Primary Department
National Observatory for Digital Education
Director, National Institute for Digital Learning
Phone number:
01 700
Room Number

Academic biography

Professor Mark Brown is Ireland's first Chair in Digital Learning and Director of the National Observatory for Digital Education (NODE). 


Professor Mark Brown is Ireland's first Chair in Digital Learning and Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL). He has over 30 years of experience working in Tertiary Education, with specific expertise in policy and practice supporting lifelong learning and new blended, online and digital (BOLD) education models.

Before taking up his current position, Mark was Director of the National Centre for Teaching and Learning at Massey University in New Zealand. He is a recipient of a National Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching and remains a member of the New Zealand Academy of Tertiary Teaching Excellence. He is a Senior EDEN Fellow and was recognised in 2017 by the Commonwealth of Learning (CoL) as a world leader in Open, Online and Distance Learning. In 2019, Mark was Chair of the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning hosted in Dublin. Mark is an active researcher, a sought-after keynote speaker, and has a strong publication record, with over 100 academic journal articles. He serves on several journal editorial boards. 

Professional Contribution

Mark is a Vice-President and Management Board Member of EDEN Digital Learning Europe  He also serves on the Supervisory Board of the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) and is a member of the Advisory Board for the U.S. based Online Learning Consortium's Research Center for Digital Learning and Leadership. In Ireland, Mark has previously served (2016-2018) as an Irish Universities Association representative on the Board of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Mark is the past President of the New Zealand Association for Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (now FLANZ) and served as Treasurer as well as an Executive Committee member of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education. ASCILITE is known as the peak professional body for blended, online and digital learning in Australia and New Zealand. Mark continues to have strong 'down under' links and served in 2019-2020 as the Vice-President of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (OLDAA), which publishes the Q1 journal Distance Education.


Research interests

Professor Brown’s main research interests are in the areas of tertiary education policy, strategy and leadership, with a strong focus on learning transformation through new digital education models. More specifically, Mark has interests in the areas of open education, online learning, distance education, blended learning, learning design, effective pedagogy, artificial intelligence in education, academic development, higher education, lifelong learning, micro-credentials, quality assurance and enhancement, and open scholarship. A notable feature of Mark's research and scholarship is a deliberate effort to ensure his work maintains a contemporary critical edge, which is globally connected but locally relevant, with a strong emphasis on transforming lives and societies for better futures.

Doctoral Supervision

Mark is available to supervise doctoral students in his areas of expertise. Professor Brown has successfully supervised over 50 research master's and doctoral theses and dissertations ranging from Early Childhood Education to Adult Education and Lifelong Learning. He particularly welcomes prospective doctoral candidates to contact him to discuss their research interests. He is currently supervising five doctoral candidates and contributes to the specialist Digital Learning strand in the Doctor of Education (EdD). 

Further Information

More detailed biographical information, including a summary of Mark's research outputs by year over the last 25 years, is available from his NODE webpage.