Busy Start to New Academic Year with a Record Number of DCU Connected Students

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.

1

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. DKKGcSVW0AA3EQA.jpg-large

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.

stratplan_news_900_0

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!”

2

4Dr 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.

3Dr 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.

5

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.

 

Software Development Career Transition Course: Year Two Road Report

By Dr Eamon Costello

Last year I wrote a Linkedin article that promoted a newly developed DCU Connected online course. In that article I talked about my own personal connection to ICT Skills Conversion courses and about the rationale behind our Higher Diploma in Science in Software Development, a two year part-time course which charges no fees for students who are working but wish to make a career change. The course is part of the Government’s ICT Skills Conversion initiative aimed at transitioning workers into areas of skills needs in the economy, and more specifically into ICT.

Road.jpgIt’s now Déjà vu all over again as we are currently enrolling a new cohort of eager students on this course. It is now also the start of year two for last year’s group of learners so it’s a fitting time to reflect on how things are going. In many respects the course exceeded my expectations. One is always nervous starting a new venture. Start of term is a giddy mix of excitement and anxiety for the journey ahead. How will students fare in an intensive and immersive course of study? What can I say to motivate them for the road ahead? How can we build a supportive environment with students to help them engage and build skills and competencies in software development? How can I instill the passion that I and my academic colleagues have for the topics?

You can read the full version of this brief think piece and find out the answers to the above questions and more information about pursuing a career in Ireland’s growing ICT industry on Dr Eamon Costello’s Linkedin website.