The official launch of the ‘Learning Gate’ took place on Thursday afternoon.
A number of ‘TUS Learning Gates’ are located throughout the Midlands region and beyond, ensuring Higher Education opportunities are available to those living and working in these surrounding regions.
Mullingar e-Working Centre TUS Learning Hub is the only such Hub in County Westmeath.
The ‘TUS Learning Gate’, a concept introduced by Dr Michael Tobin, Dean of Faculty of Continuing, Professional, Online and Distance Learning, seeks to formally establish a location/space where TUS students and academic staff may meet and learn together, through the provision of one of the many online programmes provided by the Faculty of Continuing, Professional, Online and Distance Learning at TUS Athlone Campus.
The ‘TUS Learning Gate’ represents a space where TUS lecturers may deliver their lectures online, where students may study and access the TUS library online, where students may view their online lectures, meet to discuss projects, and/or complete group work based on the requirements of the programme that they are taking with the University. The objective to enable students’ study and work locally, yet have a learning space to go to that is warm, comfortable and set up to meet their needs.
Dr Tobin added that “The TUS Learning Gate locations are all ideally located, and organised as a remote working hub, like here in the e-Working Centre in Mullingar, with desks and offices already in place, enabling students to have some of the third level experience in their local towns. Additionally, it minimises the necessity to travel to Athlone when attempting to seek out a quiet and professional space to work in.” The concept he continued, “arose from student/lecturer feedback commenting that online learning students were often meeting in hotel foyers for groupwork, that their local broadband wasn’t good enough or that they had no quiet place to study or to access their online classes. However, all of this is now solved with this progressive partnership between the e-Working Centre Mullingar and other remote working hubs and TUS, where together they are opening the ’TUS Learning Gate’, thereby resolving those issues for those living in these regions and their surrounding area.”
Pat Gallagher, CEO Westmeath County Council, further added that “The objective of the ‘TUS Learning Gate’ is to bring the delivery of Higher Education to Mullingar, to ensure that those living and working in Mullingar can access flexible, part-time Higher Education programmes, as delivered by TUS locally. This will go some way towards supporting Mullingar and the social, business and industrial communities through the provision of access to appropriate skilled staff, through either upskilling or re-skilling opportunities, to be made available through the partnership between Mullingar e-Working Centre and TUS and locally enabled by the ‘TUS Learning Gate’ concept.”
The ‘TUS Learning Gate’ is made available to students by each designated hub as it seeks to ensure that their region has a Higher Education facility.
Mr Declan Doran, Business Development and Work Practice Corodinator believes “The ‘Learning Gates’ will also represent a location where TUS may host information events and other such activities – broadening our reach and ensuring we are providing accessible education via online learning channels across the Midlands. This is in addition to creating an identity within each respective Learning Gate location, that TUS is present and seeking to work with local industry in designing programmes and research opportunities. TUS will use this as a location to proactively seek funding to support learning opportunities locally under various government and other initiatives e.g. Springboard+, ICT Skills and the Human Capital Initiative. Programmes will be identified through consultation with local stakeholders and designed to support those working and living (and possibly commuting) in the vicinity of each TUS Learning Gate location. Our objective is to deliver relevant, accessible programmes locally or in a location affiliated to the ‘TUS Learning Gate”
Professor Vincent Cunnane, president of the Technological University of the Shannon further added that “The objective of the ‘TUS Learning Gate’ is to bring the delivery of Higher Education to these regions, to ensure that those living and working in these localities can access flexible part-time Higher Education programmes, as delivered by TUS locally. This will go some way towards supporting these regions social, business and industrial communities through the provision of access to appropriate skilled staff, through either upskilling or re-skilling opportunities, to be made available through the partnership between each remote working hub and TUS and locally enabled by the ‘TUS Learning Gate’ concept.”
In recent years, TUS have been very successful in receiving funding through the Springboard+, HCI and ICT Skills initiatives, all initiatives that make learning and upskilling available to many cohorts of people (employed, unemployed and other) on a part time flexible basis. In the current academic year, the University has over 2000 students, predominantly adults studying their range of programmes each week from all 32 counties availing of their range of part-time flexible programmes delivered in an online learning mode across disciplines including Business, Law, Leadership, Quality and Lean, Logistics, Packaging, Executive Management and many more. And, indeed going forward these students would like to see Learning Gates established in all counties.
The ‘TUS Learning Gate’ concept in the e-Working Centre Mullingar represents a facility specifically for those students, as they wish to work and study with fellow students in a professional environment, with access to a dedicated desk and Wi-Fi
The Faculty of Continuing, Professional, Online and Distance Learning are also delighted to announce a collaboration with the eWorking Centre in Mullingar to offer a Higher Education academic programme exclusively through the Learning Gates commencing this coming September. The selected programme, the Certificate in Business in Entrepreneurship programme aligns with the type of individual that may be using the Learning Gates at present and it offers them the opportunity to gain a Higher Education qualification while enhancing their own knowledge of entrepreneurship. The programme will also provide opportunities for people locally not using the learning gates to access the learning gates and then potentially start a business initially via the learning gate, adding value to the wider community. The delivery of the programme will be aligned to the Faculty’s Online Delivery Methodology and offered at family friendly business hours allowing potential participants to balance their busy commitments. The rich learning environment provided in the TUS Learning Gates will allow participants to engage in the programme content while networking and building connectedness with their fellow Learners throughout our network of Learning Gates. Programme content includes areas like Learning and Development for Higher Education, Entrepreneurial Skills, E Business and Web Creation, Finance for Entrepreneurs, Creativity and Ideation for Product Innovation, Professional Development, Career Planning and Mentoring , The Business Environment and the Entrepreneur, Sales Practice and the Pitch, Social Media Applications along with all the supports the Faculty provides to their Online Learning Cohort. This is a unique opportunity for TUS Learning Gates to develop entrepreneurial competencies in their local regions, forging close collaborations with TUS and affording their patrons the opportunity to develop an academic qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications.