It was inevitable is that all schools would eventually have web access. It is also inevitable that all schools will eventually have broadband access, individual e-mail accounts for staff and students, high quality video-conferencing and other ICT resources that industry now take for granted.
What is not inevitable is that these resources will become fully integrated into the curriculum and that a level of comfort with the technology will be developed by teachers and students alike. Only if this happens will ICT become a resource which enhances learning. This very issue has been addressed by the CotF project since its inception.
At the behest of Christy Maher in 1995, the project began examining the consequences of students having regular access to the web. It has been suggested that this project provided the model for T.E.'s Information Age Schools initiative.
By providing what is essentially access on demand, participants are not constrained by concerns of cost. This gives them the freedom to explore possibilities and separate the hype from the real potential.
Structured activities aimed at different classes and subjects ensure that a range of staff in each school become involved, broadening the base of the project. Proper evaluation ensures that valuable experienced can be analysed and disseminated.
Irish Education is epitomised by a patchwork of school sizes, locations and types. The enlargement of the project two years ago allows the team to draw from the perspectives of Primary and Secondary schools, urban and rural, single-sex and co-ed, disadvantaged and otherwise. Microsoft has designated three of the participants as Centres of Excellence.