EU Commissioner and Digital Champion Meet ‘Future Creators’ at The Digital Hub
A group of teenagers from inner-city Dublin demonstrated their digital skills today (22.03.13) to leading policymakers in the digital sector.
Vice-President of the EU Commission Neelie Kroes – who has responsibility for the digital agenda at EU level – met the teenagers at The Digital Hub. She was accompanied by recently-appointed Digital Champion for Ireland, Lord David Puttnam.
Commissioner Kroes and Lord Puttnam visited The Digital Hub to find out more about Future Creators, an ambitious digital skills programme established by the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA) in partnership with the National College of Art and Design (NCAD).
The programme is aimed at developing young people’s digital media skills and, ultimately, encouraging them to consider a career in digital media or technology. Participants – all aged between 13 and 16 – learn skills such as coding, film-making, app development and computer programming.
Commenting today, Dr. Stephen Brennan, Chief Strategy Officer at The Digital Hub, said: “We have been delivering the Future Creators programme for the past two years, and we are confident it has the capacity to influence education systems at both national and international levels.
“This is an after-schools programme, and the students who attend do so on an entirely voluntary basis. Some of the participants were identified by their schools as being at risk of early school-leaving before they began attending Future Creators. Now, their teachers report that they are far more engaged in class and their attendance levels have greatly improved. Furthermore, they diligently and eagerly turn up two evenings each week for their after-school Future Creators workshops.
“We believe the model of learning we have developed benefits young people because it is participant-led. It engages them in ‘hard fun’ in an out-of-school setting. An evaluation study conducted last year backs up our belief: it showed those who participated in Future Creators found it to be a more interactive and effective way of learning new skills than the traditional classroom setting. It also showed that participants are developing foundation skills of key interest to future employers – skills to use and create digital technology and content. Such skills will greatly enhance their future career prospects.
“Our hope now is that the learning content we have developed through Future Creators will inform the new optional modules being developed by the Department of Education and Skills as part of the revamped Junior Cert curriculum. In addition, the NCAD is working closely with past and present participants in the programme, to inform them of the third-level education routes open to them and encourage them to continue their interest in creative digital skills once they finish school.”
During today’s visit, Commissioner Kroes and Lord Puttnam met a group of Future Creators participants at the Learning Studio in The Digital Hub, and chatted to them as they worked on film and app development projects. They also met a number of students who completed the programme last year, and who are now engaged in a follow-on film-making course, run at weekends at the NCAD.
According to Dr. Stephen Brennan, the visit was particularly noteworthy because Lord Puttnam contributed to the development of the Future Creators programme in its early days.
“A few years back, The Digital Hub was exploring new options in terms of its learning and community engagement activities,” he said. “At that time, we met Lord Puttnam and he very kindly shared his expertise with us, and advised us on how to develop digital learning programmes that would not only engage the local community, but would also deliver usable skills for local residents – skills that would enhance their employability and that would, ultimately, enhance the Irish economy.
“Future Creators – and other community-based activities we now run – were born out of that engagement with Lord Puttnam. The project has also been on the radar of Commissioner Kroes for some time, so we were delighted that these two key influencers in the digital policy arena are here today.”
Further information about Future Creators is available at: www.thedigitalhub.com/learning/learning-projects-partnerships/the-future-creators/406.
Contact: Martina Quinn, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-6522033
Notes to Editors
Photographer Marc O’Sullivan has been commissioned to cover this event, and will issue photographs to all picture desks at approximately 3pm today.
The Digital Hub is an Irish government initiative aimed at creating an international centre of excellence for digital content and technology enterprises. It is located in Dublin’s south-west inner city, and is home to 66 digital enterprises, ranging from start-ups to well-established businesses that are significant employers and leaders in their fields. Since the project’s inception, 170 companies have progressed through the Hub, including some now well-established names such as Daft.ie, Havok, Houghton Mifflin (Riverdeep), Amazon and Gala Networks Europe. The Digital Hub Development Agency is the Irish state agency that manages the Digital Hub project. Further information is available at: www.thedigitalhub.com.