A key strategic priority of the National Forum is to consolidate and continue to lead ongoing efforts to enhance the digital skills, confidence and competence of all who teach and learn in higher education. In the first years of the Forum, this was achieved through consulting across the sector, outlining a vision, building an evidence base for digital teaching and learning, creating structures and guidance frameworks, and funding Teaching and Learning Enhancement projects.

Building Digital Capacity

The Building Digital Capacity in Irish Higher Education 2013-18 report provides a detailed overview of work completed by the National Forum, in collaboration with its partners and stakeholders, on building digital capacity in Irish higher education during its first five years. The aim of the report is to allow work undertaken to date, and the perspectives of those involved, to inform future developments related to the digital dimensions of teaching and learning in Irish higher education.

The Forum Insight: Building Digital Capacity provides a 2-page overview of the full report. Key developments in building digital capacity undertaken and coordinated by the National Forum are summarised in five areas: consulting across the sector and outlining a vision, understanding the digital landscape, structures and guidance frameworks, Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund projects, and perspectives of those who teach, learn and lead.

As an example, a key recommendation of the National Forum’s digital roadmap Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: A Roadmap for Enhancement in a Digital World 2015-2017 called for ‘a co-ordinated, multi-level approach to foster digital literacy, skills and confidence among students at all levels of education’. Responding to this recommendation, the All Aboard Digital Skills Framework was developed, with support from the National Forum’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund.

The critical application of digital technologies challenges many of higher education’s structures, assumptions, policies and procedures, not least beliefs and attitudes about the role and nature of higher education itself. Ireland continues to set an international example by demonstrating how initiatives within and between institutions can be consolidated at a national level.

Enhancing digital teaching and learning in practice through sectoral collaboration

The National Forum has led and supported numerous projects and initiatives aimed at leveraging the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. These include:

  • With the support of the National Forum, 17 open access professional development courses leading to a National Forum digital badge have been collaboratively designed by experts across the sector, each badge focuses on a particular aspect of staff professional development. See Open Courses for more information.
  • Up to 2018, the National Forum funded 32 Teaching and Learning Enhancement initiatives across 25 HEIs. Many of these include a focus on digital teaching and learning, and most include the production of openly licensed digital resources which can be shared, reused and adapted by all who teach and learn across the sector.
  • Within the National Forum Seminar Series, 22 of the 92 regional seminars funded for 2019-20 have an explicit focus on digital teaching and learning. A list of these seminars can be found here.