Microsoft launches DreamSpace resources for kids, parents and teachers

31 Mar 2020

Image: Microsoft

With DreamSpace HomeSpace, children can learn how to programme a piece of music or design a retro game, and receive an introduction to coding through Minecraft.

Today (31 March), Microsoft Ireland announced that it is making its digital skills experience DreamSpace available remotely, to help children, parents and teachers that have been affected by coronavirus school closures.

Based at the Microsoft Ireland headquarters in Leopardstown, DreamSpace is an innovation and education hub for visitors from schools across Ireland. The hub has been closed temporarily during the Covid-19 crisis.

However, the team behind DreamSpace has repurposed existing assets and created new resources to keep young people engaged with STEM during this time, and is now rolling them out online.

Three free webinars will be run per week through live Microsoft Teams events, which will be hosted online for use later. The company is also making remote learning resources available to support teachers and parents as students get to grips with learning from their homes.

Webinar series

Microsoft’s new webinar series, entitled DreamSpace HomeSpace, aims to build on the goals of the DreamSpace hub by helping students aged six to 16 to engage with technology in new ways.

It aims to show children that whether they are interested in maths, architecture, music, sport or creative pursuits, digital technology can be at the heart of it. The webinars are designed to complement schoolwork and provide a “fun, yet valuable, learning experience for children of all ages”, according to Microsoft.

The company said that all participants – parents, teachers and students – will have the opportunity to programme a piece of music, design their own retro game, and receive an introduction into the world of coding through Minecraft. The resources can be accessed for free by primary and secondary students through a Teams live event.

The webinar sessions will be held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1pm. The first session is set to take place tomorrow, Wednesday 1 April, at 1pm. Each session will contain a 30-minute tutorial followed by a home challenge and a live Q&A. If a session is missed, it can be viewed on demand.

Cathriona Hallahan, managing director at Microsoft Ireland, said: “The impact of Covid-19 is something that we could never have imagined. It is affecting every part of our daily lives and making us challenge many of our previously held perceptions.

“While, as individuals, we all need to play our part to help combat this public health crisis, as a company we want to do what we can to try to keep things as normal as possible for as many people as possible. Importantly, this means our young people.”

The impact Covid-19 measures have on children

Hallahan acknowledged that going to school each day is an important part of young people’s lives, which provides them with essential social interaction and learning opportunities.

“So we wanted to look at what we could do to help support the learning process while they stay at home,” she said. “At Microsoft, we have always been passionate about ensuring the next generation have the skills they’ll need to participate fully in the digital economy.

“This is at the centre of our DreamSpace experience, where every day students from primary and secondary schools from across the country come to Microsoft and have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a digital experience, challenge themselves to think differently and open their minds to the possibility of a career in technology.”

Hallahan added that it is “important” to continue to empower young people to be creative, to think critically and to see how technology can be used to tackle the issues the world is currently facing, even through difficult times.

“We understand that navigating the new world of remote learning and working is a challenge that we’re all juggling on top of the worry of keeping ourselves and families safe,” she said. “We all have to support one another during this time, and we hope these webinars bring some benefit to you and your child’s day in the weeks ahead.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic