Newry teacher Mark Grogan has reignited his passion for IT after a recent study visit to New York.
The Computer Science teacher at Abbey Christian Brothers’ Grammar School was one of five education leaders to spend a week in the Big Apple through the British Council.
They were there to learn more about education technology, and the itinerary included visiting Google headquarters, meeting teachers from the NY Tech Ed network, attending the Google Apps for Education Conference and visiting schools in both Brooklyn and Harlem.
Mark, who has taught at Abbey Christian Brothers for the last 16 years, found the visit inspirational and would love to adopt some of their findings at home.
He said: “I originally got involved in the visit as I was curious about the use of iPads in the classroom. As part of our staff development we have been involved in iPad training for the past three years, and they have recently been rolled out to my sixth year students. I felt going to New York was a great opportunity as I’ve always thought the American system was a little more advanced than ours.
“What I found was that New York high schools tend to use Chromebooks over iPads, something I felt is more conducive for our education system. They’re cheaper, robust, have the applications pupils would need and are perfect to use with Google Apps for Education. I would consider adopting Chromebooks here.
“The other thing I noticed about the schools we visited is the amount of time they get to prepare and how buzzing the teachers were in the classroom – they even had me pumped up! Unfortunately, we just don’t have the time or the resources here to prepare like they do.”
However, during his time in New York, Mark also grew to appreciate our own education system.
He said: “C2K, the Northern Ireland e-learning service, is streets ahead of anything we experienced in New York, yet we don’t fully appreciate it here. It can really help our teachers collaborate and does a lot of the work for us.”
Mr Grogan is looking forward to implementing some new ideas.
He said: “For me the way forward is Google Apps for Education. This study visit has inspired me to get trained and become a registered Google trainer and I hope to help deliver EdTech in Northern Ireland.”
Speaking about the importance of International Study Visits, Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director at British Council Northern Ireland said: “International Study Visits aim to inspire new approaches to teaching across the curriculum. It’s great for teachers from Northern Ireland to learn from colleagues and peers in another country and to develop new insights and understandings.
“Visits like this are extremely important for actively raising the awareness among teachers about the importance of sharing ideas and information on a global scale.”
Applications are now open for teachers to take part in British Council’s 2016 International Study Visits. In February, primary school teachers will have the chance to go to Alberta Canada, to find out how they can narrow the achievement gap of pupils, while in March, post-primary teachers involved in vocational training will have the chance to visit Berlin.
The deadline for applications is Monday, January 4 and information can be obtained from British Council Northern Ireland’s website: http://nireland.britishcouncil.org.
For more information on International Study Visits or other opportunities available through British Council Northern Ireland visit http://visit nireland.britishcouncil.org or follow on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI or Facebook: www.facebook.com/britishcouncilnorthernireland