Archive for Education

There is a demand for Irish ICT graduates – Third level on computing forum press release



The
Third Level Computing
supports
discussion and co-operation between organisations interested in
computing education, including the third level colleges, industry
bodies, Government agencies, and companies. It was set up by the
National Software Directorate and is supported by the Department of
Enterprise.

  1. As
    other parts of the
    Irish
    economy suffer, the software sector continues to prosper. Demand for
    graduates in computing and related disciplines has kept growing and
    is greater than the supply. So far the shortfall has been made up by
    computing graduates from other countries, with over 50% of new hires
    in software companies coming from abroad. Longer term we will need
    to provide our own, as world-wide demand increases for graduates
    able to design the systems of tomorrow.

  1. The
    shortfall i
    s
    not just in computing graduates. If people generally are to have any
    understanding of the systems they use, any appreciation of new
    possibilities, they will need some grasp of computational thinking.
    Without this, they will at best be superficial users, unable to
    understand the associated costs and dangers, or appreciate the
    possibilities. We need to add ‘computational thinking’ to
    ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’ as another pillar of a
    practical education. By failing to do so we neglect the educational
    implications of a world where almost every aspect of life will
    involve computation based systems.

  1. It’s
    not just Ireland that faces these challenges. President Obama has
    been
    warned
    of the failure at second level to distinguish between ‘information
    technology literacy’ and ‘computer science’, and urged to
    Consider
    computer science as one of the core courses students need to develop
    critical 21st Century skills”.
    (/www.acm.org/public-policy/ACM_CS_ED_Transition_Final.pdf). At
    third level in the UK, Prof. Muffy Calder has pointed out that
    “Computational thinking, a way of solving problems,
    designing systems and understanding human behaviour, drawing on
    concepts of computer science, is having a wide impact across all
    disciplines.” (www.ukcrc.org.uk/rae-2009.pdf).
    The growing appreciation of these issues abroad makes it all the
    more important that we address them effectively here.

  1. In doing so, one
    strength is the co-operation that already exists between the third
    level sector and industry and the significance attached to this by
    the industry. “It’s vital that we support the connection between
    the world of education and the world of business to ensure we
    continue to bring new ideas, new computer science students  and
    expertise that can help drive innovation and entrepreneurship. Our
    support for the Third Level Computing Forum and its activities is
    recognition of the importance of that link.” (Mr. Liam
    Cronin, Microsoft Ireland).

  1. In
    Ireland, t
    hird
    level computing education is available in 7 Universities, 14
    Institutes of Technology, in Tipperary Institute, and in a number of
    private colleges. Four year honours degree courses (National
    Framework of Qualifications Level 8) are provided by most of these,
    with two and three year courses at Level 6 and Level 7 available,
    mostly in the Institutes of Technology. All the universities and
    most of the institutes are involved in postgraduate studies and
    research in computing.

  1. Numbers
    studying computing have not recovered from the drop of over 70% in
    applications for computing degrees in the 2001-2003 period,
    following the ‘dot.com’ collapse, though there have been some
    increases in recent years.

    A similar situation exists in other countries.

  1. The
    slowness of the recovery in
    the
    numbers reflects various underlying problems.

    1. Confidence
      lost in the ‘dot-com collapse’ of 2001-2003 has not been
      regained. “There are no jobs in computing”!

      The strong employment opportunities are not understood.

    2. Computing
      does not have a clear identity in the community.
      There
      is little understanding of what it involves, and a tendency to
      confuse it with Electronics, Mathematics, or computer
      manufacturing.

    3. The
      professional career opportunities and general educational value of
      computing qualifications are not appreciated. There is a fear that
      such qualifications provide only limited career options.

    4. The
      image of the comput
      ing
      graduate is of the ‘nerd’ rather than the ‘professional’.

    5. It
      is seen as a predominantly male area of interest.

    6. Ireland
      is one of the few Western European countries in which there
      is
      no study of computing, as distinct from use of computers, at second
      level.

  1. The
    resulting difficulties for the colleges include

    1. Empty
      places on virtually all full-time computing courses
      .

    2. Very
      low

      numbers of women on most computing courses.

    3. A
      decline in the Leaving Certificate grades of computing students.

    4. High
      f
      ailure
      and drop out rates, particularly in first year, where most students
      encounter programming for the first time. Students are ill prepared
      to study computing at third level.

    5. Difficulty
      in recruiting Irish graduates to do research.

  1. As
    a result, t
    he
    numbers graduating in Ireland fall well short of industry’s needs
    and of those of research.

    1. The
      Expert Skills Group predicts a shortfall of 2000-3000 computing
      graduates per annum in the coming years. (ICT Report 2008)

    2. More
      than 50% of graduate hires in software companies in the Dublin area
      are from outside Ireland.

    3. More
      than 50% of postgraduate research positions in the colleges are
      filled by graduates from outside Ireland.

  1. Other
    countries also have computing graduate shortages

    1. The
      USA employment in Information Technology grew by 8.7% in 2007

    2. Western
      Europe economies generally have a significant shortfall

    3. India
      and China have significant shortfalls

  1. This
    shortage of computing graduates has important economic consequences

    1. It
      hampers
      development
      of the ‘knowledge economy’

    2. It
      hinders e
      ffective
      use of computing in improving competitiveness.

    3. It
      limits
      innovative
      use of computing in new products and services

    4. It
      limits the development of the software sector, an industry ideal in
      many respects for an economy such as Ireland.

    5. It
      makes Ireland reliant on an uncertain supply of graduates from
      other countries, both for industry and for research.

  1. Continuing
    attempts are being made to address the

    issues

    1. All
      the colleges have
      invested
      in activities to promote computing, including

      1. School
        visits

      2. Special
        courses for second level students

      3. Promotional
        materials, printed, DVD, and WWW based

      4. Open
        days

      5. Appointment
        of a marketing officer for computing

      6. Articles
        and interviews in the media.

    2. Virtually
      all colleges have developed new courses aimed at capturing the
      interest of students in areas such as computer games, forensic
      computing, business computing, multimedia and business computing

    3. All
      the colleges have taken steps to address the p
      roblems
      of failure and drop-out, in particular by providing additional
      tutor support. Funding has been made available by the HEA to cover
      the associated costs.

    4. The
      state agencies, in particular the Higher Education Authority and
      Enterprise Ireland, and professional bodies and industry bodies,
      including Engineers Ireland and ICT Ireland, have co-operated in
      funding various initiatives and campaigns aimed at increasing take
      up of places in computing courses.

Although
there has been no shortage of effort, innovation and financial
support
,
recovery in the numbers remains slow, though there has been some
progress. However, without these efforts, it seems likely that the
situation would have deteriorated further.

  1. It
    is felt that the existing efforts should be continued
    .

  1. In
    addition, the following
    steps
    are suggested to help address the underlying issues

    1. That
      the industry seek the co-operation of the media in clarifying the
      job situation and the career prospects of computing graduates, and
      in overcoming the ‘nerd’ image. The colleges can help, but
      their views are at second hand and may be seen as tainted by vested
      interest.

    2. That
      steps are taken
      to
      provide a better understanding of what computing and computational
      thinking are about, and to distinguish them clearly from hardware
      technologies, mathematics, and computer manufacture. At present it
      is as though the civil engineering involved in a hospital were
      confused with the medical procedures carried out inside it.

    3. That
      the importance of computational thinking as a component in basic
      education be recognised.

    4. That
      the broad educational value of the study of computing be
      highlighted,
      to help reduce fears of limited career options. A computing based
      degree can be as broadly educational as a degree in business or
      economics or a modern language. Few disciplines touch on such a
      wide range of topics.

    5. That
      further efforts be made to attract women to study the subject. At
      present they have surrendered it to the men.
      Many
      seem to be unaware of the interest, flexibility, and prospects that
      a career in computing can offer. They seem unaware of the potential
      of computing to help people’s lives.

    6. That
      all Teacher Training, whether at Primary or Second level, involve
      the study of Computing, to cover at least basic
      Computational
      Thinking, Algorithms, Computer Programming, and Computer
      Architecture. At present it is infeasible to introduce computing in
      the second level curriculum due to unavailability of teachers, but
      this should not be allowed continue indefinitely. Teachers should
      be given the opportunity to become aware of the subject, and
      perhaps interested in it.

    7. That
      the colleges
      identify
      ways in which they might interact more closely with local schools
      to help build up interest in computing among teachers and pupils.

SchoolBots competition featured on rte.ie

The senior cycle SchoolBots competition was featured on RTE’s website in the tecnology news section. This coverage along with several articles that have appeared in several news papers are helping to promote this Google and Lenovo sponsored event. Closing date for entries is Dec 12th 2008. See Schoolbots.ie for more information.

Schools from across Ireland are registering for SchoolBots


schoolbots_traffic_map.png

As the deadline for Dec 12th for submission of SchoolBot Robots gets closer the traffic to www.schoolbots.ie from across the country is increasing. Student and teachers are gleaning sample robots, survival tips and programming nuggets from the website. Their quest is to build a robot that will be the best and destroy the rest.

This Google and Lenovo sponsored competition is proving very popular with Transition Year students.
5 schools will attend a SchoolBots Masterclass next Wednesday Nov 12th as part of Science week. This master class will cover topics such as radar targeting and bearing offsets for gun turning calculations.
There are only a few places left for schools who want to register for this event.

At last detailed photo mapping from the Ordance Survey Ireland

The ordance survey of ireland have launched OSI SmartMaps Mapviewer. Finally we have some high res images for the rest of Ireland. Google earth at the moment only shows parts of Ireland. The photos used for upperchurch were taken in 2005. You also have the option to look at photos taken in 2000 and this allow you to make visual comparisons.

SchoolBots Press Release

SCHOOLBOTS COMPETITION ADDS UP TO BETTER IT AND MATHS SKILLS FOR IRELAND’S STUDENTS
Google and Lenovo lend their support to help inspire the next generation of Ireland’s technological talent

Student participation in computer games programming can help boost interest in mathematics and should be used to help reinvigorate the subject at second level, an Information Communication Technology programme specialist has stated.
Announcing a major computer games competition, Schoolbots for transition year students, Dr Liam Noonan, from Tipperary Institute’s ICT Department explained how computer game programming can illustrate the implementation of key mathematical concepts in a host of real-life applications. Taking theory from the text book and translating it into a tangible project not only makes the subject more interesting, it is also proven to improve results in the subject.
Sponsored by IT giants Google and Lenovo, the Tipperary Institute competition, Schoolbots – the only one of its kind in Ireland – takes place on January 13th next and aims to encourage students to develop new IT skills while improving their understanding of important maths principles.
“ICT is a key sector in the Irish economy – Ireland is recognised worldwide as an ideal environment for nurturing, developing and expanding ICT operations and it is reliant on a steady supply of high calibre graduates. With recent findings indicating a 56% shortfall in the number of students taking up places on third level IT courses and a marked decline in second level maths grades, a creative approach to engage students early is needed,” said Dr Noonan.
“One of the most practical ways to address the graduate shortage in the technology sector in Ireland is to introduce the applications of ICT at second level. The importance of mathematics for a range of applications, like computer game programming, is fascinating. Demonstrating this relevance can help to teach the subject more effectively while enhancing student interest and lead to better exam results and increased graduate numbers.”
“SchoolBots aims to introduce IT into the classroom in a fun and imaginative way, helping to discover and nurture new talent,” commented Eoghan Nolan, Engineering Manager, Google. “Innovation is at the heart of Google’s success and our people are fundamental to this. It is incredibly important to us as an employer and for the future economic success of Ireland, that our education system creates a pool of world-class IT graduates who can think creatively.”
He continued, “Initiatives such as SchoolBots are key in developing an understanding among students of how mathematics applies in the real world and also in helping students develop their innovative thinking powers. We are delighted to support Tipperary Institute with this project and we look forward to hosting the winning students at Google in Dublin next year.”
SchoolBots uses Java to program robot tanks for battle against each other. The virtual tanks need to be smart enough to hit and avoid being hit and to move around without any kind of manual control. Prizes include a Lenovo laptop for the winning school and mp3 players for the finalists and runners up.
The winning team and 15 of their classmates will also visit Google’s European headquarters in Dublin and have a tour of its facilities.
This is the third year of SchoolBots and last year’s winner was Cashel Community College school and the inaugural winners were all-girls school Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone.
“Lenovo is delighted to support this exciting competition as we know that it will inspire students with an interest in technology by showing them what can be achieved with a little work and an innovative spirit. We wish all the participants the best of luck and hope that they enjoy the experience” says Fiona O’Brien, General Manager of Lenovo in Ireland.
Students from schools across Ireland will compete in the regional final which will take place on 13th January 2009 at Tipperary Institute with the top eight teams competing against each other in the national final which will be held on 12th March 2009. The competition is limited to 40 teams and registration is on a first-come-first-served basis. Further information, registration details and competition terms and conditions can be obtained by visiting www.schoolbots.ie or emailing the competition organisers at schoolbots@tippinst.ie Closing date for entries is Friday 12th December 2008.
Ends

SchoolBots Intro Video added to SchoolBots.ie

I decided to create a schoolbots intro video for schoolbots.ie. Hopefully it will act as a FAQ for many of the people out there wondering what schoolbots is all about.

 

 

Register your School’s entry via the SchoolBots Registration page

In order to register your school for this years SchoolBots please use the SchoolBots registration page. The number of schools that can take part is limited to 40. So register early !

Google and Lenovo Join forces with TI to promote SchoolBots

SchoolBots.ie has now gone live. The website is packed with information about SchoolBots, this includes video tutorials, an online and pdf version of the schoolbots manual, poster, photos from SchoolBots 2008.

We are delighted to announce that Google and Lenovo are sponsors of this competition. Both Google and Lenovo share TI’s vision to raise the awareness of ICT in the second level classroom.

SchoolBots is a computer game
programming competition aimed at transition year students and above at
secondary schools in Ireland. Tipperary Institute are the organisers of this competition. The competition is hosted at Tipperary Institutes campus in Thurles.

Competition Overview

  • Schools should register their
    interest no later than October 31st 2008. A teacher can email
    schoolbots@tippinst.ie. Competition is limited to 40 schools and is on
    a first come first served basis.
  • The closing date for submission of entries is December 12th 2008.
  • The Prequalifiers will take place on Jan 13th and 14th 2009
  • The top 8 schools from this competition will progress to the National Final on March 12th 2009
  • Individuals who reached the semi-final stage of previous competitions are not eligible to take part in the competition.
  • You can download a copy of the poster and display it in your school

Installing Sun Java JDK in Ubuntu

If you want to install the Sun Java JDK in Ubuntu use the apt-get installer and enter the following
apt-get install sun-java6-jdk sun-java6-plugin sun-java6-fonts
This will also download any related components

Multimedia Technology Cabinet number 1

Our Multimedia 1st year students in Tipperary Institute will become very familiar with the contents of this cabinet. As part of the new multimedia programme which commences in September 2008 the students will study multimedia technology and learn how to connect video and audio mixing desks to Imac minis, vista entertainment systems and Linux servers. They will also learn the practical skills of installing home theatre systems and using fibre optics to connect the sound to lcd displays.