The University of Limerick (UL) recently launched a unique educational software application (app) ‘Ireland Under Siege’, which allows users to walk around key historical siege sites in Ireland and learn from, and interact with, the surrounding environment through their smart phone camera. The immersive e-learning tool, which was officially launch by Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan TD, was developed in cooperation with the National University of Ireland Galway and the Royal Irish Academy, funded by the National Association for the Integration of Teaching and Research.
The unique and innovative application has been developed as a device that encourages enquiry-based learning in historical research and features widespread usability in the areas of history, education and research along with commercial potential for utilisation in the tourism sector. With this app, which is available for download free of charge, smart phone users can experience the times of battles and siege warfare at their fingertips.
The application aims to enhance students’ and other users’ understanding of historical developments and events during 17th century Ireland that brought conflict to Limerick, Galway, Athlone, Sligo, Drogheda and Londonderry/Derry and will also contribute to the users’ knowledge of the historical forces that shaped contemporary Ireland by finding historically important locations throughout Ireland and providing users with resources such as maps, graphics, and illustrations of individuals, weaponry and fortifications. To complement the app a web based resource for use in the classroom was produced. Users of the app are also encouraged to visit the website www.irelandundersiege.com to explore comprehensive details about battlegrounds, historical figures and events.
Minister Jan O’Sullivan said she was delighted to have been asked to launch the ‘Ireland Under Siege’ website and phone app. “They really are tremendous 21st century tools that both enhance our knowledge and provoke our curiosity about 17th century events that left an indelible mark on Ireland. This project clearly demonstrates the value of the research and development taking place in Irish universities and in the University of Limerick especially. I have long been enthusiastic about the potential of technology to enhance our learning experience and I sincerely believe that the application of technology in all areas of learning, from primary to third level, can deliver tremendous benefits. This wonderful phone app and website is proof positive of that potential,” said Minister O’Sullivan.
Also speaking at the launch event Robert Hutchison, one of the lead researchers on the app, said “When I was visiting my sister in Bangor Co Down we took a daytrip to the Ulster Folk Park and Transport Museum nearby. We were walking around the many fascinating installations of old trams, steam trains, buses and cottages she said ‘Wouldn't it be great if you could experience what it was here like back in the day?’ I hope this app and future developments of the app will ‘help, in some small way, to do just that.”
The app is available on iTunes and the Android Marketplace and can be downloaded free of charge. Information and details about the app can be accessed at http://testarea.edublogs.org/ and people using the app can leave comments on the app blog.