See the section ‘Addresses and Web Links’ in The Library for contact details of organisations mentioned here.
PDST Technology in Education promotes and supports the integration of ICT in teaching and learning in first and second level schools. It is part of the national support service, the Professional Development Service for Teachers, which operates under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills. The functions of the PDST Technology in Education were previously the responsibility of the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE). The NCTE was integrated into the PDST in June 2012. The PDST is managed by the Dublin West Education Centre (DWEC).
The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) is a public body which promotes the use of ICT to improve and transform learning, teaching and leadership in education. Its strategic objectives are as follows:
- To provide leadership and expert advice to the UK Education Departments, their agencies and initiatives in support of their ICT policy development
- To provide and promote a comprehensive national source of practical advice and support to schools, colleges and education authorities
- To develop technical and educational standards for ICT use in education and provide information to users and policy makers on progress towards them
- To study the evolution of technology and evaluate and assess the educational use of both established and emerging technologies
- To continue to develop Becta as an effective customer-focused organisation with efficient systems and creative, expert staff.
The Curriculum and Advisory Service of the five Education and Library Boards is usually the best place to seek out details of locally available expertise on ICT in education, together with information on training and other supports available to schools in their area. The five Boards are:
Belfast Education and Library Board
North Eastern Education and Library Board
South Eastern Education and Library Board
Southern Education and Library Board
Western Education and Library Board
One of the easiest ways to access information on ICT and special needs is through the World Wide Web. Some key web links are listed below.
See the section ‘Addresses and Web Links’ in The Library to access websites mentioned here.
The NCTE website provides ICT information and advice as well as offering information on the core activities of the NCTE. See, in particular, the Special Needs and ICT section.
The Becta website provides ICT information and advice as well as offering information on the core activities of Becta. See, in particular, the SEN and Inclusion section.
The Inclusion website provides a free catalogue of resources for teaching professionals, learners, parents and carers. Resources include publications, software, hardware, guidance and links to other organisations to aid independent living and learning.
Nine Connect, Northern Ireland's National Grid for Learning web-site and virtual teachers' centre, offers a basket of services which includes filtered Email, Web-conferencing, the electronic exchange of information as well as access to educational resources.
Scoilnet, the South’s official web portal for first and second level schools, contains a pool of curricular resources, information and advice developed by teachers for teachers on all aspects of education including special needs.
On line discussion groups / Mailing lists / Chat rooms
On-line discussion groups, mailing lists and chat rooms are a great source of advice and support for teachers of students with special needs (e.g., Becta’s SENCo forum). As well as offering teachers the opportunity to share experiences, resources and expertise, discussion groups and mailing lists can provide access to up-to-date development in the areas of special needs.
Selecting and Purchasing ICT
Many people need support when it comes to selecting and purchasing ICT. The above organisations and websites may be able to offer some assistance in this regard.
For an overview of software/hardware to support students with learning difficulties as well as information about matching technology and students: See the section ‘ICT in Schools’ in Dyslexia in Schools.
Certain sections of the NCTE and Becta websites include information and advice on ICT planning, purchasing and details of different technologies.
Note: While suppliers are a good source of information and know their products, be aware that they have a vested interest. Look out for the following:
· Beneficial sales agreement including free trial period, option to return or exchange goods if not satisfied, etc.
· Good warranty
· Good customer service and support, e.g., demonstration disks, technical assistance and training.