Background to VIT&L Week

We have reached a key moment for teaching and learning in Irish higher education. There is increased investment, in terms of both resources and time and energy, and the fundamental link between teaching and learning and key educational imperatives such as employability, internationalisation, innovation, equality of opportunity, academic excellence and student success, is coming into sharp focus.

An exploration of insights from across the sector conducted in May 2020 provided a useful window into the effects on teaching and learning of the sudden move to online/remote education in the preceding months. How well individual departments and institutions were positioned to support students and staff through this crisis was noted to have been influenced by the investment of time and resources in digital (and non-digital) teaching and learning structures, resources, communities and leaders that had already taken place.

The vision of the National Forum, which was endorsed by the sector in 2018, is a valued and informed teaching and learning culture in Irish higher education. National structures and approaches to underpin teaching and learning enhancement have been established and are being emulated internationally. In every higher education institution across Ireland people are engaging in and committing to teaching and learning enhancement. If this engagement in, and commitment to, the enhancement of teaching and learning is to be valued, however, that value must first be understood and articulated.

VITAL Consultation

In 2020, the National Forum embarked on an exploration of how teaching and learning is currently valued and recognised within Irish higher education, how it could be valued, and what influences how teaching and learning is valued and recognised. This Valuing Ireland’s Teaching and Learning (VIT&L) Consultation has involved conversations with key stakeholders and an extensive review of related literature and models. Consultation and engagement with research and models in this space allows the National Forum, in collaboration with national and international partners, to better understand what ‘good’ teaching and learning looks like and how it can best be recognised and supported. This understanding will help us to progress towards teaching and learning enhancement in an agreed, coherent, aligned and strategic manner.

VIT&L Week provides an opportunity for the entire Irish higher education community to come together through local and national events and strategic discussions to consider how teaching and learning within and across our institutions and can be valued, recognised and supported into the future.

Next Steps for Teaching and Learning: Moving Forward Together

A centrepiece of VIT&L Week is the launch of findings from a national partnership project, the Next Steps for Teaching and Learning: Moving Forward Together project, announced in May 2021 by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, T.D. As the higher education sector plans for a potential emergence from the pandemic and begins to look to the future, this project, which connects directly with the VIT&L Consultation, involves leading sectoral partners working together to better understand the post-2020 teaching and learning landscape and to build an informed vision for the future of teaching and learning in Ireland. More information on the Next Steps project is available here.