Despite numerous initiatives, participation in third level education by young people from disadvantaged areas remains low. Innovative ideas are needed in order to change this trend.
The education system in Ireland is currently failing to prepare students for the knowledge-based society of the 21st Century, and many are being left behind. The Bridge to College (B2C) programme uses technology to deliver a dynamic learning experience for young people with poor perceptions of education. B2C engages young people from under-resourced communities and helps improve their attitudes to learning.
Working with schools, the programme seeks to lift educational horizons for young people based on a model of team-based workshops and technology-mediated learning. The workshops explore values-based themes and creatively challenge the young people using digital media, animation, music, drama and mobile technology. Extensive use is made of peer to peer learning, collaborative working and learning by doing.
B2C is designed and directed by John Lawlor, using his extensive experience in the field of technology and learning. The programme began its life as an initiative of Suas Educational Development in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin through the Trinity Access Programme and the Centre for IT Research in Education.
John believes that many young people, and particularly those in under resourced communities, are poorly served by formal education structures and systems. Their personal learning lags behind their personal talent. New models of learning and changes in educational practice are required to address this challenge and the opportunity presented through the Bridge to College model can meet that challenge.
The Bridge to College is now called Bridge 21, and John received an impact reward in 2010. Over 5,000 young people have passed through the doors of Oriel House, and the potential of Bridge 21’s learning model has been confirmed. Their network of schools and teachers has grown and through support from Google they have rolled out a nationwide professional development programme for teachers.
The spirit is there in every young person; it has to be discovered and brought to light.
The signing of the Bridge21 MOU
John Lawlor speaking at the 2010 Awards