Microsoft Ireland today launched its virtual DreamSpace Digital Education Programme. Developed over the Summer by Microsoft’s education team, the programme will support schools and teachers to engage students in critical digital skills learning whilst current restrictions preclude students from visiting the DreamSpace hub located at Microsoft’s campus in Leopardstown, Dublin.
Amongst the new suite of supports is the option for schools to participate in a Virtual DreamSpace experience. Designed by the Microsoft education team, tailored experiences are available to primary and post-primary students who wish to get a glimpse into the world of technology. Engaging two schools per day in this digital experience, each session is two hours long and learning experiences include a virtual tour of Microsoft, exploration of AI, STEM activities focused on 21st century skills and coding. The experiences are tailored to the participating school’s own resources.
Additionally, Microsoft has created DreamSpace TV to bring students, whilst at school or at home, on a STEAM learning journey focused on computational thinking, creativity and problem-solving. The lessons, which are aimed at 4th to 6th class students in primary schools, will go live every Tuesday over the next ten weeks. Subsequent episodes, which will support both primary and post-primary students, will follow in January 2021. The first DreamSpace TV episode will go live at 10am on Tuesday 29th of September and, as Microsoft has partnered with RTÉjr to extend the reach of the lessons to as many teachers and students as possible, the episodes will be available to view at www.aka.ms/DreamSpaceTV and www.rte.ie/learn.
Microsoft has also developed DreamSpace Teacher, which empowers teachers to deliver their own DreamSpace experience in the classroom or by way of independent learning modules for students. Each DreamSpace Teacher package contains a structured scheme of work, as well as classroom resources that include tutorial videos, worksheets, challenge activities and extension activities, enabling each student to work at their own pace.
Speaking today, Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland said: “We’re delighted to launch our virtual DreamSpace Digital Education Programme, a suite of supports for schools, teachers and of course students to enjoy over the coming academic year. Our DreamSpace experience is extremely popular and since launching in 2018 it has engaged over 40,000 students in tailored STEAM experiences, opening their minds to a new way of learning and the possibility that technology holds for them in their future careers.
“With schools back open, we can continue to connect with and engage schools, teachers and students across the country through a number of exciting and immersive STEAM education programmes. In its virtual form, our DreamSpace experience will once again bring STEAM education alive and DreamSpace TV will enable even more students to engage in and learn through STEAM experiences. It’s testament to the quality of the TV series created that we have teamed up with RTÉjr to extend the weekly lessons to their online audience.”
The new DreamSpace learning and teaching supports build on the success of DreamSpace HomeSpace, a dedicated online resource that was launched in March of this year as schools closed due to the pandemic. DreamSpace HomeSpace enabled young people to engage in STEAM from home via free webinars. Additionally, Microsoft provided free remote learning resources and support to teachers, parents and students to support learning at home and remote teaching.
The announcement today comes as Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) confirmed last week funding for a project by Maynooth University and Microsoft Ireland to understand the impact of the DreamSpace HomeSpace series that ran earlier this year. In addition to providing a repository of STEAM education resources that can be used to support the STEAM education of all Irish families, the project will also serve to explore the impact that home-schooling has had on families and understand how DreamSpace HomeSpace encourages students to learn STEAM subjects. The funding also ensures the continuance of STEAM education by way of DreamSpace TV.
For more information about the new DreamSpace education resources, log onto www.microsoft.com/dreamspace.