Doctoral Student Receives OLC’s Inaugural Emerging Scholars Award

4.jpgWe are delighted to share the good news that the major US-based Online Learning Consortium (OLC) has selected one of our doctoral students, Elaine Beirne, to join their inaugural class of Emerging Scholars. The Emerging Scholars program provides current and recently graduated doctoral students the opportunity to contribute to research projects in the OLC Research Center for Digital Learning and Leadership. The program also offers a chance to collaborate with institutions and organizations around the world on research projects and network with peers and mentors in the digital learning field.

In the official press releaseKathleen Ives, D.M., OLC’s Chief Executive Officer says the “Emerging Scholars is a unique program in the digital learning arena”. Dr. Ives reports that “It complements our other graduate student initiative, which provides the opportunity for graduates students to present at OLC conferences. These two programs offer the OLC community the chance to engage with the next generation of digital learning researchers and practitioners, and help them advance their careers.”

The call for Emerging Scholars generated applications from around the world. After a rigorous review process four inaugural scholars were selected for a two-year term, including:

  • Elaine Beirne, Dublin City University, Ireland
  • Katherine McAlvage, Marylhurst University, Oregon
  • Mary Rice, University of New Mexico, New Mexico
  • Matthew Romanowski, University of Arizona, Arizona

Elaine Beirne, PhD candidate working in the Ideas Lab in the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL), is being supervised by Associate Professor Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl and  Dr. Gearóid Ó Cleircín Fiontar agus Scoil na Gaeilge. Irish 101.jpgElaine’s research interests include educational psychology, online learning, second language acquisition, massive open online courses (MOOCs) and computer-assisted language learning. Specifically, her thesis, which is funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is focused on exploring the antecedents of learner emotions during an Irish language MOOC. The study aims to inform the development of online language learning environments that foster learning enhancing emotions.

Ai_NPRUg.jpgDr. Jill Buban, OLC’s Senior Director, Research and Innovation, who instituted the Emerging Scholars program said, “These graduate students bring unique professional perspectives and research interests from varied institutions, and we are thrilled to welcome them as Emerging Scholars,” Dr Buban who is well known to the NIDL team went on to say, “It’s exciting to launch a program like Emerging Scholars – perhaps the first of its kind in the digital learning space to provide doctoral students an opportunity for hands-on research and networking within the field.”

Congratulations to Elaine and we look forward to hearing more about her experiences of being an OLC Emerging Scholar – Faith thú.

Successful Launch of Irish 101 and Fáilte ar Líne Project

DCU.jpgOn Tuesday a large group of friends, colleagues and invited guests, including the Lord Mayor of Dublin and senior government officials, gathered at O’Connell House on Merrion Square in Dublin to celebrate the formal launch of “Irish 101“, Dublin City University’s (DCU) free online course on Irish language and culture. The event also formally launched the wider Fáilte ar Líne (Welcome online) project co-funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030.

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Speaking at the launch, Minister of State for the Irish Language, Gaeltacht and the Islands, and the Government’s Chief Whip, Joe McHugh TD, congratulated DCU on this important online lifelong learning initiative. He reported that “As Minister of State with responsibility for the Irish language, and in my previous role as Minister of State for the Diaspora, I have witnessed at first hand the incredible interest and passion that there is for our language and culture worldwide.”

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N18019158.jpgProfessor Mairead Nic Giolla Mhichíl, project lead, Head of the NIDL Ideas Lab, and a member of DCU’s Irish Language School, Fiontar agus Scoil na Gaeilge, noted in her speech that we want to give first, second and third generations of the Irish diaspora an opportunity to learn more about Irish language and culture. Mairead went on to say the initiative is:

 An important step in enhancing the global, online presence of the Irish language; connecting with the Irish diaspora; and promoting opportunities to study in and to visit Ireland.

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The “Irish 101” MOOC, which will start on the 29th of January, is being delivered in conjunction with FutureLearn. DCU will also offer a MOOC on “High Performance Computing in the Cloud” starting on the same day. The two MOOCs, which may appear at very different ends of the knowledge continuum, reflects both the diversity of courses and degree programmes available through DCU, and metaphorically speaking the contemporary face of Ireland where traditional culture and today’s modern hi-tech digital society co-exist.

20180123_173306_001.jpgProfessor Mark Brown, Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL), talked about the significance of DCU’s partnership with FutureLearn in the context of the new Higher Education System Performance Framework and the Government’s goal to lift Ireland’s current low level of participation in life-long learning. Ireland is currently well below the EU average. Mark also noted DCU’s strong commitment over many years to opening up access to higher education through DCU Connected, and the opportunity for Ireland to be a global leader in meeting growing demand worldwide for university-level education through new pathways and online learning solutions.

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There have already been thousands of enrolments in “Irish 101” with so far people registering from over 110 countries.  Irish 101.jpgA programme of research is also associated with this initiative which builds on the NIDL’s growing reputation in this burgeoning area, as evidenced by DCU being selected to host the 2019 ICDE World Conference on Online Learning. Further free short online courses are planned in the future along with a number of other exciting digital learning developments as DCU builds on its strategic partnership with FutureLearn.

Launch.jpgFinally, we would like to acknowledge the University of Notre Dame for making O’Connell House available for this important event. We would also like to thank Mark Lecester, FutureLearn’s Director of Partnerships and DCU’s President, Professor Brian MacCraith for their support and contribution to the launch. And importantly we need to acknowledge the Ideas Lab and NIDL team centrally involved in the project, as this week’s launch would not have been possible without the many creative hours they have devoted to “Irish 101” and the wider mission of promoting Irish language and culture.

Read more about this initiative in the Irish language in DCU’s press release relating to this project.