With speakers from Google and Apple, the 6th annual Irish Universities Association HR Conference held in Trinity yesterday dealt with the importance of fourth level education and building an Irish knowledge economy through innovation and technology.
Ciara D’Arcy, senior HR business partner at Google talked about the Irish IT workforce and what the company felt was a very high standard here that has contributed to Google’s customer service in the competitive market environment of the internet.
Alan Greenberg, Apple’s EU manager for education, discussed how universities and other educational institutes throughout Europe and the US were beginning to improve and expand upon the learning process through podcasting. He talked about how lectures and other learning material can be accessed through podcasts on the iPod and other MP3 devices.
It was shown how e-learning in Ireland has come on in leaps and bounds, with the director of TCD’s Centre for Learning Technology, Dr. Vincent Wade revealing that it has lead to students participants in over 350 online courses. The use of virtual technology to improve the e-learning process was also discussed.
Speaking at the conference, the minister for Innovation Policy, Michael Ahern, said that the agenda of science, technology and innovation was a high priority for the Irish government, referring to the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation which was launched in June 2006.
Ahern said that to ensure a fourth level knowledge economy the government is developing key collaborative initiatives in the form of Centres for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSETs) funded by the Science Foundation Ireland.
“These centres, all of which are based on university campuses, fund researchers to collaborate with industry in developing internationally competitive research clusters,” he said.
Formed with key industrial partners including Intel, Hewlett Packard and GlaxoSmithKline, the technologies being focused on are Nanotechnology; software engineering; telecommunications and regenerative medicine.
By Marie Boran