Breaking codes at Ecole 42! The mission of the Digital Learning Hub (DLH) is to train developers

Digitalisation is making giant leaps in all sectors. It has a major impact on our habitus, everyday life and society as a whole. However, the advent of new technologies does not spare the world of the need to work. Advanced knowledge of digital tools is becoming ever more important in the search for employment. The Digital Learning Hub and Ecole 42, which is specialised in the field of IT, helps its students to develop cutting-edge knowledge of technology and to remain competitive in the job market. Ecole 42 offers an unconventional approach to learning.  

Here are three words that sum up the Digital Learning Hub: innovative, diverse and accessible. In fact, the DLH is open to all adults, irrespective of their qualifications or diploma. Moreover, the education system is different to a traditional school.

The training places an emphasis on group work rather than theoretical teaching. As such, it is more focused on a practical work and learning by doing, which is supposed to encourage autonomous learning as well as creativity. The number of students per course is limited in order to nurture both personal and effective learning. 

The idea behind the project-based and group learning is to foster a sense of responsibility and a taste for entrepreneurship. Hence, one part of the DLH's mission is to support the creation of start-ups. Thanks to the teaching provided by external experts and peer-to-peer exchanges, students will have the opportunity to learn through the experience of professionals before stepping foot onto the labour market.

In general, training at DLH does not merely focus on improving people’s digital skills, the centre also offers a broad range of learning. Education is considered as an investment in skills that are vital for the 21st century and, through its programme of learning, the DLH further strengthens the competitiveness of the Luxembourg economy.  

DLH opens this year!

The demand for highly skilled individuals in the IT sector has never been more important. According to the Employment Administration (Adem), there were more than 3,500 vacancies in the IT sector in 2021, an increase of almost 44% compared to 2020. Approximately half of these positions are in the field of software engineering (application developers, programmer analysts, web developers, etc.).  

Their mission is clear-cut: in Luxembourg, digital skills must be strengthened in order to avoid the outsourcing of jobs to other countries. The Digital Learning Hub was created by policy makers as a solution to this problem. The DLH is a new vocational training centre which aims to modernise training in the face of the digitalisation of professions.

Situated in the ‘Terres rouges’ building in Belval, the objective of this new body is to arouse young people's interest in programming in order to train high-level programmers over the long term.

In May this year, the first students embarked on this new and exciting academic journey. They will delve into the fields of cybersecurity, blockchain and design thinking. Ecole 42 complements the training made available at the Digital Learning Hub with a unique approach to learning. 

© Pierre Weber

Cybersecurity

The DLH provides training in the field of cybersecurity, i.e. training on the risks and best practices related to the protection of IT systems and networks. The sessions include raising awareness and advanced specialisation, which is carried out in cooperation with the National Coordination Center (NCC) of the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre (ECCC).    

Blockchain

The DLH also offers training in Blockchain, a technology that allows information to be stored and shared in the form of a database. The training courses, which can last up to 14 weeks, introduce students to the main principles of blockchain as well as its legal and financial implications (FinTech).

Design thinking

The DLH also provides courses in design thinking. Together with the Design Thinking School - the D-School of the Hasso-Plattner-Institut (HPI) in Potsdam - the centre also offers training courses in design thinking, user experience (UX) and prototyping. Design Thinking is a means of solving complex problems and designing innovative products by adopting a human-centric approach.

The Digital Learning Hub, a practical guide

The Digital Learning Hub is housed on two floors, each with a surface area of 700m2. The Hub is designed with open spaces and multi-purpose areas as well as multi-functional classrooms with mobile furniture.

On site, there are also computer laboratories dedicated to networks and cyber security, as well as a product design and prototyping lab (FabLab), equipped with an arsenal of 3D printers and laser cutters.

There are other facilities on site, such as an amphitheatre, a restaurant and relaxation areas. At the DLH, a maximum of 400 people can receive training at the same time.   

Ecole 42: no teachers, no classes and no exams!

The IT school 42 (Ecole 42) set up its first campus in the Digital Learning Hub in Belval. Created in Paris in 2013, this coding/programming school is already located in 25 other countries around the world. The Luxembourg branch of 42 is the flagship of the DLH. It offers a wide and complex range of training courses in programming. Students progress by completing the different levels of learning and not by passing traditional exams.

What makes it special is that the teaching is based on peer-to-peer learning, i.e. through participation and interaction between students. The school is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and there are no teachers. However, there are educational teams on hand to support the students and help them find their own solutions. To progress at 42, you need to work in a group, call upon the community to challenge yourself in the specific field of study and then share your findings with your peers. At Ecole 42, there are no blackboards and no paper to take notes. 

Amongst other areas of study, learning covers C language development in a UNIX environment, web development in PHP, IT security, mobile application development and computer network architecture.

Dive into the Pool of knowledge

Before starting the training, candidates must first jump in the Pool… but not literally! The ‘Pool’ is a four-week period where candidates are immersed in their new surroundings and begin their training. No previous coding skills are necessary, all candidates are welcome irrespective of their level of knowledge. Ecole 42 seeks to challenge students to perform to the best of their abilities in the Pool. 150 persons can take part.

The Pool allows you to discover all the teaching methods used during the training, such as peer-to-peer work, group work, peer evaluations, project-based learning. During this period, candidates get the opportunity to find out whether Ecole 42 is the right course for them. It is not a competition.

Studying at the E42 is free. The course lasts three years and successful candidates receive a certificate which is equivalent to a BAC+3 in France. No prior qualification or certification is necessary.