Dissolving Boundaries uses technology to facilitate cross-cultural educational links between schools in the North and South of Ireland. It is jointly funded by the two Departments of Education and is managed by the Education Department, Maynooth Universityand the School of Education in the University of Ulster.
Central to the programme is the professional development of teachers who are encouraged to integrate technology in creative ways to promote intercultural learning and collaborative practice.
Dissolving Boundaries is open primary, post-primary and special schools and currently boasts around 200 participating schools between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
The programme is widely regarded as ‘the single best example of cross-border educational links anywhere in Europe, let alone Ireland’ (Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies) and it has received favourable reports from the National Foundation for Educational Research and by the Inspectorates in the two jurisdictions.
Dissolving Boundaries was started in 1999 in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement with 52 teachers and approximately 500 schools, 2,500 teachers and as many as 40,000 pupils have been involved in Dissolving Boundaries since the outset.
The programme is credited with enhancing teachers’ self-confidence as professionals; improving the quality of learning and influencing school culture and policy and improving relationships with parents. Specifically teachers report significant impact on their use collaborative practice, technology integration and pedagogic innovation in classrooms and schools as well as a greater willingness to share their practice with colleagues.
Data both from pupils and teachers have shown that pupils have been highly motivated by the sense of audience that their links have provided and this has led to improved literacy and numeracy, better technical and communication skills and increased awareness of diversity on the island of Ireland. Other reported benefits included better concentration, improved problem-solving and a better sense of responsibility for ensuring that work was completed by agreed deadlines. Many have felt more engaged in class work and have appreciated the opportunities to make friends with young people from different backgrounds.