Thursday, 28 January 2016

Learning from Failure at #durbbu

Earlier this month I made my annual pilgrimmage to Durham to attend the 16th Durham Blackboard Users' Conference. I've been attending this event every January for the last number of years and can honestly say that it's a highlight in my calendar. Even better that it's at the very, very start of the year, meaning I'm not missing too much activity at work, and I can focus my mind completely on the theme of the conference.

Moreover, the annual Durham event is one of the best organised, consistently enjoyable and useful, and the friendliest Ed Tech conference. If Carlsberg did conferences! This is mostly down to the amazing team behind it all, including Malcolm Murray, Julie Mulvey and the Learning Technologies Team at Durham University.

If you are a Blackboard customer in the UK or Ireland (or considering becoming one), you should not miss this annual event. Because it's a Users' conference, it does not have the corporate feel of, say, the Blackboard Teaching and Learning conference. Instead you have the opportunity to hear about and share the real-life experience of fellow Blackboard customers, warts and all. There is also a good representation of staff from Blackboard, giving you great access to raise issues, ask questions and find out about new developments.

Learning from Failure

This year's conference theme was Learning from Failure. It was an excellent theme because this is how most of us learn. It's normal for our efforts to go wrong, but the important thing is to learn from that failure and try again. Even better if we can learn from others' failure, and avoid making the same mistakes ourselves.

We don't often talk about our failures, so I felt privileged to hear about how other people have overcome problems to achieve goals in the use of technologies for teaching and learning.
My notes from the conference extend to several pages. Here I just describe some of the more relevant learnings for me. I did also create a storify from all the tweets from the event, using hastag #durbbu. Some other attendees have written excellent blog posts from the event, which I list at the end of this post.

Bb Student app

I was particularly interested in the launch, in the UK and Ireland, of the new Bb Student mobile app. This is because we've had some particular problems with the current Blackboard Learn mobile app, related to a current (major) project concerning release of grades. The new app, which I write about here, is slicker and more student focused, but unfortunately doesn't solve our problems. This was good for me to learn, if not entirely satisfying.

Collaborate Ultra

We've been hearing about the new Collaborate Ultra product, which will eventually replace the current Collaborate, with the dreaded java download. We have done some testing at NUI Galway, but haven't made the switch, due to limitations in functionality.

However, I was very lucky to hear from Kelly Hall of Edinburgh University about Stepping into the unknown with Collaborate Ultra. Kelly gave a very engaging and information presentation where she described how 3 groups at Edinburgh have piloted the new system. She was able to identify exactly the limitations and difficulties experienced, but concluded that the groups were overall very happy with Collab Ultra. The main loss of functionality is the ability to create break-out groups, but Blackboard is working on this.

Based on the experience of the pilot, Edinburgh is looking to rollout to Ultra during the summer of 2016. She suggested that case studies, based on the pilot groups, are being compiled and may be made available to those interested.

Enterprise Surveys

I've never really considered Blackboard Enterprise Surveys functionality, because I was under the impression that it was only available as part of the Community System licence. It turns out - I was wrong! After putting the question to twitter, I soon got the response that it is available in the basic, vanilla Learn licence - though clearly turned off in ours.

A presentation from Chris Slack and Adam Tuncay described how they have deployed module quality surveys using different approaches: OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) forms, Blackboard tests, and finally Enterprise Surveys. While there are clearly a lot of challenges in using the Enterprise Survey tool (59 known issues, 3 critical issues) the increase in response rates and the reduction in labour costs were particularly impressive.
Hearing about this project (and its many set-backs) has encouraged me to take a look at Enterprise Surveys on our own environment, some day in the future when I have a bit of time!

Blackboard Updates

The Durham conference always includes a keynote from Blackboard itself, where we can learn something about the current direction and future roadmap for the company. This year, Alan Masson (Head of International Customer Success) gave an engaging keynote reflecting on our shared journey (Blackboard + customers) and what has been learned along the way.

Just two days before the conference, Blackboard had announced that Bill Ballhaus was to succeed Jay Bhatt as CEO.With a new CEO, the focus of the company is likely to shift, so Alan couldn't really say anything about current direction. However, he did speak about some upcoming Roadmap Webinars for the International market. These webinars are a good opportunity to find out more about product strategy, developments and releases.

Alan also pointed us to a new Technology Adoption Guide - 6 Characteristics To Increase Technology Adoption.

Grades Journey Tool

We are currently, at NUI Galway, in the middle of a major institutional project which involves the use of Blackboard's new Grades Journey tool. At the time of the conference, we were on the cusp of rolling out, using a big-bang approach, new grade centre columns to all modules, in all Schools and Colleges, across the University. So, I was particularly interested to hear from Jim Emery from Glasgow Caledonian about his experience of the Grades Journey tool.

Glasgow Caledonian's context is slightly different from ours, albeit with similar goals ultimately. Perhaps very sensibly, GCU is about to commence a pilot of the system, rather than our all-or-nothing approach. His description of the endeavour as a "series of small battles rather than a long war" rang true for me, although I currently feel like I'm involved in a very long war!

Jim's presentation was very honest, as he described his learnings from the project so far. We also spent some time comparing notes on our experiences, which was extremely valuable for me. Jim has written about  Marks Integration, framing it in the context of the Digital University.

Digital Badges

I enjoyed Graham Redshaw-Boxwell's talk about digital badges at Newcastle University and beyond. I think there are plenty of links with the All Aboard project in Ireland, especially the digital badges component of this.


I realise that I'm writing this post three weeks after the conference took place, and I've focused only on those talks that made the most impression on me, in terms of my own learning. I also very much enjoyed Eric Stoller's keynote, about academics and social media.
Unusually for a conference, any of the talks I went to were of high quality, and I learned something new in each one.

Other blog posts about this event include (apologies if I missed any - let me know in the comments):

Learning from Failure – The 16th Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference- Rosie Hare
Reflections on Day 2 of the Blackboard Users’ Conference- Richard Walker
Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference 2016: A Few Reflections - Danny Ball
Learning from Failure…- Maria Tannant
Durbbu - multiple posts by Matt Cornock

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Campus Create - A daily dose of creative challenges at NUI Galway

In December, a PhD student, Sally McHugh, called into my office to tell me that she had successfully received Explore funding for a project called Campus Create, with Dr. Tony Hall in Education. The idea was to promote and encourage creativity in all its forms, including within digital media. Sally and I had talked before about Digital Storytelling DS106 from the University of Mary Washington, and the work of Jim Groom, Alan Levine and colleagues. They had been working for many years, encouraging people to make art, to create, share and remix, in an open way, cognisant of copyright and domain ownership. Our heroes.
Before Christmas, Tony, Sally and I met to talk about how we might explore and enact these ideas at NUI Galway within the Campus Create project. We came up with the notion of having twelve weeks of themes, to correspond to the first twelve weeks of semester 2, and to post daily create challenges, similar to projects like the Daily Create, the Daily Post, and the 12 Apps of Christmas.

Things progressed further, and after a furious effort in the first week of January with collaborators (including support from Alan Levine) and developing the technical infrastructure, the experiment began.

It's now week 2. The theme is Sound. Well, the jury is still out on whether that's a literal statement or not, as yet. Getting the daily create prompt together for the website and cross posting on Facebook and Twitter has been become a daily (and late night and weekend) challenge for us too.

Thanks to the good work of John Caulfield and Connell Cunningham, users' contributions have visibility on the large video wall in the library and on display screens  around the campus. This is a display of the latest moderated user posts via six or seven social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, etc.), once the weekly hashtag is used within a contribution on any social media platform. These are also accessible live on the website on No mean feat.

So, Campus Create is off to a promising start. The warm encouragement and strong participation from many around campus has heated our frozen winter feet. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks and seeing how it all unfolds.

Check out the next creative daily prompt on (and register if you want to receive the weekly email). I hope to see your 'creates' join the conversation.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Flipping great.

Earlier this year, we had the good fortune of catching up with Dr. Bryan McCabe, a lecturer in Civil Engineering at NUI Galway. Bryan has been re-configuring his pedagogic approach, by giving students exposure to lecture materials out of class through lecture videos and quizzes. He then uses lecture time to problem-solve, discuss and debate. More popularly known as "the flipped classroom", this learning model has been growing in popularity in recent times, due to its emphasis on active student engagement (Chen, Wang, Kinshuk & Chen, 2014).

In this short video with Bryan, he discusses his approach, and the feedback he has received from students on allowing them to take more responsibility for their learning, and engage collaboratively in the practice of engineering.


Further Reading:
Chen, Y., Wang, Y., Kinshuk & Chen, N.S. (2014). Is FLIP enough? Or should we use the FLIPPED model instead? Computers & Education, 79, 16-27.

Straw S., Quinlan, O., Harland, J. & Walker, M. (2014). Flipped Learning: Using Online Video to Transform Learning. Nesta Report. Accessed from

Check out two NUI Galway Library Books:
Bergmann J, & Sams A. (2012)Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.

Bergmann, J. & Sams, A.(2014). Flipped learning Gateway to Student Engagement, Learning & Learning with Technology.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Why I blog

Image by andyp uk on flickr 
A couple of weeks ago, as part of an informal lunchtime conversation session on the topic of Academic Blogging, Simon Warren (@worried_teacher) invited me to speak, along with John Danaher (@JohnDanaher), on my blogging experiences. This forced me to take some time and reflect on my own practice as a blogger, what I blog about and why. So, thank you Simon for giving me the purpose to reflect.

John blogs at and is a prolific blogger. He admits to spending between 10 to 15 hours per week on his blog, writing an average of 2 lengthy posts each week. His writing is habitual and he starts most days writing at least 1000 words. He writes for research purposes and much of what he writes is repurposed for papers and articles. 

Clearly I am not nearly in the same league as John Danaher, but listening to him speak, I realised that some of our reasons for blogging are similar. 

The LearnTechGalway blog

This blog first started as a conference blog in May 2007, and has since accumulated more than 400 posts, with various authors from the Learning Technologies team at NUI Galway. We use the blog to document our work; to highlight and showcase the work of others; to share information about upcoming events; to document events we've hosted or attended; and to network with other groups.

The audience for the blog is the university community at NUIG and a broader network of academic, academic-related and educational technology people nationally and internationally.

Writing for me

But actually, my primary audience is myself! As a non-academic, there is not the same pressure on me to write; but as a former academic (who is still interested in research) I find that blogging provides me a platform to articulate and make sense of the world around me. John described something similar - he uses his blog to explain things to himself. 

When I first started blogging (in 2007), my contributions were short and factual. I blogged about news, gave details on upcoming events and wrote up conference reports. The conference and event reports developed as I started to reflect more, and began to put my ideas in writing. As my online identity continues to develop, through blogging and Twitter and other social tools, my blogger's voice has also continued to develop. It is still not a confident voice, but that is something that I would like to work on. 

So, blogging, for me, supports my own professional self development, allowing me to reflect, and helping me to shape my identity, both online and in real life.

Me as an open practitioner

It has also become important to me that I reflect openly and I'm working to become more of an open practitioner. This is not necessarily a comfortable place to be, especially as a woman online. But through blogging and twitter in particular I have developed a pretty good (and constantly shifting) personal learning network (PLN).

The value of the network is manifest in multiple ways. The feedback from comments on the blog or on twitter (or LinkedIn or Medium or wherever they happen to be) reminds me that I'm part of a wider community, but also supports the development of my thinking. Blogging can also result in unexpected opportunities for research or collaborative work, such as my chapter in David Hopkins' Really Useful #EdTech Book last year.

This post has taken me a couple of weeks to complete (though you wouldn't know that to read it). Yesterday I had the immense pleasure of hearing Joseph O'Connor speak at the National Summit for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. As well as providing the hugely accurate description Writing is like attempting to juggle with mud he also said

Learning is a way of seeing, again, a way of looking at the world 

I think blogging does this too. And blogging is part of my learning.

See Also..

Can blogging be academically valuable - by John Danaher

Blogging helps academic writing - by Pat Thomson

Monday, 7 December 2015

Providing campus wide video services with limited resources

This article first appeared in the December issue of the Media and Learning Newsletter, published by the Media and Learning Association. Sign up for regular issues online.

The Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at the National University of Ireland, Galway is a staff-facing central unit which has the broad aim to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at the University. The centre is responsible for various types of activities, grounded in the promotion of good pedagogy, including the support of learning technologies and media production. In the last 5 years, we have seen an increase in the use of video in online, blended and on-campus courses, including the flipped classroom approach.

With a small complement of staff (just 4 members in the learning technologies team) to support an institution with about 17,000 students and 2,500 staff across 5 Colleges, we have to be selective in how we allocate our resources. We have a small recording studio, for video and audio, with facilities for video editing. Our approach is to empower academic staff to develop their own resources through a combination of technology provision, formal and informal training, advice, support and good practice guides.

There is an impression that video is inherently complicated and that advanced knowledge and skills are necessary to produce anything worthwhile. However, increasingly people are walking around with a smartphone video camera in a pocket, and this is particularly true for our students. We can create and upload a short video to YouTube or Facebook in seconds, so why not educational video too?

Since 2011 we have used the Kaltura platform and VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) building block to make video easier for all staff and students. Instructional videos, webcam or screen recordings can be created and uploaded to the VLE using simple tools that don't require anything more complicated than a webcam and headset, and no knowledge of video files and formats.

While having a technological solution is a necessary first step to support and grow the use of video as a mainstream teaching and assessment tool across campus, it's not sufficient. The CELT learning technologies team is involved in a range of activities to raise awareness and enable the whole university community to leverage the power of video in teaching and learning, including:
  • provision of basic advice and support, through a ticketing helpdesk, online resources and good practice guides for self-support. Online resources include both text guides with screenshots as well as video guides using the tools themselves.
  • highlighting and showcasing existing good examples of video that have been well integrated into the curriculum.
  • hands-on training through workshops on using the tools and technologies for video. The workshops can be stand-alone or included in staff development technology events.
  • embedded in the formal CELT professional development programmes (PG Cert in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, PG Dip in Academic Practice), thereby situating the use of video technology firmly within the pedagogic context.
  • leading by example, by making use of video in our own teaching and training activities, even when the focus is not video.
  • working closely on selected, defined projects with individual staff and/or student groups, thereby creating showcase opportunities.
  • provision of recording and editing facilities and services, where appropriate and feasible.
In an environment that is increasingly driven by measurements and metrics, it's important for us to monitor the use of video. From the Kaltura analytics tools we know that contributors, contributions and entries played have increased year-on-year since 2011, and are likely to grow further.

Republished with permission. 

Monday, 30 November 2015

A lecturer perspective on peer assessment

When it comes to student learning, there is no activity with greater impact than how you design your course assessment. We all know that it works best when it facilitates meaningful and engaged learning by allowing students to participate in the process and gain timely and relevant feedback. It must be fair, accurate, and manageable for those undertaking it, and this is no easy task.

There has been much written in recent times on innovations in assessment. Lecturers have long been striving for new ways to make it more valid, transparent and diverse (Race, 2007). Asking students to review and give feedback on each others work is one such approach. With the advent of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), this practice of allowing students to assess and give feedback on each others work has grown in prevalence (Bali, 2014). Surely, it makes sense that students would benefit from understanding the criteria of an assignment so well that they could appraise the work of others for quality.

But introducing peer assessment can seem to be a daunting and hazardous prospect. How well do students undertake this task- would they be too harsh or too generous in their comments? Would they benefit from seeing their own mistakes and others? What other outcomes does it bring? And most importantly - how easy is it to manage?

We spoke with Michael Coyne, in the School of Law at NUI Galway about his experience in using peer assessment with students, and heard about the benefits it brought. The result is a short three minute interview.
Watch Michael's video interview here.

Bali, M (2014). MOOC Pedagogy: Gleaning Good Practice from Existing MOOCs”, MERLOT. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10, 1, 44-56.
Race, Phil (2007). The Lecturer's Toolkit: A practical guide to assessment, learning and teaching. 3rd edition, London: Routledge

Additional Resources: 
Blackboard's Guide to Peer Assessment
CELT Resources on Peer Assessment
JISC Exemplars of Peer Assessment

See more showcase videos

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The 5 x 12 apps of Christmas

12 Days. 12 Apps. 10 minutes per day.

I've just signed up (again) for the 12 apps of Christmas #12appsDIT offered by the Learning, Teaching and Technology Centre at DIT, and facilitated by Frances Boylan. This was launched last year (and I blogged about it at the time) based on a similar initiative at Regent's University London.

Each morning over 12 weekdays, starting Dec 1st 2015, a page will be released that reviews a particular mobile app and explores it in terms of how it could help students personalise their learning. Like an advent calendar, every day you open a new door and see what's behind it.

This year the DIT folk are focussing on personalisation of learning, and are inviting teaching staff and students to take part. Already more than 600 people have registered. Why not sign up too?

As well as #12appsDIT, Chris Rowell of Regent's University London, has launched Christmas 2.0 #RUL12AoC.
Aimed at academic and academic support staff, this open course offers to cover the basics and some more advanced tips on using 12 educational apps.

You can sign up for the RUL course, which is offered via Blackboard's Open Education platform.

Meanwhile, the University of West London has also launched their 12 apps of Christmas open course #UWL12Apps. This course aims to inspire you to explore how you can use your smartphone or tablet in education and beyond.

In case 3 apps per day isn't enough for you, the University of Brighton has also launched a satellite cMOOC of #RUL12AoC, with hashtag #12brightapps.

So, starting on 1st December, with a new app (or 4) every weekday until 16th December, you could learn about the educational possibilities of up to 48 apps. At that stage, we could all do with a rest!

Update (18 November): Thanks to Chrissi Nerantzi (@chrissinerantzi) for alerting me (in the comments below) to another 12 apps  offered by Manchester Metropolitan University Library. This course, which does not need any registration, promises engaging hands-on activities, top tips and support from expert facilitators. Staff at MMU are also encouraged to participate in #RUL12AoC for the experience of an online course, with a suggestion that a common hashtag #12AoC is used.

That's a potential 60 apps, although I suspect there'll be a certain amount of overlap.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

How to effectively engage students through video

Last term we spoke with Mary Barrett, at NUI Galway, about her involvement in a project that created short screencasts within Blackboard for students. Along with her colleagues, she was looking for something to explain the technical nature of the subject, in additional to lectures and tutorials, for students. They arrived at a solution of working through problems on screen, narrating the process, and explaining steps involved. The resulting recordings allowed students to access these clarifying steps again, and again. Each screencast became a very valuable and engaging resource for learning.

Behind the scenes is a technology called Kaltura Desktop Recorder, which enables you to quickly and easily recording your screen or lecture and upload online to share privately in Blackboard, or with a wider audience on MediaSpace or other public video channels.

Watch Mary's video interview here.

You can see some further examples of their results on and read more about Mary's Accountancy Nuggets project on the Explore project website.

Monday, 2 November 2015

NUI Galway on Wikimedia Commons

The quad at NUI Galway
The Quad by Malbe554
Just over a week ago I had a workshop for academic staff (on the PG Diploma in Academic Practice module in Learning Technologies) where we discussed the use of wikis in teaching and learning. As well as demonstrating how Blackboard wikis work and might be used to support collaborative group work, I also tried out a Wikipedia familiarisation session, in the style of Martin Poulter. This was based mostly on the talk I gave at EdTech earlier this year, on Academic Writing and Wikipedia.

The purpose of the Wikipedia familiarisation session is to highlight certain academic qualities of Wikimedia articles - the quality scale, citation guidelines, peer review, authorship, collaboration. I also talked about some of Wikipedia's sister projects, hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, that can be used to enhance teaching and learning activities, such as Wikiversity, Wiktionary, Wikinews and Wikimedia Commons.

To add a practical element, without a full-blown editing session, I asked each person in the group to take one or more pictures (using a smartphone or other device) of the place where he/she works, and to create a wikipedia account in advance of our workshop. During the workshop, then, each person uploaded a new media file to Wikimedia Commons, which was later tagged with National University of Ireland, Galway.

This had the advantage of each person creating an account and making a real contribution to Wikimedia Commons. Moreover, the collection of images of NUI Galway has been expanded and enhanced.

Some of the newly uploaded images are below. As you can see, they have all been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.

Old Civil Engineering Building
By Theorydave (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Office view of the Quadrangle, NUI Galway
Office View of the Quadrangle
By Kardoy1 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Earth & Ocean Science NUIG
Earth and Ocean Science, NUIG
By TiernanHenry (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Áras de Brún
Áras de Brún
By Niallmadden (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Aras Moyola, NUIG
Aras Moyola
By Mary R Mulry (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, 28 September 2015

Digital Storytelling at NUI Galway

 For the past six years, Bonnie Long, in the School of Education, has been pioneering a novel approach to encourage teachers to reflect on their professional practice, as part of their studies at NUI Galway. We caught up with her before the summer to ask her a little more about her approach of using digital storytelling as part of the formal curriculum.

The result is a three minute long interview with Bonnie, that explains in more detail. Watch it here:

Bonnie Long talks about digital storytelling in Higher Education

Friday, 24 July 2015

Summer Holidays

Earlier this week I became aware of #blimage - a challenge to write blog posts on learning, inspired by particular images. You can read more about the challenge from Steve Wheeler in his post Blimey, it's #blimage. Since then, there have been #blimage blogposts appearing all week, and I'm barely keeping up with them!

Following David Hopkins' post Desks of Doom, David challenged me to get involved.
To be honest, my first reaction was "I haven't got time for this", but actually, David's challenge image aligns nicely with my current phase of work. So, I decided I'd use the opportunity to get something written.

Birmingham Airport Departure Lounge (gate 14/15) 

Image by David Hopkins on flickr
I've been in plenty of departure lounges while travelling; sometimes for work and sometimes on holiday; sometimes as a solo traveller and sometimes with colleagues, friends or family. This one, at least, has seats - unlike some areas used in the past by Ryanair.

What I see here is not a dull, depressing scene. It's likely that, just minutes before, this area was full of people, old and young, excited about the journey ahead of them. In another few minutes, the space will begin to fill up, and the cycle will begin again.

This image shows just a snapshot in time, but it's a time when it's possible to take stock of the space - maybe do some cleaning up or perhaps rethink the whole area in terms of upgrading, arrangement and facilities. That type of upgrade activity can only take place at a quiet time, like the moment depicted.

So, why does this image align with my current phase of work? Well, I think it looks quite like the scene I can see out of my office window. I am lucky to have an office on the ground floor of a very central building, that looks out on one of the busiest areas of the campus: just outside the library, with the main university restaurant just down some steps, and many of the university's lecture theatres in easy reach. During the teaching year, there is a magnificent buzz, with students and staff milling around, grouped together in clusters, rushing from one space to the next. It is constant, and a perfect reminder to me of the main purpose of the university. To be part of the scene is energising, and I can't help but feel motivated by the anticipation of the crowd.

View from my office window
 But just now, this is how it looks. If you look hard, you'll see there are a couple of people outside the library entrance, and I do see people walking up and down the steps. There are people around, as evidenced by the collection of bicycles in the rack, but nothing like the buzz during term. It's hard to imagine that, in just over a month, this place will be teeming with students. Some of them may even be excited about the journey ahead of them.

So, what has me so busy? Well, this is my team's time to do all the necessary maintenance and updates before the term begins. We can only do this work at this time of year (and possibly a much shorter window at Christmas).

In addition to our ongoing support for staff, we have 4 fairly big projects scheduled over the summer including various upgrades to current technologies (VLE, video technologies, lecture capture, language labs), which entail development of new training resources and documentation. We are working on a completely new website (due to launch end of next week) and are planning a full schedule of training for academic staff for the second half of August. Some of our efforts will be visible to and appreciated by university staff, and we look forward to supporting their work in the new academic year.

Will the students notice any difference when they come back in September? Possibly not, or not immediately. A bit like improvements in an airport waiting lounge!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Learning Resources and Open Access in Higher Education Institutions in Ireland

The National Forum for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education has published 2 focused research reports today. One of these is the outcome of a project, led by Angelica Risquez at the University of Limerick, and involving a team of people from University of Limerick, Dublin Institute of Technology, Mary Immaculate College, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and National University of Ireland Galway, looking at the current state of Open Educational Resources in Higher Education in Ireland.

This report provides a considered account of some of the key issues which influence the sharing of open educational resources. These include questions of awareness and understanding of open educational resources at individual as well as institutional level, and the value placed on openness as a positive incentive for academic engagement. Acknowledging the complex interplay between these factors, the study suggests important practical steps to take forward OER engagement, including: awareness raising; professional development for academic staff; capturing excellent OERs and continuing relevant and targeted research to support particular OER initiatives.

The full text of the report is available from the National Forum website.

From the report:

This project, a national analysis, set out to examine strategies for sharing open education resources (OERs) to enhance teaching and learning in Irish higher education. Drawing on the collective expertise and experience of colleagues, with on-going involvement in open education resources, the study explore current practices and potential approaches for future sharing of resources. The experiences gained through the National Digital Learning Resources project were also considered, along with options for the management and discovery of digital teaching and learning resources through local repositories. As part of the exploration focus groups were held with selected groups of academic, library, educational development and educational technologists.

 Consequently this report provides a considered account of some of the key issues which influence the sharing of open educational resources from primary data gathered and also from a survey of current research literature. The relevant issues incorporate questions of awareness and understanding of open education resources at individual as well as institutional level, and in particular the value placed on openness as a positive incentive for academic engagement and sharing. Alongside the increasing growth of social media and online sharing platforms which have altered the way resources are shared amongst some groups, there is also the question of how in an Irish context distinctive institutional missions and approaches can determine levels of OER engagement. Acknowledging the complex interplay between these factors, the study suggests important practical steps to take forward OER engagement, including: awareness raising; professional development for academic staff; capturing excellent OERs and continuing relevant and targeted research to support particular OER initiatives.

As a member of the project team, it was an honour to work again with such a dedicated group of people and it's great to see the report being launched.

A related presentation can be seen on slideshare, from the EdTech conference in UL in May.