National Institute for Digital Learning opens at DCU

28 Nov 2013

A new centre of excellence to pioneer major developments in online, distance and blended learning, the National Institute for Digital learning, has been officially opened today at Dublin City University (DCU) by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, TD.

The university has appointed Prof Mark Brown as director of the institute and as Ireland’s first chair in digital learning.

Initial projects to be undertaken include online short courses on the Irish Revolutionary Period (1912-1922) for the new junior cycle curriculum and the development of an online master’s programme on Irish studies aimed at international students and the Irish diaspora.

The institute will also collaborate with the UN Global eSchools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI), which has seen 180 future leaders from sub-Saharan African countries graduate with leadership qualifications from DCU earlier this year.

In addition, it will rebrand DCU’s online education service Oscaill as eDCU, which will become the online portal of all DCU’s blended, online and distance education offerings.

Purpose of National Institute for Digital Learning

The aim is to exploit the full range of digital technologies to provide students with the best possible learning experience on and off-campus.

The institute will advance digital learning in a number of key areas, including continuing professional development for academic staff in digital teaching and learning methods.

It will offer support in providing content and modules for delivering in online, blended and distance learning modes and will co-ordinate and support the delivery of modules and programmes remotely.

It will also conduct research and policy development in the areas of digital learning, technology-enhanced learning and learning analytics.

“The area of digital learning is one which is exploding with potential at the moment,” Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, TD, said.

“In truth, from primary school to third level, Ireland has been caught behind the curve of the digital revolution which is transforming society. Over the last 10 years, significant resources have been invested in trying to change this reality, but we must question how successful those efforts have been … I hope that the creation of the National Institute of Digital Learning in DCU will begin to change this landscape.

“Through research and policy development, through CPD (continued professional development) for teachers and academics in DCU and across the country, and through the development of online, blended and distance learning opportunities, I believe this institute can make a genuinely important contribution,” Quinn added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years