It has been a hectic start for our team to the new academic year. Last Saturday during our annual Welcome Day we greeted a record number of new DCU Connected students to Dublin City University’s (DCU) Glasnevin campus.
While our DCU Connected online learners are spread throughout Ireland, and beyond, and not everyone is able to attend the Welcome Day in person, we were delighted to meet up with around 280 new students. In many cases the Welcome Day is one of the few times we get to meet our students in person, with the other formal opportunity occurring when they proudly come to DCU on completion of their study for their Graduation Ceremony.
This year’s Welcome Day began with a formal welcome to DCU from Bill Kelly, Dean of Teaching and Learning. He noted that earlier in the week Mr Richard Bruton, Minister of Education and Skills, formally launched DCU’s new Strategic Plan, Talent, Discovery & Transformation (2017-2022) where we set ambitious goals for the future of the University across six key themes.
In the context of these goals, Billy stressed to our new online students that widening participation in higher education has always been part of DCU’s DNA, with over 30-years experience of online distance education. He finished his brief welcome with a few words of inspiration and wisdom drawing on Seamus Heaney:
“Walk on air against your better judgement – challenge yourselves in all you do!”
Dr James Brunton, co-Head of the Open Education Unit, also welcomed everyone and emphasised how much we value our DCU Connected students.
The opening session also included a welcome to DCU from Niall Behan, Student Union President. Typically our DCU Connected students are studying part-time, off-campus and we really value the Student Union’s efforts to support all learners, wherever they study.
Dr Anne Markey, a previous online graduate of the BA in Humanities programme and Open Education tutor, learning resouces developer, and current member of the Humanities Programme Board, also shared her advice and experiences of studying by distance. In particular Anne reminded our ‘newbies’ that learning is a social process and to take full advantage of this new social network.
After the formal welcome students had the opportunity to learn more about their specific programme of study and to meet fellow classmates. While studying online from a distance isn’t easy Irish employers consistently tell us that in addition to the new knowledge students acquire (often on the job), they really value the perseverance and time management skills they develop when studying through DCU Connected.
We now look forward to engaging with all of our DCU Connected students in Loop—our online learning environment—and seeing the fruits of their work over the first semester, and beyond.