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.

A Planful Move to Teaching Online: Useful Resources for Educators

A wealth of useful guides, resources and blog posts for moving to online teaching in a more planful manner have been produced over the past few days. A great effort by many educators! We have been trying to keep up and keep track of many of these resources by reading, reviewing and listing them on a new “Swiftly Moving Online” NIDL webpage. Hopefully this compilation of resources will help more people to become aware of the many helpful tips, ideas and suggestions available to educators to plan and successfully pivot to online teaching and learning.


Understandably, our NIDL team at Dublin City University (DCU) was busy last week preparing for the potential scenario of having restricted campus access. Accordingly, we offered several online professional development workshops for staff using Zoom and refreshed and/or updated many of our previous online teaching resources. We have included links to some of these resources at the start of this new page to provide examples of what one institution is doing in response to the current crisis, although more specific staff and student guides appear in Loop — our VLE.

photo-1521175776577-f8e0c1e5ecb7As previously announced, we will be offering a webinar for educators new to online teaching on Monday 16th March at 12 noon (GMT) in partnership with the European Association for Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU).
#OpenTeach team will also be offering a free online course starting on Monday 23rd March as part of an Irish National Forum funded project. We have also produced a Padlet wall to help collate and share top tips for teaching online, which we hope other educators will contribute to over the next few days. 

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In terms of the list of external resources, we hope some of the quality checklists are helpful with the team at Quality Matters in the U.S. having produced emergency online teaching guides for both schools and those who teach in higher education institutions. In Ireland, the National Forum has shared a Google doc which contains a list of community sourced resources for Irish educators. Also, in Ireland, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) has also been quick to respond to the current situation by adding a special Distance Learning page for schools to their website.

Our own list of general teaching online resources contains more than 25 links to a range of tips, toolkits and takeaway guides from around the world. One weakness which we hope to address is the current limited number of guides and resources for students new to online learning. By the middle of last week, DCU quickly prepared a “Keep Learning” guide for students and also reminded people about our suite of free online courses in Discover DCU along with our “Who Can I Ask?” tool for online learners who may be in need of wider support.  We are also pleased to be able to offer our 24/7 online study coach and assignment writing service through Studiosity to our DCU Connected learners and targeted campus-based students.


Additionally, we share a number of more specific guides and examples of business and academic continuity plans from various sources. Moreover, the resource includes a growing number of free online courses available to educators on the topic of online teaching, including two normally restricted courses opened up by Epigeum and an EdX course on Pivoting to Online Teaching which starts on Wednesday 18th March.

Lastly, this resource bank lists a number of blogs, news stories and opinion pieces related to the so-called “Great Onlining of 2020”, which we reported in a previous blog post some commentators describe as a black swan. Time will tell what the current crisis means for the long-term future of education but many people agree that “online learning” has changed forever. Mindful of this claim, our team aims to keep updating the webpage with additional resources as time permits and as they are published over the next few days and weeks. In the meantime, we trust this a useful resource and contribution at such a difficult and challenging time.