Assessing Impact of ICT Intercultural Work

Assessing Impact of ICT Intercultural Work

Angela Rickard (Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland), Alma R.C. Grace (Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland), Roger S.P. Austin (University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland) and Jane M. Smyth (University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/ijicte.2014070101
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Abstract

This article reports on a school-based ICT initiative, called Dissolving Boundaries (DB) which links primary, (pupils aged 5-11), post-primary (pupils aged 12-18) and special schools (pupils aged 5-18) in partnerships across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The aim of the research was to investigate if participation in DB was associated with an increased awareness and understanding of life on the other side of the border. The ICT skills of pupils were also probed. Two cohorts of pupils were used in the study, one which had taken part in the Dissolving Boundaries program during an academic year and another cohort of similar age in the same schools, which had not taken part. Findings suggest that participation in the program contributed to students' knowledge and awareness in general of the other jurisdiction. In terms of collaborative work, a large majority of DB pupils agreed that they could learn something new from working with another school. Participating pupils in the DB program showed much higher competence in those ICT skills associated with communication and collaboration than their non-participant peers.
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The Dissolving Boundaries Program

The Dissolving Boundaries through Technology in Education Program (DB) (www.dissolvingboundaries.org) was established in 1999 in the aftermath of the signing of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement. This political settlement, involving the British and Irish governments and politicians in Northern Ireland was designed to bring about the end of violent conflict in Northern Ireland that had prevailed for three decades. That conflict had resulted in the loss of life of over 3,500 people during that time (Archick, 2013). Dissolving Boundaries is a cross-border school-based exchange program that embeds the use of technology in classrooms with a view to promoting intercultural understanding and awareness among the participating students. The school-based projects undertaken by teachers are conducted with whole class groups over a full academic year. The technology used for this work is combined with support for the opportunity to conduct a face-to-face meeting to further the development of positive relationships between the linked classes.

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