A key strategic priority of the National Forum is to support the continued enhancement of digital skills, confidence, competence, and creativity of all those who teach and learn in Irish higher education. In the first four years of the Forum, this was achieved through: (i) building an evidence base for digital teaching and learning, (ii) developing frameworks to support digital teaching and learning at national level, (iii) supporting projects and initiatives that enhance digital teaching and learning practices within and across higher education institutions, and (iv) supporting the effective use of data to maximise student success.

Building an evidence base for digital teaching and learning in higher education

With a view to scoping the landscape of digital teaching and learning in Irish higher education and informing decisions at the levels of policy and practice, the National Forum has supported seven national reviews of digital teaching and learning in Ireland:

Developing frameworks to enhance digital teaching and learning in higher education

Based on the evidence collected and extensive consultation with sectoral representatives and stakeholders, digital teaching and learning has been embedded in four frameworks developed or supported by the National Forum:

Enhancing digital teaching and learning in practice through sectoral collaboration

The National Forum has led and supported various projects and initiatives aimed at harnessing the potential of technology to enhance teaching and learning. These include:

  • In 2014 and 2015, the National Forum funded 22 projects across 24 HEIs aimed at building the digital capacity of students and staff across the sector under the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund.
  • Within the National Forum Seminar Series 2014-2017, 30 of the included regional seminars had an explicit focus on enhancing digital skills of students and staff.
  • In April 2017, a week-long series of national and regional public events designed to build confidence in Ireland’s digital skills for learning, AllAboard 2017, was organised by the National Forum in partnership with 16 HEIs across the country. The initiative saw 322 events take place across higher education, post-primary, primary, community and business sectors.
  • With the support of the National Forum, 15 open access professional development programmes leading to a NF digital badge have been collaboratively designed by experts across the sector, each badge focused on a particular aspect of staff professional development.

Data to enable student success

Supporting the development of institutional strategies and cultures that recognise and maximise the value of available data and appropriate research findings to enhance student success is a key focus of the National Forum. This has been fostered through:

  • The creation of an open-access, online library of resources designed to provide information and guidance on how institutions and staff who teach can maximise the value of data for their students. The Online Resource for Learning Analytics (ORLA) was launched by Minister Mitchell-O’Connor in November 2017.
  • The establishment of the Data-Enabled Student Success Initiative (DESSI), which is currently working with 19 universities, institutes of technology and private colleges across Ireland to support them as they develop informed, effective and sustainable strategies for using data as an evidence base for enhancing every aspect of student success.