Reflections on #Openteach: A Blog Series…

By Orna Farrell 

Over the next few weeks, the NIDL team involved in the #Openteach project funded by the National Forum will be publishing a series of blog posts reflecting on facilitating and participating in the first run of their free online course offered in March 2020. This blog series will be written by the course facilitators and participants and you can read the full series on the #Openteach website.

My highlights

pasted image 0.pngAs the project is nearly finished, I thought I would share and reflect on my highlights of working on the #Openteach project over the past year. One of the major milestones was the publication and launch of our literature review of online teaching and approaches to professional development for part-time online educators. This report called Teaching online is different: Critical perspectives from the literature was launched at the World Conference on Online Learning in November 2019. The report was so well received at the conference, printed copies became a precious commodity and the Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor mentioned it in her speech.

Go Team!

pasted image 0-1.pngAnother highlight for me has been working with the amazing #Openteach project team. It’s rare to find a group of people that are easy and fun to work with while being productive and really effective! During the two weeks facilitating the #openteach course, although we were very busy facilitating such a large cohort, we had a lot of craic!

Course design is fun

I really enjoyed collaboratively designing the #Openteach course. Starting with the interactive ABC learning design workshop.

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Then acting on that design plan and making it a reality. The idea for a scenario based approach really resonated with me and was realised in three online educator dilemmas in the course. Getting the scenarios right took a lot of work, there was about five drafts of the first scenario Eimears dilemma as we got to grips with using Videoscribe.

450 participants….eekk!

The first run of the course oddly coincided with the Corona virus pandemic. So we went from having about 150 participants to 450 in the space of a few days, as educators were thrust into online teaching at short notice and really needed some support. Despite the big numbers, the vibe from participants and facilitators seems positive.

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I really enjoyed the strong interaction by participants and the intensity of engagement, although we haven’t finished the evaluation yet! The two live sessions were really fun and interactive.

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Concluding thoughts

It feels very strange to be nearly finished the #Openteach project, it has been exciting, interesting and a very satisfying experience and I hope we have supported people to develop their understanding of teaching online.

Free Webinar for Refugee Week: Exploring the Transition Experiences of Refugees and Asylum Seekers Studying Online

Dublin City University (DCU) is Ireland’s first University of Sanctuary and this week we have a full programme of activities to support Refugee Week. Over the past 2-years our DCU Connected Scholarship initiative for refugees and asylum seekers has been very successful and on Friday as part of Refugee Week the Open Education Unit in the NIDL will be offering a free webinar sharing some of our lessons and experiences. The webinar will be of particular interest to educators, organisations and other institutions wishing to better understand how to harness the potential of online learning to open up educational opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers.


Title: Exploring the Transition Experiences of Refugees and Asylum Seekers to Online Learning with DCU Connected

Facilitators: Orna Farrell, Lorraine Delaney and Colum Foley

When: Friday 1st February 1:00-2:00pm GMT

How: Login to our online classroom 


Dublin City University (DCU) was granted the status of “University of Sanctuary” in December 2016.  Forty two scholarships were granted to refugees and asylum seekers by the University, of which fourteen were provided by DCU’s online education platform, DCU Connected. This session will report on the journey undertaken by a team within DCU’s National Institute for Digital Learning as they put in place the framework needed to support these scholars and the related research study which explores the nature of the transition experiences of University of Sanctuary Scholars to online distance learning. A longitudinal qualitative study is designed to seek a greater understanding of these learners’ experiences in the early stages of the study lifecycle, and of how their transition into higher education can be facilitated to enhance student success. The data collection technique is semi-structured online interviews conducted annually, and the first round of interviews has recently been conducted. The data-led analytical approach for this study is Braun and Clarke’s (2006) six phases of thematic analysis. The next phase of the research project involves the analysis of the first phase of interview data and the generation of preliminary findings.

Download DCU’s full programme of activities for Refugee Week.