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National Institute for Digital Learning

Current Projects

Members of the Digital Learning Research Network are currently leading or actively contributing to a wide range of research and development projects in digital, blended and online learning. We are increasingly aligning our research and development projects with five major strands on interest: (i) Liife-long Learning, (ii) Opening Up Education, (iii) Student Transitions and Success, (iv) Curriculum Innovation and Teaching Enhancement, and (iv) Learning Futures. The list below describes over 20 projects that NIDL staff are contributing to at various stages of progress. 


ATS-STEM Project 

This European funded project (€2.3m) under the leadership of Dr Eamon Costello explores the development of transversal skills and assessment in the area of STEM Education. 


This HEA funded project (€1.4m) under the joint leadership of Dr Mairead Nic Giollamhicht, Professor Mark Brown and Billy Kelly explores the development of online learning for transnational education. 

EMBED Project 

This European funded project managed by EADTU and under the joint leadership at DCU of Professor Mark Brown and  Dr Mairead Nic Giollamhich explores the concept of maturity in the context of Blended Education. 


This Erasmus+ funded project under the leadership of University College London (UCL) aims to further develop the ABC Learning Design method with the eventual aim of creating a toolkit that can be used for fast-paced team-based course design.

Academic Integrity

This European funded aims at enhancing the quality of teaching and learning processes that are based on the principles of academic integrity, 

DigiCulture Project

This European funded project under the leadership of Dr Mairead Nic Giollamhichseeks to improve the digital competences and social inclusion of adults in creative industries


This project funded by the National Forum under the leadership of Dr Orna Farrell explores the professional development of part-time online tutors. 

Student Learning Development using Studiosity 

This project pilots the use of Studiosity and involves an online survey of students' use, experiences and percepetions of the service. 

• Universal Design for Learning

This internally funded project with colleagues in Student Support & Development (SS&D) aims to design and implement an initiative focused on professional development in the principles and practices of Universal Design for Learning.  

• Advanced Analytics in Mahara

This project uses a mixed method approach to address the limitations of the existing reporting/analytics capabilities within the Mahara e-portfolio platform

• MOOCs in the Media

This project involves an analysis of the way MOOCs have been portrayed in the Irish media. It builds on similar studies in the UK and US and interfaces with the wider SCORE2020 Project investigating new models of open and online learning. The research team involves Professor Mark Brown, Dr Eamon Costello, Dr Enda Donlon, Dr Mairead Nic Giollamhichil & Colete Kirwan.

• BigEData Project

This is a collaorative project with funding from the Centre for Big Data in Education from Beijing Normal University undertaking a comparative case study of the way MOOCs have been portrayed through social media. The research team involves Professor Mark Brown, Dr Eamon Costello, Associate Professor Theo Lynn, Dr Enda Donlon & Dr Mairead Nic Giollamhichil. 


This European funded project aims to mobilise expertise to exchange the latest on new modes of teaching and learning and support the implementation of new pedagogies, institutional strategies and business models will also be explored as part of the project. The NIDL project contact is Professor Mark Brown.

Lego Education Innovation Studio

As the first Irish institution to establish a formal partnership with Lego® Education, the Lego® Education Innovation Studio (LEIS) will enable DCU and the new Institute of Education (IOE) to create a world-class interactive learning hub. This hub will ensure that our student teachers and Irish schools more widely develop innovative and creative approaches to teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) subjects in the classroom. This project is being led by Dr Deirdre Butler. 


The 21CLD MOOC launched by the Minister of Education is the first free online course for teachers offered by an Irish third level institution. The MOOC developed through a strategic partnership with Microsoft is designed be used by teachers around the world to help support the understanding of what “21st century skills” are as well as how digital technologies can be used in teaching, learning and assessment. A key principle of learning design underpinning the MOOC is that continuing professional development is embedded in the teacher’s own classroom practice. This project is being led by Dr Deirdre Butler. 

• Loop Reflect Project

This project supports, co-ordinates and investigates the implementation of a major learning portfolio initiative across Dublin City University. The initiative is linked to the DCU's Generation 21 and supports both formal curriculum and co-curriculum activities. The contact for this project is Lisa Donaldson.  

• New Generation Learning Spaces Project

This project involves a major investment in formal and informal earning spaces at Dublin City University, including Linked Colleges. The work will take place over several years and have an important research dimension as we seek to understand how to apply contemporary thinking about learning space design in the redevelopment of teaching and learning environments within the University. This project is being led by Professor Mark Brown. 

Loop Tube Project

This project will pilot and evaluate the implementation of a video digital recording platform for teaching and learning purposes. The NIDL project contact is Dr Mark Glynn. 

• Provision of Strategic Business Intelligence Data Through the Learning Management System

This learning analytics project involves linking data available within Moodle, the university library system and the Eduroam campus wireless system, using the university business intelligence tool, to make it available to the university community. Internal funding grant. 

• The Societal Benefits Project

This project involves an analysis of the societal benefits of flexible delivery models for higher education with a particular focus on the Irish context. This project is being jointly led by Professor Mark Brown and Seamus Fox. 

Completed Projects

• SCORE2020 Project

This European funded project (€299K) will establish expertise centres for the development and use of MOOCs and Open Education in different regions of Europe. The NIDL will offer a number of initiatives for the Irish sector including in the first half of 2015 a National MOOC Symposium.  The project is being jointly led by Dr Eamon Costello and Professor Mark Brown. 

• HOME Project

This European funded project (€391K) aims to strengthen an open network for cooperation on open education in general and MOOCs in particular. The project is being led by Dr Eamon Costello. 

DStep Project

This National Forum funded project under the leadership of Dr Mark Glynn explored the professional development of DCU staff on a whole of programme basis. 

• Speakapps

This European funded project focuses on creating a free and open source online platform that gathers ICT-based applications and pedagogies to practice oral skills online. The project contact is Dr Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl.  

Future of Digital Learning in Schools Project 

This European funded project explored the research evidence and potential future of digital technology in schools 

• Flexible Learners Toolbox Project

This National Forum funded project (€254K) through the Teaching Enhancement Fund for Building Digital Capacity will develop a readiness toolbox for flexible learners. The project is being led by Dr James Brunton. 

What Works and Why

This National Forum funded project support a range of technology-enhanced learning innovations. 


This Erasmus funded project eCoNNECT (Enhanced Communication iN Nursing through Exchange of Clinical Teaching) Experiences was launched on 1st October 2017 with the aim of developing, testing and evaluating a blended learning module for practical apprenticeship training and continuing education for teachers and learners in scholastic, high school and practical learning places.


This project led by NUI Galway is supported in DCU by the Learning and Development unit in HR in collaboration with the Teaching Enhanchement Unit. The project involves establishing a series of workshops and seminar sessions specifically targeted at Heads of School 

• All Ireland Horizon Report

This proect with the Irish Learning Technology Association involves the design and implementation of an Irish edition of a Horizon Report on the future of higher education. The NIDL project contact is Professor Mark Brown. 

• Project 252

This is a crowd-sourcing project that will run throughout 2015. Every 2 weeks for the 52 weeks of the year (hence 252) the project will focus on one letter of the alphabet to develop a searchable A-Z Directory of Educational Technology Tools. The project is being led by Dr Enda Donlon. 

• METIS Project

This project investigates the design and implementation of a system for managing student teacher placements. Funding from the Teachers Council. The project is being led by Dr Enda Donlon. 

• PredictEd

This internally funded project is exploring the potential of learning analytics in supporting first year retention and success using data from Loop - DCU's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The work is being undertaken in partnership with the Insight Data Analytics Centre. The contact for this project is Dr Mark Glynn. 

• National Virtual Learning Environment Student Survey

This project supports a national student survey on virtual learning environments. The NIDL project contact is Dr Eamon Costello. 

• Blended Learning Project

This project involves working with Epigeum to develop an online professional development course for teachers to support the implementation of blended learning in higher education. The project is being led by Professor Mark Brown. 

• MindRising

The MindRising initiative is calling on young people from North and South, and further afield, to use Minecraft to tell the story of the island of Ireland, looking back to 1916 and projecting forward to 2116. It builds on other 1916 commemoration events by making use of new “cultural tools” that today’s students are immersed in normally outside of formal education structures. By using Minecraft—the world’s most popular games and virtual world—we are bridging formal and informal learning spaces. In so doing we aim to engage the Millennium Generation through innovative technologies and learning experiences that help to build deeper understandings of not only “past events” but also what the future might be like in another 100 years. This is a collaboration between MindRising, Microsoft, the DCU Institute of Education and the National Institute for Digital Learning.

• Development of Digital Learning Strategy for Schools

This is an initiative in the schooling sector with significant leadership from Dr Deirdre Butler. A new Digital Learning Strategy for Schools is expected to be launched during 2015. 

• Teacher Education in Kosovo

This is a large scale project being led by Dr Deirdre Butler to support the development of Pre-service and In-Service Teacher Education in Kosovo.  

 • ICDE Quality Standards Project

This externally funded project involves a map of all the quality standards and guidelines in the area of Open and Distance Learning throughout the world. The project is funded by the International Council for Open and Distance Education. One of the outcomes will be a Quality Hub that different stakeholders can use to design and enhance the quality of open, online and distance learning. Final report submitted and waiting for release. 

• Designing Education for the Future: The BMD Project

This project involves the design, implementation and evaluation of a transnational online masters degree in Biomedical Diagnostics jointly developed with Arizona State University. The degree was launched in 2014 and work continues in developing further joint programmes. 

• FETCH Project

Future Education and Training in Computing: How (FETCH) to support learning at anytime anywhere project is an EU funded project under the Lifelong Learning Programme. It comprises a consortium of 35 institutions and its main aims are the achievement of intelligent growth, and building a knowledge and innovation based computer society through raising the quality of computing education, introducing modern innovative technologies in education, sharing knowledge, discussing methodologies, promoting exchange of good practice between all parties. The research team involves Dr Markus Helford, Howard Duncan, Dr Eamon Costello and Seamus Fox. 

• Y1 Feedback Project

This National Forum project (€264K) through the Teaching Enhancement Fund for Building Digital being led by Maynooth University with substantial input from the NIDL and will result in a number of case studies on innovative uses of digital technologies in the assessment process. The NIDL project contacts are Professor Mark Brown and Elaine Walsh.

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