Duquesne University & University
International Programme in
“Setting Everyone Up For Success”
Most extraordinary educational initiatives begin from expressed or written
needs, also known to instructional designers as a needs assessment. When
new initiatives are nurtured and supported with the best of intentions
by every member involved in the process, it becomes possible to achieve
outcomes that would otherwise be thought to be impossible.
Parts of three issues of the United States Distance Learning Association’s
Journal will be dedicated to telling a story of an innovative Master’s
Degree in Educational Technology: Distance Learning that is offered at
Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. A common curriculum in educational
technology was delivered through a partnership between Duquesne University
and the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. The April, June
and August issues will feature the following content areas:
April Issue-administration and groundwork that made the initiative
possible and testimony to the first course taught by faculty from the
University of Ulster (Timeline March 2000-February 2001);
June Issue-academics, the holistic approach to the instructional
design of the Distance Learning programme, the Pittsburgh Residential
component, and the commitment of the Dean of the University of Ulster
to send two faculty members to the United States to maintain continuity
of instruction for all participants (Timeline March 2001-December 2001);
August Issue-academics, culminating stages of the programme highlighting
excerpts of participant course work, synchronous and asynchronous transcript
dialogue, case stories, photos, graduation and final programme assessment
and evaluation (Timeline January 2002-July 2002).
Joint efforts of collaboration and ongoing support of administrators
and academic leadership from Duquesne University, the University of Ulster,
the Western Education Library Board, the Department of Education for Northern
Ireland and the intermediary organization of the Ireland Institute of
Pittsburgh were the unified strength throughout the entire programme.
Since the beginning of the partnership, Duquesne University and the University
of Ulster have continued to speak with one voice and a shared vision of
The uniqueness of the writing for each issue features authors unfolding
their personal journeys through each phase and through each course.
Authors comprise administration, academic personnel and course participants.
Through their eyes, their words and their experiences, the readers will
learn about the successes and the opportunities that arose through challenges.
The authors hope that through their stories and successes that others
will be inspired to initiate similar cross-cultural partnerships.
The entire Distance Learning strand was built upon the philosophy of “Setting
Everyone Up For Success” and the value of considering “context” in the
process of instructional design.
This issue begins with Dr. Mary Catherine Conroy-Hayden and Michele O’Leary’s
historical perspective of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh; the Ireland
Institute of Pittsburgh’s Consortium for Education and Economic Development
(CEED) that builds partnerships and strategic alliances with higher education
institutions in Ireland and Pennsylvania; visits with Northern Ireland
officials and development of a plan to connect two universities that may
not have been connected otherwise.
Mr. Joseph Martin shares his vision of crucial issues in the selection
of a customised programme that would meet the needs of Northern Ireland;
personal conviction and support of the Duquesne programme; participant
selection criteria; and difficulties with negotiations.
Mrs. Marie Martin reflects upon her mission as the International Officer
of the Western Education and Library Board, results of meetings with the
Ireland Institute, collaborative initiatives and milestones.
Dr. Larry Tomei reflects upon his visit to Northern Ireland with Dr.
William Barone, sharing a meeting with the Minister of Education and his
senior staff, a change in thinking from K-12 stand of the program to the
Distance Learning, negotiations and discussion of administrative policies
Dr. Anne Moran describes administrative meetings to identify potential
areas of collaboration in the context of promoting a culture of international
collaboration, her visit to Pittsburgh, modules to be taught by the University
of Ulster, and the significance of the visit by the American tutor in
My. John Anderson provides a history of Northern Ireland’s needs assessment,
the background of Northern Ireland’s education system, candidate selection
for the programme, a review of Classroom 2000, and the future of Information
and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Northern Ireland.
Dr. Mary McAteer shares her experience teaching the first module in the
programme, Critical Reflective Thinking, her dialogue with participants,
observations of meaningful social conversation through electronic communication
and meeting an American tutor during her course.
Mr. Richard Wallace personalizes his desire to enter the programme as
a participant, his experience with the interview and selection process
and recollection of the first module.
Ms. Mary Mallon reflects upon the candidate selection process and her
experience with the first module in the programme.
Dr. Linda Wojnar shares her vision that beyond the signing of the documents
for everyone was to be “Set Up For Success,” it would be necessary to
visit each participant in northern Ireland and at their workplace to experience
the Northern Ireland culture first-hand, and to visualize the context
with which the participants would design their online learning coursework
and carryout their work once the programme was completed. This event was
the turning point for assuring the successful teaching experiences for
each tutor and for the success of the programme.
Although there is a perception held by some people around the world that
American schools do not deliver educational programmes that are as rigorous
as other countries in Europe, the readers will learn through the words
of the participants that the programme challenged their “thinking,” their
“creativity” and “stretched their abilities” to heights that they didn’t
realize would be possible. In many ways, the programme charted
new paths with each course. The bar was consistently raised for each candidate,
many of whom had already achieved recognition for their work in Northern
Ireland, Scotland and England, throughout the entire programme.
On May 19,2002, the eleven authors of this issue will present their story
at the Information Resource Management Conference (IRMA) 2002 in Seattle,
Washington. The overall objectives of the panel discussion are to
provide an overview of the innovative International MSc Program in Educational
Technology; critically discuss and evaluate the effectiveness of the International
MSc Program partnering Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
USA and the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland; assess the program’s
impact on both participants and staff who were involved; provide the evolution
and lessons learned from this initiative that would be beneficial to any
educational setting who desires to design similar programs. In conclusion,
the panel will assess and evaluate the benefits of the program for the
two universities, focusing on the professional development of all staff
that were involved, the effective development of partnerships with professionals
external to the universities, the impact of the program on the strategic
planning of ICT in Northern Ireland for the future, and the value of a
residential study abroad component of the program.
The partnership demonstrated that trans-Atlantic links are as strong
as ever. This program was all the better for overcoming obstacles in the
early stages of implementation, some overt and predictable, others were
learned along the way and handled in “real time.” Participant evaluations
unanimously echoed that the same experiences and growth could not have
taken place if all coursework were taught in their homeland. Because the
implications of the study are so powerful and the lessons learned so meaningful,
the story needs to be shared so that others may benefit from their experiences.
The dedication and commitment of all members prevailed no matter what
bridges had to be crossed. It was obvious from the beginning that the
faculty from both universities shared many common bonds even though they
had never personally met before the teaching began. To this day, the universities
have always remained united and spoken with one voice to deliver their
The methodology in these writings will include case stories from administrators
and educators. Course participants will share their case stories, excerpts
of their coursework and transcript dialogue from online discussions. The
Distance Learning Strand of the Educational Technology Programme incorporates
both synchronous and asynchronous components. The commitment of the University
of Ulster’s Dean to send two tutors to Pittsburgh and her commitment to
maintain continuity of instruction that began in Pittsburgh was another
key component to the success of the program.
Some additional topics that will evolve in the panel discussion are:
role of the Ireland Institute, management of change processes, building
communities of learners, establishing trust and relationships, celebrating
the value of diversity, strengths of collaborative learning, stimulating
learning processes and accenting the benefits of a mixed mode program
provision combining online with face-to-face interaction, while concentrating
on the pedagogical and psychological perspectives of online learning.
The instructional design of the Distance Learning Strand was designed
as a holistic approach to learning; all courses and projects in each of
the courses were to be a part of the final project in the capstone course.
Being a part of change that alters the way that learning occurs in other
cultures is an experience that will last a lifetime for each person involved.
Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh:
International Partnership in Education
Mary Catherine Conroy-Hayden
and Michele O'Leary
The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh was founded in 1989 to promote mutual
understanding between the Catholic and Protestant traditions in Northern
Ireland, and to assist in the economic development in all of Ireland.
The Institute seeks to build partnerships and strategic alliances with
individuals, communities, governmental bodies and educational organizations
that help foster growth and change.
The successful design of the joint masters program in technology between
the University of Ulster, Duquesne University, Northern Ireland Department
of Education and the Western Education and Library Board springs from
the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh's 12-year experience working with
educators, government officials and business leaders in Northern Ireland.
Under the leadership of its founding director, Michele O'Leary, the Institute
has focused on building bridges and creating partnerships. Since it’s founding
the Ireland Institute has:
- Provided job training, management development and leadership training
for young adults from Northern Ireland and Ireland.
- Led US business leaders on trade missions to the Northern Ireland
and the Republic.
- Attracted the White House Conference on Northern Ireland to Pittsburgh
bringing together more than 800 business leaders, and resulting in significant
investment in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
- Established the Consortium for Education and Economic Development
to connect educators in Pennsylvania with their counterparts Northern
Ireland and the Republic.
Consortium for Education and
The goal of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh's Consortium for Education
and Economic Development (CEED) is to build partnerships and strategic
alliances with higher education institutions in Northern Ireland, the
Republic and Pennsylvania. CEED connects higher education institutions
to opportunities to develop programs, participate in study visits, and
host guest lectureships. CEED promotes mutual understanding, and provides
a forum for the intellectual exchange of ideas and for deepening the cultural
understanding between and among its partners.
From the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh's Consortium on Education and
Economic Development (CEED) the joint masters in technology involving
the University of Ulster and Duquesne University arose. The Ireland Institute
organized study visits for visiting educators from Northern Ireland to
Pittsburgh. The agenda for the study visit was developed through joint
planning sessions using teleconferencing. The process was highly interactive
and characterized by mutual professional commitment, trust, perseverance
and effective communication. The Ireland Institute then organized a site
visit to Northern Ireland for Western Pennsylvania educators in 1997 and
planted seeds that would grow into the joint masters program in technology
three years later.
As a follow-up to Vital Voices Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland,
Marie Martin, program officer for the Western Education and Library Board
and Michele O'Leary jointly agreed to develop an exchange program for
educators. When Michele returned to Pittsburgh, she contacted Dr. Mary
Catherine Conroy-Hayden, vice president at Carlow College. Using teleconferencing
for planning sessions with the Ireland Institute, Western Education and
Library Board and Carlow staff a visit to Pittsburgh involving teachers
from Longtower School in Derry was planned. The Derry educators met with
Carlow faculty and staff, visited Pittsburgh schools, and conferred with
teachers about the critical issues that affect children. Following the
visit Marie Martin and Mary Catherine Conroy Hayden began to plan future
programs and study visits using teleconferencing.
In June 1998, Joseph Martin, Senior Inspector of the Western Education
and Library Board, along with Marie Martin, extended their vacation to
include a visit to Pittsburgh. Mary Catherine Conroy Hayden met with both
Joe and Marie Martin and scheduled meetings with teachers and professors
who were in the forefront of technology education in the United States.
Joe Martin then invited Vivian McIver, Senior Inspector, Northern Ireland
Department of Education, to visit and learn about the resources available
After further teleconferencing between the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh,
and the Library Board, Vivian McIver and Joe Martin returned in the summer
of 1999. They visited Carnegie Mellon University, Carlow College and Duquesne
University. Mary Catherine Conroy Hayden, now a consultant to the Ireland
Institute, brought her background as a higher education faculty member
and her experience teaching instructional technology to the project.
She then joined with Vivian McIver, Joe Martin and Marie Martin and Michele
O'Leary in designing a strategic plan that would join higher education
institutions in Northern Ireland and Western Pennsylvania in a partnership
to teach a common course of study in instructional technology. Additional
teleconferencing following the return of this delegation, involved: Stephen
Peover, Deputy Secretary of Education and Martin McGuiness, Minister of
Education for Northern Ireland. They both endorsed this novel idea.
What resulted from these deliberations was a joint master's program in
technology for educators in Northern Ireland. The Ireland Institute of
Pittsburgh as the intermediary organization committed to direct and facilitate
planning between the University of Ulster, Duquesne University, the Northern
Ireland Department of Education and the Western Education and Library
Board. The planning process was highly interactive and mutually respectful
consistent with the philosophy of the Ireland Institute. Real enthusiasm
and friendship soon developed among the participants through study visits
and planning meetings using teleconferencing.
The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, using teleconferencing, organized
the study visits for all stakeholders to Pittsburgh and to Northern Ireland.
The Institute and the Ministry of Education negotiated an agreement of
understanding. The Ireland Institute then organized the visit of the Minister
of Education from Northern Ireland, Martin McGinness, to Pittsburgh to
sign the letter of understanding between government, the Institute, Duquesne
University, and the University of Ulster.
Challenges and Benefits to
Designing an international partnership graduate program involving multiple
partners teaches lessons that are important for future program development.
The conclusions suggested by the successful joint master's in technology
program between the University of Ulster and Duquesne University are:
- An intermediary organization such as the Ireland Institute is essential
to facilitate communication among all parties and lay the basis for
understanding. The Ireland Institute brought to this project years of
experience developing programs that involved working with multiple organizations.
The Ireland Institute provided the objectivity to interpret and clarify
discussions involving program goals and moving the process along.
- Planning time to develop an understanding of each other's institutions,
building trusting relationship, establishing clear objectives and programmatic
content, and a time line to make decisions as well as funding commitments.
- Leadership support of each organization involved is necessary for
the success of any partnership.
- A formal declaration of the partnership. All partners need to sign
off on the final design of the program and agree to commit their resources
to achieving the common goals.
- Perseverance and good humor are necessary as well as patience, flexibility
and understanding of one another's organizational culture and values.
Building International Collaboration
The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh believes that to bring about change
in a society one has to focus on the education of its youth. By bringing
educators from diverse backgrounds together to learn together and then
teach a common subject together is the key to broadening understanding.
By developing and using tools such as technology to change systems and
education practices in both Northern Ireland and the United States, young
people of both countries benefit.
To paraphrase a quote of President John F. Kennedy:
"Our progress as a (world) can be no swifter than our progress
in education. The requirements for world leadership, our hopes for economic
growth, and the demands of citizenship itself, in an era such as this,
all require the maximum development of every young person's capacity."
The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh is proud to have planted the seeds
that grew into the Consortium for Education and Economic Development in
1997 and into the joint Master's Program in Technology with the signing
of the International Partnership in Education Agreement in November 2000.
The graduates of this program will take a leadership role in using their
knowledge to move Northern Ireland even further toward preparing its young
people their for their role in a global society.
THE INTERNATIONAL MASTERS
IN EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY
The International Masters in Education Technology had its origins in
the partnership, which was developed by the Western Education and Library
Board with the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh dating from 1997. As Chief
Executive of the Board, and as Chairman of the Northern Ireland Early
Professional Development Committee and of the Classroom 2000 Project (which
is responsible for the provision of the Education Technology (ET) infrastructure
to all 1200 schools in Northern Ireland), I was keen to explore the potential
of the partnership to enhance the quality of education technology programmes.
A series of meetings, both in Pittsburgh and in Northern Ireland, complemented
by videoconferencing, served to develop our ideas and to refine the options.
In our initial exchanges we discussed the range of courses in International
Technology which were provided by Duquesne University MSc, Diploma and
Certificate programmes, and we explored the possibility of Duquesne providing
a certificate programme for a group of Northern Ireland (NI) educators
beginning in Spring 2002. In subsequent discussions, two issues became
crucial. The first was to ensure that any proposed programme would make
a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland ET strategy and would
bring expertise to the NI education system that was not already available.
The second was to secure funding for such a project.
In order to make this proposed programme a reality, it was necessary
to gain the support of many organisations and individuals. I took on the
role of convincing them that such a ground-breaking programme was worthwhile
and could be delivered, and that the significant investment they were
being asked to make would be of benefit to education in NI. Because I
personally was convinced of the impact that such a programme could make
in this respect, I brought together the key partners and encouraged them
to commit to the programme.
A major factor in securing the necessary funding was the support pledged
by the Minister for Education, Mr. Martin McGuinness, when he participated
by videoconference in a meeting with the Ireland Institute and Duquesne
University on 19 July 2000. In the course of the meeting, he spoke of
the contacts he had established with the US Secretary for Education, Richard
Riley, expressed his commitment to developing educational links with the
USA, and gave responsibility to a senior civil servant, Mr. Stephen Peover,
Under-Secretary in the Department of Education, to coordinate the development
of the initiative.
Extensive discussions take place between key personnel involved in the
Northern Ireland ET strategy around the issue of the most appropriate
course for NI. These included Stephen Peover and Vivian McIver of the
Department of Education, John Anderson, NI Coordinator of the ET Strategy,
Marie Martin, International Officer with the WELB, Paddy Mackey, Senior
Adviser with the WELB, myself and later, Professor Anne Moran, Head of
Education at the University of Ulster. All of these were to play a crucial
role at different stages and in different ways in determining the programme
that finally emerged, in securing the support of the Department of Education
and the University of Ulster, and in the development and implementation
of an innovative collaborative international programme in Education Technology.
Because a huge programme of training for teachers was just commencing
in Northern Ireland, which was roughly equivalent to the Duquesne Certificate
programme, it was decided that the best way forward was to focus on the
Masters Programme offered by Duquesne. We agreed that this programme should
be customised to meet the needs of Northern Ireland teachers and educators
and that a small group of people (10 - 20) should take part in the initial
pilot programme. They should be key people in the ongoing development
of Educational Technology in Northern Ireland, drawn from the schools
sector and other sectors. The latter could include interested and committed
people from the advisory services of the five Education and Library Boards
(the local education authorities for Northern Ireland), the Higher Education
Institutions, the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment
(CCEA) and the NI Education and Training Inspectorate. The possibility
of participation from the Republic of Ireland was also to be explored.
It was agreed that the Masters Programme would provide a framework for:
- collaboration between educators from Ireland and the USA in the field
of Education Technology;
- the design of a Diploma programme to suit the needs of teachers -
to be accredited by the University of Ulster/Northern Ireland universities;
- the skills of the Education Technology leaders of the future.
The major attraction of the proposal was that it would be targeted at
the key strategic people who were involved in the development of Education
Technology. This would then provide a group of key thinkers who, working
collaboratively and with a shared vision, would help to develop a vision
for the future. It would be very practical in that one of its outcomes
would be the design of a Diploma programme. Another outcome would be the
development of practical, innovative and imaginative projects in schools.
In effect, the participants would be a major resource for the further
development of the ET strategy for Northern Ireland. It was also envisaged
that the programme would lead to enormous personal and professional development
for individuals as well as to enhanced system development.
The project was seen to be at the cutting edge of international co-operation
in professional development in Educational Technology. It was also in
line with world thinking and with government initiatives world-wide, providing
an international model for collaboration in education. Furthermore, it
was seen as a natural follow-on from the proceedings of the Washington
(DC) Conference on Educational Technology that took place in September
Detailed, protracted and often difficult negotiations were required in
Pittsburgh in September and in Northern Ireland in October before final
agreement was reached on all the elements of the programme, and the Memorandum
of Understanding was signed in November. That it was possible to reach
such agreement was a tribute to the skill, patience and perseverance of
Duquesne University, the University of Ulster, the NI Department of Education,
the WELB, and the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh. Particular credit is
due to Dr. Bill Barone and Dr. Larry Tomei of Duquesne who never lost
sight of the importance of this collaborative project and who persevered
with the vision even when negotiations came close to collapse. The result
was a decision to offer a Masters Programme in Education, with a strong
emphasis on Distance Learning, to be delivered collaboratively by Duquesne
University and the University of Ulster, in Northern Ireland and in Pittsburgh.
The time-scale for the selection of participants following the signing
of the Memorandum of Understanding in November 2000 was almost impossibly
short. As the institution with responsibility for the organisation of
the programme, the WELB undertook the task of ensuring that a full complement
of participants was selected in time for the commencement of the programme
at the beginning of 2001. Five teachers - two from primary (elementary)
schools, two from post-primary (high) schools, and one from a school for
special education - were selected following public advertisement. Five
advisory staff - one from each Education and Library Board - were nominated
by their Chief Executives. The remaining seven participants were drawn
from the Education and Training Inspectorate, the CCEA, the Regional Training
Unit, the Schools’ Library Service and from three Further and Higher Education
Institutions. These 17 specially selected candidates have all been set
up for success and are now on course to graduate in the July 2002.
Although my own role in the initiation and development of the course
has proved to be an extremely challenging one, nevertheless, I feel proud
and privileged to have been part of such an innovative, exciting and ultimately
highly successful programme. It has been a privilege and a delight to
work with such visionary and committed professionals and I am convinced
that education in Northern Ireland will be vastly enriched by the pioneering
work done through this programme.
The International MSc
in Education Technology
Milestones along the way.
As International Officer of the Western Education & Library Board
(WELB,) the local education authority for the western part of Northern
Ireland, I saw it as my mission to promote international collaboration
in education as a means of enriching the taught curriculum in our schools
and, particularly, of broadening the horizons of our education community.
In late 1996, I had the opportunity of meeting briefly, in Omagh, Northern
Ireland, with Sr. Michele O’Leary, president of the Ireland Institute
of Pittsburgh who was then on one of her frequent business trips to Ireland.
Sr. Michele, was committed to helping Ireland on the road to peace and
stability by working tirelessly and very fruitfully, through the Ireland
Institute and its networks, on projects geared towards economic regeneration.
At that stage, education did not figure on the agenda. My meeting, therefore,
was not initially productive. Sr. Michele did, however, agree to continue
the discussion on her return to Pittsburgh, through exchange of letters
and telephone conversations. In retrospect, this meeting, which paved
the way for collaboration between the WELB and the Ireland Institute,
proved to be the first milestone along the road which led ultimately to
the International MSc in Education Technology, delivered collaboratively
by Duquesne University, Pittsburgh and the University of Ulster, Northern
In the ensuing discussion, I found Sr. Michele very ready to accept my
argument that economic regeneration should be underpinned by education
and she was enthusiastic about the prospects of working with the WELB.
She acceded graciously and generously to my request to arrange a study
visit to Pittsburgh of a group of primary (elementary) teachers, led by
me, from Derry city in 1997 and spared no effort in facilitating this,
our first joint venture. Its undoubted success was due in large measure
to the commitment of Carlow College under whose auspices, at the request
of Sr. Michele, the visit took place. The programme organiser and coordinator
was Dr. Mary Catherine Conroy-Hayden, then Vice- President of Carlow College.
The participation of Dr. Roberta Schomberg, Head of Education at Carlow
College, was another major factor in the successful outcome. This visit
proved to be the second milestone. It laid the foundation of excellent
and enduring personal as well as professional relationships, which underpinned
all future collaboration. It provided the momentum for the new partnership,
out of which came eventually the idea that led to the development and
implementation of the International MSc programme.
The partnership gave rise to many collaborative initiatives, focusing
mainly on the professional development of teachers, the sharing of good
practice, particularly in distance learning, and the exchange of resources.
It was strengthened by both virtual meetings through videoconferencing
and actual face-to-face meetings. The earliest of the latter took place
in 1998 when Mr. Joseph Martin, Chief Executive of the WELB, and I visited
Pittsburgh, where Sr. Michele had arranged for us to visit a number of
third level institutions, including Duquesne University. Here we met Dr.
Larry Tomei, and Dr. Linda Wojnar and the idea of some form of collaboration
around Education Technology was first introduced.
However, it was a virtual encounter in 1999, which proved to be the third
milestone. At the invitation of WELB, Mr. Vivian McIver, a senior inspector
from the Department of Education, joined the Chief Executive and myself
in a videoconference from Omagh with Sr. Michele, Dr. Conroy-Hayden and
Dr. Schomberg. Mr. McIver was impressed by the initiatives already undertaken
by the partnership and by the potential for expansion to the benefit of
the whole of Northern Ireland. His role was crucial in implementing that
vision. Happily, Dr. Schomberg was able to visit Northern Ireland in March
1999 and held discussions with Mr. McIver. She also met with Mr. John
Anderson, Coordinator of the Northern Ireland EducationTechnology strategy.
Mr. Anderson was later to play a significant role in the development of
the programme for the International MSc. in Education Technology. Mr.
McIver subsequently visited Pittsburgh in May 2000, together with Mr.
J Martin and myself. Again this visit was facilitated by the Ireland Institute
and meetings were arranged with third level institutions. The idea of
collaboration with Duquesne University was further explored on that occasion
and Mr. McIver strongly endorsed this idea.
The fourth and by far the most important milestone was the participation
of the Northern Ireland Minister for Education, Mr. Martin McGuinness,
in a videoconference with the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh on July
19, 2000. This happened almost by chance. The Minister, who had become
aware of my work in developing the use of videoconferencing in education,
had asked me to give him an experience of the medium. I suggested that
a link up with the Ireland Institute would not only give him that experience,
but would also make him aware of the exciting developments which were
taking place. He agreed to this. This videoconference with Sr. Michele,
Dr. Conroy-Hayden and Dr. Tomei established the Northern Ireland/Pittsburgh
partnership at the highest level. The Education Technology initiative
with Duquesne was also assured of ministerial support. A senior Department
official, Mr. Stephen Peover, was assigned to co-ordinate the initiative.
The Minister accepted an invitation to Pittsburgh. This took place the
following November, during which he signed the Memorandum of Understanding
with Duquesne University.
A series of meetings and discussions followed this videoconference. The
decision was made to proceed with an International Masters programme in
Education Technology, delivered collaboratively by Duquesne and the University
of Ulster and customised to meet the needs of Northern Ireland. Dr. Anne
Moran, Head of the School of Education at the University of Ulster was
immediately supportive and committed to this programme. Some serious obstacles,
mainly around funding issues and timescale, had to be confronted. At times,
the difficulties seemed insurmountable. However, the key players held
the vision and refused to give up. The programme, with 17 students drawn
from all parts of the education sector in Northern Ireland, began in February
2001. I had the pleasure of being present in Pittsburgh in July 2001 where
I witnessed the delivery of the residential programme and experienced
at first hand the commitment and enthusiasm of the students. In the words
of Dr. Linda Wojnar, all of them are “set up for success.” The final milestone
will be reached when these students graduate as Masters of Science in
Education Technology in July 2002.
It Began as a Courtesy Call…
A phone call in early 1998 would trigger a year-long schedule of visits
to Pittsburgh, meetings in Northern Ireland, and videoconferences across
the Atlantic that would ultimately result in the first transcontinental
graduate program in educational technology.
On an otherwise ordinary Tuesday morning, a phone call was placed from
the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, a non-profit organization that fosters
collaborations among the peoples of two countries closely tied by a common
ancestry, to Duquesne University. The impact of the Irish immigrants on
western Pennsylvania is tightly woven into its history, culture, and economy.
It would soon become inexorably linked to the education of its children
Originally, a 30-minute welcome and orientation to our School of Education
was proposed to introduce Northern Ireland visitors to programs typical
of teacher preparation in the United States. Mr. Joseph Martin, Chief
Executive of the Western Education and Library Board (WELB); Mrs. Marie
Martin, WELB International officer, and Sr. Michelle O’Leary, President
of the Ireland Institute, instead, found themselves attracted to educational
technology and the potential that it might hold for the advancement of
teacher-educators in Northern Ireland. Educational technology became another
in the long line of promising content areas; another topic on an endless
list of imperative professional development initiatives.
A Second Visit … and A Promise.
As the luck of the Irish would have it, a second follow-on visit to the
United States introduced a fourth key player in Northern Ireland education
who joined the May 2000 visiting team to Pittsburgh. Mr. Vivian McIver,
senior inspector from the Department of Education, shared a vision of
teacher development in his country and plans for a possible collaboration
with Duquesne University began in earnest. Additional meetings would be
necessary, along with a better understanding of the similarities and differences
of the two systems of education. Initial discussions during this on-campus
session found significant interest in the K-12 strand of technology that,
at the time, served most students enrolled in Duquesne’s graduate program
in instructional technology. But, as just mentioned, more work needed
to be done before settling on any particular program of study.
Ratcheting Up the Collaborative…
Enter the technology. A videoconference, that much like our traditional
meetings, began by addressing one purpose and quickly evolved into an
opportunity to advance an agenda for improving education. From our perspective,
an invitation to join an international videoconference with the Northern
Ireland Minister of Education, Mr. Martin McGuiness, was a unique opportunity
to discuss the future of instructional technology at the highest levels,
whether the consortium between our two countries was realized or not.
The videoconference was immediately successful. Relationships, so critical
to international programs in education, were fostered. Priorities were
created. Friendships were established. We agreed that the next visit would
be a contingent from Pittsburgh to Northern Ireland.
For two Duquesne University educators, their first visit to the Emerald
Isle would be eventful, hectic, and immensely unforgettable - for many
reasons. Drs. William Barone, Chairman of the Department of Instruction
and Leadership in Education, and Lawrence Tomei, Coordinator of the Program
in Instructional Technology, joined an Ireland Institute team of five
other educators from the Pittsburgh area. Our particular focus was, of
course, a possible program of study in educational technology for elementary
and secondary teachers in Northern Ireland. The first lesson learned by
the visiting team was nominal; in Northern Ireland, elementary students
are found in primary schools and high school students are in grammar schools.
Just the first of many lessons that had to be learned before we could
become friends. Visits included meetings with the Minister of Education
and his senior staff, including Mr. Stephen Peover, who would represent
the government during upcoming negotiations. More visits to see the wonders
of Ireland. Belfast, Omagh, Coultraine - even more meetings, this time
on all sides of the proverbial round table to lay out a possible memorandum
First order of business was a major change in focus. As it turned out,
senior Northern Ireland negotiators were no longer interested in a K-12
curriculum for its teachers. Mr. John Anderson, coordinator of educational
technology strategy for Northern Ireland, was most impressed with the
alternative strand of Duquesne’s technology program - distance learning.
Since the inception of the program, distance education had become its
own focus for many of the program’s now 150-plus participants. Senior
officials considered distance learning as a reasonable vehicle for establishing
a nation-wide technology integration program of their own. A “teach the
teachers” approach would become the purpose of the proposed cohort. Also,
another partner would enter the picture - a most welcome partner for the
advancement of a graduate program of some 30 credit hours. The University
of Ulster was to deliver the three elective courses in the program, reducing
the costs, and providing in-country coursework for the 17 selected participants.
Although negotiations would stall several times during the day-long meetings,
success in the form of a draft memorandum of understanding was the final
result of the sessions. A draft document containing course descriptions,
agendas, budgets, milestones - all the elements of a two-year masters
degree acceptable to all parties. The meetings were vital to getting the
program off the ground. But the true value of the visit to Northern Ireland
was in befriending the peoples and cementing relationships that will last
well beyond graduation day.
Signing Day at Duquesne University.
On a gloriously clear November 2000 day on the bluffs in Pittsburgh,
the principal signatories to the first international masters in educational
technology met to finalize the memorandum. Mr. Martin McGuiness, Sr. Michelle
O’Leary, and Dr. John E. Murray, Jr., President of Duquesne University,
discussed the events that had led to this day and took pen to paper to
validate the first terms of the first cohort of Northern Ireland students
in an international program of educational technology. Now the work was
to begin in earnest. Already two months behind the selection of the cohort
members, Northern Ireland officials began the process of advertising,
promoting, and selecting participants from across the educational professionals
in their country. Seventeen slots left little room for mistakes and not
much room for representatives from all the major constituents. Teachers,
sure - Librarians, a must for a country that has integrated library services
into its educational system. But, the cohort must also include delegates
from further and higher education, the inspection (accreditation) services,
testing, and professional training. It took until early December before
the final cohort was selected. And the first course was scheduled for
Learning Through Collaboration
In the context of promoting a culture of international collaboration,
the Western Education and Library Board (WELB), the Department of Education
for Northern Ireland (DE), the Ireland Institute in Pittsburgh and the
University of Ulster met to discuss a number of potential areas for collaboration.
In May 2000 following a number of meetings by videoconference between
NI and the USA the decision was taken to focus on the area of Educational
The city of Pittsburgh appeared to offer an ideal opportunity for collaboration.
It has a number of outstanding educational institutions that include the
University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon University, Duquesne University,
Chatham College and Carlow College, all of whom are committed to international
outreach and to working with Ireland. Pittsburgh is a small city with
a significant population of Irish descent.
Following a visit by Richard Reilly, the US Secretary of State for Education
to Belfast in June 2000 and his invitation to the International IT Conference
in Washington, as well as the earlier discussions referred to above, a
decision was taken to collaborate with Duquesne University in Pittsburgh
since it had a number of programmes in Instructional Technology which
appeared to meet the needs of the NI educational community. Detailed discussion
and negotiation ensued both in Pittsburgh and NI.
In September the Head of the School of Education, Dr. Anne Moran, was
invited to Pittsburgh along with representatives from the WELB and the
DE to meet with representatives from the Ireland Institute and Duquesne
University. Detailed discussions took place about the design of the international
Master’s programme that was to be provided partly in distance mode and
in partnership between the University of Ulster and Duquesne University.
The visit included a tour of Duquesne University and its facilities.
Further discussions took place at the University of Ulster at Magee where
a further meeting of all the partners allowed for plans to be finalised
(3 October 2000). Three modules were to be taught by UU (Critical Reflective
Practice, Multi Media Literacy and Collaborative Learning Online) and
the remainder by Duquesne University.
The programme aimed to meet elements of the NI Educational Technology
Strategy and was to be targeted at key personnel involved in the strategic
development of IT in NI. Applications were invited from personnel in schools,
from the library service, from the Curriculum Support and Advisory Service
at the ELBs, the Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment,
Further and Higher Education and Higher Education. One of the staff from
the University of Ulster was selected to participate and is currently
a student on the course. The programme would cater initially for 18 participants,
would begin in the Spring of 2001 and was to be funded by the DE. Participants
who were all to be recruited from NI would have the opportunity to spend
four weeks studying in Pittsburgh (June/July 2001).
In November 2000 during a visit to the USA the Minister for Education,
Martin McGuinness, visited Duquesne University in Pittsburgh to sign the
Memorandum of Understanding between the Ireland Institute, the Department
of Education, NI and the two Universities.
The course got underway in January 2001 with the Critical Reflective
Practice module. In February 2001, Dr. Linda Wojnar from Duquesne University
visited NI to meet with the tutors who would be involved from UU, as well
as all the participants on the course, on a one to one and group basis,
in order to facilitate progression and a seamless transition between modules.
This was followed by a visit by Dr. Larry Tomei two weeks later who taught
the group over a period of three consecutive weekends. In June/July the
two staff from the University of Ulster who would be teaching the Modules
after the Summer School visited Pittsburgh and spent a week working with
the tutors and the participants.
Frequent contact is maintained between Duquesne University and the University
of Ulster by video and computer conferencing. Students too participate
in the videoconference sessions.
The strength of the partnership is due in no small measure to the dedication
and commitment of both partners to provide a course of the highest quality.
In the early stage of the course much work had to be done in embedding
the course and it was not without some initial difficulties. Participants
were selected for the course because of their expertise in ICT in NI.
The most difficult aspect then was to assess the level and nature of expertise
within the group so that provision could be tailored to meet their needs.
In an attempt to do this the course team at UU believed that the starting
point should be the critical reflection and analysis of practice by the
participants and the sharing of experiences by the participants but this
met with considerable resistance from some of the group who considered
that they were already familiar with the reflective process and believed
they had nothing to gain by engaging in an analysis and discussion of
In the ensuing few weeks a degree of dissatisfaction was apparent. However,
breakthrough only occurs when we begin to think about conflict, diversity
and difference as essential factors for success. The course team was determined
to make a success of this initiative and so listened to and valued the
diversity of views expressed by the group. Differences between the participants
and the course teams expectations were brought out into the open and with
the support of the staff from Duquesne University the conflict and anxieties
which prevailed were transformed into new and creative approaches to resolving
the situation. Over time, relationships were consolidated and cooperatively
the course teams and participants moved forward. At all times, I considered
that I had to work alongside and support the staff from UU who felt very
The turning point, however, in terms of the resolution of the conflict
was the visit by a faculty member from Duquesne University who visited
NI and spent two full weeks engaged in one to one discussions with each
participant in their work environment, as well as meeting the group as
a whole, the WELB team who were facilitating the course, the ET Strategy
Co-ordinator and the tutors from UU. This proved to be the turning point
of the course and it was at that stage that participants began to truly
appreciate how relevant the course would be for each of them. The Faculty
member from Duquesne built confidence and trust among the participants
and the collaborative approach and support provided allowed me to build
on their strengths and creative synergies which was to lead to combined
action and improvement.
Mutualism and the symbiotic relationships were central to resolving the
initial conflicts encountered. The difficulties had induced a creative
dynamism which was to provide the solution for the way forward. From my
perspective the partnership was a true development experience in itself
and I had no doubt at that stage that my staff would benefit enormously
from working alongside the Faculty members from Duquesne University and
the students during their Summer Semester in Pittsburgh. This proved to
be the case and in fact tutors from UU were able to ensure a smooth transition
and progression from this phase of the course to the next which was to
be provided by them.
From my perspective, it was the support from Duquesne University, in
particular the approach to real and meaningful partnership, the quality
of relationships which developed and the support provided by the staff
from Duquesne University which allowed new understandings to emerge and
the course to go from strength to strength. At this point I was confident
that sustainable success with the course could be achieved. Furthermore,
the opportunity to internationalise the work of the School and to share
expertise and experiences brought a very rich dimension to the work. Within
NI also relationships were consolidated at all levels and the provision
of the programme in partnership involving a range of professionals was
set for success.
Education Technology in Northern Ireland
Why did Northern Ireland need
an International Masters’ Programme?
Northern Ireland has a relatively homogenous education service, for,
although it comprises a bi-partite secondary school sector (with some
schools selecting pupils at the age of 11 on the basis of academic performance,
and non-selective schools) and six different statutory categories of church,
state, integrated and Irish-medium schools, almost all are wholly state-funded
with only a tiny number of independent schools. In recent years education
has become one of the functions of a legislative assembly with a locally
elected Minister and the oversight of an Assembly Education Committee,
devolved from control of the United Kingdom parliament in London, England.
1244 primary, secondary and special schools employ 20,000 teachers and
serve 340,000 pupils, from a total population of 1.5 million people, over
a third of whom live in the greater Belfast area. The five local Education
and Library Boards (ELBs), comprising locally elected public representatives,
are responsible for the majority of schools and also administer the public
and school library services. All state-funded schools, whatever their
category, are provided with statutory curriculum advice and support services
by the ELBs for the area in which they are located.
A strategic approach to enhancement
With respect to computers in schools, a survey conducted in 1997, indicated
- more than 70% of computers in schools were described as ‘old’;
- the vast majority of computing equipment in schools was unable to
support modern multimedia;
- only 1% of primary schools in Northern Ireland had networks that could
be used to support computer use in the curriculum;
- when teachers were asked about the main constraints in moving forward
with effective use of computers in the classroom, the three top items
- access to appropriate technology provision in the classroom;
- teacher competence and confidence in using computers for teaching;
- the financial constraints under which schools were operating.
The survey provided a diagnosis and the Education
Technology Strategy, published in 1998 and linked in turn to the province’s
economic strategy, committed the Department of Education to consider how
the various elements of computers in education - curricular, professional
development and administration/management systems could be brought together
as a coherent whole.
The policy for computers in schools set out targets across the four dimensions
- Learners and their ICT skills, covering standards
of pupil competence, curriculum integration, accreditation and assessment
for learners, homework policy, special education needs and policy on acceptable
use of the Internet;
- Teachers and Learners, setting targets for teacher
competence in computers, the use of computers in the professional development
of teachers, quality assurance by the schools’ Inspectorate, the role
of the senior management in schools and access to personal computers for
- Schools and resources, dealing with links with school
libraries, the home, the community and setting expectations for accommodation
and equipment needs;
- Infrastucture and support, to address and resolve
the issues of financial resourcing, levels of expected use of computers,
technology refresh, communication and network tariffs, and user training
The infrastructure, resource, connectivity and support issues are addressed
through the Classroom 2000 project, targeting some $420 million of central
funds over 10 years into a managed computer service in all schools. Classroom
2000 provides the foundation upon which universal access to a rich and
developing pool of computer-based educational resources will be based
- some 260 locally available curriculum software titles in the first instance
(80 on desktops in primary classrooms and 180 on the desktops in secondary
school classrooms). It is deploying an integrated network with more than
40,000 new desktops for curricular and administrative use by teachers
and pupils throughout all of the country’s schools connected through the
Internet to a wide range of on-line educational services and curriculum
content. This service will facilitate access to significant teaching resources
both from school and home.
Teacher training is essential to the successful use of technology in
the classroom by teachers, and teacher competence lies at the heart of
innovation. The strategy defined the basic competence required for all
teachers in terms of:
- basic skills in using technology;
- their knowledge of how computers and the Internet changes
the teaching of their specialist subject;
- through the combination of skills and knowledge, their understanding
and ability to plan, prepare, teach and assess children using computers
as a resource.
$14 million was
spent between 1998 and 2000 to prepare the ground through a preliminary
training scheme, the successful ‘Connecting Teachers’ initiative.
The initiative provided preparatory training by experts for a teacher-leader
in every one of the schools in Northern Ireland, each of whom became the
leader of a, deliberately small, team of teachers within their school.
In total, a further $28 million was spent providing 14,000 laptops and
software to the 20,000 teachers - 2 for every 3 teachers - to facilitate
their professional development.
Building on the first step, public funding from the United Kingdom’s
National Lottery is now extending pedagogic training to every single teacher,
with a budget of some $16 million for Northern Ireland. By the end of
the training teachers will know: when, when not and how to use ICT in
their subject; how ICT can be used in teaching the whole class; how ICT
can be used when planning teaching activities; how to assess pupils’ work
when ICT has been used and how ICT can be used to keep up-to-date, share
best practice and reduce bureaucracy.
Making the transition to transformation
The engagement of commitment and capability for the enhancement of classroom
teaching with computers is well underway. However, the need in Northern
Ireland for a transition to the online provision of professional development
and curriculum support for teachers, and to deliver school curriculum
courses online is the next on the school improvement agenda. In 2000,
Northern Ireland was very aware that it lacked the necessary experience
and expertise needed to specify, understand, develop and implement education
As Alan November, a USA education consultant who advises on strategy
in Northern Ireland puts it:
“If all we’re going to
do is take the current curriculum, which comes out of a paper-based technology,
and move in onto the Internet -- in other words, squeeze textbooks and
chapters through wires -- I don’t think that’s significant. I think where
we’re really going, the big picture here, is that we’ve got to figure
out ways to challenge kids to solve problems we’ve never challenged them
to solve before. They must leave our schools feeling absolutely capable
of accessing massive amounts of information. And we’re going to have to
teach children to work with people they’ll never see. People in different
parts of the world, maybe in their own communities, different age groups,
and different cultures.”
The International Masters programme was initiated as a result of discussions
between the Ireland Institute in Pittsburgh, the Western Education and
Library Board, the Department of Education, the Education Technology Strategy
and two universities, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and the University
of Ulster. The initial intention was to provide, as part of the outreach
work of the Ireland Institute, external support for the basic development
of computers in schools in Northern Ireland. However, a higher-level need
for the education service to nurture and develop expertise in on-line
teaching and learning, was refined through discussion. This goal was seen
as particularly timely and relevant to propel the strategy well into the
The international programme aims to promote:
- a creative and innovative
approach to teacher education and development;
- a consensual understanding
of digital learning in the context of the Northern Ireland curriculum;
- an understanding of the
global issues relating to computers and education;
- a development of the interface
between community, home and school through the Internet;
- an ability to understand
and manage change in education, related to the use of computers;
- experience of collaborative
- development of ability
to create and manage on-line learning environments, and to support learners
The Department for Education agreed to fund the programme for 15 participants
and the (now) Department for Employment and Learning provided additional
funding for two participants from the further education sector.
On completion of the programme successful graduates will be expected
to contribute significantly to the inter-agency strategic development
of accredited professional programmes in computers in education for teachers
in Northern Ireland and to the creation and support of on-line learning
Planning of the programme started in September 2000 and the first class
met in February 2001 to undertake a 10 module programme [see end note1]
of part-time study, research and project work. They have worked intensively
since then, and the programme ends with graduation in July 2002.
The MSc course programme is structured partly in a traditional way with
taught components from Ulster or Duquesne, or both. However, the programme
offered a unique potential of being ‘greater than the parts’ by creating
a team who can work together, like a research and development team, on
innovative aspects of education technology, and especially those that
develop ‘education on-line’ in Northern Ireland.
Participation has several outcome opportunities, at least two of which
- Personal growth and development in knowledge and expertise
for the participants themselves;
- A major contribution to advancing education technology in
schools and colleges, especially important in light of the government’s
emerging e-learning agenda.
The 17 participants in the programme represent eight different categories
of employer in the education service: schools; the further education colleges;
the curriculum advisory and support services; the school library services;
statutory and non-statutory curriculum, assessment and training organisations;
the inspectorate and the initial teacher education sector.
Each participant’s employer, who supported the individual’s participation
in the programme, will be able to obtain the maximum value for the employing
organisation from the investment in developing experience and expertise
in online learning by involving the post-graduate in:
- Making a contribution to policy development about new approaches
to teaching and learning in the organisation itself;
- Setting targets in the organisation’s development plan for
innovation in e-learning;
- Working directly with selected individuals in the organisation
to pass on the experience and expertise developed;
- Developing and delivering online professional development
for staff in the organisation as a whole;
- Running pilot projects in online teaching and learning for
the organisation’s “clients” (pupils, student teachers, serving teachers,
school leaders, professional education staff, etc.)
There is a broader need for the education service as a whole, and for
the specific sectors (schools, FE, library service, etc.) within the education
service, to consider how to learn from, extend, build upon and go beyond
the work initiated in the programme.
There is a specific need for a strategy to sustain the momentum for continuing
professional development in computers after the end of the National Lottery
funded programme in March 2003 and to raise competence for teachers and
others to a higher level. Building on the work of the MSc programme, and
the expertise and experience of the 2001/02 cohort, establishing and providing
an Online Postgraduate Diploma in Education Technology for teachers,
advisers and others in the school sector in Northern Ireland would provide
a helpful next step, build upon the initial experiences of teachers, and
create online collaborative communities of educators, both in and beyond
 The programme is organised into ten modules which are outlined in
Reflective Practice: Application of critical reflective practices to technology-based
and online learning.
and Education: Examines the pedagogy of teaching digitally, and the use
of ICT as a learning resource, in the context of the education technology
Learning Course Design: Introduces concepts of technology-based instruction
to the design of distance and on-line courses.
at a Distance Applications: Expands, in a practical way, on the theories
of curriculum design by exploring technology-rich models of teaching and
- and School Management: Examines issues of leading and managing technology,
and change arising from technology, in school organisations.
Literacy: Develops the levels of visual, creative and information literacy
needed by teachers and learners in an ICT environment.
of Teaching and Learning with ICT: Explores issues of assessment with
and through ICT.
Learning on-line: Examines the nature of individual and collaborative
with Technology - Globalisation: In both global and local context, examines,
in a practical way, the integration of technology across organisations,
The practical, collaborative, development of professional and curriculum
development programmes on-line.
Module 1: Critical Reflective Practice
The first module of the International Masters ICT programme, Critical
Reflective practice, required participants to acquire a basic understanding
of the action research process as a means by which they could explore
and analyse their own practice with a view to improving it. It was taught
over a period of 13 weeks using both face-to-face lectures and tutorials
and on-line teaching approaches. For three weeks during the course, all
the teaching was planned as distance, on-line provision. However, throughout
the programme a number of electronic methods of communication was used
to support the lectures and tutorials. These methods included email tutorials,
electronic conferencing using a forum provided by the Northern Ireland
Network for Education (NINE), a website which is accessible to teachers
and other educationalists throughout Northern Ireland and a simultaneous
chat facility hosted by Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. This section
of the paper explores some of the experiences and issues surrounding the
use of the electronic conferencing medium.
All the participants were ICT professionals working in a range of educational
contexts, and all possessed a high level of ICT proficiency. At the start
of the course, there was in fact, some disquiet among the participants
that the first module was not ICT focused, and many were anxious to get
to the more technical aspects of the course. As tutor for the course,
I believed it to be of fundamental benefit to all the participants in
helping them research the ways in which ICT could be used as a pedagogy
which had the potential to enhance learning and teaching. I had discussed
this philosophy with Linda, one of the tutors from Duquesne, and found
that our beliefs and educational values were very similar. As I recorded
on the NINE conference site:
I was delighted to get an opportunity to meet Linda last night,
and it was amazing how similar our agendas actually were. Within minutes
of striking up conversation, it was immediately obvious that we held very
similar beliefs and values in relation to what counts as education, and
what is educative.
We discussed the need for the course to do more than provide technical
expertise for the participants, and agreed that while technologies may,
and indeed will change, a critical awareness of how technology supports
or otherwise the learning process is an essential element of any programme
which is described as educational. This section of the paper explores
some of the ways in which, during the first module, participants and myself
explored concepts such as educational and educative, discussed what we
actually meant by terms such as "information literacy", explored
theories and concepts of leadership, and perhaps more appropriately, began
to learn ourselves how to use electronic media as a genuinely educational
medium. What was also interesting to observe was how the frequency and
nature of the electronic communications between the participants and myself
was helpful in developing a sense of community within the group.
I intend to present my observations under three categories of discussion:
- Information seeking and sharing
- Debate and discussion
- Idle chatter
Information seeking and sharing
Participants found the conference site an excellent way of sharing with
colleagues useful information they had come across in their reading or
web browsing, and frequently posted links to URLs of interest. They also
used this medium to ask for specific help they required on a range of
issues from the use of HTML in formatting their responses on the site,
to questions about the educational "jargon" that they were beginning
to come across in their reading. Some also posted responses they had made
to literature they had read, so that the rest of the group could benefit
from their reflections it. This forum became a rich resource for all participants.
Debate and discussion
This was in many ways the most interesting, and also perhaps, the most
problematic way in which the conference was used. I hoped initially that
if others or I were to post items for discussion on the conference site
that participants and myself could begin to enter into dialogue, and that
in this way, the conference site would serve two purposes. In the first
instance it could become an educative process through which we could share,
discuss and debate our ideas, and hence refine them, and that secondly,
the record of this debate could become in itself a resource for all of
us. However, what was of interest for me as tutor to see was in some cases,
reluctance on the part of participants to enter into the discussion. One
participant talked of the “vulnerable” nature of on-line discussion, and
suggested that more class discussions during the face-to-face sessions
would perhaps ease people into this new discussion environment. Another
participant emailed me some questions relating to the course and the assignment,
and we entered into an exchange of several emails in which we teased out
ideas relating to what was meant by “information literacy”. He suggested
at one point during our correspondence that he would like us to “go public”
on it by posting it on the conference site, and inviting the rest of the
group to join in. We did not however, get the response we had hoped for.
Two people posted a comment that the discussion was very interesting and
“helpful”, while a third said that while she had enjoyed following the
discussion, she felt that she lacked the expertise to join in. She further
commented that our discussion seemed not only well informed but also “considered”,
adding that “normally when I’m on-line I just pull things out of the top
of my head”. Another participant asked if I wrote my postings as a word
document first of all, and edited the content before I went “live” with
it. I assured her that I didn’t, and that anything I had written was much
in the same format as a response I might make in a class or conference
situation, and was simply my “working thoughts” on an issue.
It seemed to me that the relatively permanent nature of the on-line discussion
was in fact, a barrier for many of the participants. Despite having high
levels of ICT skills and competence, many were reluctant to explicate
their thinking via that medium. In ways it reminded me of the natural
shyness some people feel during face-to-face group discussions, and I
was, I confess, somewhat surprised at this reaction. I noted in an email
to my correspondent, which we later posted on the NINE conference site,
The use of on-line resources requires much more than ICT skills
in the "end-user", I think that attitudes and values, and indeed
fears, are probably much more important in indicating the level of participation
in on-line dialogue. And when I think of it, I suppose it is really no
different to the situation where, in a room full of pupils for example,
all presumably competent in basic oral communication skills, the level
of participation in discussion is governed by factors other than basic
skill and competence. Why, I suppose, should on-line communication be
any different? I guess in some ways, I have surprised myself with my own
participation in this, not being at all highly skilled in ICT compared
with the rest of the group... but, I do like talking, discussing and debating...
maybe that's it? I don't know. I did have preconceptions that this might
be a rather "cold" communication environment, but now I see
that it doesn't have to be...more things to think about.....
One of the conference strands was called Idle Chatter, and it was this
strand that brought the highest level of participation in the group. Conversation
here related to everything from whether I ever cooked dinner for my family,
and if so, was my computer close to the cooker, to making arrangements
for travel in America during the study period there, to general small
talk about the weather and journeys to and from the centre where the course
was running. One participant noted “I do like the idea of idle chatter
- perhaps this is where it will all happen?” This was an interesting observation,
since some weeks later, that strand became the focus for discussion about
epistemological theories. Someone observed during this part of the discussion.
“does the fact that these (hard) questions come up in ‘Idle Chatter’ make
you think that participant feel uncomfortable in ‘real’ discussion but
are happy to ‘attend’ what looks like less threatening conferences?”.
Once again, I was made acutely aware of the potential for electronic
communication to prohibit as well as to support effective communication.
A further reflection I had on the use of this forum however was the way
in which the level and frequency of postings to the Idle Chatter thread
seems to be important to group members as a means by which they could
simply keep in touch on a personal level. Many of the exchanges related
to small everyday things in their lives, much in the way that normal ‘small
talk’ does. In this respect, it was of great benefit in helping the group
to bond, and indeed, for many members, the lack of a new message on the
site was almost cause for concern! One posting, entitled “lonely” simply
read “where is everyone tonight?”
This was my first experience of the use of electronic communications
in an educational forum. Having initially had some reserve that my ICT
skills might ‘let me down’, and that the medium was itself too ‘cold’
to allow for any sort of meaningful dialogue, I was surprised at how readily
I could engage in meaningful conversations with my colleagues. I was equally
surprised however, that many highly skilled ICT users who often expressed
a high regard for it’s usefulness as a learning and teaching medium, found
some initial difficulty in participating. For all of us, this was both
an interesting and an important insight as it informed our future practice
in the use of ICT in the learning environment.
The Pittsburgh Experience: Issue 1
It was in late November 2000 when I first saw the newspaper advert and
heard through the Northern Ireland IT grapevine about the International
MSc in Education Technology. The province was in the middle of a postal
strike at the time and I recall trying in vain to get an application form
for the course. By that stage I had heard about the Pittsburgh aspect
and that certainly increased my desire to be part of the experience.
When I read the introduction on the Application Form by Alan November
and remembered the visit he had made to Ballyclare just a few weeks earlier,
I knew I just had to get one of the five places on that course that were
reserved for teachers. Perhaps it was his last sentence that convinced
‘They (the kids as he called them) must leave our schools feeling
absolutely capable of accessing massive amounts of information. And we’re
going to have to teach children to work with people they’ll never see
- people in different parts of the world …’
I liked the look of the 10 modules and, while I felt I knew something
about and could make a contribution to some of them, there were so many
others about which I had a lot to learn. I was just a bit confused with
the timing of the course because only months before I had been working
with a small group in the University of Ulster which had been charged
with writing a similar course for Northern Ireland teachers and there
had been absolutely no mention of this course.
In school we had installed a new network system in anticipation of Classroom
2000 (C2K) and so I believed that there was never a better time to be
involved in a Master’s degree in Education Technology. My daughter had
just been married and having converted her bedroom, I now had a study
for the first time. Looking back, I don’t know where I would have done
the work or stored the materials without it.
I plagued the secretaries in the Western Education and Library Board
(WELB) for the few days around the 12th December, the closing
date for applications. By that time the postal strike was coming to an
end but such was the backlog of letters that one could not be sure that
the form would arrive on time --and it did say on the bottom of it in
bold, underlined text that ‘Late applications will not be accepted’!
Richard Hanna, one of my friends and colleagues in school, very kindly
informed me that we would not apply for the course so that he would not
jeopardise my chance of a place. I did appreciate that gesture since it
would have been unlikely that two men from the same school would be accepted
for the only two post-primary places on the course. As it turned out,
Richard moved on to the Northern Ireland Council for Curriculum, Examinations
and assessment (CCEA) and later on secured a place as their representative.
I do remember the interview at Antrim Board centre. As part of my preparation,
I checked the Duquesne University Website where two phrases really attracted
me - they are written in red on my notes for that day. ‘Education
for the Mind, the Heart and the Soul’ and ‘Home of the Nation’s
Leading Teachers’. I had included almost everything that I could
think of in my application form and felt that I would be a hard candidate
to beat. The only factor that I had any concern about was my age and the
fact that I had been teaching in Ballyclare High School for almost 30
years at that stage. Almost 25 years earlier I had secured a place on
a fulltime masters Course in Computing but had been refused permission
to have time off school. I have been involved in many computing initiatives
since then and had been commended for my work in all of the inspections
carried out in the school by the Department of Education.
At that particular stage I had been heavily involved in the creation
and implementation of an Accreditation Scheme for IT at Key Stage 3 (11
- 14 year olds). I had also started to write a new syllabus and prepare
associated materials for a new GCSE ICT. These involved a large amount
of giving on my part - I saw the Masters as an opportunity to get something
in return from other experts in the field of ICT.
It was not an easy interview. I knew all the members on the panel and
had even worked with some of them in the past. It is hard to sell yourself
in those circumstances since it is easy to become complacent and give
incomplete answers because you think others should know all about you.
I made a big effort - I so much wanted a place on the course and it wasn’t
just the thought of spending 4 weeks in Pittsburgh in the summer!
I was in Newry putting the finishing touches to the GCSE ICT course when
I had a phone call from my wife telling me I had been offered one of the
teachers’ places. This was another dilemma because I didn’t, at that stage,
know if any of my colleagues who were there with me had actually applied
as well. All I could do was share my good news with the Officer from CCEA.
The first night of the course was in the Coleraine Campus of the University
of Ulster on Monday February 5th, a date that will forever
be in my memory! I drove the forty or so miles and arrived in plenty of
time only to find that it took nearly as long to find the little room
in the university. Forty-five minutes late, I met my colleagues for the
first time. The ‘Big brother’ experience has started! That first night
was such a disappointment. There was not even the sign of a computer in
the vicinity! We were all feeling our way and probably trying to establish
our identities and ‘set out our stalls’. I was keen to impress and made
sure I included all that I had achieved in my introductions. That was
a mistake. I was in such a well-educated audience that I would have been
better merely telling them that I was a teacher in Ballyclare High School.
I was not prepared for what happened next. Dr. Mary McAteer began her
introduction to Critical Reflective Practice and Leadership. She mentioned
all the resources we would need from the library but not once did she
talk about anything being online or available on a computer. We all descended
on her and pointed out that we had not expected this type of module where
we were expected to travel miles in the hope of finding a journal in a
library. This module had been described in the literature as being the
‘application of critical reflective practice to technology based and online
learning.’ Nothing could have been further from the truth!
I went home feeling very annoyed - imagine applying for and being accepted
on a course that had just begun by ignoring the description of the first
module. What else on the sheet was wrong we wondered? I made up my mind
that I would give it one more week and then give up my place if it hadn’t
Mary McAteer tried her best but was tasked with delivering a module that
didn’t obviously apply, in our minds anyway, to the rest of the course.
The group was annoyed and took every opportunity to vent its anger. This
happened so often that Mary rarely got time to do any teaching. It did
nothing for our reputation. We even had the ‘heavies’ down one night to
defend Mary and get us all back on track. It was conceded that Module
1 had been wrongly described and we were all asked to try to make the
best of it. Occasionally the old problems raised their heads but they
soon gave way to an even greater one, the assignment. Few knew how to
proceed and more and more questions about it took up valuable teaching
We had started to use the web conferencing facility on NINE (Northern
Ireland Network for Education) for online discussions. This only served
to expose the reluctance of many of the participants to contribute. It
was not only a lack of IT experience; in fact Mary McAteer would say how
much she learnt or had to learn in this sphere. No, it was the transparency
factor that was the problem. Suddenly people found their opinions being
open to scrutiny by others. For many this was a new experience and one
which they found difficult to cope with. Mary and I had many private and
public discussions on NINE. I had the advantage of already being a part-time
NINE consultant and so I knew how the system worked. It was our hope that
by making daily postings we might encourage others to do the same. In
fact the opposite happened - people felt intimidated by the level and
regularity of our discussions and told us so. In the end we agreed (privately)
to stop to give others a chance. The discussions died after that.
For my assignment I chose to reflect on the type of ICT entitlement each
of the pupils entering our school might expect. Ballyclare High is a large
selective school with over 1200 pupils. Many of these pupils have good
computer facilities at home and arrive at school with a high degree of
IT knowledge and skills. I also tried to develop a strategy for using
the Internet to influence literacy in the school. I know now that the
topic war far too complex and that I would have been better to have chosen
a more simple task. I was disappointed with my final mark and communicated
this to Mary only to be told that she felt it was a very good mark. I
didn’t think so! It was obviously better than I had thought because I
was asked to write a paper and deliver it at the University’s research
day in Magee College, Londonderry. This was on the subject “The Internet
I met Linda Wojnar on three occasions during that module. The first time
was in Coleraine when she took a few minutes to introduce herself, give
us some of her background and tell us how much we would all enjoy the
learning experience in Pittsburgh. She also told us that the main purpose
of her visit was to get to know each of us personally so that she could
ensure that we all got the very best from the time we would spend together.
She visited me in school but, because there were three of us from the
course at the visit, I didn’t really engage with Linda in any meaningful
I do remember the last time we met before she left when she asked us
about our hopes for the course. I was torn between pursuing the Internet
and Literacy or making an online version of the course I had written for
CCEA. One of the other participants was interested in the literacy aspect
of the Internet so I chose the GCSE examination syllabus. We had developed
an Intranet in school and I had made a few pages of notes and external
links available on the ICT part of it. I naively suggested to Linda that
I had already made a start on my online course … and I really did believe
it at that stage. Linda smiled and accepted all I said. I would only realise
how wrong I was during the time in Pittsburgh. I will come back to that
later. All of us remember Linda’s words ‘Build them up for success’ -
a philosophy she lives each and every day. Those are the words with which
she left us.
First Program Module
To be selected for the course was like winning the lottery, literally,
since there were only 2 places for primary school teachers. So, that first
night we all met in Coleraine I was feeling very privileged. I remember
distinctly my impressions of that first meeting and I shared them with
my line manager the next day.
‘I knew I would learn so much and that was just from the other
participants on the course!’
My line manager took me aside, and as we say in Ireland, ‘gave me a good
talking to’. She told me I had just as much to offer as anyone, and more
than most, because my feet were so firmly planted in the classroom, and
I was not to underestimate myself or feel intimidated. She too was setting
me up for success!
Although a little disappointed with the content of the first module,
it was at the same time reassuring to be in familiar territory, as I had
met critical reflective practice in my previous masters and had the essay
to prove it. During that first module distance education took on a whole
new meaning - to attend class on Monday night meant almost a 200 mile
Despite the tight time scale for this module, which was frustrating (a
frustration that was to be repeated in subsequent modules, due to the
intense nature of this innovative masters), the module was very productive
for me in that allowed for a revamped website designed by teachers who
were invited to form a working group. This was to ensure that we avoided
the pitfall highlighted by Abbott (2001),
‘Like so many of these interactive communities designed for, rather
than by, people, they seem remarkably under-used.’ p100
The highlight for me was the pilot of my idea of an Online Mathematics
Quiz for Key Stage 2 classes (8 - 11 year olds). We had 24 schools that
entered with interest from as far a field as Zimbabwe. The power of the
World Wide Web!
Such was the interest and success of the online quiz it was decided that
it would run on a monthly basis during the next school year. I have since
changed jobs and due to lack of manpower this has not been possible.
That first module spurred me on to put into action ideas that had been
floating around in my mind since my secondment began a year before. It
allowed me to clarify my thinking on emerging issues and not just the
bare facts but my feelings, reactions and reflections on the situation.
It was to be the catalyst that urged me to identify needs and initiate
actions to meet them; a cyclical process that was to be repeated in subsequent
Abbott, C. (2001) ICT: Changing Education. London: Routledge Falmer.
Beyond Signing The Documents…
Upon the return visit of Drs. Barone and Tomei in September 2001, I learned
that Northern Ireland chose to enroll their educators into the Distance
Learning strand of Duquesne University’s Instructional Technology Program.
Since I designed and taught this strand and was not a member of the original
planning team, I knew that there was much work to be done in order to
follow my own philosophy of “Setting Everyone Up For Success.”
My only involvement with the original planning team was when I asked
if I could share the Distance Learning brochure with the Northern Ireland
visitors. While I briefly discussed its content, I remember Mrs. Marie
Martin taking the time to listen very carefully to what I was saying.
She asked me very specific questions and expressed her interest in the
programme because she was the International Officer of the Western Education
Library Board. Marie graciously shared the collaborative work that
she had accomplished with American schools from her book.
I was concerned with assuring my own success since I would be responsible
for teaching four of the ten courses in the programme and also the success
of everyone else involved in the partnership. I knew that I had
to find the words to convey my need for Duquesne University to send me
to Northern Ireland within the next couple months. After sharing
my concerns, Duquesne University administration was receptive and very
supportive of my thinking. A videoconference was arranged
with Northern Ireland administrators and Dr. Anne Moran to discuss my
involvement in the programme and to share my request to visit Northern
Ireland in February 2001.
During the videoconference, I asked if it would be possible to arrange
a visit to each participant during my two-week stay in Northern Ireland.
John Anderson, Strategic Planner for Northern Ireland, graciously volunteered
to assemble an itinerary honoring my requests. His attention to
detail was commendable. Following the videoconference and just before
my visit to Northern Ireland, I was disheartened to learn that my upcoming
visit was seen by Northern Ireland to be one that was more for pleasure
than for business. My intentions were to meet: 1) each participant
at his/her place of work; 2) Dean of the University of Ulster; 3) faculty
from the University of Ulster; and 4) all administrators involved in the
planning, implementation and support of the programme. Most of the sight
seeing that I did do was from the inside of a rental (hired) car and from
the inside of buildings.
In my thinking, I couldn’t be assured that the programme would be successful
without the visit. I couldn’t see how American tutors (Northern Ireland’s
word for teacher) could be successful teaching a totally international
audience of this caliber without acquiring the proper background that
would be needed. Each course was to be tailored to the context of Northern
Ireland for the entire programme. This is what Northern Ireland
educators needed and what the administrators required. The only sure way
to offer customized instruction would be to experience the Northern Ireland
culture first-hand and to learn how best to teach the learners by listening
to them and seeing how the teaching strategies and methods could be most
appropriately adapted. Context is a critical component in any teaching
and is especially significant in the distance-learning programme.
Technology is only the medium for the delivery of the instruction and
should remain seamless and transparent; the learners are the most important
considerations in any classroom!
Extending from the January videoconference, Dr. Anne Moran and I remained
in constant dialogue and still remain in close contact. I was made aware
that there were challenges with the first module that were to be expected
with any new initiative, and I wanted to be supportive of Dr. Mary McAteer
who pioneered that teaching. It was always the intention of Duquesne
University and the University of Ulster faculty to speak with one voice.
I wanted to get to know the cohort as well as I could since I would have
the greatest teaching responsibility of the entire faculty in the programme.
It was very important to overcome the challenges in the first module so
that participants and faculty would want to continue with the programme.
Administration, faculty and participants were committed to making the
programme successful. Administration and faculty worked harder at listening
to what the participants were saying. There were some predictable
challenges that could have been foreseen if the original planning team
involved more faculty members before the academics of the programme were
implemented, but there were also several lessons learned that could not
have been predicted. We learned that there were differences in the
course requirements and assessments for each university. Several
of the participants had already earned a master’s degree and some had
experience with prior modules in reflective thinking from other universities.
Included in the extensive itinerary was the opportunity to attend two
classes of Critical Reflective Thinking taught by Dr. Mary McAteer. I
really enjoyed Dr. Mary McAteer’s class. From the minute that I heard
her speak, I knew that we shared the same thinking about the relevance
and importance of this course being the first course in the programme.
Her content was exactly what was needed and what would set the tone for
all of the following courses. It was obvious from the beginning that faculty
from both universities shared many common bonds even though they had never
personally met before the modules began. Self- reflection is a continuous
theme throughout each module. My observations of the participants and
their interactions with one another and with the tutor during the class
were based on very limited exchange of voluntary dialogue. I asked Dr.
McAteer if I could speak with the cohort for about an hour during her
next class. I felt badly asking her for this time since so much time had
already been taken from her class for issues other than content delivery.
I witnessed a hampering of communication in the class that I believed
was partly due to the variety of levels of positions held by the participants
in their workplaces and partly due to the variety of disciplines that
each person represented within the same class. For the class to
increase their dialogue, the cohort needed to share their thinking about
building relationships, break down barriers of communication, how to increase
their trust levels to speak openly, and to share their thoughts openly
in a safe risk-taking environment. I learned from Richard Wallace that
it was not within the culture of Northern Ireland to share certain dialogue
openly other than with close family members. I knew that there was much
for me to learn. Everyday of my visit was extremely productive. I learned
as much as I could about each candidate and about how the modules would
need to be adjusted to meet the needs of the Northern Ireland educators.
I was convinced that the visit was even more timely and necessary than
I had originally thought and Dr. Anne Moran confirmed my thinking.
There were several concerns about the programme that were openly discussed
on several occasions and that needed to be addressed. It was
obvious through the selection process and through the visits that every
candidate had much to offer to each other and to the programme itself
and yet each candidate could also benefit through the learning process.
Another theory for the extent of the challenges was because the class
was not an ordinary class of participants but that they were actually
the “best of the best” of the Northern Ireland educators--all in the same
class. This in itself presents its own challenges. Overcoming
challenges are what make programmes and all of the people involved- better.
Although most of the modules had been taught before, preparing modules
for a totally international cohort was a new initiative. As
with any new initiatives, there are valuable lessons to be learned and
shared. There is great value in turning challenges into opportunities
or look at a glass as “half-full” instead of being “half empty.”
For an hour in Dr. McAteer’s class, I had the opportunity to speak with
the class about building communities of learners, trust and relationship
building. This is a foundation of online learning. My next
goal was to be sure that I shared the amount of work that would be expected
to be complete during the four-week Pittsburgh Residential to follow in
June and July. The two summer courses were scheduled in two intense nine-day
modules. This timeframe equated to a total of six academic college credits
or 90 hours of instruction. Preliminary work had to be completed before
the summer courses began and before the participants were to leave for
Pittsburgh. I tried to be gentle as I could so as not to scare the
cohort away with the amount of work to be done, but also to be honest
and to put things into perspective. The summer course load would be very
heavy and the material would be complex. The summer courses
would initiate the framework for the final course in the programme- the
Although it would take many pages to share personal reflections acquired
from meeting all of the candidates, a few experiences will be shared that
will demonstrate the caliber of candidates selected for the programme
as being remarkable individuals and the hospitality that was offered to
me. Carol McAlister, Vice Principal of St. Brigid Elementary School
in Ballymoney, arranged for me to visit her class and to visit several
other classes and to interact with the teachers and their pupils. Carol’s
school was the first school to visit on my itinerary.
When I arrived at St. Brigid’s, I saw two young male pupils gardening
outside of the school along with an adult chaperone. I wanted to be sure
that I was entering the building appropriately and asked the people that
I knew who would know the best way to enter the building -- the pupils.
One of the pupils looked up from his gardening and asked, “Are you the
lady from America that we are waiting for?” I took a deep breath because
I had not thought of myself being special enough for pupils to know that
I was visiting. At the end of the day, I was asked to attend a presentation
a “Welcoming Concert” that the teachers and the pupils had prepared for
weeks before my arrival. I was in awe with what I saw! Teachers and pupils
from primary grades 4,5,6 and 7 performed together - singing and playing
Irish instruments. I was handed a programme of the event that was compiled
by Miss L. Crilly with the following inscription:
“Please enjoy this performance we have put together. A lot
of effort has been put into it and even though it is short, it still has
the feel of our traditional Irish classics.”
The presentation included traditional Irish songs, but also had an American
welcome with songs like “Da Do Ron Ron” and “My Girl.” Pupils dressed
in Irish clothes for some songs and in American clothes for other selections.
How is it possible to thank all of those pupils and teachers that would
reflect just how truly special they are! My sincere thank you to everyone
that I had the pleasure of meeting that day, including Headmaster Ray
O’Brien who presented me with a book of Ballymoney: An Illustrated
History and Companion.
Another day in the itinerary included an invitation to hear John Anderson’s
presentation to administrators about Classroom 2000 at Antrim to learn
more about the Northern Ireland ICT Strategy and to visit with Mary Mallon
of the Northern Ireland Network for Education (NINE). Mary explained and
shared Northern Ireland’s collaborative learning tool for educators. Because
of the well-planned and well-structured itinerary, I was able to travel
all over Northern Ireland within a two-week time frame and cover approximately
1100 miles (1770 km). The hours were long. My appointments were back-to-back
during the day, in the evening and on the weekends, but every visit added
valuable information that was important to consider.
During my visit, Northern Ireland had a major snowfall that slowed things
down for a day and then there was the tragic outbreak of “Foot and Mouth”
Disease. This was a major scare and concern in the schools, for the International
Officers and for the country. I can still remember passing the sheep farms
only to recall the signs that were posted on the farms that denied access
to visitors. This was a very sad time for everyone involved in the tragedy.
With these unfortunate occurrences, the needs to include distance learning
in traditional education were even more evident.
Having met so many wonderful people that were a part of the lives of
the participants including many family members and neighbors, Headmasters,
other teachers and pupils, and even sharing dinner with several of the
participants and administrators added to learning more about the people
from Northern Ireland. The visit to Northern Ireland did effect the way
the rest of the modules would be taught and the programme was all the
better because of the visit.
Dr. Anne Moran and I met several times to discuss the academics, the
participants and the modules that the University of Ulster would teach
in the months to come. We were always in-sync with our thinking. We agreed
that the universities always would be the responsible entities for anything
involved with academics - from the content planning, delivery and the
A final meeting of the administrative team from Northern Ireland and
myself took place on the Friday before I left Northern Ireland. There
were a few challenges yet to overcome before I left Northern Ireland.
To this day, I can hear the soft-spoken words of Mr. Joseph Martin, Chief
Executive of the Western Education & Library Board, and the wisdom
behind the words and the man as he said before the meeting, “Let’s make
sure that everyone leaves the table with dignity.” Mr. Joseph Martin is
a visionary and a truly inspirational leader who knows the “big picture”
and who has the charisma to diffuse difficult situations and to transform
them into opportunities with everyone feeling good about themselves and
their accomplishments in the process. There was much to celebrate at the
end of this visit.
There was a lot of pressure that I placed upon myself before the visit
to assure Northern Ireland that Duquesne University was their best choice
to deliver the education for their country and that we would provide what
they needed to move ICT forward in the area of distance learning. When
you set the bar high for teachers and pupils, they will stretch to reach
As I was leaving that Saturday in February, thoughts of what the cohort
would be doing from now until their Pittsburgh Residential came to mind.
They would complete the first module and finalize arrangements to complete
their work at their jobs with enough foresight to carry them over until
their return with the most difficult task still to come. There were good-byes
to say to their understanding families so that their loved ones could
attend school in Pittsburgh and devote all of their time to learning about
new content that would be shared around the world and advance the ICT
strategy in Northern Ireland. The story will continue in June…
Mr. Richard T. Wallace, BECTa Expert Consultant
Vice-Principal, Ballyclare High School
31 Rashee Road, County Antrim, BT39 9HJ
Ms. Mary Mallon, Granada Learning Consultant
Craigavon Teachers' Centre, Tullygally Road, Craigavon BT65 5BS
Duquesne University Faculty:
Dr. Linda C. Wojnar, Assistant Professor
Duquesne University, School of Education
327C Fisher Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15282
Distance Learning Strand
Dr. Larry Tomei, Instructional Technology Program Coordinator
Assistant Professor, Duquesne University, School of Education
327A Fisher Hall, K-12 Strand,
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
University of Ulster:
Dr. Anne Moran, Dean, School of Education, Room 14L16
University of Ulster at Jordanstown
Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, BT37 0QB
Dr. Mary McAteer, School of Education
University of Ulster at Jordanstown
Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, BT37 0QB
Northern Ireland Administrators:
Mr. Joseph Martin
Chief Executive, Western Education & Library Board
1 Hospital Road, Omagh, CO. TYRONE, BT79 0AW
Mrs. Marie Martin, International Officer
Western Education & Library Board
1 Hospital Road, Omagh, CO. TYRONE, BT79 0AW
Mr. John Anderson, Education Technology, Strategy Coordinator
Department of Education for Northern Ireland (DENI)
mobile: + 44 (0) 79 0991 2012 tel and fax: +44 (0) 28 4062 6455
Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh:
President and Founder of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh
Regional Enterprise Tower, 425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 300
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-1819
Dr. Mary Catherine Conroy-Hayden, Vice President of CEED
Director, School Performance Network
Consultant for Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh
425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2650, Pittsburgh, PA 15219