Colleen Forsythe Head of I.T. at St. Columba’s Girls National School with Facility for Deaf Children explains how the “Adopt a School” programme organised by IT@Cork is making a positive difference to pupils at the school


St Columbas GNS

While working on our submission for the Digital School of Distinction Award, the teachers wanted to find something that would make our school stand out as unique.  Our school, which is located in Cork, is surrounded by an active and growing community of technology businesses that together form the not-for-profit network called it@Cork.

IT@Cork operates a fantastic programme called Adopt a School that encourages industry to partner with schools in a collaborative effort to close the skills gap and help educate the next generation of technology workers.  Technology businesses that adopt a school can contribute to schools in many different ways such as donating equipment, providing IT support, offering speakers for careers workshops, offering work experience for transition-year students and setting up a Coder Dojo.

We enrolled the school into the programme and were delighted to be adopted by ePub Direct. ePub Direct is a local company with a global ambition driven by its passion for books and technology. It is a market leader in the provision of global eBook distribution services to publishers.

Colleen Forsythe met with the ePubteam in April 2014 to discuss how St. Columba’s and ePub Direct could work together. ePub Direct CEO, Gareth Cuddy, and his management team visited our school in May and spoke to senior students about eBooks.  During the visit, teacher Joanne Crowley explained how her fifth class pupils were working on producing a high quality magazine “Inky Pages”.  Principal Michelle Cashman (since retired) was so impressed with their effort that she had the magazine printed professionally. The ePub team developed the publication into an eBook which we shared with pupils and their families on a private platform using Dropbox.

Our relationship continues.  During the summer, ePub created a dedicated e-library, called eShelf, for our school.  Pupils can access the e-library from a tablet or computer using a password.  ePub are working with many publishers worldwide and are constantly getting new authors for us. Recently, Gareth Cuddy returned from New York to formally launch the eShelf and talk to the pupils about what they wanted from the eShelf.

EPub recently acquired Random House Books UK as a client and our school was invited to choose from their extensive catalogue for our school eShelf.

Gareth suggested that our pupils could write book reviews and even design covers for outdated looking books. The school is now looking forward to publishing more eBooks based on the pupil’s work which we plan to sell online.  The profits will be used by the school to update our technology.

Colleen Forsythe
Head of I.T.
St. Columba’s N.S. with Facility for Deaf Children