D&A College’s Digital Mile

Rachel from the DYW team had the privilege of attending the opening of Dundee & Angus Colleges new ‘Digital Mile’ on Thursday.

The Computing and Creative Media department at the college have been working in hyper-drive for the last few months to provide the best possible environment and course they can for students as well as beginning to develop talent pipe-lines for local businesses.

The Digital Mile is a corridor of classrooms for the Computing and Creative Media department. What sets them apart from the rest of the classrooms in Gardyne is their layout and purpose.

Several of the classrooms have changed their layout from traditional classrooms with all the desks facing the front to hear the lecturer and see the board to be more illustrative of what a working environment is like. The desks are clustered, allowing teams to work on projects, share ideas, support each other and meet deadlines, just as they will when they leave the college and enter the workforce.

Some classrooms are industry equipment hubs. Gardyne have a Microsoft, Cisco and Oracle classroom respectively. Each with specialised soft and hardware to allow the students to experiment, learn and become familiar with the programmes, features and usage of these industry requirements. Everything from creating physical to virtual networks, which they can build and manage as well tablets, servers and more to disassemble and maintain.

There is also a designated Women in STEM classroom. This room provides a safe and supportive space for the few girls currently on the ten courses that run in Gardyne. In some cases there is only one girl on each course with perhaps more than twenty boys. The Women in STEM classroom allows these girls to meet at lunch-time and after class to share their experiences and help each other as needed. The female lecturers often stop in to offer advice and help the girls with their college and individual projects. Hopefully soon this space won’t be needed, but it’s good to know the support is there and networks are beginning to develop.

What makes the Digital Mile a real stand-out is the regular in-put from industry. Two classrooms have been supported by local digital businesses, both of whom are experts in their field with an international as well as local presence.

Ninja Kiwi have supported the Games Development course and the yearly GamesJam. They have come into the classroom and spoken to the students about the standards they (and the industry) expect from employees as well as ways they can begin bringing their work up to this standard.

MTC Media have done similarly with the Web Development courses and brand new Webathon. Illustrated exactly what they need in an employee and how to get it. They have set projects for the students, to give them tangible experience of the working world whilst developing their abilities and then provided feedback and strategies for moving forward. MTC have also made the incredible offer of taking some students on work experience and even a paid placement for the best applicants. This pipeline gives the students something to work towards and means that they are far more employable than students who have simply studied the theory.

MTC Media and Ninja Kiwi have done more than engage with the students. They have worked with the lecturers to ensure that their knowledge is up-to-date and are helping to build the course curriculum moving forward. This is an arrangement that everyone benefits from. By in-putting to the curriculum MTC and Ninja Kiwi are making an investment into their own companies’ future, they are developing a talent pipeline to secure future employees while insuring that these potential employees have a solid understanding of the world of work and the skills and experiences which are relevant for the industry. Students are getting the best possible education which will make them employable, with the additional bonus of invaluable in-put from industry experts.

This is a brilliant example of DYW work that the college should be commended for, as it benefits local young people and local businesses. If you are interested in DYW work get in touch with us.