Microsoft today announced a new partnership with W5, Belfast's award-winning science and discovery centre, which will see Microsoft invest £1 million in a new Digital Learning Centre opening at W5 in Autumn 2020. Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Microsoft will offer its critically acclaimed and highly popular DreamSpace digital skills experience to primary and secondary level students in Northern Ireland from Autumn 2020 onwards with an objective to engage over 15,000 students across Northern Ireland each year in the space.
Microsoft opened DreamSpace at its headquarters in Dublin in April 2018. Since launching, over 18,000 students from primary and secondary school have visited the space to engage in immersive technology experiences that will equip them with critical collaborative, problem-solving and learning skills that will help them participate fully in today’s and tomorrow’s digital world. By engaging students in a series of creative and innovative tasks, Microsoft is hoping to shift students’ perception about the role technology will play in their future.
The experiences undertaken by students visiting DreamSpace is highly interactive and is continuously evolving as new technology and tools come on stream. Visiting students undertake experiences in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality and see how through these technologies we can bring robotics to life – encouraging the students to consider how it can be applied to help address real world issues facing society today.
While some students from Northern Ireland have made the trip to DreamSpace in Dublin this investment of a dedicated DreamSpace in Northern Ireland will make it easier for students and teachers to access this bespoke experience.
Speaking at today’s announcement, Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland, said: “At Microsoft, we’re determined to equip the next generation with the skills and passion for technology they will need to succeed. With digital transformation bringing changes to our personal and professional worlds, it is important that our young people understand the role that technology can play in shaping their lives. That’s why today we’re announcing the expansion of DreamSpace to Northern Ireland through the development of a dedicated Digital Learning Centre in the heart of Belfast. I’m confident that working in partnership with W5, young people across Northern Ireland will be provided with the tools and skills to shape, change, protect and improve our world and our society for generations to come.”
Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Odyssey Trust said: “The Trust and Microsoft share the joint aim to inspire young people to consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. This partnership will provide young people and lifelong learners with new opportunities to explore the relevance of digital innovation and its application to their everyday lives. With the expanding array of future careers that require creative problem solving and more practical applications of knowledge, we are delighted to welcome DreamSpace to advance education for the people of Northern Ireland.”
Today’s announcement is a further demonstration of Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring that young people are equipped with the skills and ambition to thrive in an era of digital transformation. In the coming months Microsoft experts will develop the DreamSpace experience with the W5 team providing each experience tailored to the age, skills level and area of interest of each visiting group.
The partnership will also see Microsoft work in collaboration with W5 to promote STEM education more broadly through the Hour of Code campaign in December and Girls in ICT celebrated in April of next year.
Details on how to register for a visit to Microsoft DreamSpace at W5 will be updated on our website in 2020 with visits set to be available free for all students from Autumn 2020.