Name: Ryan Murphy
School: St. Malachy’s Memorial High School
Memorable Quote: “I enjoyed the change, I enjoy the subject, and I enjoy coming to work each day.
What are your thoughts surrounding ICT in Education?
ICT is an essential component of any modern education program. With very few exceptions, ICT skills – at some level – are necessary. “Computer use” is no longer a marketable skill, but rather a simple necessity. Our education system, and the world students must prepare for, requires at least a basic understanding of many aspects of the Focus on IT program. Whether it is basic hardware and software troubleshooting, a fluency in digital media creation, or an understanding of how information actually gets from your fingertips to your screen – the students best prepared for life after school will be the ones who understand how that world runs, and what runs it.
How did you get involved with FIT?
My start with FIT came as a bit of a surprise. I was asked to replace a teacher who was leaving the profession, mid-semester. That teacher had just started our school’s implementation of the FIT program, so I was inheriting a relatively young program.
It was a natural fit for me – from the time my elementary school purchased its first desktop computer in 1991, I was the one people looked to for technological guidance. If it plugged in, and wasn’t working – there was a good chance I would be called. This made the transition to the technology department an easy one for me.
What is the value of teaching ICT skills?
There can be little argument about the value of ICT skills in the modern workforce. But it is so much more than that. ICT engages students in a way they are comfortable with, and have been immersed in for most – if not all – of their lives. They can connect with the material, make it their own, or share it with the world.
How do you incorporate FIT into your curriculum?
I am fortunate in that all of the courses I teach align with the various standards of the Focus on IT program. The Province of New Brunswick has promoted the FIT program; so having the courses that clearly meet the expectations of the FIT standards makes incorporating it quite simple.
Why would you promote other teachers getting involved with FIT?
The FIT classroom is often a room unlike any other. Students are working with the technology they are most comfortable with, in ways that interest them. That’s not to say that more traditional courses are not necessities, or cannot be enjoyable, far from it. But when teen-aged students are given computers and allowed to imagine, and create (and often troubleshoot those creations) – and end up with a functional website, or an attention-grabbing graphic, or other real world production – they instantly see the value of their work. It does not have to be a mark from a red pen that validates it, rather, seeing their work functioning on their classmate’s screen or decorating the school hallways.
For teachers, the rewards can be seen when students notice their work throughout the school, or when arriving at work in the morning to an email telling you all about how a student fixed her parent’s broken computer the night before.
How has FIT benefited your students?
The benefit students receive from the FIT program varies greatly depending on their reason for being in the course. Some students have intentions of entering related fields after graduation, so the experience is not only of interest to them in high school, but also gives them a strong foundation for post-secondary education and training (and in some cases, employment).
Other students have a strong interest in the material covered, but future aspirations that do not include ICT – directly, at least. They realize that this is a good opportunity to learn about something they enjoy, and might not get the chance to study later on.
The rest of the students may not have been immediately drawn to the program, but nonetheless gain valuable, and marketable, skills that will serve them well in whatever their future hold.
What is your background with ICT?
My first experience with ICT was in the early 1990s at my elementary school. I was the student chosen to learn how to set up our one desktop computer. It traveled around the school on a cart, and the principal and I were the ones who knew how to get it working after each move. While the experience was basic, it paved the way for a future of ICT training, employment, and enjoyment.
When I arrived at Mount Allison University, it wasn’t long before I started a part-time job as a Student Technician in the Computing Services Department. Not only was I getting to use some cutting edge technology, but I was able to share my knowledge with professors and students in a variety of settings. It also allowed me to get behind-the-scenes access to some pretty big events – and pretty famous people.
That combination of technology and education helped to land me where I am now – a teacher of technology. After beginning my career in the mathematics and science departments, I was asked to take over the FIT courses from a teacher who was leaving the profession. I seized the opportunity, took a course or two, and now my teaching schedule is only courses that lead to FIT certifications.
I enjoyed the change, I enjoy the subject, and I enjoy coming to work each day.
Where would you like to see ICT in the future?
I would like to see the expansion of ICT education into a cross-curricular program that extends beyond the technology department courses. With limited resources, this can be difficult but in time, I would like to see the skills students gain in ICT-centric courses further developed by technological integration into a wider range of courses.
Why do you think ICT is education is beneficial for Canadian industries?
Even from within my classroom, I have seen local businesses benefiting from the skills students develop through ICT training. Whether working as a support technician at a big box store, or remotely managing web servers and configuring VoIP systems for a hardware management firm, my students have been able to take what they have learned through FIT program, and ICT training in general, and apply it in the, “real world.”While there is no doubt that the businesses have access to hardware and software that just aren’t available for training within the school system, the fundamental skills, and an understanding of how to apply them, is key to being successful with larger and more complex systems. Those fundamentals – the things that the education system can provide – will ultimately lead to a more talented, capable, and job-ready workforce.
How do you promote the FIT program to prospective students?
I am fortunate to work in a school that has helped pioneer the FIT program in our province (NB). With that, students are made aware of the course offerings within the program, how FIT certification(s) can benefit them, and some of the many other benefits to taking courses aligned with the FIT program. When the program started, many students ended up in the courses by chance. Word-of-mouth quickly took over the job of recruitment, and as students began to see the benefits on their own, they shared those thoughts with their friends. Today, not only have we seen a significant increase in students receiving FIT certificates at graduation, but we are also seeing an overwhelming increase in the number of students completing multiple areas of concentration.
“Whether a student can design a webpage or edit a video is often secondary; the greatest benefit to students comes with the creativity, problem-solving skills, and self-confidence developed through ICT education.”