Designed to cope with an expected 25,000 surge in student population numbers, the Irish Universities Association (IUA) announced on the 7th of November a programme to improve students’ digital learning experiences. The initiative plans to enhance the educational experiences of Irish university students by empowering staff members to build confidence in their digital abilities, in order to become the change makers themselves. The initiative was announced at the final event of the World Conference on Online Learning.
The project’s Manager, Dr. Sharon Flynn, admitted at the launch that the “projects is not starting from ground zero.The project will therefore align with existing schemes and resources available through the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and we look forward to making project outputs open for use across the wider HE sector in Ireland” The Universities Association stated that while they attempt to build towards a national campaign, they intend to start exploratory programmes across seven pilot universities. Each of these programmes will be tailored to each university in order to match the goals and needs of each individual university.
As the programme intends to improve the experience of, and learning environment for students, the project has partnered with the Union of Students in Ireland in order to ensure that students’ voices are heard throughout the project team. VP for Academic Affairs at USI Kevin McStravock, explained the union’s reasoning for getting involved with the project: “What we are seeing currently is an increasingly competitive environment globally and students are starting to think of how they can find opportunities internationally for employment.” Mc Stravock added that “having an increased digital capability will allow [Irish students] to set themselves apart from other international graduates in the global market force”.
Hugh Dooley – Reporter