Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairi Quinn TD has launched the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at Dublin City University. This new centre of excellence will pioneer major developments in online, distance and blended learning, exploiting the full range of digital technologies to provide students with the best possible learning experience, whether on or off campus.
The Institute will advance digital learning in Ireland in four key areas:
- Continuing Professional Development for academic staff (at DCU and nationally) in digital teaching and learning methods
- Support in developing content and modules for delivery in online, blended and distance learning modes
- Coordinating and supporting the delivery of modules and programmes remotely
- Conducting cutting-edge research and policy development in the area of digital learning, technology-enhanced learning and learning analytics.
Launching the new Institute today at DCU, Minister Quinn said,
“The area of Digital Learning is one which is exploding with potential at the moment.
In truth, from primary school to third-level, Ireland has been caught behind the curve of the digital revolution which is transforming society. Over the last 10 years, significant resources have been invested in trying to change this reality, but we must question how successful those efforts have been… I hope that the creation of the National Institute of Digital Learning in DCU will begin to change this landscape. Through research and policy development, through CPD for teachers and academics in DCU and across the country, and through the development of online, blended and distance learning opportunities, I believe this Institute can make a genuinely important contribution.”
In addition to enhancing DCU’s current suite of degree programmes, initial projects to be undertaken by the new Institute include the following:
- Development of an online short course on the Irish Revolutionary Period (1912-1922) for use in the new Junior cycle curriculum;
- Development of an online Master’s programme on Irish Studies aimed at international students and the Irish Diaspora;
- Development of DCU’s existing collaboration with the UN Global eSchools & Communities Initiative (GeSCI) which saw 180 future leaders from sub-Saharan African countries graduate with a leadership qualification from DCU earlier this year;
- Rebranding of Oscail, DCU’s online education service as eDCU, which will become the online portal of all DCU’s blended, online and distance education offerings.
DCU also announced the appointment of Professor Mark Brown as Director of NIDL and as Ireland’s first Chair in Digital Learning. He is recognised globally as a pioneer in the area of Digital Learning and is currently Director of the National Centre for Teaching & Learning at Massey University, New Zealand. He will take up his new post in DCU in February 2014. Another leading figure in online learning, Professor Grainne Conole of the University of Leicester, has also been appointed as Visiting Professor to the Institute.
DCU President, Professor Brian MacCraith, outlined the university’s vision for the new institute:
“The launch of NIDL underscores DCU’s commitment to optimising the learning experience of our students, whether they be on campus or studying in distance mode. Developments in online learning require in-depth analysis through academic research and we are happy to provide this both for DCU and for Ireland generally. We are proud to be at the forefront in embracing the potential of digital technology to enhance learning, and truly democratise and internationalise the learning experience.”