Building teachers’ confidence and boosting learners’ skills at Dominican College

April 22, 2024

Building teachers’ confidence and boosting learners’ skills at Dominican College

C-Learning we happy to support Dominican College with their transformational journey with Google for Education and Chromebooks.  Read more of their story here:

When the Irish government announced it would be piloting a new digital learning framework, Dominican College spotted an opportunity to enrich teaching and learning by embedding technology into its own digital learning strategy. Lorraine McCool, Deputy Principal of the all-girls post primary, choose Google as a key partner, using Google Workspace for Education and Chromebooks to transform learning experiences and foster collaboration. Choosing Google To ensure the school had the proper foundations for success, the senior leadership team reviewed all available options before embarking on the new digital learning strategy. “We took the time to talk to other schools to see what was working well. We sought advice from the Department of Education’s Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST). We were conscious not to rush – we wanted to get it right from day one,” she says. When Lorraine took Dominican students on a tour of the local Google office and they were given a presentation on Google Calendar, she saw the potential right away 

“I knew it would be perfect for our transition year students. They are always on the go and have a million things to think about, so it offered a great way to organise all their activities and ensure everything was communicated to everyone. And best of all – it was free!”

After a successful Google Calendar trial, Lorraine and her colleagues looked for other ways Google could support their digital learning framework, eventually landing on the combination of Google Workspace for Education and Chromebooks. Previously, the school used a range of devices that were never charged properly and were being slowed down by students saving files directly onto the devices. Chromebooks offered a more consistent and reliable solution. “As a school, you look for the best value you can get, and Chromebooks were the most affordable option. They are robust and long-lasting, which is especially important for the school environment. They are easy to charge, and the battery lasts for an entire school day, and you work on the cloud, so there is no slowing them down. “The admin part is easy, too. You manage everything with one account, and can easily add new users. We put all that together and said: Chromebooks are for us.” 

Supporting staff With a Google Partner on board, Lorraine invested in 30 Chromebooks and equipped all teachers and learners with Google accounts. She also organised a full-day digital training workshop during the school’s staff planning days, which was delivered by the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST). “Those sessions were really positive. The teachers were wowed by the Chromebooks – the touchscreens in particular – and the big thing was that everything worked! It created a new energy and enthusiasm for digital learning.” This was followed by the creation of a core digital learning team, which brought together the most engaged teachers to support and educate their colleagues. “Again, we took a steady approach, focusing on a few key elements to begin with, such as getting to grips with Google Classroom and Drive. As the teachers built their confidence with using the shared space, and started to see the benefits, they began moving on to other tools and apps,” says Lorraine.

Leading by example Dominican College’s success has come from its unified strategy that sees Google Workspace for Education at the centre of all collaboration and digital tools used at every level of the school. “If we want to convince others to use the tools, the senior leadership team needs to also use them,” says Lorraine. “And we believe teachers using the tools as end users, will help them to see things from the perspective of their students.” Enriching learning As teachers became more confident with Chromebooks and Google Classroom, the Digital Learning Team was keen to enrich learning with digital tools too. To boost digital literacy, the school introduced a weekly digital media literacy class for first, second, and third year students, which included everything from online safety to digital footprints. The impact was immediately apparent when junior students enhanced their classroom based assessments with slideshows, posters, and interactive text. Now, digital tools such as Kahoot and Jamboard are appearing across the curriculum. Google Earth is used to bring learning to life in Geography, while Google Scholar is helping students build their researching and referencing skills in History. 

The introduction of ‘digital portfolios’ for transition year students, encourages them to creatively capture and showcase learning experiences. As these students get to try a wide variety of new subjects, such as Korean and Russian, digital portfolios give them the chance to record and express their key learning moments using Google Sites and different types of content, such as maps, videos, and slideshows. In the school’s most recent inspection, the initiative was described as a good use of ICT to support learning. Dominican is now building on this success by encouraging other year groups to use digital tools to reflect on their learning. 

“For me, the big thing is that, alongside academic learning, we are equipping learners with 21st century skills – collaboration, communication, critical thinking – to prepare them for further learning and the workforce; for the jobs that have not been created yet,” says Lorraine. “We did a mapping exercise where we mapped our digital action plan against the key skills in the Irish curriculum, and we found that we were hitting every one of those skills through our use of tech.” This has seen teachers embrace the culture of continual learning and collaboration.

C-Learning remains dedicated to pushing the boundaries of educational technology.  If you would like support to achieve Google Reference status, connect with the team via email at Connect@c-learning.net or visit the website..

For media inquiries or further information, please contact: Caroline.Smith@c-learning.net