St. Finian’s Community College Transition Year Class is very lucky to be part of the UniTY Progamme, a four way partnership between Second Level Schools, The Corporate Sector, Community Organisations and Dublin City University. In collaboration with CTYI (Centre For Talented Youth Ireland) and other DCU academics, DCU Access Service has created a yearlong academic curriculum which we are delivering in St. Finian’s Community College to increase the students’ competency in Maths, IT (Troubleshooting), Programming(Animation, Gaming and App Design) Leadership and Critical Thinking , in addition to Business, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Careers. DCU is working with the Corporate Sector to provide work experience. Participating students compete for highly sought after work placements in large scale, professional, corporate environments for ten days in March. The aim is to give students a glimpse of a world very much unknown to them in the hope that they will make the connection between the value of education and the opportunities that exist by having a profession.
The main objectives of the programme are:
1. To help students form a strong link between education, employability and income. To help students acquire valuable skills set which can be used in the workplace. It is envisaged that 95% of participants will clearly demonstrate learning outcomes across 5 or more subject areas.
2. To provide students with a positive insight into the corporate world. It is envisaged that 95% of students will demonstrate positive feedback and increased knowledge of related professions from corporate placements.
3. To open up students worldview and encourage them to aim high in terms of their career and educational attainment.
4. To encourage students to choose careers in Business and Finance as well as IT/ ICT and Engineering.
The Smart Skills course is designed to give students the opportunity to develop their own skill set in the fields of creativity, business and technology. These fields encompass a broad range of skills including but not limited to: media and web literacies, software design and development, teamwork and project management. Importantly the Smart Skills course seeks to show students where these fields overlap and how developing skills in each of these areas is not a mutually exclusive process.
Within the first week of beginning the course students will develop a working smartphone application using the free MIT App Inventor environment, from here they will utilise fast iterations to further develop their app with the guidance of their teacher. Course materials, notes and student work are stored and circulated via the Google Apps for Education framework, a free to schools suite of apps including custom email, cloud storage, collaborative office suite and more. Other free web apps and tools are introduce to students across the course such as Pixlr and the Mozilla webmaker.org suite of tools.
The course gives students the ability to harness their creative skills to solve problems, using advanced digital media tools and powerful storytelling techniques. The course is structured over a sixteen week calendar. Each session is structured over 120 minutes, three 40 minute classes per week. A week long programme will also take place in DCU during this sixteen week course. Students will be introduced to the five stages of video production during this time, developing their skills in creativity, project management, collaboration and scaffolding as well as learning Adobe Elements and Adobe Photoshop software. Students will combine all these skills while working on their social innovation project to develop a video.
The Careers and Leadership module is focused on developing each individual student’s skill set to enable them to progress onto third level and gain an insight in the world of work that they would aspire to. Their personal development is core to the overall programme and we strive to promote this in all students as well as motivating, building self-esteem and confidence. This will influence them to work from their own initiative and awaken the leader within.
Provision of work experience to students in professional working environments is a key component of the Unity Programme. Participating students will compete for highly sought after work placements in key growth areas such as the Technology, Pharmaceutical, Financial Services, Engineering and Communications sectors. Organisations take 2 or more students on Work Experience in Feb/Mar. Working weeks will be from Tuesday to Friday with students attending DCU for an ‘Employability Skills for Success’ Programme on Mondays.