Ulidia Integrated students will be ‘Learning for a Digital Life’

Ulidia Principal Michael Houston with lower sixth students Chloe Buchanan, Eoghan O'Hara, Cameron Wilson and Chloe Welsh.
Ulidia Principal Michael Houston with lower sixth students Chloe Buchanan, Eoghan O'Hara, Cameron Wilson and Chloe Welsh.

From this September, all sixth form students in Ulidia Integrated College in Carrickfergus will be doing away with their traditional paper school planners and will be loaned an iPad instead as they embark on the ‘Learning for a Digital Life’ strategy.

Principal Michael Houston said, “It is important that we train our sixth form students for university life and careers where digital technology is intrinsic to workflow. They will have learned the skills of planning and preparation in years eight-12 and we believe that traditional paper based diary skills are still vitally important. However, we also know that A level work requires a significant amount of research, time management and portfolio work and one of the best ways to manage that is through use of an iPad.”

The iPads will sit alongside the traditional textbooks and exercise books, they are not intended as a replacement. The purpose of the initiative is to make students’ study time more efficient, autonomous and engaging - whilst relieving pressure on the IT infrastructure across the school.

Mr Houston said: “Our hope is that our students will leave Ulidia with the skill-set to enable them choose the appropriate tool for the appropriate job. By loaning an iPad to our students for the duration of their sixth form study, we are bridging the digital divide and giving all students the opportunity to experience the use of technology to aid their studies both inside and outside the classroom.

“Ulidia welcomes applications for sixth form students from current pupils as well as from external applicants, and this programme will mean that all sixth form pupils will start with a level playing field in terms of access to technology.”

The philosophy for investing in the iPads to facilitate the ‘Learning for a Digital Life’ scheme is: to ensure equality of access to the internet at school and at home; to prepare students for working and living in a digital age; to support self-led research and problem solving; to improve the quality of feedback, home-learning and collaboration; and to provide new and innovative ways for students to learn

Dominic Barnard, Ulidia Integrated College’s Head of ICT said: “The digital world is developing so fast, it is important that our lessons reflect the online trends of the students in our charge. If we do not embrace this technology students will not know how to effectively manage the balance of using technology to facilitate learning, revision and entertainment.”I firmly agree that investing in the best technology for our students will open doors to some apprenticeships and university courses that they may not have previously considered.”