Papers at EMOOCs 2017 Conference

This year’s 5th EMOOC conference (or known in full as the European MOOCs Stakeholders Summit) was held in Madrid (22-26 May, 2017). Once again the conference featured a very strong line up of keynote speakers, including Sir Timothy O’She from the University of Edinburgh.

Dr Eamon Costello represented the NIDL at the conference and presented two jointly authored papers on work continuing in the area of MOOCs. Both papers appear in the post conference book published by Springer.

The first paper described the Head Start Online initiative under the leadership of Dr James Brunton. Entitled “Giving Flexible Learners a Head Start on Higher Education: Designing and Implementing a Pre-induction Socialisation MOOC” the presentation outlined our initial pilot course and the plans we have for future developments in this important area.

978-3-319-59044-8.jpgThe second research paper extended our analysis of the discourses associated with MOOCs as represented through social media. Entitled “#MOOC Friends and Followers: An Analysis of Twitter Hashtag Networks” the research investigates through the lens of actors and agency the different agendas playing out in the MOOC discourse through Twitter.

Despite less attention these days in the popular media, the conference reinforced the view that MOOCs are here to stay and they will continue to evolve over the next few years with a distinctive European flavour. The NIDL intends to shape the development of MOOCs through further developments in this area (more news to come) but unlike most other institutions our interest is driven by a strong innovation driver rather than simply the desire to raise the international profile of the university.

Reflections on OEB Mid Summit

In June 2017, two NIDL staff were fortunate to participate in the first OEB Mid Summit conference with a theme of “Shaping the Future of Learning”.

Unknown.jpegWhile this first Mid Summit conference in the OEB series of events did not attract a particularly large number of delegates, as perhaps the organisers would have hoped, on paper the programme included a very strong line up of speakers.


That said, on a less positive note it was observed by several conference delegates how disappointing it was to see in today’s age some of the panel discussions dominated by men. And they tended to be white, middle aged and for some reason came across to the audience as rather angry or disaffected about the state of educational technology and higher education more generally. Perhaps something to note for the next conference.

Dr Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl and Professor Mark Brown from the NIDL jointly presented a challenging paper exploring the utopian and dystopian sides of the digital literacies movement. The presentation was well received by delegates and a copy of the slide-deck appears below.

Ice3In addition, both Mark and Mairead were pleased to have the opportunity to support Dr. Larry Ragan from Penn State University and Maren Deepwell from the UK Association of Learning Technology to plan and facilitate a very innovative “throw down” challenge workshop on the theme of student success.

Ice4During the workshop participants were challenged in groups to generate ideas to address the problem of student retention, and then had to select their best one to pitch as the most promising educational solution for potential funding and future development. We heard some excellent pitches and the workshop was a great success, thanks to Larry’s expert facilitation. Whether the NIDL has a presence at OEB Mid Summit 2018 remains to be seen.