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Ground-breaking Initiative 'Dissolving Boundaries' in Schools

24 May 2012

Professor Roger Austin

Over 3,000 pupils from schools across Ireland will connect with each other online to celebrate ‘Dissolving Boundaries Day’ today.

Using the latest technology, schools from north and south of the border will link up to discuss the work they have being doing as part of the University of Ulster’s ground-breaking Dissolving Boundaries initiative.

Funded by the Department of Education since 1999, the programme involves schools from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland forming and maintaining friendships through the use of ICT and face to face meetings.

As part of the day-long celebration students from four schools including Maghera Primary School ,Gaelscoil an Chaistil, Ballycastle, Cullybackey High School and Parkhall Primary School, Antrim, will take part in a live video-conference link-up at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus.

They will connect with their partner schools - St Colmcille’s National School, Co Offaly, Gaelscoil Nas na Riogh, Co Kildare, Eureka Secondary School, Kells, Co Meath and St Mary’s School for Deaf Girls, Dublin – who will be based at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

Professor Roger Austin, Co-Director of the Dissolving Boundaries programme, University of Ulster, said: “During the live link-up pupils will discuss work that they have carried out during the year including the Olympics, Titanic, space travel and poetry. The topics chosen by the schools are rooted in the curriculum and are used to develop a wide range of ICT and communication skills.

“Throughout the year contact between the schools is based on frequent interaction via video-conference and in their own protected Virtual Learning Environment as well as a face to face meeting.

“We are delighted that we have students from the controlled, maintained and Irish-medium sectors showcasing their work this year - this is a reminder that ICT can cross all sorts of boundaries.”

Jane Smyth, Dissolving Boundaries Programme Manager, added: “Over 4000 pupils from 171 schools across the island of Ireland were involved in Dissolving Boundaries this year alone.“Since the initiative was launched in 1999, over 36,000 pupils have taken part in Dissolving Boundaries, making it one of the largest and most successful school links programme anywhere in the world.”

Sharon Lawlor, Department of Education, added: “I am very pleased to meet pupils and teachers who have been working together as part of the Dissolving Boundaries programme. Their enthusiasm and hard work is an inspiration to us all.”