When information is education

Given that the town has already had great exposure to Information Age technology, Ennis’s young population will not be too fazed by the latest events, Rose Doyle reports

IN the State’s Information Age Town every student in the education system, from the age of five, is promised regular, intensive, access to computer learning, knowledge-gathering and communication tools. This puts the young of Ennis at the coal-face of the experiment their town has become involved in. A future, computer-literate generation seems a definite result.

But what of today’s young people? How radical will the change-over be for them? Not as radical as it might be in other towns, would seem to be the answer.

A survey survey carried out in preparation for the Information Age Town competition indicated that more than 40 per cent of the town’s homes had a computer. Linking into and using the educational aspects of computer technology will not be a problem for the young in Ennis, according to the ypung in Ennis, according to TJ Waters, president of Ennis Chamber of Commerce. "Our slogan has been ‘Ennis is ready’," he assures. "We’ve got a very young population and have been concerned about the lack of third-level education. Our young people have had to travel to universities in Limerick, Galway and Dublin. We’ve turned that situation round to make it an advantage - from now on they won’t need to travel to a campus. They’ll have it all at home."

Gerry O’Sullivan, head of corporate relations in Telecom Éireann, is equally positive about the learning benefiits to the young. He says: "In the schools’ context, we see it revolutionising education. It means that the Informatio Age skills issue can be addressed in a practical way, with young people receiving training from an early age."

Ennis has an advantage in the area of technology in education, as in others. Computer training for teachers is high in the town, since the local education centre was part of a European programme for training teachers in IT skills. The technology being installed in the town will be used in tandem with existing educational methods, according to Triona McInerney of Ennis Chamber of Commerce.