On Friday the NIDL Research Group met for the first time this year to reflect on our accomplishments over 2017, including more than 100 scholarly outputs, and to share ideas, discuss progress and plan research and development opportunities available to us over 2018, and beyond.
To begin with the Group briefly discussed some of the lessons from the exercise of identifying the top 10 open access journal articles published over 2017, as described in a previous blog post on this topic. The final selection of our 2017 top 10 articles proved useful in promoting internal debate amongst the team over the so-called “best reads” of the year, and the list of open access publications was widely shared globally through a number of communication channels. Given the positive feedback from various sources the Research Group decided to repeat this activity adopting a similar methodology over the course of 2018.
On the theme of supporting research dissemination an update was provided on advance planning for the 2019 ICDE World Conference on Online Learning. A delegation from ICDE will be visiting Dublin in the middle of February 2018 for an extended meeting with our conference team and site visit of the Convention Centre Dublin. Also during this visit we hope the Minister of State for Higher Education will be able to meet with the Organising Committee to hear more about this high-profile conference, especially given the Government’s recent announcements to provide more support for online, flexible life-long learners.
On the topic of conferences, the NIDL is a strategic sponsor of this year’s OER18 conference in Bristol, as DCU is fully committed to promoting access, equity and social justice through open educational practices. Indeed, this week DCU will be making an important annoucement about a major new open learning initiative, and related programme of research through the NIDL, which is anchored in our mission of transforming lives and societies. More information to follow about this initiative.
The NIDL has another strategic partnership with the Association of Advanced Computing in Education (AACE) in the United States (US) and the Education Studies Association Ireland (ESAI) to select three Irish research papers for showcasing at this year’s Ed Media and Innovate Learning conference in Amsterdam. If successful, we anticipate this “Country showcase” initiative will become a feature at the annual Ed Media conference, which returns to Amsterdam in 2019.
Although our strong engagement with relevant professional associations is something we highly value, the NIDL team also understands the importance of disseminating research and contributing to new knowledge through more conventional forms of scholarship. Accordingly an update was provided to research group members on the edited book we are hoping to publish through Springer and some of the journal articles already accepted, under review or at various stages of preparation.
During the meeting we also discussed the importance of supporting the next generation of researchers in the context of plans for new postgraduate qualification pathways in the general area of Digital Education, including the development of a specialist doctoral track. We believe this initiative through our Institute of Education will help to build a stronger culture of local research in this important and rapidly evolving area.
However, the NIDL also values our strong links to international bodies and we were delighted to hear the news that one of our doctoral students, Elaine Beirne, located in the Ideas Lab has been awarded a prestigious US research fellowship. More information to come once this award is formally announced by the major professional body.
Lastly, the NIDL Research Group discussed the importance of sharing our collective expertise across the team and investing in our own professional development. Therefore, we agreed to establish a series of workshops over the year on research topics of interest. A small working group was formed with a member from each unit of the NIDL to help plan, design and co-opt people to facilitate these workshops.
We look forward to another productive year of research as we will be shortly recruiting for two new Research Assistant positions to help us continue our work on a number of internal and externally funded projects.