Teaching & Learning

T&L and Learner Support have always been at the heart of TAKOs activities & focus. An overview of the groups T&L initiatives, innovations, and achievements is given here.

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Learner Support Innovation & Initiatives

We believe teaching, learning and dedication to students must go beyond the walls of a classroom. We also believe students can learn from each other as much as they learn from their teachers. Inspired by these tenets, our Group has led and initiated a number of learner-centred programmes and units which support and that nurture active, collaborative and group-based learning. We continually share a great sense of satisfaction seeing all these initiatives grow and develop into essential pillars of UL’s highly accredited learner support culture, and we are so grateful to all students and colleagues who helped make this happen.

Peer-Supported Learning Groups Programme (PSLG)
Peer-Supported Learning Groups (PSLG) is a proactive academic enrichment programme, that targets difficult modules/subjects. It fosters cross-year support between students on the same course by encouraging them to support each other and to learn co-operatively under the guidance of students from the year(s) above. For more information please visit the about us page on our website: http://pslc.ul.ie/about.html

The ICT Learning Centre (ICTLC)
The ICT Learning Centre is UL's leading learner support unit which caters for all students learning needs in ICT disciplines across UL, with a particular focus on programming and software related skills. We provide intensive support which seeks to engage students through innovative tutoring and learner focused support thereby augmenting existing teaching and learning activities within the curriculum. For more information please visit our website: http://ictlc.ul.ie/.

Effective Communication Skills Seminar Series
The PSLC runs two annual seminars on presentation and report writing skills with a particular emphasis on writing and presenting for Final Year Projects (FYP) of the 4th year students of the Electronic & Computer Engineering Department in UL. For more information on the seminars please visit http://pslc.ul.ie/ssc/seminar_series.html.

ICT Retention-related Initiatives
The ICTLC and the PSLC have been leading UL’s ICT student retention initiatives since 2010, with focus on enhancing students’ academic performance, success, progression and completion on all our ICT programmes via a number of learner support programmes. These initiatives address, to varying degrees, 5 key goals within the centres which are:
  • Enhance & broaden the students' skill-sets
  • Increase retention
  • Promote active and student-centred learning
  • Promote ICT as a career path
  • Research to enhance centre services

Research & Practice in ICT Teaching & Learning
Since 2010, our group has been actively involved in conducting research relating to practices in ICT teaching and learning. This includes evaluation of our existing and newly introduced learner support schemes and innovative teaching and learning approaches, and investigating the impact of our supplementary academic learner support on student success, progression and retention. Our recent research findings and recommendations regarding ICT student retention have been instrumental in informing and advising a number of institutional and national stakeholders, including UL Executive Committee, the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning In Higher Education, the National ICT Retention Scoping Group and the HEA - Skills and Enterprise Engagement.
Our group have also published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers on our research and practice in ICT Teaching & Learning - see our list of publications.

The Regional Peer-Supported Learning Centre (PSLC)
Founded in 2008 by Prof. Hussain Mahdi, the Regional Peer-Supported Learning Centre (PSLC) is a cross-institutional centre for promoting effective, learner focused peer supported learning systems by building on the experience and expertise in peer supported learning in all Shannon Consortium partner institutions, particularly that related to UL's highly successful academic enrichment programme known as PSLG. For more information please visit our website: http://pslc.ul.ie/.

The Pair Programming Initiative
Paired Programming (PP) in pedagogy is a peer-led collaborative learning method which involves grouping two programming students together in front of one computer to solve a given programming or design task. Both students have equal responsibility for the outcome. The positive learning outcomes reported for PP include active learning and increased retention, the creation of a more socially inclusive learning environment, enhanced assessment outcomes and the development of important generic communication skills that are required in the modern workplace. The ICTLC has introduced PP into specific first-year computer programming labs with the feedback on this student-centric learning approach being very positive. Read more on our publication on PP in UL.

Broaden Students' ICT Skill-Set
The ICTLC delivers ICT skills workshops throughout the semester, which cover such subjects as software tool usage skills, non-core software languages and other subjects that are of interest within the software industry. Students are encouraged to discuss and request such workshops with centre management. Examples of these workshops include Python Language workshops, Git open source software development version control manager, and Advanced Unified Modelling Language (UML) design, and introduction to Oracle Certified Professional Java Programming Exams (OCPJP). For more up to date information please visit our services and facilities page.

Outreach: Promoting ICT as a Career Path
Both the ICTLC & the PSLC are involved in a number of outreach programmes, targeted at 2nd level students, to encourage interest in and uptake of ICT programmes of study as a career path.

Each June, the centres organise and run a summer camp called UL CyberCamp which, through the implementation of a number of modules covering hardware and software topics, introduce the attending students to some of the core topics that they will encounter if they study an ICT course. For more information please visit the UL CyberCamp website.

In addition, the two centres are actively involved in facilitating the UL Engineering Week via interactive workshops and classes, such as our Java Programming workshop for participating Transition Year students.

UL Students and National ICT Competition Awards
Since 2010, the ICTLC and PSLC teams have been managing UL ICT students' participation in a number of annual national and regional computer programming and gaming competitions, as part of our aim to promote active and student centred learning, enhance and broaden the students' ICT skill-sets and to promote ICT as a career path. Working with all undergraduate students in UL every year, we invite and encourage students' participation, manage team selection via internal competitions and provide team mentoring and training, which have been instrumental in our success and team winning record – read more about our recent successes and awards.

Science + Engineering Teaching & Learning Days

The Teaching & Learning Days - Faculty of Science & Engineering is an annual institutional forum and symposium series initiated and organsied by Prof. Hussain Mahdi since 2010. This T&L symposium aims to celebrate and showcase innovative efforts of S&E faculty teaching; disseminate new teaching & learning initiatives; promote and exchange new ideas and good practices in teaching & learning; and provide a healthy forum for timely discussion and debate of T&L issues of institutional, national and international interest. The forum is continuing to grow in its scope and impact, with increasing contributions, participation and interest from all teaching and learning support staff in the Faculty of S&E, as well as the wider UL community. - For more information, please visit the Faculty of S&E Teaching and Learning Days page .

On-line Learning & Training Materials

The ICTLC & PSLC offer a number of online learning resources and in-house developed materials covering tutorials, seminars, and training manuals for the following:

Group's Teaching Specialism