FEATURE: Log On Learn at Holy Faith Secondary School

18 Apr 2011

We were delighted last week to be invited to Holy Faith School in Clontarf to see their 'Log on Learn' programme in action.

What is Log on Learn?

Log On, Learn is a programme designed to 'buddy up' a participating transition-year student with an older person (over 65) from their local community to share skills with each other.  Lessons takes place in the school computer room.

The one-to-one nature of learning means that older people can learn about what they want to, at their own pace.

The course suits older people who want to know more about using computers or who may not have had a chance to use a computer before. The transition year ‘teachers’ get a lot out of the classes too, mixing with people who have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom, and the time to share it.

Holy Faith Programme
The transition year (TY) programme in Holy Faith is overseen by Vivien Lee who is the Physical Education Teacher at the school. The Log on Learn course is run as part of the TY programme and has been running for 3 years now. The participants are aged over 65 and most of them live locally.

The course is run by the Trish Fullston who has been the Computer teacher at the school for the last 13 years.

The teaching in this course is however provided by the TY students! On selected Wednesdays at 12.45pm, 12 of the TY students wait at the door of the school for their 'pupil' to arrive. They are then escorted up to the computer room where each TY student guides their pupil using one-to-one tuition for a period of 45 minutes to an hour.

Tailor made teaching
One of the many great aspects of the training is that there is no set curriculum to complete. What is covered and at what pace is mainly decided by the participants. Examples of what participants want to cover include:

  • Email - in order to communicate with friends and family abroad.
  • Sending & opening attachments in email
  • Skype for video calls
  • How to book flights and accommodation online
  • How to type a letter to the bank
  • How to book a tee time at the local golf club
  • How to use texting on mobile phones

For a course like this to succeed, there is a need for patience in abundance. For the participants, the first week or two can be daunting and the girls are trained to set realistic expectations and to encourage the older people to stick with it. For the student teachers, there's a temptation to grab the mouse in the early weeks and they have been known to sit on their hands in order to stop this!

Interestingly, the work by Ms Fullston in the run up to the course is much less focused on computers and more about role-playing different scenarios the student teachers are likely to have to deal with.

The course is in huge demand mainly through word-of-mouth recommendations and the programme has been oversubscribed for each session to date.

They have had a very low drop out rate over the 3 years of the course which is a huge credit to the girls' skills.

If all that wasn't enough recommendation you should hear the nice compliments that we heard on the day from the various participants.

One of the participants, Maura Cagney from Seapark [taught by Cathy Slein] said that she "was now enjoying the computer for the first time". Phyllis Bird from the Howth Rd was very impressed with her teacher, Katie Cope who had helped her with email, travel websites and online shopping.

Eileen Smith, of Clontarf Rd, was getting to grips with Microsoft Word under the guidance of Ruth Doran and was half way through a two page letter. Helena O'Rourke from Park Lawn, was well on the way to mastering email and Skype with the enthusiastic help of Gemma Curran.

Other very enthusiastic TY teachers that we haven't mentioned include: Niamh Free, Grace Dunne, Leanne Beatty, Roisin Lauder, Zalie Kirwan & Roisin O'Dea

We have lots more photos - just click here to view the gallery. All photos by David Behan.

If you or a friend/family member would like to participate, you need to contact the school in mid-August just before the holidays end. They no longer run a waiting list so it's on a first-come-first-served basis. There are 12 places for a 10 week term that runs in the Autumn and a further 12 places for another 10 week term in the Spring.

Making a real difference
This is a fantastic, worthwhile course that is well prepared for in Holy Faith and brilliantly executed by the staff and the TY students. Computers and the internet offer opportunities for people to communicate in cheaper and more effective ways. They are life-enhancing in many other ways too.

These opportunities should not be the preserve of the so-called younger generation. With more and more families likely to be separated through immigration these communication tools in particular will be especially needed.

This course continues to make a real difference to the lives of the people who complete the course and we are delighted to shine a light on something very good that is happening in Clontarf that you may not already know about.

We would like to thank Vivien, Trish, and the Principal of Holy Faith, Deirdre Gogarty, for giving us access to school. To this year’s Log On Learn team and previous years' students too, we would like to congratulate you sincerely on your efforts.