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St Ciaran's; preparing pupils for the digital world

St. Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley, like all schools, faces the challenge of preparing our young people for a knowledge intensive economy. We were delighted when Diane Morrow asked us to take part in a holistic Mtech Academy programme which would provide a project-based, technology-centric curriculum that addresses the specific requirements of students and teachers thus preparing them for new opportunities in the digital world.

A group of Year 10 students worked on a problem based learning activity investigating the power of mobile technology in creating smart towns and cities. Throughout the year these students engaged with industry and investigated some of the leading technological advances in 5G, AI, Autonomous Vehicles and Sensor Technology. Pupils worked collectively to create ideas for the future and got the opportunity to pitch their findings on the stage in Barcelona.

Ten of these students were selected to attend the largest tech conference in the world, Mobile World Congress MWC19 in Barcelona. They also attended the only youth tech focused conference in Europe, YoMo. In total there were 100 NI students, 20 teachers and industry partners who attended MWC19. It was a phenomenal experience for all involved and a fantastic opportunity for experiential learning. The most important thing we learnt was that technology matters. Students and teachers now fully appreciate that it is essential to drive digitalisation to improve people's lives. Pupils learnt about the engineering behind technology, how 5G will help underdeveloped countries and how Augmented Reality is being developed to help save lives.

The experience was summed up best by the students who commented ‘imagination is the key to the next generation of technology’. Year 10 pupil, Katie Rois also quoted: ‘I learnt that technology is the future. Education is evolving. It will no longer be delivered through the medium of text books and papers but through augmented glasses and virtual reality’. Through combining innovative collaborative technology, creativity and real-world skills development the Mtech experience has empowered our students, providing a strong foundation to achieve their potential.

Collaborating with Mtech Academy has given our students and teachers a better understanding of technology trends and the impact that technological advances will have on the future of work thus providing the skills they will need to thrive in this digital world.

M. Curran

St Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley

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