Digital Technology & Design Degree

I’ve just finished up my year long, part time and fully online BSc Design Degree run by the Digital Skills Academy in Dublin in conjunction with the Dublin Institute of Technology and wanted to write a few words about the experience and to largely recommend the course to others.

I signed up for the course last January after seeing a Facebook add for it. I applied through the Springboard program which offers free courses to those qualified and was accepted because of my prior experience in the design sector having worked as a freelance Web & Graphic Designer since about 2003.

Topics Covered in my chosen “Design” stream:

  • UX, UI & Concept Design
  • Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation
  • Digital Industries & Career Development
  • Front-end Web & Mobile Development
  • Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop
  • Web Graphics Design & Production
  • Digital Marketing Campaign Management

There was also a Major Project for the final 6 months were we worked as a team on a real life project.

My reasons for doing the course were:

  • Gain a design qualification (had none!)
  • Learn something new
  • Networking
  • Experience of teamwork (I work alone a lot)
  • An internationally recognised Level 7 Bsc degree in only 1 year!?

The fact that the course was online and part time appealed to me as I still had my full time business to run as well as having a wife and three kids and things were kinda slow work wise. A 10-15 hour per week commitment was mentioned at the start of the course but we quickly realised that was a bit of an under statement! I think I put in about 25-30 hours per week at least for the first 6 months.

Course Best Bits:

  • Flexible access
  • Modern relevant content
  • Team work
  • NO EXAMS!
  • Only 1 year!
  • Introduction to online learning tools
  • Our Facebook group
  • Networking

Course Worse Bits:

  • Moodle learning system
  • Project brief confusion
  • Support delays (Forum & Email)
  • Inflexible LiveSync timings
  • Tolerating poor teammates

Conclusion:

I would highly recommend Digital Skills Academy courses. The lecturers are knowledgeable and accessible, the content is relevant to the modern digital workplace. Team work is excellent experience and the networking aspect is fantastic too. Where else would you get a degree, part time in one year too!?

Leon,
Class of 2017

7 Great Cloud Apps for Businesses and Teams

I recently started a part time, fully online/remote degree in Digital Design & Technology after working in a similar field, unqualified, for nearly 15 years. I thought I knew it all and knew the best tools of the trade. I was wrong.

The fact that my course is 100% online forced the usage of the apps/websites I’m about to detail but I’ll be using these for my own business, collaborative and personal use from here on in. All of the following apps are cloud based and available from any device with internet access. All (Except Coggle) have native app versions for mobile devices too which give a streamlined, better user interface if you’re not at your main desktop or laptop.

You may notice a slight Google bias here! Most are free for personal/lite usage.

1 Gmail

Gmail

Nothing new or groundbreaking here of course but you can’t beat gmail for reliable, cloud based email communication. Filtering, Labels & Folders and email search are dead handy as is syncing between different device versions.

Standout Feature: Multiple accounts.

https://www.google.com/gmail/

2 Google Drive

Google Drive

A file repository and storage system but with document sharing, commenting and integration with Google Docs, Sheets etc.. I love the live editing mode where you can actually see other people typing/editing on screen and commenting within documents is handy too.

Standout Feature: File & Folder access/sharing.

https://www.google.com/drive/

3 Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts

Excellent call conferencing and instant messaging system with good integration with Google Calendar, ie – click the link in a calendar event to join a call.

Standout Feature: Screen sharing to a group.

https://hangouts.google.com/

4 Google Calendar

Google Calendar

Event/task reminder system with event invites and reminder notifications. I can’t live without this in my life. I might forget to breathe without it. Automatic email notifications of event changes to event attendees is handy.

Standout Feature: Add other people to events/Indicate attendance.

https://www.google.com/calendar/

5 Google Apps (Docs, Sheets & Slides)

Google Apps

A cloud based alternative to the Microsoft Office suite of office apps. Apps are slightly less functional than the Microsoft versions but all are very capable still. I love that documents are automatically backed up and available across devices.

Standout Feature: Live simultaneous document editing by multiple people.

https://gsuite.google.com/

6 Coggle

Coggle

Simple collaborative mind mapping and idea generation tool. Initiate an idea in the centre and drag “idea” branches and sub branches out from it. Notifications of changes to branches are emailed to members automatically.

Standout Feature: Mind map exporting.

https://coggle.it/

7 Trello

Trello

I’ve saved the best until last. My OCD loves this one! Trello is a collaborative project management tool with “Cards” for each task and To Do, Doing and Done columns. It’s great for an Agile/Scrum environment as task cards can have deadlines etc.. You can organise everything from a major project to your whole life with Trello.

Standout Feature: Board notifications and integration with Google calendar.

https://trello.com/