Education Minister launches DCU’s National Insitute for Digital Learning

New online programmes and digital learning advancements are on the horizon for DCU as the National Institute for Digital Learning was formally launched last week.

Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairi Quinn last Thursday launched the centre that will explore and develop online education for students of all levels, both on and off-campus.

DCU President Brian MacCraith detailed four active projects made possible by the Institute, including new online courses and boosts to the university’s global outreach.

A new Masters programme in Irish Studies will be introduced online, he said. The digital platform of the degree will be aimed towards providing unique material and perspectives for the 60-70 million people internationally who claim to have Irish heritage.

However, the works of the Institute will not be exclusive to third-level education. A short course for the new Junior cycle is in development. The course will introduce post-primary students to the Irish Revolution Period of 1912-1922 through both digital and archival resources.

DCU’s UN-partnered online programme for future leaders in sub-Saharan Africa will be upgraded to a Masters degree and rolled out across the entire African continent.

The former Oscail brand of DCU’s online content will now be renamed to ‘eDCU’; a term that MacCraith said will be “much more appropriate and effective in engaging with students internationally”.

The Institute will employ 22 people, along with distance and blended learning expert Professor Mark Browne, who was appointed as Director of the Institute and the first Chair of Digital Learning.

Speaking at the launch via video-link, he expressed excitement at moving to Ireland next year to take up the role. The New Zealand Professor with ancestral roots in Ireland said “the move to DCU is a bit like coming home.”

MacCraith, who was last week appointed Chair of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) Education Review Group, said that information learned from the National Institute for Digital Learning will assist in the production of a report on Ireland’s approach to STEM education.

The chair position, he says, will also offer viewpoints and high quality information that will benefit the Institute.

Rachel McLaughlin

Image Credit: Gianluca Avagnina

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