IT Sligo is in the running for a national award for a pioneering free online course known as a MOOC, which is attracting record numbers of students at home and abroad.
Engineers Ireland has shortlisted it in its prestigious Excellence Awards next month.
The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) teaches a process-improvement concept called Lean Sigma Quality which is especially applicable in industry, services and the public sector.
The nomination coincides with the Institute’s decision to run the MOOC for a second time due to high demand in Ireland and some 50 other countries. Registration closes on October 31st.
IT Sligo broke new ground with the MOOC last year. It is Ireland’s first Engineering MOOC.
This is the second year in a row that Engineers Ireland has nominated IT Sligo in the Engineering Education category of its annual awards.
IT Sligo’s “Online Labs” project, developed by staff at the School of Engineering & Design with the aid of EU-INTERREG funding, won Engineers Ireland “Best in Class 2013”.
The MOOC in Lean Sigma Quality is nominated in “Best in Class 2014”.
John Power, Engineers Ireland director general and chartered engineer, said: “Congratulations to IT Sligo for being nominated in this category for the second consecutive year. It shows a commitment from the Institute to provide programmes that serve the needs of both the student body and industry in an innovative and current format.”
Brian Coll, who jointly delivers the course with Dr John Donovan from the School of Engineering & Design, said: “The introductory week of this year’s MOOC is now under way but I would be confident that we’ll have around 2,000 signing up when registrations close on October 31st.”
The November 7th awards night will be memorable also for IT Sligo students Ruairi McGee, Anthony Mannion, Gary Lyons and Niall McHale as they will be presented with Engineers Ireland Innovative Student Engineer of the Year Award.
They won the prize in June for their prototype “Willow Harvester” which is designed for whole stem harvesting of biomass crops.
Mr Power said: “This group of students are an example of young Irish engineering talent in Ireland and I wish them the best of luck with their future careers.”
Brian Coll said: “We’re delighted to be on the shortlist. Feedback from last year’s students has been hugely positive. At the close of registration last January, we already had 500 wanting to pre-register for this year’s MOOC and by the start of September we had 1,800 signed up.
“We have a big representation from local industry as well as the multi-national sector and SMEs. We’re finding that it’s particularly popular with people in manufacturing and the healthcare sector.”
The MOOC represents a new operational dimension for the Institute’s Centre for Online Learning which provides some 40 internet-based courses to students across the world.
IT Sligo received a prestigious “Taoiseach’s Public Service Excellence Award” in 2012 in recognition of its role in increasing access to higher education for part-time and distance learners through online delivery
Brian Mulligan, Online Learning Programme Manager, said: “For IT Sligo to win Best in Class last year and be on the shortlist this year is validation of our determination to be continuously innovative.”
The MOOC in Lean Sigma Quality shows how productivity can be improved and costs reduced through new approaches to cutting wasteful processes such as needless duplication.
MOOCs originated in top American universities including Harvard, Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and have become a global phenomenon in internet-based learning.
They are short and require no formal course entry qualifications yet they provide high level personal professional development which participants and employers find beneficial.
Further information and registration details are available at www.itsligo.ie/online.
School of Engineering & Design lecturers Dr John Donovan and Brian Coll
who jointly deliver IT Sligo’s Ireland’s first Engineering MOOC.