Successful Launch of Loop Reflect: DCU’s New Learning Portfolio

We recently launched under the leadership of Lisa Donaldson and Dr Mark Glynn in the Teaching Enhancement Unit in the NIDL our new learning portfolio known as Loop Reflect.

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The new platform, based on a customised version of Mahara specifically designed to meet DCU’s requirements, aims to support students to critically reflect on and share their academic, professional and personal achievements.  In this respect the learning portfolio is intended to help students demonstrate their ability to meet DCU’s Generation 21 Graduate Aspirations, and support meaningful employment on graduation and a wider commitment to life-long and life-wide learning.  The goal is to create a living portfolio which will help develop critical reflection as a “habit of mind” and assist future employers in visualising the breadth of a DCU student’s capability and learning experience.

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The launch event for Loop Reflect was attended by Minister for Education & Skills, Mr Richard Bruton TD, and marks the completion of the pilot phase of Reflect which has seen more than 5,000 students sign up to use the learning portfolio across a range of disciplines and in a range of different contexts. Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU explained the importance of this new initiative:

“DCU is committed to providing its students with a transformative learning experience, that will enable them to flourish in the workplace and society.  The world of work requires citizens with transferable skills who are resilient and adaptable, and capable of reflective and critical thinking.  The Reflect portfolio challenges traditional approaches to teaching, learning and assessment, capturing all facets of student learning and providing our students with an opportunity reflect on their personal and professional as well as learning development.”

Successful Student Laptop Loan Scheme

The success of Dublin City University’s Student Laptop Loan Scheme may be of wider interest to the sector. In October of 2013, as part of DCU’s commitment to innovation, digital learning and an inclusive student experience, Information Systems & Services (ISS)  in conjunction with the Library and Quality Promotion Office launched the Student Self-Service Laptop Loan Scheme. The scheme  allows students to take a loan of one of 24 laptops on offer for use in the Library for 3 hours per time. DCU was the first organisation in Ireland to introduce a self-service laptop loan service and this was done through Lapsafe.

This scheme has been hugely popular with students over the academic year from October 2013 to May 2014 as the following figures demonstrate:

  • Number of times laptops loaned – over 9000
  • Over 4500 loans per semester
  • Average loans per month – 1500
  • Hours of laptop use – over 23,000
  • Individual laptop loan per month – between 60 & 70 times

The demand for this service, evidenced by the above data, demonstrates how digital learning has increasingly become a core feature of the learning experience and that institutions need to plan for ways of ensuring that all students have access to appropriate enabling technologies. Well done to the DCU team for initiating and maintaining such a valuable scheme.