Launch of Trinity Postgraduate Certificate in 21st Century Teaching & Learning

The Foundry Building, Google

11 October 2014

Thank you, David,

Tánaiste, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s wonderful to be here, in this great building, for this great event.

So many people will benefit from the programme that we launch today – teachers and students in the first instance, and down the line, universities, employers, and our whole society.

It’s fitting, and it’s not surprising, that a programme with such a strong impact should have come about through the collaboration and contribution of so many partners.

There are many people to thank for today’s achievement. Unfortunately I won’t have time to thank everyone by name as they deserve, but let me just tell you a bit about why I feel this programme is so significant.

The programme brings together key partners: academia, industry, schools, and partners from wider society. The combination of such powerful forces accounts for the programme’s power and reach.

The Certificate in 21st Century Teaching & Learning enables teachers to learn best practise in computer programming and the use of technology in the classroom, as well as leadership and change management, and classroom-based research.

In addition, eleven of the participating schools will implement an ambitious ‘widening participation’ project which aims to cultivate a strong ‘college-going culture’. Adapted from a US model and successfully piloted in St. Joseph’s Secondary School in Rush, Co. Dublin, cultural change is achieved through three core practices; ‘Pathways to College’, ‘Leadership through Service’ and ‘Mentoring’.

Separately and together, the Certificate and the ‘widening participation’ project will work to empower teachers to impart to students important technology, programming and research skills, as well as leadership, self-belief, and ambition. 

Through the Certificate, we look forward to training the scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and technology entrepreneurs of tomorrow, but we know that every student, no matter what field they end up working in, will benefit from this training, which will do so much to develop their brains and their confidence about adopting new technologies.
We live in an increasingly technological world. It is probably fair to say that just as literacy was – for centuries – an entry level requirement for all professions, so are technology skills for graduates today.

Technology skills enable students to fully exploit university opportunities, inside and outside the classroom, no matter what the course of study; while leadership ability is essential for career development.

Social mobility is brought about through education. From every point of view – the public and private – we need to bring more dynamic social mobility into our higher education system and into our workforce.

As I’ve said, both Certificate and project came about through key partners strategizing and offering their expertise.
In this country, we value the importance of a linked-up education system. At each stage - primary, secondary, university, postgrad, internship or first job – students must be prepared with the necessary skills and inspiration to take them through to the next level.

21 years ago we established the Trinity Access Programme, to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend College. And ten years ago we established, with SUAS Educational Development, Bridge 21 which challenges conventional teaching methods by bringing more team work, technology, and mentoring into the classroom.

The programme we launch today joins Trinity’s academic faculty with the Trinity Access Programme, Google, the SUAS Educational Development, and secondary schools.

So, as I’ve said, many thanks are in order:

I must thank Google for its support, its belief, and its civic sense. I thank in particular John Herlihy, who is not here today but who has been a wonderful champion of the project, and the whole Google Education Committee: Sue Duke, Fionnuala Meehan, Dean Magee and Claire Connelly.

I thank Lord David Puttnam, patron of the Trinity Access 21 projects, without whom these initiatives would not be in place. And Cliona Hannon, director of the Access Programme for all her work in putting this together.
I thank the Department of Education and the HEA for their support of the Access Programmes, and the Tánaiste, Joan Burton, for being here today and for her continuing interest. I recall that she spoke at an Access Programme ‘Pathways to the Professions’ launch in 2012 and made a huge impact on the young students there that evening, as she is such an extraordinary role model in her own educational and family background.

I thank our School of Education and our School of Computer Science and Statistics, together with Bridge 21 and the Access Programme, for developing and delivering the Certificate in 21st Century Teaching & Learning, and for meeting a series of deadlines to ensure that the project got underway this year.

Finally I thank, of course, the partner schools and the teachers who have shown such enthusiasm for the programme and who will be implementing it and reporting back on its success. The 113 teachers who have signed up are the vanguard and early adopters of this Certificate. Within three years we hope to have a thousand signed up.

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It has been a busy and significant fortnight for higher education in Ireland as we absorb the shock of our universities plummet in the rankings. I’ve been making the point – in speeches, in interviews, in opinion pieces – that higher education is a horizontal issue - one that impacts all others.

In order to address issues such as job creation, health care, the environment, social protection, and communications, countries count on high-level research and excellent graduates. Of course educating successful graduates starts at secondary, indeed primary, level.

The Certificate in 21st Century Teaching & Learning and the ‘Widening Participation’ project will bring more students from more varied backgrounds, and better trained, more confident, and ambitious students into our colleges and into our workforce.

Thank you very much.

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