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County Mayo in Ireland is set to take the lead in introducing ereaders to the classroom. St Coleman’s College in Claremorris, Co Mayo, will introduce the Apple iPad this September to all of its 90 first year students on an optional basis instead of students lugging heavy school bags filled with books. The move to introduce the iPad to its students followed several weeks of discussions with teachers, students and parents.
Students opting for the electronic learning suite, including apps, textbooks and iPad device will have an estimated cost of €700, but with cost spread over a three-year period School principal Jimmy Finn was quick to point out on RTE's Morning Ireland radio programme that the introduction of the iPad to the classroom had 96% support from teachers and students, and students could opt out if they so wished.
This is not the first time the iPad has been introduced to the educational system in County Mayo. Earlier this year, Sancta Maria College in Louisburgh introduced the iPad to their students as part of a pilot project to promote modern technology in the classroom.
A survey measuring international standards in literacy, numeracy and science, carried out by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that Irish people are falling behind people in other countries when it comes to reading and math and currently is placed seventeenth on the reading level and twenty-sixth in math.
Individual schools and colleges in Ireland have been experimenting with ereader pilot programs, but without any real concerted effort or backing from the Irish Department of Education. Gill & Macmillan, a publisher and distributor, funded a pilot project using the iLiad, a device developed by iRex Technologies in the Netherlands, in Caritas College, Dublin in 2008 for eighteen of the school's students.
What is needed in Ireland is a properly co-ordinated program to bring technology like ereaders to all the classrooms of Ireland.