The 2nd annual NET FUTURES conference, which wishes to maximize the competitiveness of the European technology industry, took place last week in Brussels, Belgium. The aim of the conference is to bridge the gaps between research and innovation labs, businesses, marketing, entrepreneurship and policy-making communities, with the idea that innovations will more easily and effectively find their way to market. The conference gathered over 1,000 attendees forming an interconnected community of people from industry, research institutions and startup companies.
The Forging Online Education through FIRE (FORGE) project was well represented at this event. In the Digital Skills Gap in ICT Technologies session, Alexander Mikroyannidis from the Open University, an invited session speaker, presented the current state of the art in resources for remote experimentation and learning based on research carried out by the FORGE project. This session sought to address some of the foreseen future gaps and challenges for skills development in specialised IT jobs. Other invited speakers in this session were representatives from Cisco, Amazon, Empirica and IDC. The session was chaired by Sally Reynolds, Managing Director of AtiT.
Additionally, the FORGE team, represented by Johann M. Marquez Barja and Diarmuid Collins from Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Daan Pareit from iMinds, Ghent University and Ciro Scognamiglio from University Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC), demonstrated five courses in networking and telecommunication at the FORGE booth. FORGE is leveraging FIRE testbeds and is enhancing learning approaches by producing educational material reinforced with hands-on experimentation that is supported by multimedia resources for engineering educators and learners. Courses demonstrated at the booth included:
- TCP Congestion Control – UPMC
- Metro MOOC – INRIA
- Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) – iMinds
- Long Term Evolution (LTE) – iMinds
- Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM) – TCD.
The versatility of these courses was demonstrated on tablets, laptops and phones to distinguished visitors such as: Dr. Jim Kurose, Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation; Andrus Ansip, Vice President for the Digital Single Market from the European Commission; EU project officers; university professors and students; and people from industry.
To date, FORGE has produced over 10 courses covering a wide range of networking and communication domains that are freely available to download and utilize. These courses have resulted in over 20,000 experiments undertaken by more than 600 students at 7 universities across four continents.