World Refugee Day: DCU and FutureLearn announce 30 Refugee Scholarships

world-refugee-day-photos-download-1-1080x675.jpgWe are delighted to share the news on World Refugee Day that as Ireland’s first University of Sanctuary (UoS), Dublin City University (DCU) is launching in partnership with FutureLearn, a global leader in online social learning, 30 scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers. The joint DCU FutureLearn scholarship initiative will enable refugees and asylum seekers living in Ireland to undertake study from a wide range of courses offered on FutureLearn’s online platform though to certificates of completion.12790015_10153784985600342_457612615_o.jpg

Among the courses offered on FutureLearn is DCU’s ‘Irish 101’, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) launched earlier this year, and one of the first of its kind globally to offer an introduction to Irish language and culture. Associate Professor, Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, Head of the Ideas Lab and the Fáilte ar Líne Project, at the National Institute for Digital Learning in DCU, remarked:

irish-101.jpg“We are delighted that ‘Irish 101: Introduction to Irish Language and Culture’ is a core component of this joint DCU & FutureLearn initiative. Not only will it support this community of learners as they connect with the Irish language and Irish culture, but it will also provide them with an opportunity to engage with learners from around the globe.” ‘Irish 101’ is co-funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht as part of the 20-year Strategy For The Irish Language 2010-2030, supported by the National Lottery.

future-learn.pngAnnouncing the 30 new scholarships, Mark Lester, Director of Partnerships Development at FutureLearn, said: “DCU has long been a champion of online education in Europe. We are delighted to be building upon our partnership with DCU in providing 30 scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland, who will have an opportunity to access hundreds of flexible learning options.”

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Prof. Mark Brown, Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at DCU, commented: “DCU has, for many years, been a leader in developing new models of open and online learning as it endeavours to expand access to higher education. As Ireland’s first ‘University of Sanctuary’, our partnership with FutureLearn builds on our existing scholarships established last year to support Irish asylum seekers and refugees to complete online degrees through DCU Connected. While today’s announcement coincides with World Refugee Day, the latest DCU FutureLearn Scholarships are further evidence of our ongoing commitment to fostering a culture of inclusion. They mark an exciting new chapter to help enrich the lives and opportunities of Ireland’s refugee community.”

More information about this new scholarship initiative for Irish refugees and asylum seekers, including details of the application process, will be announced shortly.

Yes! Digital Learners are Emotional – Insights from the Irish 101 MOOC

Many people believe that online learning can be a lonely journey for a learner and the experience of learning online is often described in disconnected terms. However, many credible studies into learning online demonstrate that learners experience a wide range of emotions as they engage in the online environment. Elaine Beirne, a researcher in The Ideas Lab at the National Institute of Digital Learning in DCU, and inaugural OLC Emerging Scholar, is researching the emotions of beginner language learners in Irish language MOOCs.

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Irish 101Her findings to date have been quite revealing. Research into traditional language learning settings has identified anxiety or foreign language anxiety as one of the main emotions experienced by learners.

Elaine’s research in the Irish 101: Introduction to Irish Language and Culture course hosted on the FutureLearn platform, however, identifies curiosity, excitement and pride as the top three emotions reported by learners. Learners completed a number of short surveys following some of the course’s learning activities.  This baseline study is now being extended to a further iteration of the Irish 101 course, due to commence in May of this year.

Elaine is currently recruiting participants who would be interested in undertaking the MOOC and reporting their emotions in the short surveys as they progress through the course. Elaine explains more about the study* in the short video above and if you are interested in participating and helping the Fáilte ar Líne project to improve course design for language learners register here. The Fáilte ar Líne project is co-funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the Twenty Year Strategy for the Irish Language with support from the National Lottery and it is is a joint project of the NIDL and Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge.

A world without emotions would be cold and colourless.

(Williams, Mercer, Ryan, 2015: 81)

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References

Williams, M., Mercer, S. & Ryan, S., 2015. Exploring Psychology in Language Learning and Teaching, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp.170

*Ethical approval received from DCU’s Research Ethics Committee. Reference number: recdcu/2018/044