BUKA Project – Advancing Equity and Access to Higher Education through Open and Distance Learning

This is the second post in a series describing some of the recent externally funded projects secured by the NIDL team at Dublin City University (DCU). In partnership with Tampere University of Applied Sciences, the NIDL was successful in securing almost €1m of external funding for a project intended to promote equity and access to higher education through Open and Distance Learning (ODL). Known as the BUKA Project, the aim is to help enable increased access to higher education for people in rural and remote regions as well as those with diverse backgrounds (e.g. mature age students, working students, first-in-family students, students with learning difficulties) in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. Local partner universities include: 

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New NIDL SmallAll Partner Countries belong to Region 6, Asia. When designing the project, special care has been taken to involve the key decision makers in all the partnering universities as key staff in the BUKA project. This is to ensure that the project deliverables align with local institutional priorities and the project team helps to develop local solutions for local problems.

Unknown-1.pngThis European funded project falls under Project Category 2, “Improving Management and Operation of Higher Education Institutions”, and, more specifically, under “Equity, Access to, and Democratisation of Higher Education”, including disadvantaged groups and regions.

The specific objectives of the project include:

  • Building the capacity of teaching, technical and instructional design staff in the partner HEIs in inclusive instructional design and learning analytics;
  • Improving learner engagement and retention through inclusive instructional design and learning analytics;
  • Improving pedagogical and technical accessibility of online and blended learning materials; and,
  • Providing more effective and personalised support for online distance learners in partner HEIs.

The first project meeting takes place in Malaysia in early February 2020 but members of the project team will also meet up at November’s ICDE World Conference on Online Learning in Dublin. 

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Open Education: Teaching and Learning Away Day

By Professor Grainne Conole

Last week our Open Education team had a very productive teaching and learning away day. The aim was to reflect on the current ways in which we design and support our DCU Connected students. A background document was circulated prior to the meeting, which collated various Learning Design frameworks. We identified two overarching themes to improving our teaching and learning:

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  • New and more systematic design of online, open distance teaching and learning. In terms of thoughtful and explicit design, we need to
    • Ensure the workload across modules in consistent
    • Set up either a week by week or month by month schedule
    • Indicate the indicative time needed to complete activities and content and assignments
    • Split content into core and additional (extension)
  • Supporting, and working with, online, open distance learners and teachers (learning students).

In addition, we identified 10 principles for online teaching and learning:

  1. Flexible learning: An accessible learning experience to transform lives and societies and enable widening access
  2. Teacher presence: Expert academic teaching, guidance and facilitation from specialist, passionate educators
  3. Foster belonging: Fostering a sense of belonging
  4. Meaningful interaction: Commitment to a deep level of meaningful interaction, where self-regulated learning is active, collaborative and participatory
  5. Students as partners: Surfacing the student voice and involving them to design decisions
  6. Rich learning resources: Universal design (accessibility standards); any device;
  7. Authentic and reflective assessment: Use a variety of assessment (and feedback) mechanisms to ensure that learning is: active, authentic and meaningful
  8. Personalised support: Student support personalised to the online distance learner: academic, pastoral, technical, and administrative
  9. Research informed teaching and learning: Commitment to cutting-edge, research-led approaches to Learning Design
  10. Open education practices: Practices, philosophy and co-creation

You can read more about operationalising these principles on Grainne’s personal blog where she expands on each principle.