Lero, UL target second level students with online videos

Dr Jim Buckley, Lero
Dr Jim Buckley, Lero

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23 August 2016 | 0

Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre and the CSIS Department at the University of Limerick (UL) have launched a series of six YouTube videos promoting the study of science at third level.

Entitled Is a Computer Science course for you?, the videos are presented by Lero UL researcher Dr Jim Buckley (pictured), show how to build and refine a tank robot using the Java programming language, for a computer game, Robocode.

“The problem is that, unlike the UK, we don’t formally teach programming at second level, so students are effectively taking a leap in the dark when they select courses with high programming quotients, like Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Software Development, Software Engineering or Game Development,” said Dr Buckley. “These videos are designed to let students decide if programming is for them and, equally important, if it is not.”

Clare McInerney, education and outreach manager, Lero, said: “We are facing a severe skills shortage in the ICT sector so it is important both for individual career choice and the economy that students interested in this field are equipped to make informed choices about further study in computer science. We hope that these videos, as well as initiatives such as the Junior Cycle Short Course in Coding, assist that decision.

“By giving students this brief introduction to programming, the initiative hopes to increase uptake of these course among those who might like programming but don’t realise it, but also to help those who might drop out of these courses because they have little interest in programming.”

This initiative comes on the back of a recent Higher Education Authority study which expressed concern regarding dropout rates in computer science areas which range between 15% in universities to 26% in institutes of technology.

Under the National Action Plan for Jobs 2014 the target was to provide an additional 1,250 undergraduate ICT places per year in higher education institutions and increase the retention rate of students on these courses.

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