Supporting Staff Development for Online Teaching and Learning through Open Practices

By Dr James Brunton

This brief blog post shares a couple of useful resources and takeaways thanks to James Brunton’s reflections on the recent World Conference on Online Learning, which was attended by over 1400 delegates. DCU will be hosting the next World Conference in November 2019.

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The 27th International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) 2017 World Conference on Online Learning was held in Toronto, Canada from the 16th to the 19th October. The conference attracted an enormous number of presentations where information was shared, connections were made, and future relationships forged. One strand of the conference that offered a number of useful resources to the Higher Education community was focused on empowering educators to build up their knowledge, skills, and competencies relating to online teaching and learning.

Carleton University, in Canada’s Ontario Province, has adopted an open approach to the development of resources for building up “the skills and confidence needed for educators to develop and teach blended and online courses”. Carleton has produced these resources as Open Educational Resources (OERs) such that they can be accessed, adopted, and adapted by other institutions.

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The Ontario Extend initiative has also been created such that a set of resources, emerging out of Simon Bates’ (2014) Anatomy of 21st Century Educators. This project is led by Ontario’s Northern College in collaboration with eCampusOntario and the publicly funded colleges and universities in Northern Ontario. Again, the aim of those behind this initiative is to empower educators to explore a range of emerging technologies and pedagogical practices for effective online and technology-enabled teaching and learning, and more than that to have this empowerment happen across the Higher Education community rather than in isolated pockets. The Ontario Extend team is enthusiastic about sharing these resources and aiding others to effectively incorporate them into their own practices.

The two initiatives described above not only provide exemplars of best practice in supporting staff development of knowledge, skills, and competencies in online teaching and learning, but they provide resources for effective implementation of such staff training. The adoption of open practices in these two cases is a shining example of how we in the Higher Education community can collectively support each other by producing resources as OERs that can be adopted and adapted by others.

You can read the original reflection piece on the World Conference written by James on his personal Linkedin page.

DCU selected to host World Conference on Online Learning

Ireland’s reputation as a digital frontrunner continues to grow with news that Dublin City University (DCU) has been selected by the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) to host the 2019 World Conference on Online Learning. Held every second year the World Conference is the largest and most prestigious international event exploring new open, online and flexible models of education.

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Gard Titlestad, ICDE Secretary General, reports, “DCU submitted an outstanding case to host the 28th ICDE World Conference, which in November 2019 will attract to Dublin the world’s leading scholars, researchers, innovators, policy-makers, industry partners and practitioners working in the field”.

DCU’s success in winning the rights to host the 2019 event was formally announced on Thursday in a presentation to over 1400 delegates from 96 countries during the closing ceremony at this year’s World Conference in Toronto. The announcement was marked earlier in the day by an official signing ceremony, which notably was sealed by the DCU delegation sharing a glass of Irish Whiskey with the Secretary General and members of the ICDE team.

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Professor Mark Brown, Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL), and 2019 World Conference Chair says, “Our successful bid in hosting the World Conference with a theme of Transforming Lives and Societies is recognition of DCU’s leadership and growing international reputation in the area of online learning”.

As Professor Anne Looney, Executive Dean of DCU’s Institute of Education, Ireland’s largest teacher education provider, reports, “DCU has a strong team working in the field of digital learning and is committed to opening access to education and providing opportunities for life-long learning through new digital technologies”.

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Global demand for online part-time study continues to grow internationally, with currently over 6 million students in the U.S alone estimated to be completing some of their degree online. Professor Brown notes, “In Ireland, despite the current restrictive funding model, the demand from part-time mature students for more online and flexible learning pathways continues to increase as people look to earn as they learn”. This year DCU accepted a record number of new registrations for online degree programmes offered through the DCU Connected platform.

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Professor Brown reports that more than 60 million learners worldwide registered for a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in 2016, and this figure is expected to continue to grow over the next few days. Notably, DCU will be launching its first official MOOC in 2018 on Irish Language and Culture through the FutureLearn platform. This MOOC initiative is part of the Fáilte ar Líne – Welcome on Line project supported by the Irish Government under the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language.

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Associate Professor Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, Head of the NIDL’s new Ideas Lab leading this collaborative initiative between FIONTAR & Scoil na Gaeilge says, “Further MOOCs are planned over 2018 as DCU looks to innovate in new models of online learning and to provide access to engaging, learning opportunities to people living throughout Ireland, and beyond”.

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DCU’s commitment to promoting the Irish language and widening access to life-long learning was discussed at this year’s conference in Toronto with Hon Mitzi Hunter, Minister of Education, and further recognised at this year’s World Conference, with Professor Brown’s appointment by ICDE as a Global Ambassador for Open Educational Resources.

According to Professor Brown the World Conference in Dublin will provide an excellent platform to showcase both Ireland’s innovation in digital learning and global reputation in the IT sector. He says, “DCU is looking forward to working with both major industry partners and the Irish Education sector in staging such a significant world event in Dublin”.

DCU would like to acknowledge the support of Fáilte Ireland and Happening Conferences and Events in the preparation of its successful bid against other competition to host the World Conference. More information about the 28th ICDE 2019 World Conference on Online Learning will be available from the following website:

http://wcol2019.ie

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