I recently took some primary school pupils to Microsoft’s headquarters in Leopardstown Dublin to take part in its futuristic new Dreamspace learning initiative. DreamSpace is an educational activity space developed in Dublin at a cost of €5m and it opened earlier this year.
Microsoft hope to bring over 100,000 primary and Transition Year students and their teachers to the Dreamspace Initiative over the next four years to take part in the experience. The learning experiences and technology sessions presented to the children are tailored to suit the age and class level. The aim of the day is to involve the children in collaborative group work and to use technology to tackle and solve various problems. As well as getting to learn new technical skills they also get to develop key 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity.
DreamSpace does not look like a typical classroom. It is colourfully decorated and groups are seated at team benches, where students sit at different levels. During our visit the students were taught how to program a Micro Bit, a tiny pocket-sized computer, to perform certain tasks. This is the device developed by BBC which was given free to every student in the UK. They were then divided into teams of 5 and given a programming task to solve using the Micro Bit. The visit was thoroughly enjoyable and I would recommend it to all senior primary school classes and TY students around the country. They are fully booked up until next June but the trip is definitely worth the wait.