Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today launched a new project, “Next Steps for Teaching and Learning: Moving Forward Together”, aimed at building an informed vision for the future of teaching and learning in Ireland.
As the higher education sector plans for a potential emergence from the COVID pandemic and begins to look to the future, leading sectoral partners will work together to better understand the post-2020 teaching and learning landscape.
2020 resulted in a need for core aspects of higher education, such as teaching, assessment and curriculum design, to become more agile and adaptable between online/remote and face-to-face contexts. Further, digitalisation has been identified as a strategic challenge across all areas of government within the National Development Plan and higher education has an evolving digital transformation agenda which has been impacted by the recent shift to online/remote teaching and learning. This new project will inform upcoming strategic developments at national level as well as being of practical benefit to members of the wider higher education community.
Announcing the project, Minister Simon Harris commented: ‘There has been a strong spotlight on teaching and learning in higher education since the shift to online and remote education. The involvement of all key stakeholders in this project, which will consider our re-shaped teaching and learning landscape, is very welcome and timely. Through this national partnership we will be in a position to look ahead more clearly and support those who learn and teach in our institutions into the future. I commend all partners for their willingness to contribute to this very worthwhile project.’
Welcoming the launch, HEA CEO, Dr Alan Wall added: ‘I am delighted to support this valuable endeavour. Teaching and learning is a core pillar of higher education and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the learning that has been gained in recent months and years is used to best effect to inform practice and policy at local and national levels. The findings from this work will be important in shaping teaching and learning developments in the coming years.’
Chair of the National Forum, Dr Lynn Ramsey, said: ‘As we prepare to develop the post-2021 national strategy for teaching and learning in Irish higher education, this collaboration will be fundamental to ensuring it is grounded in the experiences of those who have carried us through the past year.’
The Next Steps project will be co-ordinated by the National Forum and funded through its Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund. Partners who will collaborate on the project include:
- Higher Education Colleges Association
- Irish Council for International Students
- Irish Universities Association
- Quality and Qualifications Ireland
- Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
- Technological Higher Education Association
- Technological University Dublin
- Union of Students in Ireland
- A representative of the specialist colleges
The National Forum will also liaise with the Higher Education Authority, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and other key stakeholders, including AHEAD, StudentSurvey.ie, the National Student Engagement Programme and Student Affairs Ireland, as the project progresses throughout 2021.
This timely project will involve a collective consideration of what was known about enhanced teaching and learning across face-to-face, blended and online/remote contexts prior to the pandemic, as well as what we know so far about what has been learned from the experience of the shift to fully online/remote learning since 2020.
The partners will contribute insights from their respective bodies and collaboratively examine existing evidence and knowledge to determine what it means for how the sector might best move forward together.
Findings and recommendations from this unique partnership project will be published at a national launch due to take place on 10 November 2021.