Microsoft participates with Northern Regional College in European digital initiative


Northern Regional College is organising a digital initiative which involves a series of events and workshops across its six campuses as part of a European-wide digital programme. Microsoft’s Academic Program Manager was one of the lead speakers at one of the kick-off events.

Taking place from 25 – 29 Mach 2019, Northern Regional College’s Digital Skills Week coincides with ALL DIGITAL Week, an annual digital empowerment campaign which promotes the importance of digital skills for inclusion and employment and engages 100,000 people across Europe in online and offline events with the aim of tackling digital transformation and its effects.

As well as hearing from Microsoft Ireland, the series of events will provide students with the opportunity to hear from and engage with speakers from organisations such as Ulster Bank, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Zymplify and Ulster University.

Speaking at the event, Stephen Howell, Academic Program Manager, Microsoft Ireland said: “At Microsoft Ireland, our ambition is to help every student, through the power of technology, to realise their potential. We do this in a number of ways including working together with Northern Regional College to showcase the limitless possibilities that a career in the technology sector can afford. With the sector needing over 70,000 new workers over the next five years alone, there is a strong need to promote STEM education and provide new and innovative ways for our young people to grow their interest in technology.”

Dr Helen Dixon, Head of Creative and Innovative Learning at Northern Regional College, explained the reasons behind Digital Skills Week, saying it was “imperative that all students have the right skillset for a digital age”.

“Digital Skills Week is providing both our students and staff with the opportunity to hear and learn from industry experts across a range of topics. Whether it be cybercrime prevention, scam awareness or digital storytelling, by investing significantly in our online and digital technology capabilities, we are developing our students’ digital skillset so they are ready for future employment,” she said.

“As the only Further Education college in Northern Ireland to be a member of the Association for Learning Technology, we are committed to the investment in and promotion of the use of online and digital technology across our campuses and developing our staff which, in turn, further enhances the offering we can provide to our students,” Dr Dixon said.

“For example, we initially invested in virtual reality technology for our games design students, but are now looking at other applications for it in other subject areas, such as in health and social care,” she said.

Since taking up her post, Dr Dixon notes that use of the College’s digital learning environment has increased by almost 90% over the past two years. This has resulted in plans to upgrade its virtual learning environment to Canvas, a platform which will allow students to access their course materials from anywhere using a mobile app, as well as complete and upload assessments through it.

Her comments come as the College plans to upgrade its digital learning platform, which will allow students to access course materials anywhere by using a mobile app.

Siobhán Lowe, Community Banker with event supporters Ulster Bank, explained that as people move towards using more online services, they must also take steps to protect themselves and their finances when using technology.

“As we mark Digital Skills Week, it is important to focus on staying secure in the digital world and remembering to be cautious about what information you disclose online. Anyone can fall victim to an online scam so Ulster Bank’s team of Community Bankers is determined to educate the public and raise awareness of the signs to look out for in order to stop a scam.

“I’m pleased that Northern Regional College has included online safety as part of its Digital Skills Week activity and hope that by hearing this message, students will continue to stay secure in the digital world.”

Northern Regional College students Miguel Angelo Potollo Lullueng and Amber Cole alongside Dr Helen Dixon, Head of Creative and Innovative Learning at the College, and Stephen Howell, Academic Program Manager at Microsoft Ireland, during Digital Skills Week.

At Microsoft Ireland, our ambition is to help every student, through the power of technology, to realise their potential.

Stephen Howell, Academic Program Manager, Microsoft Ireland