The schools were selected by a working group made up of representatives from: the Department of Education and Skills; the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources; the National centre for Technology in Education; and HEAnet. A two stage selection process was used for the selection of schools:
Stage 1: Examined all schools against sub criteria that were independent of the schools.
Stage 2: Examined schools qualified from stage 1 against sub criteria that were school dependent.
4 sub criteria were identified under Stage 1 of the selection process as set out below:
Social Inclusion and
Adequate mix of schools
The working group sought to ensure that an appropriate percentage of schools invited to participate in the project was achieved between both Dublin and provincial locations. It was also felt that an urban/rural mix could be achieved by ensuring that an adequate number of places were available to the provincial locations. Additionally, it was felt that all counties should be represented in the pilot project. Whilst geographical location was used as the starting point in deciding the selection of schools for progress to stage 2, the working group examined each location with the other criteria in mind. Accordingly, in order to achieve excellent VFM with regard to both backhaul and infrastructure investment, the working group decided to locate a significant number of the provincial locations in places where HEAnet has a major point of presence (PoP) and a contractual agreement to access the PoP.
The working group decided that the following regions should be included for participation in the pilot project:
Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Athlone, Galway, Letterkenny, Waterford, Dundalk, Tipperary.
The remaining places were reserved for locations outside these areas that satisfied specific requirements of the pilot project.
The working group wanted to ensure that all technologies that can deliver a 100Mbit/s connection would be tested during the demonstration project. It was decided that areas within a 30km radius of HEAnet PoPs would satisfy this requirement. Accordingly, all schools located within this radius for each of the eight PoPs were identified.
In the Dublin area, it is anticipated that a variety of access technologies could connect the selected schools. As such, the working group were of the opinion that the telecommunications market in Dublin was sufficiently developed to allow a mix of bandwidth technologies to be proposed without the need for further intervention by the working group.
The working group decided that the schools in Dublin should, where possible, include five schools from each of the local authorities.
The working group wanted to ensure that specific communities could be included in the project from a social inclusion perspective. This criterion ensures that island, rural and DEIS schools were included in the project.
Adequate Mix of Schools:
While prioritising schools with a significant student population under the criteria set out above, the working group endeavoured to ensure that an adequate mix of schools was also chosen to be invited to participate in the demonstration project. Consequently, a number of schools were selected with reference to the following selection criteria:
Schools with large cohort of students with special educational needs;
Post Leaving Certificate Schools;
Size of school.
Stage 2 of the selection process sought to ensure that the schools shortlisted from Stage 1 had the commitment, infrastructure and support to realize the potential of 100Mbit/s bandwidth. Shortlisted schools were invited to apply for inclusion in the project outlining how participation in the project supports their Whole School Evaluation/e-learning plan, and what is required of them in being involved in the project. The working group felt a range of schools with differing levels of ICT usage and infrastructure would be desirable in the project. However, the majority of schools qualifying will demonstrate an existing potential to use 100Mbit/s internet access for learning and teaching purposes. Schools had to agree to the project commitments to qualify for the project. 3 sub criteria were identified under stage 2 of the selection process as set out below:
Current structures and Infrastructure;
Usage of internet for learning and teaching, including any projects; and
Commitment to the project requirements over the next 2 years.
Current Structures and Infrastructure:
The working group wanted to ensure that all schools qualified from Stage 1 would be examined with regard to their ability to utilise the proposed connection as quickly as possible. It was proposed to focus on the schools individual e-learning team and plan, current ICT infrastructure (specifically devices) and teachers ICT proficiency.
Usage of internet for learning and teaching, including any projects:
The working group wanted to ensure that the schools invited to participate in the project had a digital agenda with regard to ICT within the learning and teaching environment. From a project feasibility point of view, all schools identified as suitable for participation in the pilot were subject to examination with regard to cost effectiveness and the ability to deliver the required infrastructure within budgetary constraints.