By Kate Molloy
On Thursday, 28th April, at #OER22 members of the Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning project team will share their reflections on developing an open course on digital skills aimed at those who teach in Irish further and higher education. The presentation will provide reflections on the collaboration process, and share lessons learned from the first national rollout.
Open Professional Development
Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning (EDTL) is a three year project, which is funded through the HEA’s Innovation and Transformation Programme, and is aimed at enhancing the digital attributes and educational experiences of Irish university students through enabling the mainstreamed and integrated use of digital technologies across the teaching and learning process. The project aims to mainstream digital in teaching and learning activities in Irish Universities, by addressing the professional development of all who teach or support teaching and learning. The project team consists of a project manager, student interns, and university based team members across seven universities in Ireland.
The EDTL project has always taken a pedagogy-first approach to digital enhancement in teaching and learning, with the aim of addressing professional development of all who teach or support learning in our partner universities. Based on early pilot activities in each university, a digital badge was developed, in partnership with the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, to recognise staff who engaged with the project.
Moving beyond the pilot period, the Getting Started with Personal & Professional Digital Capacity open course was developed by the EDTL team over six months in 2021, and a facilitated version was launched at the beginning of November on the National Forum Open Courses platform. The course is based on the criteria of the digital badge originally developed:
- Reflect on how you currently use technology to support your teaching (or support student learning) and identify areas where digital technologies could be used to enhance your practice.
- Acquire (and demonstrate) a digital skill that will support your teaching practice.
- Plan a new or enhanced teaching activity that makes best use of technology for your context.
- Plan how you will evaluate the success of the new activity
Throughout the course of our project, members of the team have facilitated a wide variety of CPD opportunities for academic staff at our universities, and we have joined forces regularly to create open resources, present on webinars, and collaborate in a variety of ways. Our response to the March 2020 move to online and remote teaching, the EDTL Approach, enabled us to roll up our sleeves and work together on a collective response. It was rewarding to work together to create an open resource that would be so well-received in our national context and beyond. However, the development of our open course was an opportunity for us to develop something in more depth, sharing views and expertise from across our various contexts, and to deliver that course together to a national audience. In developing an open course for the National Forum, we’re contributing to the variety and scope of sustainable CPD options available for staff across Ireland.
The first national rollout began in November 2021. National Forum open courses are open to those that teach in further and higher education across Ireland, meaning that participants range from those that work with education and training boards, institutes of technology, universities and more. Both facilitators and participants on open courses have a unique opportunity to learn from each other in order to further shape and expand our practice going forward. While the course will be openly available for local rollouts, the national level offerings do create a unique opportunity to connect with others across the sectors.
The peer triad (or peer group) model used in the open courses helps to connect, motivate and sustain participants as they complete the course. Many facilitators will note that the most positive feedback around the open courses stems from this peer support model.
As a team, it’s been rewarding to contribute to professional development at a national level, and to know that the course we developed will be sustainable beyond the life of the project thanks to facilitator training offered as an additional part of the course. Participants that complete an extra five hours of work around their own implementation of the course in their local context can receive a badge enabling them to facilitate. Making the course materials available, and enabling others to facilitate ensures the sustainability of such initiatives.
As the project now begins to wind down, and we turn our focus toward evaluations and plans for the future, it’s important to take stock of the resources and practices we’ve created and enabled throughout. The wider community surrounding the #The IUADigEd project has grown and evolved throughout this time, and it is our hope that our work will not become a dusty archive, but a repository for the community to reuse, revise, remix, and share going forward.