All posts by Pam O'Brien

Founder of the Youth Media Team.

Interview with Stephen Howell

Today at ICT in Education Amy and Jack interviewed Stephen Howell, Academic Program Manager, Microsoft Ireland. Stephen is a regular at the conference and spoke about computational thinking in a presentation and also the closing keynote today. He spoke about his role in Microsoft and also about what people of all ages can do with technology.

Amy and Jack
Youth Media Team

Interview with Stephen Reid

Denis and Roisin interviewed Stephen Reid at ICT in Education today. Stephen gave the keynote speech today about how games can affect positive change on our education system. He spoke about how we can use games to change the way students learn. He also told us about how he got into gaming and why he thinks he is important to incorporate it into the classroom and outside.
There was also a live Periscope and Facebook live video going on at the same time.

Roisin and Denis
Youth Media Team


Interview with Professor Vincent Cunnane

Roisin and Amy spoke to Professor Vincent Cunnane, newly appointed President of LIT at ICT in Education. He was there to officially open the conference and afterwards Prof. Cunnane spoke to us about his new job and his thoughts on the future of technology in education. He shared some very interesting thoughts on what he thought the future of technology will be in 3rd level education.  Prof. Cunnane also spoke about how the role of lecturers is now changing due to the impact of technology in ways that could hardly have been imagined even 10 years ago!

Here’s a link to our interview.

Roisin & Amy
Youth Media Team
at ICTEdu 2017

Interview with Muireann O Sullivan

Ben and Ezra spoke to Muireann O’Sullivan about her research into the use of Minecraft to engage gifted students. Muireann shared her thoughts on how Minecraft can be used to challenge students and to give them an influence over their own learning environments. Puzzle Rooms provide opportunities for lateral thinking and problem solving and provide an engaging environment for learning.

Youth Media Team
Ben and Ezra

Interview with Pan Kampylis

Dr. Pam Kampylis, Lord David Puttnam, Ciaran Cannon TD, Richard Bruton Minister for Education and Skills, Caitlin Donnelly and Professor Tom Crick
Dr. Pan Kampylis, Lord David Puttnam, Ciaran Cannon TD, Richard Bruton Minister for Education and Skills, Caitlin Donnelly and Professor Tom Crick

Photo Credit : Robbie Reynolds Photography used with kind permission from Excited – the Digital Learning Movement

At the Cracking The Code Symposium in Farmleigh House in December Caitlin met Dr Pan Kampylis, Research Fellow at the European Commission.  Unfortunately time didn’t allow for an interview at the time but in true YMT style she still got her interview!

Below find Pan’s answers to Caitlin’s email interview questions.

You spoke about computational thinking. Can you explain what you mean by this term?

Computational Thinking (CT) is a thought process, thus independent from technology.  CT is a specific type of problem-solving that entails distinct abilities, e.g. being able to design solutions that can be executed by a computer, a human, or a combination of both. In spite of the wide variety of definitions of CT, a subset of core concepts and skills is recursively emerging from the literature: abstraction, algorithmic thinking, automation, decomposition, debugging, generalisation…  For several scholars, CT is not only characterised by those skills, but also by attitudes or dispositions, such as the ability to handle ambiguity, the confidence in dealing with complexity, or the persistence in working through challenging problems…

Why is it important that we look at the broader view of computational thinking rather than just coding?

Coding and programming are often used interchangeably to indicate the process of ‘writing’ instructions for a computer to execute. However, programming refers to the broader activity of analysing a problem, designing a solution and implementing it.  Coding is the stage of implementing solutions in a particular programming language. Implementation skills go beyond coding since they include debugging and testing. In general, it is agreed that CT and coding/programming are not overlapping sets. According to Jeanette Wing, one of the eminent scholars in the field, CT means more than being able to program a computer and “represents a universally applicable attitude and skill set everyone, not just computer scientists, would be eager to learn and use”. This is very important premise, especially in the context of compulsory education.

What can Ireland learn from experiences of other countries in Europe regarding computational thinking in schools?

Currently, the integration of CT in formal and informal learning is a growing and very interesting trend in Europe and beyond. CT has become a buzzword that seems to promise the education of a new generation of children with a much deeper understanding of our digital world. However, in order to ensure equal opportunities and provide all children with the computer science skills they need to thrive in a digital society and economy, CT ought to be integrated in formal education. This will only deliver results if policy makers set out their vision and carefully define, plan and monitor their concrete implementation steps. In the recently published report1 on “Developing Computational Thinking in Compulsory Education” we outline 11 recommendations that policy makers can take into account to further ease the introduction of CT in schools across Europe.

Computational Thinking

1                   European Commission’s, Joint Research Centre Science for policy report, with CNR-ITD Genova and European Schoolnet.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this interview are purely those of the interviewee and should not be regarded as the official position of the European Commission.

Youth Media Team


Project Showcase at the Leargas Forum


imageOne of the regular highlights of the Leargas Forum is the Project Showcase. This year, 14 projects in all were presented on work in progress or recently completed. These included some very detailed displays and demos.
Below is a quick walk-through of this part of the event. The Leargas project showcase gave a good insight into how groups and communities benefit from European supports. Here is a flavour of some of the projects showcasing on the day:

What’s Cooking in Europe?

This group from Our Lady of Fatima school in Wexford has an exciting cookbook of tradititional receipes from a number of European countries. The cookbook is the result of their Erasmus Plus partnership with France, Italy, Germany and Turkey and is planned to help everyone read the book with pictures and simple clear instructions. A great multicultural idea! Bon Appétit Our Lady Of Fatima!

Continuing on the food theme…..

Blanchardstown Common Training Centre: Fight the Beast Don’t Become Obese

The Blanchardstown Common Training Centre were demonstrating some of the recipes from their cookbook ‘Fight the beast, don’t become obese’ . In their project they worked in partnership with groups from Latvia and Malta. Their project has two aims -Firstly, to help young people understand food labels and nutritional value of food and secondly to develop cooking skills using fresh, local healthy ingredients…. Happy cooking everyone !


And now to the great outdoors…..

Low Tech, High Activity

Involve Youth set up this Youth Exchange project which aimed to look at how reliant we are on our phones, technology and social media. They formed a partnership with a group in Italy and focused on building social skills through outdoor activities. A lot of fun was had by everyone on the project and it was an opportunity to meet others and make new friends.

The student voice …

National Youth Council : #Young Voices

The National Youth Council told us all about the work they are doing with young people to give young people a voice in making Europe more inclusive and how to encourage young people to connect with each other to promote this inclusion. The NYC are working with countries across Europe for this project and recently held a think-in for young people in Dublin.

Supporting education in and out of school…..

EDGE: Limerick Clare ETB

The EDGE project is an Erasmus+ strategic partnership comprising of adult and further education providers in Ireland, Austria, Portugal, Greece and Wales. The EDGE Project aims to develop innovative approaches (career guidance, learner engagement strategies, self-evaluation tools, e-learning resources) in the provision of employability skills development.


And something from Leargas themselves…

EURODESK- for all things European is run by Leargas to provide free information on opportunities-such as travelling, working, studying and volunteering in Europe–for young people aged 13 – 30. You can check out any of the sections that you’re interested in (for example volunteering) but if there is information that you can’t find there, you can  get in contact with your local information point and they will help. Eurodesk is also part of a large network of European Eurodesk points, with over 1,200 offices throughout Europe, with headquarters in Brussels. You can check out the European-wide Eurodesk website: Good to know!



TED-type talks at the Leargas Forum 2016

Part of the Leargas forum this year was that five speakers gave talk about their lives and how they have contributed to the youth community. In this blog, we interviewed these five speakers and talked to them about how they have impacted youths across the world and what future goals they want to achieve.

The TED-talks followed a morning music session shown below.


Kay McGabe is a youth coordinator for youth project and county needs. She has been in the business for about 10 years and primarily works with young people to support them.

Alex O’Mahoney is a teacher at the Holy Spirit Boys National School.

Haaris Sheikh is Chief Executive of Interesource Group (Ireland) Limited. He is on the Board of Directors of the Deaf Community Centre Limerick, and the Citizens Information Centre, Limerick. He is currently Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin.

Jim Sheehan works on a project called The Social and Health Education Project. One of the things he works on in the project is a community education program involving adults. His job is to support families with the help they need so they can be well and sustained throughout Ireland.

Blaithin Macken Smith has won the European Language Label and was awarded the Language Learner of The Year in 2016. She got into languages in the fifth year and was an exchange student to Japan. She learned Japenese, Spanish, Irish, English, and Russian for her Leaving Cert.

Lorcan, Elena, Will, Ezra, Ben and Millie
Youth Media Team