Intel and Media Lab Europe are exploring plans to bring several Computer Clubhouses, based on the ones established in the Liberties and Blanchardstown, to economically under-served regions in Ireland where a major digital divide exists. To do so the companies are looking for support from local businesses, community groups and local universities.
In recent weeks Intel and the South West Inner City Network, which is supported by Media Lab Europe and the City of Dublin Youth Services Board, opened the Intel Computer Clubhouse in Dublin’s inner city.
The Clubhouse is an after-school programme that provides youths aged between 10 and 18 access to technology and skilled adult mentors to help them develop technology skills and confidence to create new opportunities in the burgeoning world of digital media. Mentors enable children to create digital artwork, produce their own music CDs, film, write and edit their own movies and design websites.
The Intel Computer Clubhouse Network came about as part of a project of Boston’s Museum of Science in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, with the aim of bringing technology to children in economically disadvantaged areas and enable them to shape their own future through developing advanced skills. So far there are now 60 Intel Computer Clubhouses throughout the world, stretching from 13 States in the US to locations as diverse as Brazil, Israel, South Africa and Taiwan.
The Liberties-based Clubhouse, adjacent to MediaLab Europe, opened last month and the Clubhouse in Blanchardstown has been up and running for over a year now. According to Ronan Smith of Media Lab Europe, Intel has invested some €700,000 in the Clubhouses in Ireland.
“Already some serious talent in the digital music segment is starting to emerge from the Blanchardstown Clubhouse. The aim of the Clubhouses is to provide children in under-served areas with technology and skills that will encourage them to become digital artists and produce music, movies and websites,” Smith said.
“Our intention now is to extend the model beyond Dublin and tackle urban centres around Ireland where it is believed the digital divide should be addressed and children given the opportunity to shape their own futures,” Smith explained.
Smith explained that one aspect of the regional plan is to talk with regional colleges and universities with the hope of establishing Intel Computer Clubhouses on their campuses. “We are also hoping to talk to local businesses and community and secure sponsorship and local support for the endeavour,” Smith explained.
“It is hoped that by establishing Computer Clubhouses on strategically targeted campuses, we can open up opportunities for communities all over Ireland and find a novel way of closing the digital divides that exist in this country, North and South, East and West,” Smith concluded.
By John Kennedy
Pictured – local children dabbling in the digital arts at the recent launch of the new Intel Computer Clubhouse in Dublin’s Liberties area