The TeachNet Ireland project was established in 2001 with the goal of encouraging Irish teachers at both primary and second levels to develop and publish quality indigenous curriculum content on the World Wide Web, by providing a supportive network and teacher professional development opportunities. Between 2001 and 2008 over 300 teacher generated projects were completed with many of these still accessible in the Resources section today. Since 2008 the focus remains on supporting digital learning for teachers with our bi-weekly learning blog and delivery of our online and blended professional development courses taking prominence.
The TeachNet Ireland project grew out of the TeachNet US model developed by Teachers Network, New York (www.teachersnetwork.org). Following a successful pilot by the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) during the 1999 – 2000 school year, it was officially launched by the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, in St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra in October 2001. From the outset the primary goal was to develop a supportive environment to encourage Irish teachers to publish quality curriculum content on the Internet and a number of key project components were implemented to help facilitate this goal. These included:
- Identifying teachers and other educators to serve as mentors.
- Conducting professional development workshops focusing on using ICT in the classroom.
- Awarding grants annually to teachers to disseminate innovative student-focused curriculum projects.
- Developing an online database of projects to share with teachers and students both nationally and internationally.
- Creating a professional community of practice for teachers integrating technology into the school curriculum.
- The development of the TeachNet Learning Blog
- Publishing of a series of educational podcasts
- Development of a series of online professional development courses.
All of this was initially made possible by the generous support of the Citigroup Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies. and Microsoft.
From the outset TeachNet identified the need for indigenous digital content for primary and second-level classrooms and set about addressing the need by developing a framework within which interested teachers could develop relevant online content. Best described as teacher-generated learning objects, content was developed by individual teachers to meet the needs of their own classroom context and classroom tested to ensure suitability. These resources were then published through the TeachNet portal to share with other interested teachers complete with comprehensive guidelines on how the resource could be used or adapted for use in other classrooms. Throughout the entire process a team of experienced mentors supported and encouraged participants to develop their content. Teacher created resources often differ from resources created by commercial publishers in terms of sophistication and polish but they are typically more relevant and address gaps identified by classroom teachers.