E-learning in Ireland set for new heights as 4,000 schools receive free access to Encyclopaedia Britannica Online

New Digital Content Initiative launches as part of Government's ?150 million investment in online learning in schools.

Over 729,000 students and teachers in 4,000 schools across Ireland now have anytime, anywhere access to engaging and interactive learning resources from Encyclopaedia Britannica Online School Edition (http://school.eb.co.uk) as part of the Government's new Digital Content Initiative. Implemented by the National Centre of Technology for Education (NCTE) as part of a ?150 million, three-year plan* to improve the quality of ICT hardware, internet services and high quality digital content in schools, students can now view hundreds of articles, illustrations, interactive games and multimedia resources to support and extend their learning beyond the classroom.

Delivered in partnership with eircom, Ireland's leading broadband and content supplier, Encyclopaedia Britannica is available free-of-charge to all Irish schools through Scoilnet and the Schools Broadband Network. Forming the first element of this digital resource initiative, Encyclopaedia Britannica is now enabling Irish schools to give every student the same opportunities to develop their learning.

Robustly designed for use by students and teachers, Encyclopaedia Britannica Online School Edition gives educators confidence that pupils are safely accessing age-appropriate information that is clear, current and correct. Comprising an exciting mix of factual content with colourful and educational games, the resources help to build skills and knowledge as well as engage students by making learning fun. Britannica also helps to focus a student's research and save valuable time by enabling them to search for topics and materials by their particular learning level. This functionality is also invaluable when tailoring assignments for specific groups of students, for example, those identified as Gifted & Talented, or students with special educational needs.

Teachers benefit from using the extensive Britannica resources to enhance their lessons and homework assignments with movie clips, images and animations. As all content supports the curriculum, teachers can also use the site as a reliable form of reference when planning their lessons.

Ian Grant, Managing Director of Encyclopaedia Britannica (UK) Ltd comments, "We are proud to be delivering to schools in Ireland both our huge editorial resources as well as our training and professional development support programmes to teachers, ensuring thousands of learners and educators have access to the most current professionally written and edited source of knowledge available. Britannica's digital resources will provide the firm foundation for modern learning experiences for today's generation of school-children."

Commenting on the initiative Colm Hoban, Director of Government Markets, eircom, said, "eircom is delighted to have teamed up with Encyclopaedia Britannica in support of the provision of digital content to schools on our broadband network. This is a key milestone for the Department of Education and Science and the NCTE and eircom will continue to partner with them and Encyclopaedia Britannica in providing high-quality digital resources for learning and teaching in Ireland."

Already used by 5,000 schools and Local Authorities across the UK and Ireland and over 110 million users throughout the world, Britannica is now available to every school in Ireland.

For further information, please visit the web site: www.britannica.co.uk/education or call: +44 (0) 20 7500 7818.

* The recently announced Government funding of ?150 million over the next three years will significantly improve the quality of the ICT hardware and Internet services in schools and will enhance the provision of ICT professional development for teachers. Access to high quality digital content for use in the classroom is the third key element in promoting and supporting the realisation of eLearning environments in our schools.

The first elements of this digital resource initiative have now been put in place by the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) with the provision of Encyclopedia Britannica Online and HMH World Book, available through Scoilnet (www.scoilnet.ie) and the Schools Broadband Network.

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