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Dr Luke Burns: Education and Training

The current academic year has started like no other.  There has been a huge effort by the LIDA community to transition the existing education and training portfolio from its thriving campus norm to online delivery.  But what preceded this was a very successful 2019/20.

The 2019/20 academic year saw a growth across all core areas of activity within the LIDA education and training portfolio, these included taught postgraduate programmes and student numbers, short course provision, early career seminars and the ongoing development of future initiatives.

The total number of Masters programmes affiliated (or closely aligned) to LIDA reached eleven with close to 700 students registered across these programmes.  New programmes such as Financial Technology and Geographical Information Science either launched or entered the final stages of development.  The innovative MSc in Geographical Information Science (School of Geography) represents the first wholly online and part-time programme in LIDA’s portfolio.

Meanwhile LIDA is delighted to announce the imminent launch of a new MSc in Urban Data Science and Analytics (commencing September 2021).  This interdisciplinary taught programme will combine technical training in the latest data science techniques – from data wrangling, to machine learning, visualisation, and more – with the critical thinking needed to interrogate and understand complex urban and mobility challenges.

The early career seminar series became a well-established weekly event in the LIDA calendar with staff, students, visitors and external speakers coming together to present data-driven research.  Whilst all sessions were well attended, some seminars drew audiences of in excess of 50 delegates.

LIDA’s short course provision continued to grow, both in terms of the number of courses provided and attendees.  The reach of these courses also grew, with staff, students and industry professionals from across the country participating.  Software training in areas such as QGIS, R and Python were supplemented with domain-specific courses in fields such as risk management and public health.

Plans for the future are also well developed.  In the short-term, certain Masters programmes will begin in January 2021 (as opposed to September 2020) in a bid to reduce the COVID-19 impact on recruitment. Short courses are being re-designed for online delivery.  The first of these ran in early October (Beginner’s Python for Data Analysis) and was attended by over 45 delegates.  Seminars are also continuing on a fortnightly basis via live online conferencing and will be made available through a new LIDA Seminar Library.  Our webpage is regularly updated to contain the latest training opportunities and early career seminar news.

In the medium-term, LIDA is liaising with the Digital Education Service and Schools across campus to launch an online interdisciplinary Masters programme in Data Science.  Alongside the newly established MSc in Geographical Information Science, this will be the second such online programme in LIDA’s portfolio.

In the longer-term, LIDA is working very closely with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Geospatial Commission to help develop a standard and launch a Masters-level degree apprenticeship scheme aimed at spatial data specialists.

Academic year 2019/20 was a busy but very successful year and despite the unforeseen challenges now facing the delivery of education/training programmes, LIDA is very well placed to adapt and continue to offer world-leading teaching and learning opportunities.

Dr. Luke Burns, LIDA Deputy Director for Education and Training

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