Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD today joined Microsoft as it announced its intention to invest a further € 3 million in its multi-million-euro innovation and education hub, Microsoft Dream Space, over the next four years.
This expansion of Microsoft Dream Space will support the evolution of the STEM education programme and provide almost 1,000,000 students, as well as their teachers, across the island of Ireland with the opportunity to engage in an immersive learning experience. Today’s announcement represents a further significant investment in skills and learning by Microsoft Ireland and reinforces the company’s commitment to support students across the island of Ireland to develop their digital skills.
Microsoft first opened the doors of Dream Space four years ago at its campus in Leopardstown, following a €5million investment, and a commitment to engage 100,000 students. Since then, through physical and virtual education sessions, more than 130,000 young people have enjoyed the opportunity to learn digital skills that are increasingly important in our digital economy and society.
With the expansion of Microsoft Dream Space comes a suite of new offerings including Dream Space Academy for Primary; Dream Space Academy for Post-Primary; Dream Space Digital Academy, and the evolution of Dream Space Teacher and Dream Space TV.
The fully immersive STEM experience provided by Microsoft Dream Space has been developed by Microsoft in partnership with educators to inspire, encourage and challenge students to think creatively in areas such as computer science, AI, Mixed Reality, and robotics. Through a series of in-person, virtual and on-demand sessions the team of five teachers who work full time for Microsoft will deliver the bespoke curriculum to students in primary and post-primary schools across the island of Ireland.
Commenting on the announcement, Minister for Education Norma Foley TD, said: “Digital skills and technology are of course embedded across daily life both at home and in work, and it is important that young people are given the skills they need to navigate the digital world.
“That’s why I warmly welcome Microsoft’s renewed commitment and additional investment into Microsoft Dream Space. Dream Space has developed a particularly strong track record of engaging girls in STEM education and helping them to see the many opportunities for STEM-related careers in Ireland’s digital economy. Building on that track record will be key to ensuring that every student is equipped with the skills they need to participate fully in our digital world. I’d like to thank the team at Microsoft Ireland for its sustained commitment to innovation in STEM education and the ongoing support and inspiration that they provide to our students and their teachers.”
James O’Connor, Microsoft Ireland Site Leader and Vice President of Microsoft Business Operations International, said: “At Microsoft, we’re deeply committed to helping young people to engage in STEM learning and shift their perceptions about the role technology can play in their future career choices. With digital technology reshaping how we live, work and learn, it is important that our young people learn digital skills at the earliest opportunity. That’s why, four years ago, we invested €5million in the Microsoft Dream Space experience with an ambition to engage 100,000 young people and teachers in Ireland. So far, the journey has taken us further than we could have imagined, with more than 130,000 people engaging with the Microsoft Dream Space experience.
“As we look to broaden our impact, we’re delighted today to announce our intention to invest a further € 3 million in the expansion of Microsoft Dream Space over the next four years and give almost 1 million students on the island of Ireland the opportunity to develop their digital skills. Through the additional Dream Space offering, our ambition is to provide every student on the island of Ireland, regardless of socio-demographics, with the opportunity to take part in an immersive Microsoft Dream Space STEM experience and create the next generation of digital leaders.”
Research undertaken by Maynooth University on behalf of Microsoft Ireland has found that teachers who experienced Microsoft Dream Space spent 30% more time using technology in their daily teaching practices. 90% of teachers said that Dream Space positively impacted their use of technology and that of the children they taught.
Dr8 Katriona O’Sullivan, Lecturer of Digital Skills in the ALL (Assisting Living & Learning) Institute, Department of Psychology, Maynooth University, said: “Since its development, the Microsoft Dream Space experience has had a hugely positive impact on the next generation. Research we have undertaken at Maynooth University has found that there was a 42% increase in the likelihood of girls wanting to pursue STEM after their Dream Space experience.
Furthermore, girls from disadvantaged backgrounds who participated in the STEM programme not only said their confidence had increased by 80% as a result of participating in the programme but 30% said they were more likely to have STEM career aspirations. By tackling the inequalities that exist around digital skills in our society, Microsoft Dream Space plays a vital role in levelling the playing field in terms of STEM education.”
To find out more about the Microsoft Dream Space experience and the resources available to schools and youth groups, visit www.microsoft.com/dreamspace.