St John’s pupils show uni how it’s done!

University of Ulster student teacher Natasha Brown from Derry with St John's PS pupils, Tiernan Murray and Caitlin Doney.
University of Ulster student teacher Natasha Brown from Derry with St John's PS pupils, Tiernan Murray and Caitlin Doney.

Over 50 primary school children - including tech-savvy pupils from St John’s PS in Derry - showcased their IT skills to staff and student teachers at the University of Ulster using the latest mobile technologies.

The event, organised by the School of Education, is part of a widening access initiative designed to raise children’s aspirations and improve knowledge and skills.

Pupils from St John’s PS in Creggan have been using iPads provided by the University to produce video tutorials which demonstrate how apps can be used for learning and peer teaching.

The tutorials will be used to help PGCE Primary student teachers understand how to use the iPads in the classroom and improve their IT skills.

Working in groups, the children presented their work to the invited audience at the University’s Coleraine campus.

Professor Linda Clarke, Head of the School of Education said: “This project builds on several research, development and widening access initiatives in the School of Education which aim to raise young people’s aspirations and encourage them to consider a graduate level career.

“The event gives these children the opportunity to visit the University of Ulster and experience what life might be like if they consider higher education as an option for them in the future.”

Shauna McGill, Lecturer in Education, added: “These pupils from St John’s Primary School have really excelled through this initiative.

“Their hard work and dedication to this iPad project reflects how creative approaches to teaching and learning can contribute to developing children’s confidence and self-esteem.

“Our own student teachers in the School of Education will benefit from the videotutorials that have been produced by the children and they will now be working on integrating iPad technology into their teaching practice.”

ICT co-ordinator at St John’s, Rachel Doherty, said she was delighted with the success of the project.

“Children have no inhibitions when it comes to trying out new technology. Adults tend to be a bit more apprehensive and want to follow instructions to the letter but children are different.

“They don’t worry about what might go wrong – they just try to work it out for themselves.”

Rachel added that she hoped the iPad project would encourage some of the pupils to consider going to university.

“The children used the iPads to make videos about their visit to the Coleraine campus.

“They really enjoyed working on the project and we’re hoping that this will plant a seed and get them thinking about what they’d like to do when they leave school.”

The PCGE students admitted that they were really impressed with the St John’s pupils’ grasp of technology.

Clare Dixon, from Dunloy, said she was blown away with how much the children knew.

“They’ve worked out their own short cuts on how to do things and were able to pass on loads of tips to us about how we could use iPads in class.”

Another student teacher, Rachel Stone from Derry, said she really enjoyed working on the ‘role reversal’ project.

“It was a great learning experience and I’m looking forward to using some of the tips we picked up from the children in the classroom.”