Our Story

How we got here…

It has been a wonderful whirlwind of learning, growing, opportunity and optimism that has brought Bridge21 thus far. All along, a determined belief in the power of education to transform and shape our society has underpinned that growth.

The origins of Bridge21 go back to 2004 when Bryan Patten, a graduate student in CRITE and founding member of Suas Educational Development, started a series of Saturday workshops. Volunteers and local students came together in Trinity College to learn and play with technology. Out of the creative sparks and educational juice that emerged from those mornings, a pilot programme evolved.

John Lawlor came on board as founding director. His recent experience on the M.Sc. in Information Technology in Education (MITE) combined with his lifelong love of scouting both played a huge role in the shaping of the programme. John recruited Claire Conneely, another MITE graduate and music teacher, and together they built the Bridge2College programme, as it was then known.

They built a partnership with the Trinity Access Programmes (TAP) and their link schools. Trinity College gave it a physical home and Suas Educational Development took it under its administrative wing. The Saturday workshops could now happen all week, during school hours. B2C settled into Oriel House, the learning space which would act as a launch pad for the new stage of growth of the programme.

Over the next three years, feedback from participants, mentors, teachers and researches started to roll in. Over 2,000 young people passed through the doors of Oriel House during this time and the potential of the learning model was confirmed. Proposals to take it further were hatched.

It was at this critical junction that some funders and supporters came on board. A social impact award for John Lawlor from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, and recognition from the Irish Learning Technology Association further endorsed the achievements of the programme. Expectations were rightly raised all round to take it further.

Here’s our promo video from 2010….

As Ireland recoiled into an economic freeze, things in Bridge21 were just warming up. Our partnership with the NCCA led to the production on an extensive report on the work we have done in schools around Ireland during the 2011/12 academic year. That report, and other publications, are available from our publications page.

As we continued to grow our network of teachers and schools, a major endorsement and support from Google opened an exciting new chapter for Bridge21. The Postgraduate Certificate in 21C Teaching and Learning has seen a formalisation of the CPD we have undertaken for many years. It offers accreditation and support to teachers who want to integrate these exciting ideas into their practice.

Never before have we felt the time more ripe for radical educational reform. Our future generations need it. Ireland needs it. And, so with conviction, we work into the next stage of our journey, eager and open for change.