FÍS is not just for school! #homeschooling

A sudden, but not unexpected, announcement on Thursday 12th March by Irelands prime minister, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar meant that schools and colleges closed quite literally overnight. It didn’t take long for Irish teachers to jump into action and an incredible flurry of activity ensued whereby schools, in large numbers, began to migrate their communications with parents to cyberspace. Various platforms were utilised; social media, email, whats app, text, webinars, virtual classrooms and learning environments. In order to support teachers not familiar with these platforms and distance learning methods agencies of Irelands Department of Education & Skills also jumped into action. It seemed everyone wanted to make sure that learning continued no matter what. The FÍS film project team realised that they had a role to play too.

The FÍS film project introduces the medium of film into Irish primary school classrooms. While the target audience is usually primary school teachers we recognised that our newly developed series of lessons could just as easily be utilised in a homeschooling situation. The lessons are designed as whole group, small group or individual independent pupil-led instruction aimed at 3rd class (10years) +. Therefore, parents or guardians do not need to be entirely involved in the delivery of the lessons, although children under 10 can be included with some support from an adult.

Using stopmotion animation and live-action film-making techniques allows for important cross-curricular learning that is creative and fun. The lessons are presented using an e-learning authoring tool with embedded video tutorials and sample films made by children. They include elements of gamification in order to engage the children with familiar easy access media that is varied and age appropriate. Learning can be checked via simple tests, quizzes, and other interactive elements. User friendly resources are available via an open, accessible platform and can be dipped in and out of as needs be or followed as series of lessons through choosing a topic to the final cut.

By the children for the children! and the parents too…… 😉

As the flurry of homeschooling related social media continued we couldn’t help feeling that parents and teachers were being bombarded with distance learning instruction, examples and learning targets for children. The idea that unrealistic expectations of what could be achieved by children and parents/guardians not familiar with homeschooling began to gather momentum online. We decided that maybe the pace need to be slowed down and what better way than for children to look at short films made by children for children that are educational and entertaining.

FÍS offers a wide range of resources to support our youngest film-making enthusiasts, their teachers and parents or guardians alike.

The FÍS film project is 20 years old. It is the cornerstone project of a suite of film education external initiatives managed by the Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dún Laoghaire (IADT). Current short-term initiatives include: Young Women in Film & TV, DLR First Frames Funding Scheme, Cruinniú na nÓg and Dáil 100.

FÍS is a Department of Education & Skills collaborative partnership initiative between IADT and the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST Tech in Ed).


Bernadette Meagher

FÍS Manager, IADT