Stories from Cork (Part 2): The Intensive Learning, Coding and Mastering the MSc

Last year on September 27, I wrote part one of my series Stories from Cork. The intention was to write every month, but we know our everyday schedules can come in the way of our good intentions. Today, I am giving a sneak peek into my academic experience, from lectures, lab sessions, and every other stuff.

Lectures (Monday -Friday):

In my MSc, the lectures are all 2 hours and lecturers never miss any lecture. It’s important because every module has to be covered completely. In Uganda, the situation is different. When I was teaching at All Saints University Lango (ASUL) a few years ago, lecturers dodging lectures was the norm. It was so bad that in some cases only 50% of lectures are taught.

Practical sessions (5 hours a week)

Every module has a separate practical session and its timetable is different from the lectures timetable. You must attend all the timetables. This is something I would like to implement in Lira. For many universities in Uganda, the practical sessions are covered within the teaching timetable. It creates conflict and most times, it is only a lecture, and practicals are overlooked. Separating the two creates a sense of purpose because they have different outcomes.

Modules, Assignments, Exams  

In the MSc, we cover 6 modules, each running deep both in theory and practical requirements. Assignments are very hard, stretching you to explore deep knowledge & spend hours in the lab. Surprisingly, the exams are only 90 minutes, not those 2 or 3 hours I was used to in Uganda. I have learned from the best, using the latest technologies. Below are the different modules we covered last semester and what we are currently studying.

Semester 1: 

# Course Name Programming/Scripting Language / Tool
1 CS6100 Authoring Processing
2 CS6101 Web Dev’t for Digital Media HTML, CSS
3 CS6102 Graphics for Interactive Media Python, GIMP
4 CS6103 Audio and Sound Engineering Studio, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools
5 CS6104 Digital Video Capture & Packaging Final Cut Pro
6 CS6111 3D Graphics and Modelling Blender, Sketch up

Semester 2

# Course Name Programming/Scripting Language / Tool
1 CS6105 Future and Emerging Interaction Technologies VR, WebGL, WebVR, three.js
2 CS6113 Internet-based Applications HTML, CSS, JavaScript, CMS
3 CS6117 Audio Processing Chuck
4 CS6114 Digital Video Compression and Delivery Processing
5 CS6115 Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) HTML, CSS, JavaScript
6 CS6116 Mobile Multimedia Swift

Teaching skills, not platform

Here, there is a strong emphasis on the use of open-source software, a standards-based approach to technology. Again, this is something I would be willing to do in Lira. In our universities, there is a tendency for teaching using only one tool (software), for example, Adobe Illustrator. This restricts your skills to a particular software/tool. The standards-based approach introduces you to core cross-platform skills-set first, then the platform you choose to take is your choice. There is a high emphasis on standards. Your projects/solutions must adhere/follow global standards, anything less.

The Labs, Teaching resources

Our MSc. is privileged to have 5 labs (1 Audio,1 audio lab, 1 Mac lab, 1 PC lab, and 1 VR lab) dedicated labs (with the latest machines) to running the programme. Some labs are shared with other programmes, but the audio lab and studio are exclusively for MSc. Interactive Media only. When you have enough resources, teaching becomes easy. I think this where our education leaders need to pay a lot of attention. As long as, we don’t set-up mandatory learning labs/resources, most of the learning at our universities will be theoretical and not helpful.

The labs have demonstrators (we call them attendants) and their work is to help students. The lecturer’s work is to teach, while the demonstrators move around attending to students-making sure they are not left behind.

This was one of the reforms I constantly brought to the attention of the administration in my previous work. However, I lost it. There is a funny saying in Uganda these days that the boss is always right- I hate it so much. Leaders should be able to engage with all people & new ideas.

Conclusion

Although I have not seen last semester’s results, I am positive that all will be well. I am also certain that the things I have learned here will position me to contribute to the development of the ICT and education sectors in our country. End.

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