A new Digital Learning Framework for primary and post-primary schools has been developed by the Department of Education and Skills was rolled out to all schools in Ireland during the 2018/2019 school year. In implementing the Digital Learning Framework, schools and teachers are given a structure that allows them to identify where they are on the journey towards embedding digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment and enable them to progress in that journey.
The Educational Research Centre (ERC) was then asked by the Department of Education and Skills to carry out an evaluation of the Digital Learning Framework (DLF). The evaluation uses a longitudinal design and runs from 2018-2022. The final report on the Digital Learning Framework trial evaluation was published on October 22, 2018. The report describes the progress, successes and challenges experienced by staff in the 48 primary and post-primary schools that took part.
The Digital Learning Framework was developed to assist schools in effectively embedding digital technologies into teaching and learning. It provides clarity for school leaders and education providers in how to create a shared vision for how technology can best meet the needs of all learners.
Digital Learning Planning Cycle
The Digital Learning Planning Cycle consists of six steps. These steps provide a process for schools and individual teachers to engage in when reviewing and formulating a plan to enhance their DL practices.
The first three steps are the investigation phase while steps 4 to 6 focus on the creation, implementation and evaluation of the DL Plan.
Step 1 – Identify Focus
Get familiar with the DL Framework and decide what standards the school should focus on.
Step 2 – Gather Evidence
Establish base line to start from, surveying teachers, students, parents, management etc
Step 3 – Analyse and Make Judgements
Determine how existing practices compare with standards in the DL Framework, and see where improvement is needed.
Step 4 – Write and Share Digital Learning Plan
This should be the basis for discussion and reflection among teachers, management etc in relation to the role of digital technologies in the classroom. The plan should articulate the vision and describe the improvement processes.
Step 5 – Put Improvement Plan into Action
Communicate and determine concrete steps in the action plan
Step 6 – Monitor Actions and Evaluate Impact
Decide how to evaluate, who is responsible for it, how progress will be reported, and if targets are realistic or need to be changed.
The DL Framework provides comprehensive materials to support its implementation is schools, including templates for planning and evaluation, contingency planning guidelines, and advice on linking home and school at primary and secondary levels.
Additional practical supports are available like videos of STEM lessons for primary classes, digital story-telling, creating e-books, using Scratch for literacy and numeracy, project based learning, robotics, animation, and augmented reality. All resources are available in Irish as well as English.