Prof Roger Austin (Ulster) and Prof Rhiannon Turner (QUB) –
This presentation focuses on how new research evidence can be used to make shared education more sustainable and more accessible for more children. Shared education has been adopted as policy by the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive. It is based on the hope that the sharing of resources and expertise between schools can improve community relations and raise educational outcomes (DE 2016). Most of the 300 schools currently involved in shared education projects (25% of the total number of schools) do so through the Shared Education Signature Programme. Children meet face to face and spend time together on joint curricular projects either in neutral venues or in each other’s schools.
The presentation considers new research evidence on a different approach to shared education – blended contact – a combination of online interaction and face to face work which can inform future policy development. It includes findings of a study with 28 primary schools in Northern Ireland with marked socio-economic and educational disadvantage, which suggest that blended contact has striking advantages, not just in terms of children’s better understanding of each other, but also in the skills of teachers with regard to use of ICT communication tools, such as Virtual Learning Environments and video-conferencing. Since the online element of the contact is already available in schools in Northern Ireland there would be no additional cost to schools or to government. Making better use of existing technology resources in schools for shared education has the added advantage that it helps teachers meet the new statutory requirements for the assessment of Using Information Communication Technology. This presentation explains how this kind of alignment, between two different policy areas in schools, is likely to make shared education more sustainable. Moreover, it explains that the use of online contact provides a better chance to include ALL schools, irrespective of their geographical location and in this sense makes shared education more accessible by more schools.
This seminar took place on 20th June 2018