Research Question 4: Significant Challenges

What do you see as the significant challenges that higher education institutions in Ireland will face during the next five years?

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Challenge Name.
Add your ideas here, with few sentences of description including full URLs for references (e.g. http://horizon.nmc.org). And do not forget to sign your contribution with 4 ~ (tilde) characters!



Balancing our Connected and Unconnected LivesWith the abundance of content, technologies, and overall participatory options, learning institutions need to lead the way to facilitating finding a balance between connected and unconnected life. With technology now at the center of many daily activities, it is important that learners understand how to balance their connected life with other developmental needs. Educational institutions should lead the way to ensure learners do not get lost and absorbed by the abundance of information and technology, and encourage mindful use of technology so that students stay aware of their digital footprint. As education aligns closer with technological trends, teachers will have to promote this balance, encouraging students to feel, digest, reflect, touch, and pursue sensorial experiences that are crucial to developing character and integrity. Finding a balance and guiding learners to personal success should be society's compromise with new generations of digital natives. The merging of these two 'lives' as they are so frequently referred to needs closer examination in an age that sees suicide on the increase when at the same time it is reported that we were never so connected. The nature of this connection is fragile and transient. [Grace O'Leary- g.oleary g.oleary Feb 11, 2015] .- deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015 - lwidger lwidger Feb 22, 2015

Blending Formal and Informal LearningTraditional approaches with roots in the 18th century and earlier are still very common in many institutions, and often stifle learning as much as they foster it. As the Internet has brought the ability to learn something about almost anything to the palm of one’s hand, there is an increasing interest in the kinds of self-directed, curiosity-based learning that has long been common in museums and science centers. These and other more serendipitous forms of learning fall under the banner of Informal learning, and serve to enhance student engagement by encouraging them to follow their own learning pathways and interests. Many experts believe that a blending of formal and informal methods of teaching and learning can create an environment that fosters experimentation, curiosity, and above all, creativity.Rather than 'blending formal and informal learning', I prefer to use 'building bridges' between formal and informal learning, between our students' digital vernaculars and a discipline specific community of discourse. But I do agree that creating environments that foster experimentation, curiosity, and creativity is important in the 21st Century. I would also add critical agency... - francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015 - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015 I agree with the above but these environments need to be consistent across the learning experience and considered as part of the design of the curriculum. - lwidger lwidger Feb 22, 2015
Campus Infrastructures are Under-resourcedCritical campus infrastructures are under-resourced. Rather than encouraging researchers to build on and extend core resources, leverage shared file systems, and open accessible service APIs, institutions are narrowing their focus to what they perceive as the minimal subset of enterprise services they can afford to sustain. As a result, educators are often trying to design new, innovative learning models that must be integrated with outdated, pre-existing technology and learning management systems. (or in fact they give up trying altogether - jimdevine jimdevine Feb 10, 2015 ) In addition to this very often academic staff are not aware or made aware of the IT infrastructure that exists and inadvertently invest in sotware/hardware that is incompatible. In times past many academics didn't need to concern themselves with IT infrastructure however, in this current landscape they very much need to be informed and in many cases upskill; all of this takes time away from their core teaching, learning and research work. [Grace O'Leary - g.oleary g.oleary Feb 11, 2015] - rnidhubhda rnidhubhda Feb 16, 2015. And this is often not recognised and valued for promotion... - francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015 There is also the issue of whether such upskilling/ CPD would be sufficiently recognised in terms of academic staff workload, career progression etc. - james.brunton james.brunton Feb 13, 2015 - Sam Sam Feb 13, 2015 - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015- Alison.Egan Alison.Egan Feb 16, 2015 Finding time for upskilling/CPD is a significant challenge for academics with a high teaching load of up to 20 contact hours per week (and in some cases, more than 20), particularly in the IOT sector. Apart from upskilling, recognition for the time investment required to integrate technologies into practice is frequently mentioned by academic staff as a major barrier. - Gerry.Gallagher Gerry.Gallagher Feb 22, 2015 - paul.gormley paul.gormley Feb 22, 2015 Lecturers are finding themselves in situations where their students have better technology or more up to date software. Academic staff are moving towards cloud based applications to use with their students who also using these applications to support their interaction and collaboration. These applications are typically external to institutionally provided software or systems and their usage or application may not be informing key decisions or discussions around critical investment in relation to technology in the learning environment - lwidger lwidger Feb 22, 2015 Agree with this as an on-going challenge - agile systems development is key. Often the big investments require (driven by EU procurement legislation for the public sector) extensive options tesing and appraisal. This can detract resources from frontline support. The extensive project management overhead leads to slower development with the danger that by the time a decision to procure and implement is past, the systems are outdated. There must be a smarter more agile and risk-based approach to systems adoption or the sector will continually lag others in the deployment of digital tools. - b.murphy1 b.murphy1 Feb 14, 2015 Agree - rosemary.cooper rosemary.cooper Feb 15, 2015 - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015- Alison.Egan Alison.Egan Feb 16, 2015 - ken.brown ken.brown Jan 24, 2015 The program of reduced funding in the IOT sector has led to serious reduction in operational capability. The demands of adapting to new models of education are exacerbating the difficulties experienced by staff as they make do with legacy systems. Agree - rosemary.cooper rosemary.cooper Feb 15, 2015 What might make a difference is the agreement of a 'Digital Learning Strategy' at institutional or at least faculty level, that would focus primarily on a shared vision of digital pedagogy within an overall teaching and learning context. An implementation strategy flowing from this would combine an ICT Services/BYOD approach that would optimally share costs between students and the institution. - jimdevine jimdevine Feb 10, 2015 This would require serious joined up thinking. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015 - Alison.Egan Alison.Egan Feb 16, 2015 - enda.donlon enda.donlon Feb 22, 2015 Digital Learning Strategy at institution level,one that is agreed, has buy-in from senior management, is funded and then implemented, could indeed make a difference. This is a significant challenge. Faculty strategies may be more achievable but then these could result in a variety of approaches within an institution, which may not be sustainable. - Gerry.Gallagher Gerry.Gallagher Feb 22, 2015
Competing Models of EducationNew models of education are bringing unprecedented competition to the traditional models of education. Across the board, institutions are looking for ways to provide a high quality of service and more learning opportunities. Massive open online courses are at the forefront of these discussions, enabling students to supplement their education and experiences at brick-and-mortar institutions with increasingly rich, and often free, online offerings. At the same time, issues have arisen related to the low completion rates of some MOOCs. As these new platforms emerge, there is a growing need to frankly evaluate the models and determine how to best support collaboration, interaction, and assessment at scale. Simply capitalizing on new technology is not enough; the new models must use these tools and services to engage students on a deeper level. I agree - rosemary.cooper rosemary.cooper Feb 15, 2015- lwidger lwidger Feb 22, 2015 Innovation within MOOCs rather than MOOCs themselves will trickle into the mainstream sector and drive change and improvement. The tradiational model of HE has been resilient to the doomsday predictaions of the unbundling of educational services. The institution servicing a regional catchment of young people's choice in eductaion will remain the mainstay of HE income, especially when supported by state-sponsored and regulated grants or loans. The CPD and professional development market however is much more open to competition and alliances between network service providers, platforms, and professional and learned institutions will established new markets rather than fragment extant markets. - b.murphy1 b.murphy1 Feb 14, 2015
Creating Authentic Learning OpportunitiesLearning that incorporates real life experiences is not occurring enough and is undervalued when it does take place. This challenge is an important one in schools because it can greatly impact the engagement of students who are seeking some connection between the world as they know it exists outside of class, and their experiences in school that are meant to prepare them for that world. Use of project-based learning practices that incorporate real life experiences, technology and tools that are already familiar to students, and mentoring from community members are examples of approaches that can bring the real world into the classroom. Practices such as these may help retain students in university and prepare them for further education, careers, and citizenship in a way that traditional practices are failing to do. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015 - NSweeney NSweeney Feb 19, 2015 Learning design approaches need to embed contextualised digital literacies into the curriculum. At present, there is a lot of noise about digital literacies with few practical examples of how these can be operationalised. However, with the emergence of digital literacy frameworks (e.g. Open University, JISC/Beetham, DigEULit) we are now seeing useful case studies emerging. As many of these frameworks are based on constructive alignment models, the inclusion of authentic learning opportunities can be easily incorporated into the curriculum (especially into the professional curriculum that has a work place element to the learning programme). Much of the research in this area recommend this approach (and stresses a move away from generic ICT models like the ECDL). Incorporating these tools and practices into the curriculum acknowledge the importance of digital lteracies as generic transferable comptencies (graduate attributes) to institutions, academics and students. It has to be engineered - it won't happen by osmosis. This comment extends to the comments is the following discussions 'Students’ Inadequate Media Literacy' and 'Low Digital Fluency of Faculty' - paul.gormley paul.gormley Feb 22, 2015
Expanding AccessThe global drive to increase the number of students participating in undergraduate education is placing pressure across the system. The oft-cited relationship between earning potential and educational attainment plus the clear impact of an educated society on the growth of the middle class is pushing governments to encourage more and more students to enter universities and colleges. In many countries, however, the population of students prepared for undergraduate study is already enrolled — expanding access means extending it to students who may not have the academic background to be successful without additional support. Many in universities feel that these institutions do not have sufficient time and resources to help this set of students. - ken.brown ken.brown Feb 14, 2015 The desire to expand access to students from less academic backgrounds must be matched by a new adaptive model for access, support and participation.
Improving Digital Literacy
With the proliferation of the Internet, mobile devices, and other technologies that are now pervasive in education, the traditional view of literacy as the ability to read and write has expanded to encompass understanding digital tools and information. This new category of competence is affecting how education institutions address literacy issues in their curriculum objectives and teacher development programs. Lack of consensus on what comprises digital literacy is impeding many schools from formulating adequate policies and programs that address this challenge. Discussions among educators have included the idea of digital literacy as equating to competence with a wide range of digital tools for varied educational purposes, or as an indicator of having the ability to critically evaluate resources available on the web. However, both definitions are broad and ambiguous. Compounding this issue is the notion that digital literacy encompasses skills that differ for educators and learners, as teaching with technology is inherently different from learning with it.
Supporting digital literacy will require policies that both address digital fluency training in pre- and in-service teachers, along with the students they teach.
Students’ Inadequate Media Literacy: Despite a range of regional and global media literacy initiatives, research shows that the levels of media literacy knowledge and skills in children and teenagers are inadequate, especially for the dimensions of critical and participatory literacy. In an age when news often spreads virally through social media, it is critical that young people learn how to analyze and evaluate the authenticity of myriad messages they encounter everyday. According to current research, most young people feel comfortable using technology, and many are savvy enough to produce and share content, but they lack understanding of its impact or how to leverage it for the greater good — especially in the realm of education. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015 I think the concept of the digital native has been damaging in this way, giving the sense that all students are tech savvy, that it is "their technology" and that really we digital immigrants should rather let them show us the way forward. Too often, however, even those students with high frequency use of the toys and technologies of the "digital revolution" seem to show an uncritical unreflexive engagement. Even in their online research "smash and grab" seems to be the order of the day - Gearoid.OSuilleabhain Gearoid.OSuilleabhain Feb 15, 2015 Agreed, while students can (and do) use Facebook and other social media, often asking them to send an email with an attachment proves difficult - where do I find my attachment, where did I save it, what did I call it - basic 'filing' skills are often lacking and then students go 'oh, the computer isn't working' as they can't get the information instantly and won't (or don't know how) to perform a search!- Alison.Egan Alison.Egan Feb 16, 2015 I often think that students' abilities in terms of using technology are very much 'needs driven'. For instance, there is a 'need' to be able to use Facebook in order to interact with friends and peers since so many of them are using this particular medium and it is now considered a 'norm' by so many. I think that most students do not see the same 'need' for digital literacy in terms of engaging with higher level education (nor was this in place at second level, which is where the majority of them are coming from). We need to design teaching and learning processes in ways that integrate processes for students to develop and further their digital literacy, complex thinking, critical analysis and communication skills. - enda.donlon enda.donlon Feb 22, 2015 This is a key issue, not just in higher education, but for education generally, and there needs to be continuity of approach from what is happening (or not happening if that's the case) in secondary schools. If we were to take proficiency approach, school students (14 to 18 year olds) should reach a very good level of media literacy/digital competence, but in HE this needs to be taken to the next level - advanced profiency. The only way to assure that this is taken care of is to build in appropriate learning outcomes during programme design, so that activities and assessment can be structured to take account of them. See for example the work on measuring Digital Competence being undertaken by IPTS: http://ipts.jrc.ec.europa.eu/publications/pub.cfm?id=6359 - jimdevine jimdevine Feb 10, 2015 Agree with the need for continuity of approach with regard to second and third level - or at the very least for greater awareness and dialogue between these levels. There are a number of recent developments at second level in Ireland that have the potential to impact positively upon students' digital/media literacy (which in turn has implications for when these students enter HE). These include the impending release of a Digital Strategy for Schools and the newly developed Junior Cycle Award which focuses upon the development of six Key Skills (each of which has a 'digital' dimension, such as 'Using digital technology to manage myself and my learning', 'being responsible, safe and ethical in using digital technology' and 'Working with others through digital technology'). It is too early at this time to ascertain how extensive the impact that these developments will make, but we should be aware of them (and indeed, hopeful). - enda.donlon enda.donlon Feb 15, 2015 Digital Literacies - paul.gormley paul.gormley Feb 22, 2015 This suggestion is closely related to the topic 'Digital Identity' Digital identity in higher education is very much related to digital literacy of both students and teachers. For example, Barnett and Coate (2005) suggest being digital in the C21 higher education context is influenced by knowledge, skills/actions and being (i.e. a sense of 'self' which manifests itself in one's digital identity). In other words the definition of digital identity above does not explicitly capture captures the ability of the person to apply digital knowledge, skills, tools and attributes (although this may be covered by the 'ontological taxonomy' wording) Learning design approaches need to embed contextualised digital literacies into the curriculum. At present, there is a lot of noise about digital literacies with few practical examples of how these can be operationalised. However, with the emergence of digital literacy frameworks (e.g. Open University, JISC/Beetham, DigEULit) we are now seeing useful case studies emerging. As many of these frameworks are based on constructive alignment models, the inclusion of authentic learning opportunities can be easily incorporated into the curriculum (especially into the professional curriculum that has a work place element to the learning programme). Much of the research in this area recommend this approach (and stresses a move away from generic ICT models like the ECDL). Incorporating these tools and practices into the curriculum acknowledge the importance of digital lteracies as generic transferable comptencies (graduate attributes) to institutions, academics and students. It has to be engineered - it won't happen by osmosis. Digital literacies and identify can be closely associated with students' construction of a lifelong learning digital footprint (or portfolio) which facilitates the aggregation of digital artefacts, processes and outputs alongside opportunities to reflect on student's personal, academic and professional journey. This portfolio can be exposed and targeted at a ranges of stakeholder audiences (including prospective employers).

Integrating Technology in Faculty EducationFaculty training still does not acknowledge the fact that digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession. Despite the widespread agreement on the importance of digital media literacy, training in the supporting skills and techniques is rare in teacher education and non-existent in the preparation of faculty. As lecturers and professors begin to realize that they are limiting their students by not helping them to develop and use digital media literacy skills across the curriculum, the lack of formal training is being offset through professional development or informal learning, but we are far from seeing digital media literacy as a norm. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking, and thus skills and standards based on tools and platforms have proven to be somewhat ephemeral. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 14, 2015 But all of this misses one crucial point - that academics as teachers for the most part still act as sole practitioners and the default option when joining a faculty/department is to teach in the way they themselves were taught. We need to know what we mean by 'digital fluency' and how this might be part of the (re)design scenario for programmes. Unless academics value teaching as a team activity, and this is reflected in holistic programme design approaches, then I fear we will still be talking about this in 20 years time. - jimdevine jimdevine Feb 15, 2015 Agree - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015Akin to teacher role identity - if students don't see faculty using kit, why should they? - Alison.Egan Alison.Egan Feb 16, 2015 - enda.donlon enda.donlon Feb 22, 2015 agree and institutions have to enable and facilitate a team approach providing leadership and demonstrating that they also value a team approach to teaching The lack of understanding of multimodality among academics, and of its impact on communication and education, can also be a barrier to the creation of 'good' content by both teachers and students, and to the delivery of online courses. Online tutors need to understand the semiotic resources that are available to them, in particular when using videoconferencing tools for example, and how to make the best use of them. So do students. - francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015 Agree - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 14, 2015 Agree - rosemary.cooper rosemary.cooper Feb 15, 2015 Agree - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015 This issue is exacerbated by the fact there is no mandatory third level teaching and learning training in Ireland. In that context asking academic staff to engage in teaching and learning activities in an online environment, create effective online teaching tools etc., may be skipping a step (http://www.teachingandlearning.ie/priority-themes/benchmarking-professional-development). There is also the issue of whether such teaching and learning training/CPD would be sufficiently recognised in terms of academic staff workload, career progression etc. - james.brunton james.brunton Feb 12, 2015 - ken.brown ken.brown Feb 14, 2015 This may be shifting, although not mandatory for all staff, we are developing a digital learning strand to the accredited Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice. This would account for half of the programme and is required for all probationary staff new to teaching; its also tied to professional accreditation for the sector (HEA fellowship). Further, a digital learning impact strand is being developed for applications for promotions; this is an option for teaching-track promotions linked to higher level requirements form the professional body (career grade:Senior Fellow; senior grade: Principal Fellow).- b.murphy1 b.murphy1 Feb 14, 2015. I'm not aware of any mandatory CPD in the online teaching space or a specific online teaching requirement for promotion in the IoTs at the moment...maybe someone else may know more? I think this is problematic. I think it was Michael Fullan who said "change depends on what teachers do and think", so if we are to change things, we do need to work in partnership with our lecturing staff whilst considering our local contexts. Congratulations on the digital learning strand PCHEP, and the promotion criteria - that's exciting and is an example of institutional commitment - rosemary.cooper rosemary.cooper Feb 15, 2015 Technology Use by Teachers - and what students are seeing at college - for example, in the pre-service teacher education space, if student teachers are not seeing effective use of technology by their lecturers, they do not see the need to use it themselves when they go out to the classroom.- paul.gormley paul.gormley Feb 22, 2015Egan, A., FitzGibbon, A. & Oldham, E. (2013) Teacher Identified Uses of Technology in the Classroom - an Irish cohort. In Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2013 (pp. 5034-5039). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. [Editor's Note: Great Point! This was added here from RQ3 discussions]

Keeping Formal Education RelevantMany pundits worry that if education does not adapt to the times, other models of learning (especially other business models) will take its place. While this concern has some merits, it is unlikely that schools as we know them will go away. As online learning and free educational content become more pervasive, institutional stakeholders must address the question of what school can provide that other approaches cannot, and rethink the value of education from a student's perspective. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015
Managing Knowledge ObsolescenceSimply staying organized and current presents a challenge in a world where information, software tools, and devices proliferate at the rate they do today. New developments in technology are exciting and their potential for improving quality of life is enticing, but it can be overwhelming to attempt to keep up with even a few of the many new tools that are released. User-created content is exploding, giving rise to information, ideas, and opinions on all sorts of interesting topics, but following even some of the hundreds of available authorities means sifting through a mountain of information on a weekly or daily basis. There is a greater need than ever for effective tools and filters for finding, interpreting, organizing, and retrieving the data that is important to us.
Personalising LearningThe demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices. The increasing demand for education that is customized to each student's unique needs is driving the development of new technologies that provide more learner choice and control and allow for differentiated instruction. It has become clear that one-size-fits-all teaching methods are neither effective nor acceptable for today's diverse students. Technology can and should support individual choices about access to materials and expertise, amount and type of educational content, and methods of teaching. The biggest barrier to personalized learning, however, is that scientific, data-driven approaches to effectively facilitate personalization have only recently begun to emerge; learning analytics, for example, is still evolving and gaining traction within higher education. - ken.brown ken.brown Feb 14, 2015There are limits in the degree to which personalisation can be accommodated and provision remain sustainable. Semantics are important here. Personalisation can be accounted for in the pedgagogies and practicies that respect the diverse learning styles and some choices. But professional thresholds and assessment require robust, standard and accredited thresholds that are absolute and not personisaled. Indeed some professional bodies will dictate terms and conditions of assessment, contact and professional experience in return for accreditation. This is a highly complex area as a result. The degree of freedom to permit personisation often depends on the educational output. Award bearing ones will be more restrictive than say MOOC-type badging.- b.murphy1 b.murphy1 Feb 14, 2015
Rewarding TeachingTeaching is often rated lower than research in academia. In the global education marketplace, a university's status is largely determined on the quantity and quality of its research. According to the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings methodology, research and citations account for 60% of a university's score, while teaching is only half that. There is an overarching sense in the academic world that research credentials are a more valuable asset than talent and skill as an instructor. Because of this way of thinking, efforts to implement effective pedagogies are lacking. Adjunct professors and students feel the brunt of this challenge, as teaching-only contracts are underrated and underpaid, and learners must accept the outdated teaching styles of the university’s primary researchers. To balance competing priorities, larger universities are experimenting with alternating heavy and light teaching loads throughout the school year, and hiring more adjunct professors. This is a key issue in whether advances in technology will bring with it related positive impacts in higher education. With no mandatory third level teaching and learning training in Ireland, asking academic staff to engage in teaching and learning activities in an online environment, create effective online teaching tools etc., may be skipping a step (http://www.teachingandlearning.ie/priority-themes/benchmarking-professional-development). There is also the issue of whether such teaching and learning training/CPD would be sufficiently recognised in terms of academic staff workload, career progression etc. Without systematic support in this area endeavours will be left in the hands of the early adopters, enthusiastic teachers and those who have to use technology to support 'off-campus' students, but the mainstream will not develop as it might. - james.brunton james.brunton Feb 12, 2015- ken.brown ken.brown Feb 14, 2015 - rosemary.cooper rosemary.cooper Feb 15, 2015 - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015 Hiring and retaining qualified staff, and updating the knowledge and skills of existing technology staff; Optimizing the use of technology in teaching and learning in collaboration with academic leadership, including understanding the appropriate level of technology to use; Providing user support in the new normal— mobile, online education, cloud, and BYOD environments - roisin.donnelly roisin.donnelly Feb 16, 2015 - NSweeney NSweeney Feb 19, 2015
Scaling Teaching InnovationsOur organizations are not adept at moving teaching innovations into mainstream practice. Innovation springs from the freedom to connect ideas in new ways. Our schools and universities generally allow us to connect ideas only in prescribed ways — sometimes these lead to new insights, but more likely they lead to rote learning. Current organizational promotion structures rarely reward innovation and improvements in teaching and learning. A pervasive aversion to change limits the diffusion of new ideas, and too often discourages experimentation. Agreed. Even where provision is made for the scaling of successful innovations it is often at the cost of further potential innovation as the originators/innovators become charged, with inadequate support, with the work of fitting the innovation to the mainstream. - Gearoid.OSuilleabhain Gearoid.OSuilleabhain Feb 15, 2015 A broader question would be framed as 'Leadership for Scale and Impact'. The question to focus on is whose responsibility is it when it comes to scaling up or mainstreaming promising innovations. Arguably, if what has been demonstrated is important (as distinct from 'nice to do', but not essential), then it must find its way into wider institutional processes, e.g., programme design and validation, academic quality assurance, departmental reviews etc. A top down Quality Enhancement led approach should be asking appropriately informed questions like "why is this not happening"? - jimdevine jimdevine Feb 10, 2015 This also relates to Sustainability of e-learning, which is too often seen primarily in terms of financial sustainability and not in terms of a system capacity to meet academics and learners present and future needs. - francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015 - ken.brown ken.brown Feb 14, 2015
Teaching Complex ThinkingWe live in a world where in order to be successful, one needs to be capable not only of complex, expert thinking, but also adept at communicating complex information in accessible, understandable ways. Today’s young people live in a world that is interconnected in myriad ways, and they begin to engage with social media and networks at a very early age. Institutions have the responsibility of informing learners of how to understand relationships and make decisions in that interconnected world. The semantic web, big data, modelling technologies, and other innovations are creating the experimental conditions that have the potential to train learners in complex and systems thinking to create meaningful learning experiences. I fully agree that complex thinking and communication are vital for the global connected world we live in. However although our 3rd level students use social media non-stop, what continues to shock me year on year is their lack of understanding about privacy and ethical issues. Their levels of digital literacy continue to be very low and although they use digital technologies to connect socially I see very little evidence of it being used for learning collaboratively either formally or informally, Students are generally immature in their understandings which hinders our use of the technology at third level. Hopefully the new digital strategy for schools which is due to be launched soon will help solve this problem. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015

Added as New Challenges to RQ4


Engaging with the Ethical, Privacy and Ideological Aspects of Learning Analytics This a is a highly charged area and it would be naive to assume that the benign intentions of educators will automatically translate into quality, well-regulated and understood analytics implementations. A significant discussion will be needed to map the legal, data protection, ethical, privacy and other issues. An we should not start from the assumption that because we can do it (analytics) it is necessarily a good or desirable thing. After all, part of the learning for students is to be able to make mistakes, do silly things, fail etc., and it is important that these aspects of learning occur in a safe and supportive environment and without any risk arising from a digital footprint one would rather forget. See, for example, Paul Prinsloo 'A brave new world: student surveillance in higher education.
http://www.slideshare.net/prinsp/a-brave-new-world-student-surveillance-in-higher-education and the JISC report on Learning Analytics http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/5657/1/Learning_analytics_report.pdf - jimdevine jimdevine Feb 5, 2015 I fully agree! - francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015 Totally agree. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 14, 2015 100% agree with this, particularly with regard to the ethical dimension of it. Also needs to be continuing discussion around the relevance of certain data sources and how accurately we can infer from them ("not everything that matters can be measured, and not everything that can be measured matters") - enda.donlon enda.donlon Feb 15, 2015 Totally agree - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015

Prioritizing Technology Over Learning
There is often a trend to adopt the latest fad (MOOCs are a pointed example...) without thinking of appropriate learning designs that should include not only what needs to be 'learned' but also how it could be learned, as well as a re-modelling of the social structure of the learning environment and the changing roles of both teachers and learners. The relationship between technology and learning needs to be seen as part of a complex ecosystem that needs to be better understood. - francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015 Fully agree - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 14, 2015 I agree ... learning always comes first - rosemary.cooper rosemary.cooper Feb 15, 2015 Fully agree - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 15, 2015 One of the often unexamined problems with choosing technology first is that it is never pedagogically neutral so it rather dictates the approach (or at least nudges us as users in a particular way) rather than, say, the nature of the relevant learning and the learner group. Traditional LMSs a case in point - Gearoid.OSuilleabhain Gearoid.OSuilleabhain Feb 15, 2015 Agree - NSweeney NSweeney Feb 19, 2015




Other Key Points and Links


Adopting Buzz Words Without Understanding Them-The frequent use and mis-use of terms, such as 'Communities of practice' and 'affordances' to mention but a few, can often lead to poor designs that don't have the expected results. Insufficient conceptual and methodological tools can also impede the analysis and evaluation of the systems that are put in place and can lead to ill-informed decisions or policies. - francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015 Agree - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 14, 2015 Agree...we need to ensure a shared understanding - rosemary.cooper rosemary.cooper Feb 15, 2015 Agree entirely - would argue that we'd need to include 'Digital Natives' on this list too - a hugely problematic term that continues to be used (or misused!) - enda.donlon enda.donlon Feb 15, 2015 I would also look at 'ipads' and 3d printing - we must have them but my first question to colleagues is always - tell me what you're going to do with them first and how, rather than just 'have them' - awareness of technological pedagogy, rather than just kit for kit's sake- Alison.Egan Alison.Egan Feb 16, 2015 I agree, but it goes further than using terms without understanding them! What's worse is understanding the term and somehow believing we're doing it, when in fact we're not! (Argyris, espoused theories versus theories in action). At the heart of this is being really able to align learning outcomes with T/L strategies and with appropriate assessment. - jimdevine jimdevine Feb 15, 2015 Something that doesn't quite fit into the Horizon approach is the question: "what should we stop doing". - jimdevine jimdevine Feb 15, 2015 - Larry.McNutt Larry.McNutt Feb 15, 2015


"The agent engaged in practice knows the world…too well, without objectifying distance, take it for granted, precisely because he is caught up in it, bound up with it; he inhabits it like a garment…he feels at home in the world because the world is also in him, in the form of the habitus” (Bourdieu, 2000: p. 142-143)

A reflexive practice that’s exceeds the bounds of a purely technocentric discourse would allow educational technologists an opportunity to voice their views and beliefs in relation to the challenges facing higher education. The need to assert a greater influence on current policies and practices in the wider domain is of paramount importance. Rather than educational technology being viewed as simply an economically more advantageous means of “delivering” education – a commodity exchange model endorsed by current neo-liberal policies.

Educational Technology, Innovation and Habitus: What is the connection? In R. Donnelly, & J. Harvey and K. O’Rourke (Eds.), Critical Design and Effective Tools for E-Learning in Higher Education: Theory into Practice (pp. 72-91). IGI Global, ISBN13: 9781615208791.
  • Harnessing learning: learners create many interesting and valuable learning moments - how can we harness this learning in ways that it becomes useable for future students- anne.walsh anne.walsh

The Top 10 Challenges identified by the ILTA TEL IRELAND SURVEY OF IRELAND (2013-14) were as follows:- paul.gormley paul.gormley Feb 22, 2015
NOTE: this reflects a 91% representative sample of HEI TEL Managers
  • Budget ; Staffing levels; Resourcing support; Achieving more with less More flexibility from support staff
  • 24/7 Availability of services and support
  • As we take on more work based distance blended students we will need to provide more.
  • Demands on staff time and increased workloads
  • Staff support, training and pedagogical updating
  • Demands for content and environment to be accessible on a range of devices; Support for mobile devices needed
  • Responsive design. Pedagogically effective and cost efficiency development and delivery approaches.
  • Integrations don’t always work as intended, external providers shake off their responsibility very easily
URL:
http://ilta.ie/activities/research-projects/ (will be updated with full report shortly) - paul.gormley paul.gormley Feb 22, 2015