Ten years ago who would have realised a practicum project as part of the celebrated M.Sc. in Electronic Commerce in DCU would have grown to become one of the most successful outreach programmes in Ireland. Throughout Ireland, there is a real need to introduce ICT skills to students at an early age and there is a particular shortage of women in this sector. To date, DCU’s School of Computing has taken in over 4,000 transition year students introducing them to computer programming and encouraging them to study computer science at third level. It is also encouraging to see that, over the last 3 years, over 40% of the total intake of these students are female.
The programme began in 2005 with students learning how to develop their own live website over a week. However, the programme has developed further over the last four years to include two additional streams, Introduction to Java Programming, which uses innovative content from the BSc. in Computer Applications course to provide students with a gentle introduction to an industry-standard programming language, and the AppInventor stream which allows students to develop and publish their own Android Apps on the Google Play store after just one week of tuition. Both courses allow students to learn the concepts of programming in a fun and engaging atmosphere.