can do the same for the attendees of the ICT in Education conference in Thurles in May!

The full transcript of tweets of the event can be found here.


TeachMeet CESI 2014


Last Friday saw me make my way to Galway for the annual CESI Conference.  The event was preceded by a TeachMeet (replacing the previously held CESIMeets).  There was lots of information shared on the night.  Here’s a flavour of the night from Twitter.
























As you can see there were lots of great ideas shared at the TeachMeet.  To see the full twitter conversation and to access the links shared check out the transcript here.   Well done to Helen and John for facilitating a great night of sharing ideas.

Due to some technical difficulties on the night it was not possible for me to login to show Flickr.  Check out my Prezi on Flickr here.

CESI Meet at #ictedu

The CESI Meet on Friday 10th May, on the eve of the ICT in Education Conference, was a great night of chat and sharing and learning.  It was a bit different from the previous CESI Meets I’ve been to, because Bean an Tí Mags Amond decided to try the marshmallow challenge with the group.  Essentially the challenge involves creating a structure to support a marshmallow from pasta, string and tape (more info in the post from the conference blog here).  We arranged ourselves into groups of 3 and it was great fun seeing how people tackled the challenge.  My group included myself, a colleague Laura Dargan and my son Dave.  We had exactly 18 minutes to construct our structure.  I couldn’t believe how quickly the time went and how competitive people got!!  Our team decided to go big or go home!! which was unfortunately a risky strategy that didn’t work too well for us 😦  Our final structure looked like this


the sad news is that as soon as we let go it smashed into what seemed like a million pieces!  Seeing the different ways that people approached the challenge was fascinating with some taking a low risk strategy …


which ended up being the eventual winner and others suspending their structures from the ceiling …


and yet others spearing their marshmallow near the ceiling


The conference centre in LIT was a hive of creativity for the duration of the activity 🙂

What followed was a series of soap box sessions on ‘Flipping the Classroom’ from Bianca Grogan, ‘Leap Motion in Maths Teaching’ from Stephen Howell, ‘Curation and Junior Cycle Reform’ from John Heffernan and ‘Raspberry Pi’ from Bill Quinn.  Next came the gorgeous nibbles from Mitchell House 🙂

The last session of the CESI Meet kicked off with a Skype call with Steve Bunce in the UK to hear about the similarities between coding and knitting.  It was a very interesting session and it would have been great to follow through by getting the attendees to do their own finger knitting.  Unfortunately this wasn’t possible due to the time constraints on the night.  Next time!! 🙂

Finally we heard from Mary Jo Bell about Voki, Conor Galvin about the power of using images in education, Joe Dale about classroom management apps, Marco Booth about his new education start up freded.ie and Hellie Bullock about the How I Learn book in aid of Barnardos which will launch soon.  I missed John Heffernan’s presentation so I’m not sure what he presented on but he’s beginning to get a reputation for x-rated presentations at the #ictedu CESI Meets 🙂

Lots of interesting ideas were shared – a great appetite whetter for the following day.

ICT in Education Conference 2013

ICT in Education Conference Banner 2013

As many of you know, the 9th ICT in Education conference will take place in Thurles on Saturday May 11th this year.  As in previous years, the conference will be preceded by a CESI Meet on the previous night, Friday 10th May.  This conference is for educators across all levels to meet and share.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Student Voices” and the keynote speakers will be Grainne Conole and Catherine Cronin. We’re very excited about the theme for this year’s conference, as too often, the student voice is lost in the melee, as the many stakeholders in our education system clamour to have their voices heard. Having said that, it’s heartening to see teachers sharing what works in their classrooms, on social media and elsewhere, as they strive to provide their students with a platform from which their voice can be heard.

Student Voices

On the #edchatie hashtag every week there are many examples of teachers providing such a platform through

  • blogging
  • google hangouts with other classes in Ireland and further afield
  • social media in classrooms
  • gamification of education
  • art projects
  • audio projects

These are just some of the examples I’ve seen but there are so many more.  If you’re a teacher who is willing to share what you’re doing in your classroom please consider submitting a proposal to present at the conference.  More details on the conference and the call for proposals can be found at www.lit.ie/ictedu.

ICT in Education Conference 2013 Flyer


Last Friday evening saw me make my way to Mary Immaculate College in Limerick for a CESI Meet, an informal evening of chat and sharing of ideas between educators.  With my great sense of direction I was a banker to get lost as I tried to find where I needed to be but thankfully I made it to the right place in time (helped by directions from Conor Power :-))

At the CESI Meet all those who agreed to present had their names entered in a fruit machine so it’s completely random when you get to present.  I had agreed to present at the Meet – I came across a great app in the last few weeks called Pixengo which I’ve previously written about here  so I decided to present on this.  I’ve used the app a bit in the last few weeks and really liked the simplicity which belied the very real potential of this app in Education.  I had used the app with two first class groups during the week – with one group we used it to get children to make up their own maths stories for Maths week and with the other group we used it to get a class to recite a Halloween poem and display some of their Halloween artwork.   I had thought I’d have a chance to settle but my name was one of the first ones out of the fruit machine!  You can check out my Prezi here. What followed was two and a half hours of chat and great ideas being shared.  Presentations included RSS feeds, Weebly, Glogster, Interactive Whiteboard resources, Junior Cert Reform, Puppet Pals app, Internet safety, Textease all finished with a flourish with presentations on Raspberry Pi, Apple products/accessories, Pinterest and Learnist.  We also had a Skype call with Ira Socol in the US  and a pre recorded video from Linda Paddon in Melbourne.

For my part what I took away from CESI Meet SW

  1. I need to look into RSS feeds – I probably shouldn’t admit I haven’t subscribed to lots of feeds.  It’s something I’ve skirted around for a while so I think the time has come to just get on with it!
  2. I’ve found a great use for Pixengo in my own house – we’ve been struggling a bit with English and Irish spellings. On the English side we’re using the Spelling Hero app which is working well but it’s not really working for Irish spellings.  Starting tomorrow I’m getting my daughter to write our her spellings and use Pixengo to photgraph them (with a picture she’s drawn of the object where possible) and record herself both saying the word and spelling it.
  3. I need to relook at Pinterest

Thank you to Hellie, John and Nigel for putting together a great evening of sharing.   If you’re an educator in Ireland and haven’t had a chance to go to a CESI Meet yet you really should try to get to one.  Even better go along and share what you’re doing in your classroom. The next CESI Meet is on in Dundalk on the 9th of November.

CESI 2012 – what an amazing 24 hours

It’s hard to know where to start as I try to capture the energy of the CESI 2012 Conference. I got to the Heritage Hotel in Portlaoise on Friday evening at 6 o’clock and left Portlaoise College at 6 o’clock on Saturday evening and in between had the most amazing, inspiring, thought provoking and invigorating 24 hours. Friday evening started with a quick bite to eat with Catherine Cronin, Mary Loftus, Stephen Howell, Leigh Graves Wolf and her husband Scott and what an entertaining meal it turned out to be. We then made our way to the CESI Meet which was just getting under way. Mags Amond was in her element as she got the Meet up and running with the fruit machine, the oracle who decided who was next up to speak (unless Mags decided who was next up :-)). First up was David Mitchell who Skyped in and told us about Quad Blogging and Feb29th.net. There then followed more than 2 hours of bombardment with lots of great ideas from people such as Brendan Buckley talking about chess, Mary Jo Bell telling us about her junior infants tweeting from @MrsBellsclass and Hellie Bullock talking about great iPad apps such as Skitch, Doink, I am learning and Story ideas. There were so many other presentaions on blogging, teacher efolios, learning philosophies etc. etc. etc. My mind was buzzing by the end of the night. As an aside, note to self for future years, don’t go up to collect a spot prize!! Mags suggested that I talk about Coder Dojo without my lovely Prezi that I had prepared so I really didn’t do it justice.

What followed the CESI Meet was an opportunity to chat, and put names to faces, and just generally relax and enjoy it all, which we did. It was fun to finally get to meet people in person, who I’ve been following on Twitter over the past year. I love my Twitter conversations, and am happy to stand tall and say ‘I’m Pam and I’m addicted to Twitter’, but nothing beats the face to face chats you get to have with people, at events like last nights CESI Meet.

This morning saw lots of faces at breakfast as we all got ready for the day ahead. I made my way to Portlaoise College and had a quick look in the room I was to present in later. All seemed more or less OK so I went to have a cuppa before we kicked off. The conference was opened by Adrienne Webb, chair of CESI, and Joe Cunningham, from Laois Education Centre, and a thought provoking presentation was given by Gerard McHugh from NCTE. Next up was Stephen Howell, who stepped in to the breach at short notice when Steve Wheeler was delayed as he tried to make his way to Ireland to present. As always, Stephen was amazing as he energised us all at the start of the day, and opened our minds to the wealth of opportunities that exist from simple tools like Scratch and the Kinect for xBox. You can download the software for Scratch2Kinect here. Then we were set free to choose the workshops we wanted to attend. The only criticism I have, and it’s not really a criticism, is that the line-up was fantastic so in each session there were a couple of workshops/presentations I wanted to attend. Well done to all in putting together such a varied and rich programme!!

To start off I went along to Anne McMorrough’s workshop on using iPods in the classroom and thoroughly enjoyed it. Anne’s approach of using the iPods to enrich the learning environment was technology in Education in all it’s glory. Next up was lunch during which I made sure that all was OK in Room 16 – location of my presentation on ‘Getting stated with technology’. My session was chaired by Ban Ryan and the hour following lunch was filled with Animoto, Glogster and Voicethread – web tools which can be used in a multitude of ways in classrooms. Next up for me was Simon Lewis’s workshop on Making an App which was a full house as expected. Unfortunately the broadband did not allow me to use AppMakr but lots in the room managed to get going with it. I definitely want to have a look at this tool and I’m looking forward to working through the steps outlined in Simon’s post on making an app on Anseo.net.

And so to the capstone address from Steve Wheeler. To say that it was a thought provoking presentation doesn’t even begin to do it justice. We were challenged to reflect on the future and where we are headed. To paraphrase Steve – we are living in exciting times and the change is not linear, it’s exponential! The way in which so many ideas were stitched together was magical and left me with plenty to ponder on my journey home. And so we get to the journey home – in some ways my favourite part of any conference. This is when I have time to digest and ponder the many, often simple ideas, that are thrown in my direction, by presenters who do such a good a job in getting me to reflect on what I am doing and how I am doing it. As I drove home from #cesi12 I was shocked at the speed at which the hours passed. I didn’t get enough time to talk to people and yet I talked to loads of people. I will finish as I started – from 6 o’clock on Friday to 6 o’clock on Saturday I had the most amazing, inspiring, thought provoking and invigorating 24 hours. Thank you one and all.