Three New Online Professional Learning Courses for Educators

On Thursday 18th of November, the official DigiTeL Pro launch took place. This collaborative European funded project began earlier in the year with the aim of bringing together a team of experts from several universities, well-known for their research and leading-edge innovation in digital education.

A major feature of the launch was an overview of three new online professional learning courses designed for higher educators. Each course, listed below, explores a different mode or dimension of digital education. Together they aim to support European educators to build their teaching skills and professional capabilities for digital education relevant to their particular interests and institutional contexts.

Course 1: Synchronous and Hybrid Education

Learn more about the course, view a brief presentation and complete the registration form

Course 2: Blending Your Education

Learn more about the course, view a brief presentation and complete the registration form

Course 3: Online Education

Learn more about the course, view a brief presentation and complete the registration for

We invite you to register for these course and/or to share relevant details within your professional networks.

As part of the DigiTeL Pro launch event, we also provided a brief update on DCU’s free course, A Digital Edge: Essentials for the Online Learner, offered through FutureLearn. This course, co-facilitated by students and originally supported by IUA and the DCU Students’ Union, has so far attracted over 10,000 students worldwide with a completion rate of over 50%. Over 2,000 DCU students have claimed full certificates of completion. The course was a direct response to the COVID crisis and focuses on developing student readiness for online learning. It completes the suite of offerings supported by DigiTeL Pro.

To further infuse a strong student readiness dimension across and throughout all four courses, the NIDL team has undertaken a literature review to help answer the following questions:

  1. What research has been published reporting student readiness for online distance learning during the COVID crisis?
  2. How strong is the “learner voice” in COVID-related research reporting on student readiness for online distance learning?
  3. What lessons can be taken from the COVID-related literature on student readiness for new models of digital education?

A report of this research will be published in the New Year, but we can already conclude from our analysis that there is limited evidence of previous literature on student readiness informing the COVID response. Secondly, although numerous national and institutional surveys have been published over the past 18 months, which report on the COVID experience, the vast majority of this research does not adequately convey the student voice. Hence, this suggests that, with a handful of exceptions, an important gap remains in the literature which tells the students’ lived experience in their own words.

The above video provides a full recording of the DigiTeL Pro launch event. We look forward to sharing further information in 2022 on this project which is being led by the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU).

Digital Readiness from an Online Learners’ Perspective

The NIDL team is pleased to be leading the Learner Readiness work package as part of the new DigiTeL Pro Strategic Partnership initiative. This project, led by EADTU, is supported through the Extraordinary Erasmus+ Coronavirus Response Fund and involves seven European university partners.

The project team brings together a group of experienced online educators well-known for their research and innovation in digital education.

Project outputs include an analysis of major lessons from the COVID-19 crisis, support for maturing institutional policy and strategy for the post-pandemic environment, the design, development and implementation of continuous professional development for a range of delivery modes, and several initiatives to enhance students’ readiness for digital learning.

The specific objectives, depicted below, focus on how different configurations of hybrid, blended and online education can offer design solutions for more active and engaging teaching, learning and assessment, both synchronously and asynchronously.

As part of the DigiTel project, the NIDL team is refreshing the course it designed and co-facilitated with students in September 2020 and again during March 2021 to support digital readiness.

We are pleased to report that an updated version of A Digital Edge: Essentials for the Online Learner will be available this coming September for students starting the new academic year.

While many European students may be returning later in the year to more traditional campus-based instruction, the importance of learning how to be an effective online learner remains highly relevant as we look to the digital future. Feedback from students reinforces this point and we hope the next course offering will continue to provide valuable support for those seeking to gain a digital edge for their studies and beyond.

A recent NIDL webinar focusing on the Online Learner gave us plenty of food for thought as we turn our attention to revising this course. We asked our invited panel what valuable lessons have students taught us as a result of their pandemic experience? The panel included Professor George Veletsianos, D’Arcy Beacon Fellow, Dr. Sharon Flynn from Irish Universities Association, Dr. Ciarán Dunne, DCU’s new Director of Transversal Skills, Dr. Elaine Beirne from the NIDL Ideas Lab, and Terence Rooney, incoming President of the DCU Students’ Union, A recording of this webinar, which includes a brief overview of the DCU Futures initiative, appears below.

A further deliverable of the Learner Readiness work package as part of the DigiTEL project is a synthesis of the COVID research literature reporting the student experience. Our NIDL team has already identified over 30 studies from around the world offering insights on the student experience, although notably very few report what students have to say in their own words.

This is where you may be able to help us!

Understandably, there is likely to be a time-lag between collecting and analysing such student-focused research on the pandemic experience, and the time when this work and key findings appear in relevant publications. So we want to discover this research before it hits the journals!

If you know of a study or publication that focuses on student readiness for digital learning with a strong learner’s perspective that was published after 2015 or ideally more recently arising from the COVID-19 crisis, then we would be delighted to hear from you. We invite you to share more information about this research by completing our short online form. In return, we will acknowledge everyone who contributes submissions when we report the results of our synthesis of the literature and send you a copy of the final report.