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CoDesRes - Our First Year Full Year in TY

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

It's been a great year and we want to thank the 2018 / 19 Transition Year students for their insights and enthusiasm as we began our exploration to develop #SDG4 Quality Education - place-based STEAM, through content relating to #SDG14 Life below water and #SDG15 Life on Land to contribute to #SDG11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, relevant to rural communities.

Since August 2018, the CoDesRes team have had 3 double classes a week with Colaiste na Sceilge’s TY 2018/19 cohort. We’ve learnt a lot from them and we hope they’ve learnt a few things from us too, as we explored and tested ways of learning and sharing information about the SDGs, in particular 11,14 and 15. We shared details of our final TY project in our last newsletter that enabled students to create a digital poster that focuses on a local issue that can be linked to one (or more) of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We left the brief open for students to examine any of the seventeen goals that may interest them or be of more relevance to the issue in their community. The project was both an assessment project, providing the means to show their learning, share digital resources with them and develop their digital communication skills. The classes introduced them to Canva, a free to use online graphic design platform that enables students to develop their visual and digital communication skills, You can see the posters they created by clicking here and scrolling through the pdf.


Finally, last but not least evaluation. We had two forms of evaluation

  1. 321 evaluations throughout the year and

  2. a world cafe style (Brown and Isaacs, 1995) focus groups in March and at the end of the year.

During every class we completed a 3,2,1 evaluation at the end - this enables us to assess content, further interest and likes / dislikes of the class by the students. The students are asked tell us 3 things they felt they learnt in the lesson, 2 things that interested them and that they would like to know more about and finally one thing they liked. They are encouraged to say if they did not like the less but they must tell us why and offer an idea on how it might be improved.

Example of 3 things I learnt from 321 evaluation - SDG webquest

Over the year we had over 90 double classes, (3 groups x 1 double class per week) and the 321 process informs the basis of the TY place-based STEAM toolkit we are developing. The research gave us insight into the types of activities the students responded to and the different media and learning modalities they enjoyed. The research also confirmed that while students are excellent at using technology for social media and entertainment, there are real opportunities to be explored for learning technologies. Educators have a critical role to play in supporting students to use technology for learning; assessing information, analysing the validity of information they find and applying the learning across other contexts.

We also found that they have little experience of Open Source Learning or Open CourseWare (University created courses shared freely) and the possibilities within this realm. However, the use of some Open Source Learning and Open Source technology can be limited due to closed platforms for safety. The ability to safely use the myriad of resources online is something that educators

The importance of art and design methods for teaching problem finding / solving can also be overlooked as this is not embedded within the curriculum other than through subject specificity. If the value of these subjects at the core of our processes remain unrecognised students may not get to try them or select them for their Leaving Cert. This is concerning when looking at new developments in the Future of Work, such as remote working, the importance for User Experience, Mixed reality (Virtual and Augmented Reality) or the development of Operational Systems and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Schwab, 2016).

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution Schwab states that cyber-physical systems; technologies

that combine hardware, software, and biology and emphasise advances in communication and connectivity, will dominate. This will see innovations and emerging technologies such as -

robotics, artificial intelligence, bio and nano-technology, quantum computing, Internet of Things, Industrial Internet of Things, 3D printing and self-drive cards to name a few. This will require a new set of skills that are transdisciplinary. Encouraging students to be comfortable with being exploratory and experimental early on will become increasingly necessary.

World Cafe Style Focus Groups

Samples from world cafe style responses

In March 2019 we undertook a world cafe style activity with all 3 groups to assess learning and the process to date. We repeated this at the end of the year with 25 self-selecting TY students to an additional world cafe style focus group to further refine what we knew. World cafe proved an effective method with the class groups as they were comfortable working in small groups and could discuss their responses to the questions. We had built a good relationship over the year so we were confident we would get honest responses - they had become accustomed through the 321 exercise over the year and that we were ok with critique. Indeed, given our aims they understood the importance of their honest responses.

For the final session we had devised a series of questions based on our experience across the year and to hone in on areas were we needed more information or clarification about lessons activities and content. We were keen to hear their experiences of the CoDesRes module and the aspects they found interesting and challenging and any 'perceived' gaps. Generally, the students enjoyed the lessons particularly the opportunities to 'learn' outside and 'learn' locally - the use of place in their learning. They liked the practical aspects of the classes but would like the content to extend to other lessons and Sustainable Development Goals - an affirming critique for us and our approach. As we move into our final six months of the project we will be reflecting on all the data gathered as we begin to develop the toolkit and share with teachers. We are looking forward to this phase of the research and will be sharing updates in our Autumn / Winter newsletter.

References: accessed 12th May 2019

Preston, D (2009) Retrieved 16th May 2019

Schwab, K (2017). The Fourth Industrial Revolution. New York: Crown Publishing Group

Schwab, K (2016). The Fourth Industrial Revolution: What it means and How to Respond. Retrieved 18th May 2019

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