January 2020 Newsletter

January 2020 Newsletter
January 2020 Newsletter
January 2020 Newsletter

IUA launches new project to promote digital competence of educators in Irish universities 

Micro-credentials are the way forward for working in universities of the future, said a leading educational change leader at the launch of the Irish Universities Association’s new project. 

Prof Beverley Oliver, a principal fellow of Australia’s Higher Education Academy, made the statement at the launch of the new Digital Capacity in Teaching and Learning (#IUADigEd) project in Dublin’s iconic Convention Centre. It marked the final day of the World Conference on Online Learning 2019 hosted by DCU. 

Addressing the gathering in her keynote on better credentials to prepare industry for the future of work, Prof Oliver stressed that university education needs to be viewed as an industry in itself.  

“As employers, universities need to keep in mind that the teachers are learners too as online education gains ground and classrooms get more digital” she said. 

“There is a reluctance on the part of academics to move away from traditional teaching practices,” said Dr Andreia Inamorato dos Santos, a researcher and policy adviser from the European Commission Joint Research Centre.  

“The lack of time, expertise and formal requirements makes it difficult for academics to adapt to changing technologies” she added. 

Introducing the Digital Competence Framework for Educators, called DigCompEdu, Dr Santos recommended in her keynote a detailed and structured approach to incentivising digital accreditations for academics in order to mainstream the use of digital technologies in Irish universities. 

Recognising the need for professional development of academics in the 7 Irish universities, Dr Sharon Flynn, manager of the project, said in her keynote that the project is not starting from ground zero since each university has been working on building digital confidence in staff development for some years now. 

“The project will therefore align with existing schemes and resources available through the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (NFETL) and we look forward to making project outputs open for use across the wider higher education sector in Ireland” she said. 

The launch was concluded with a panel discussion by speakers representing the HEA, the European University Association, Ibec and the Union of Students in Ireland. An after-launch discussion by project team members was held online for a global audience through the ‘Virtually Connecting’ service. 

Bringing in the students’ perspective, Kevin McStravock of the USI said: “What we are seeing currently is an increasingly competitive environment globally.” 

“Having an increased digital capability will allow students to set themselves apart from other international graduates in the global market force” he said. 

The 3-year IUA-led project funded by the Higher Education Authority has rolled out pilot programs calibrated to the specific resources and requirements of each university. The pilot phase is set to run from September to December 2019.

Written by Vish Gain (@VishGain)

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