Exciting Plans for Hosting a Distinctively Irish 2019 World Conference on Online Learning

We are pleased to have successfully hosted over the past three days a high-level visiting delegation from the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) to help with our advance planning for the 2019 World Conference on Online Learning. The ICDE delegation led by Gard Titlestad, Secretary General, arrived in Dublin on Sunday 11th February 2018. Formal discussions got underway on Monday when the group met with members of the DCU/NIDL Organising Committee, along with representatives from Happening Conferences and Events (HCE).

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CCD Exterior Daytime View from Southside West with Jeanie Johnston Boat.jpgThe day started with a walk through of the Convention Centre Dublin’s (CCD) world-class facilities as we confirmed our requirements for hosting such a major international conference. Everyone agreed that the CCD is ideally suited to hosting this prestigious event and for showcasing the very best of Ireland to a large international audience. Held every second year, the 2017 ICDE World Conference on Online Learning in Toronto attracted over 1,400 delegates.

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Over the reminder of the day we discussed a number of exciting ideas and plans for the Dublin conference 3-7 November 2019. We would like to particularly thank CCD staff for their expert advice, great hospitality, supply of food and refreshments over the day, and use of a meeting room for our discussions.

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On Tuesday the ICDE delegation visited Dublin City University’s (DCU) All Hallows, Glasnevin and St Patrick’s campuses before continuing our discussions. The intention is that DCU will host a number of timely and topical pre-conference events and workshops, including a meeting of University Presidents, Leadership Summit, the ICDE Doctoral Consortium and Digital Learning Schools Symposium, on our St Patrick’s campus before the formal start of the 28th ICDE World Conference on Online Learning.

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Once again, we would like to acknowledge the support of Fáilte Ireland in our successful bid to host this major World Conference. Members of the Organising Committee consisting of key representatives from DCU, ICDE and HCE are determined to make the World Conference a truly memorable and outstanding event, with a distinctively Irish flavour. To this end we have some exciting ideas, novel twists and valuable additions to the programme in mind which we hope will make “Dublin” the place to be in early November 2019.
5.jpgYou can keep up-to-date with news and announcements by registering your interest through our website, subscribing to our NIDL blog, or following our dedicated World Conference Twitter account:

@WCOL2019

Talking Research: Exciting Plans for the Year Ahead

On Friday the NIDL Research Group met for the first time this year to reflect on our accomplishments over 2017, including more than 100 scholarly outputs, and to share ideas, discuss progress and plan research and development opportunities available to us over 2018, and beyond.

To begin with the Group briefly discussed some of the lessons from the exercise of identifying the top 10 open access journal articles published over 2017, as described in a previous blog post on this topic. The final selection of our 2017 top 10 articles proved useful in promoting internal debate amongst the team over the so-called “best reads” of the year, and the list of open access publications was widely shared globally through a number of communication channels. Given the positive feedback from various sources the Research Group decided to repeat this activity adopting a similar methodology over the course of 2018.

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On the theme of supporting research dissemination an update was provided on advance planning for the 2019 ICDE World Conference on Online Learning. A delegation from ICDE will be visiting Dublin in the middle of February 2018 for an extended meeting with our conference team and site visit of the Convention Centre Dublin. Also during this visit we hope the Minister of State for Higher Education will be able to meet with the Organising Committee to hear more about this high-profile conference, especially given the Government’s recent announcements to provide more support for online, flexible life-long learners.

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On the topic of conferences, the NIDL is a strategic sponsor of this year’s OER18 conference in Bristol, as DCU is fully committed to promoting access, equity and social justice through open educational practices. OER18Indeed, this week DCU will be making an important annoucement about a major new open learning initiative, and related programme of research through the NIDL, which is anchored in our mission of transforming lives and societies. More information to follow about this initiative.

The NIDL has another strategic partnership with the Association of Advanced Computing in Education (AACE) in the United States (US) and the Education Studies Association Ireland (ESAI) to select three Irish research papers for showcasing at this year’s Ed Media and Innovate Learning conference in Amsterdam. If successful, we anticipate this “Country showcase” initiative will become a feature at the annual Ed Media conference, which returns to Amsterdam in 2019.

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Although our strong engagement with relevant professional associations is something we highly value, the NIDL team also understands the importance of disseminating research and contributing to new knowledge through more conventional forms of scholarship. Accordingly an update was provided to research group members on the edited book we are hoping to publish through Springer and some of the journal articles already accepted, under review or at various stages of preparation.

2358_037During the meeting we also discussed the importance of supporting the next generation of researchers in the context of plans for new postgraduate qualification pathways in the general area of Digital Education, including the development of a specialist doctoral track. We believe this initiative through our Institute of Education will help to build a stronger culture of local research in this important and rapidly evolving area.

However, the NIDL also values our strong links to international bodies and we were delighted to hear the news that one of our doctoral students, Elaine Beirne, located in the Ideas Lab has been awarded a prestigious US research fellowship. More information to come once this award is formally announced by the major professional body.

Lastly, the NIDL Research Group discussed the importance of sharing our collective expertise across the team and investing in our own professional development. Therefore, we agreed to establish a series of workshops over the year on research topics of interest. A small working group was formed with a member from each unit of the NIDL to help plan, design and co-opt people to facilitate these workshops.

We look forward to another productive year of research as we will be shortly recruiting for two new Research Assistant positions to help us continue our work on a number of internal and externally funded projects.