The awards ceremony at the Microsoft Innovative Teaching Forum 2010, where Ratoath teacher Ursula Hynes (second from right) accepted second prize for her students' web project.

Ratoath College web project comes second in Europe

A learning and revision website devised by students from Ratoath College has won a prestigious international award. The 'My Study Mate' has taken second prize in the content category of the European Microsoft Innovative Teaching Forum 2010, held in Berlin. The Ratoath students will now represent Europe in the World Microsoft Innovative Teacher's Competition in Cape Town, South Africa, in November. The transition year students in the college started what they describe as the new and exciting project with the help of their teachers, Ursula Hynes and David Walsh. Some 24 students from Rang Hanna have participated in the project, which involves both teachers and students learning how to build and develop a website which shares learning experiences and which provides students with innovative revision material. It creates a new online community based on shared learning and it challenges students to present lessons and so take ownership of their own learning. The project was chosen to represent Ireland at the European Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum 2010. The students filmed and interviewed teachers, students and the then Minister for Education and Science, Batt O'Keeffe, to see how effective and innovative the project was on the ground. Minister O'Keeffe this week described My Study Mate as an exciting project which will bring learning from the classroom free of charge for schools and students all around the country. "I commend My Study Mate as a wonderful resource," he said. Ursula Hynes attended last week's event in Berlin, where she had the opportunity to showcase their project. Ratoath College and County Meath VEC were delighted with the news that they were one of the top winners in Berlin and will now go forward to represent Europe in the World Microsoft Innovative Teacher's Competition in South Africa. "At the Microsoft Innovative Teaching Forum 2010, teachers from all over Europe got to present their school projects to other very innovative and dynamic people," Ms Hynes said. "It is all about collaboration and creativity. We are all here because we want to prepare students for a rapidly changing and connected world. We want students to become more self-sufficient learners, taking responsibility for their own learning. It is our goal to teach our students to use technology for the purpose of learning, that will benefit them well into the future." The free website is www.mystudymate.ie with lesson videos presented by students from Ratoath College. Transition year student and web design team member, Laura Gribben said: "The great thing about mystudymate.ie is that it is completely free to all students and that it is created by students for students."  The website will be launched nationally after the Easter school holidays and it is hoped that schools from all over Ireland join the initiative and help to build this revision video online library.