The National Forum has continued its strong focus on connecting internationally in recent weeks, with a number of high-level engagements focused on teaching and learning in a digital world. The recent Irish National Digital Experience (INDEx) Survey and previous National Forum work on open resources, learning analytics, technological infrastructure and digital and open polices constitute a large body of evidence and practice which has led to invitations from a number of international colleagues to share our national enhancement work in the digital space.
Following a suggestion from contacts within the European Commission, an international webinar was held on 25 November sharing the rationale, planning, implementation and key results of the INDEx Survey and, building on this, exploring the potential for further collaboration across European networks within the context of the Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027. International guest speakers at the webinar included Oliver Janoschka (panel chair), Hochschulforum Digitaliserung (HFD), Germany, Georgi Dimitrov, European Commission Deputy Head of Unit Innovation and EIT, Florian Rampelt, HFD, and Christien Bok, Education at SURF, The Netherlands. Speakers emphasised the importance of working in partnership with students, staff, senior managers, and policy makers. The development of the European Digital Education Hub will foster ongoing collaboration by European member states, supporting them to be proactive and future-focused in ensuring that collective, evidenced-based action is taken in implementing the Digital Education Action Plan. A recording of the webinar is available here.
Other recent international engagements focused on digital included input from the National Forum Director, Dr Terry Maguire, at an OECD event entitled ‘Digitalisation today: Benefits and risks for teaching and learning’ in October and at the EU-China High-Level People-to-People Policy Dialogue in November. This policy dialogue is one of a number of country/regional policy dialogues facilitated by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. During these presentations, Terry discussed Ireland’s response to the sudden move to online/remote teaching and learning in 2020. A keynote was also delivered by Dr Catherine Cronin, Strategic Education Developer at the National Forum, at the 2020 Quality Forum of University of Malmö, Sweden, focused on the digitization of education. Catherine shared examples of digital enhancement work ongoing in Ireland and how teaching and learning has continued through the pandemic context, as well as reflections on critical approaches to open and digital education.
As the national body responsible for leading and advising on the enhancement of teaching and learning in higher education, the National Forum will continue to contribute to and shape international conversations related to digital education in Europe and beyond over the coming months and years. As always, we value the importance of collaborating with colleagues in other contexts and ensuring we can move forward in an aligned and strategic way.