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Evaluation of Building E-Bridges: Interfaith Dialogue using ICT in Primary Schools

Funding: Westhill Endowment Trust
Duration: 2003-2007
Researchers: Professor Robert Jackson; Dr Julia Ipgrave; Dr Ursula McKenna.

This study was entitled ‘Evaluation of Building E-Bridges: Interfaith Dialogue Using ICT in Primary Schools’, and was funded by the Westhill Endowment Trust. The study details teacher and pupil perspectives about an approach to interfaith dialogue between children from different religious and cultural backgrounds in different parts of England using dialogue and email. The work contributed to religious education (RE) and citizenship education in the schools concerned. The study was a continuation of earlier research on pedagogy and plurality and on dialogue as a means for exploring religion in the classroom and for promoting interfaith and intercultural relationships between children. Ipgrave’s initial work was with pupils within one school, combining research with a form of dialogical teaching. The next stage involved linking pupils from two different schools in the same city, and the incorporation of teachers into the work who were not researchers or religious education specialists. The third development was the establishment of the Building E-Bridges Project, in which pupils from Leicester were linked by email to pupils from schools in East Sussex. This development introduced further complexities – the inclusion of many more schools; the participation of pupils living in very different parts of the country and from various religious and non-religious backgrounds; the incorporation of more non-specialist primary teachers; and the expanded use of information communication technology (ICT). The evaluation study of the project has recently been completed and a book has been published (McKenna, Ipgrave & Jackson 2008).

McKenna, U. Ipgrave, J. & Jackson, R. (2008) Interfaith Dialogue by Email in Primary Schools: An Evaluation of the Building E-Bridges Project (Münster, Waxmann).