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Proceedings of The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium

The Helix
Dublin City University, Ireland
November 1st 2016
The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
Proceedings of The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
Dublin, 2016
Online ISSN 2009-9614
Print ISSN 2009-9606
National Institute for Digital Learning, Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland
© Dublin City University, 2016
Design by Fluid Rock
This work is published under the Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution Licence (CC-BY).
Suggested citation: Costello, E., Brown, M., Donlon, E., Farrelly, T. & Kirwan, K. (2016)
Proceedings of The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium.
Dublin: Dublin City University.
Editors: Eamon Costello, Mark Brown, Enda Donlon, Tom Farrelly & Colette Kirwan
The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
There is still considerable debate about the value, benefits and long-term impact of
digital learning. Amidst both the promise and the peril of the digital era it is important
that we pause to critically reflect on what we have learnt (or not) over several
generations of research on the use of educational technology. Moreover, what should
the current generation of postgraduate students and new and emerging educational
researchers be investigating as digital learning evolves and has become a key
component of national and international policy? Also, with an eye on the future, what
theoretical lenses and research methodologies are required to better understand and
harness the affordances of a new generation of technologies? In this respect this
Research Symposium aims to contribute to building the next generation of researchers
as we identify, discuss and debate some of the big issues likely to face educators from
first to fourth level, and beyond. We expect there will be many more questions than
answers and to help frame the research conversation the Symposium is structured
around the following five broad questions:
• What do we know from the research literature?
• What research is currently being conducted, particularly in the Irish context?
Who else is conducting research in my area and how does it relate to my own
• Where are the gaps and methodological weaknesses in the current research
What are likely to be the future questions, challenges and possibilities in digital
learning research?
In exploring these questions the Research Symposium has been designed to give voice
to a wide range of Irish educators and researchers across all levels and sectors. Hence
the event is aimed at current and prospective postgraduate students, including doctoral
candidates, new and emerging researchers, experienced practitioners, industry
stakeholders and academics conducting research in the area. Although the event has
attracted almost 250 registrants we will try to follow a participatory approach where
you are encouraged to actively network around existing and emerging themes, theories
and methodologies. The primary objective is to help build capacity in digital learning
research by establishing connections and fashioning stronger bridges across and
between different generations of educators and researchers. To this end we would like
to acknowledge all the speakers and the partnership between the Educational Studies
Association of Ireland, the Irish Learning Technology Association, and both the
Institute of Education and National Institute for Digital Learning at Dublin City
University which has made this event possible. Finally, on behalf of the Programme
Committee I trust you find the Research Symposium stimulating, challenging and
Dr. Eamon Costello
Programme Chair
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
6 Organising Committee
6 Programme Committee
7 Sponsors
10 Useful Information
10 Symposium Pack
10 Venue
10 Internet Access
11 Twitter
11 Media Team
12 Manifesto: Making a Teaching Philosophy from Research in Digital Education
Professor Sian Bayne
12 Research Through the Generations: Reflecting on the Past, Present and Future
Professor Grainne Conole
13 From Manuscripts to Digital Era Publishing: Old and New Academic Practices?
Professor Paul Conway
14 Apps for Active Learning - A Digital Futures Pilot
Richard Beggs
15 Critical Reflections on the Irish Horizon Report
Mark Brown & Paul Gormley
15 Factors affecting the introduction of Digital Portfolios in Irish Education
Martin Brown, Joe O'Hara, Gerry McNamara & Paige Poole
16 A MOOC to facilitate Flexible Learner Transition into Higher Education - Head Start
Online: First Steps to Flexible Study
James Brunton, Mark Brown, Eamon Costello & Orna Farrell
17 Minecraft and Digital Learning: Building a Research Culture
Deirdre Butler, Mark Brown & Gar Mac Críosta
18 Improving the Student Experience and Attendance at Mathematics Tutorials using the
Computer Aided Assessment Tool Numbas
Deirdre Casey, Julie Crowley, Tom Carroll, Kieran Mulchrone & Aine Ni She
The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
18 Integration of tablet technology in post-primary education: A case-study of teachers’
Stephen Comiskey, Eilish McLoughlin & Odilla Finlayson
19 Openness and praxis: Exploring the use of open educational practices for teaching in
higher education
Catherine Cronin
20 Using case study methodology to explore the relationship between digital learning and
widening university access
Lorraine Delaney
21 Harnessing the Crowd: Framing a Research Agenda
Enda Donlon, Mark Brown & Eamon Costello
21 The Next Generation of Online Learning: How can digital portfolios enhance the nature of
the learning experience and the development of criticality among flexible learners?
Orna Farrell
22 A Framework-Based Methodological Approach to Embedding Digital Literacies into
Professional Education Programmes (PEPs)
Paul Gormley
23 Aladdin’s Lamp: a vision or creating, supporting, sustaining and improving the impact of
UCD’s digital scholarship
Helen Guerin
24 DBR3: Design-Based Research for Digital Learning Research in Formal and Informal
Education Contexts
Tony Hall
25 Flipped CPD Redefines Teacher’s Role in Professional Development
Jillian Kellough
25 Teaching Computational Thinking to Irish Secondary School Students: A Doctoral Study
in Progress
Colette Kirwan
26 On-message out-of-class: An exploration in to the effect of message source credibility and
message content on student engagement on Twitter
Theo Lynn, Binesh Nair, Anna Gourinovitch, Mark Brown & Eamon Costello
27 Primary physical education initial teacher educators’ experiences of integrating of
technology in their teaching
Susan Marron & Maura Coulter
28 Towards a culturally responsive pedagogy in online teaching: an Irish perspective
Geraldine McDermott
28 The Importance of Emotional Design for Positive Engagement in Technology Enhanced
Learning Tools
Denise McEvoy, Benjamin R Cowan & Marcus Hanratty
29 The Flipped Classroom as a vehicle for the enhancement of accessibility in Higher
Education: A literature review
Michael McMahon
30 E-Learning Policy: A Trojan Horse for Neoliberalism
Morag Munro
31 Exploring the role of Blended Learning Courses in the New Managerialism-Collegiality
Tony Murphy
31 LMOOCs? Language Learning MOOCs – First Steps and Growing Pains
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, Gearóid Ó Cléircín & Elaine Beirne
32 Twitter for professional learning: myths and realities
Muireann O'Keeffe
33 Are we there yet? Why has the Virtual Learning Environment failed to transform
Naoimh O'Reilly
33 Applying Theory to Practice: Raising a Virtual Child
Suzanne Parkinson
34 Gamification in Education
Laura Raferty
35 Can Technology-enhanced classes be truly interactive?
Barry Ryan
35 A Survey of Prior Experience of Computing and Engineering Undergraduates
Glenn Strong, Nina Bresnihan, Catherine Higgins & Richard Millwood
36 Two Digital Learning Challenges at Third Level – Digital Expectations and Digital
Learning Fatigue
Monica Ward
38 If TeachMeet is the answer, then what is the question?
Mags Amond
38 Pedagogical Constructs that Support Teacher Learning in an Online Setting
Barbara Collins
39 Constructivism in a Computer Mediated Communication Software Engineering Project
Cornelia Connolly & Nicola Marsden
39 Your Course is bigger than you think!
Laurence Cuffe
40 Low-cost MOOC development techniques do not significantly reduce the quality of the
learning experience compared to higher cost production methods
Rita Day
41 Gestural User Interfaces for ALL - a practice-based Inclusive Design approach to teaching
Computational Thinking with Kinect
Stephen Howell
41 Learning analytics for learners
Mary Loftus
42 What's up with Whats App
Anna Logan & Suzanne Stone
43 Using Game Elements for Motivation and Engagement in Digital Learning
Daire O Broin
43 LMOOCs development and blended learning integration
Oisín Ó Doinn
44 Examining Virtual Learning Environment (VLE): A Comparison Between High
Performance Schools and Other National Schools in Malaysia
Ruzana Tukimin
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
45 Facebook as a learning space for Adult Basic Education (ABE)
Margot Walsh
45 Collaborative Information Seeking in Online Learning Contexts
Meg Westbury
46 Evaluating the Usability of a Social Network Analysis Resource for the Digital Humanities
Judith Wusteman
47 CoderDojo Mentors' Perceptions of Teaching and Learning
Abeer Alsheaibi
47 Digital Readiness Tools for use in Supporting Flexible Learner Transition into Higher
James Brunton, Mark Brown, Eamon Costello, Lorraine Delaney & Seamus Fox
48 Combining Emotional Design and Technology Enhanced Learning to Create Engaging
Digital HCI Learning Experiences
Denise McEvoy, Benjamin R Cowan &Marcus Hanratty
48 Social Media Interactive Learning Environment
Denise McEvoy, Séamus Ó'Ciardhuáin & Ailís Ní Chofaigh
48 Assessment Feedback Practice In First Year – Findings from an Irish Multi-institutional
Lisa O’Regan, Mark Brown, Moira Maguire, Nuala Harding, Elaine Walsh, Gerry Gallagher,
Geraldine McDermott
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
Organising Committee
We wish to acknowledge the following people who contributed to the Symposium
Organising Committee:
• Dr. Eamon Costello
• Professor Mark Brown
• Dr. Enda Donlon
• Dr. Tom Farrelly
• Sandra Forster
• Colette Kirwan
• Una Ryan
• Michelle Smyth
Programme Committee
We wish to acknowledge the following people who contributed to the Symposium
Programme Committee:
Dr. Eamon Costello - Dublin City University
Professor Mark Brown - Dublin City University
Professor Deirdre Butler - Dublin City University
Catherine Cronin - National University of Ireland, Galway
Dr. Enda Donlon - Dublin City University
Louise Drumm - Glasgow Caledonian University
Dr. Tom Farrelly - Insitute of Technology Tralee
Professor Conor Galvin - University College Dublin
Paul Gormley - National University of Ireland, Galway
Dr. Pat Ibbotson - University of Ulster
Colette Kirwan - Dublin City University
Dr. Anne Marcus-Quinn - University of Limerick
Naoimh O'Reilly - Dublin City University
Dr. Angelica Risquez - University of Limerick
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
We would also like to acknowledge the generous support of the European Distance and
E-learning Network (EDEN) for supplying copies to symposium delegates of The Best of
EDEN Research Workshop 8. EDEN is Europe’s leading professional association in the area
of online, blended and digital learning in higher education offering individual membership.
Accordingly, we are pleased to alert you their 26th annual conference, 13-16th June 2017,
in Jönköping, Sweden. See the EDEN website for further information:
We would like to acknowledge the support and joint collaboration of the Education Studies
Association of Ireland (ESAI), the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA), and the
Institute of Education (IoE) and National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at Dublin
City University (DCU) which made this Research Symposium possible.
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NOTE: A PDF version of the full Programme Outline with details of each session,
individual speaker and room location is available from the Research Symposium
The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
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8:00 8:50am
The Helix
8:50 - 9:15am
Why a Research
Dr Eamon Costello, Programme Chair
Professor Brian MacCraith
President, Dublin City University
The Mahony Hall
9:15 - 10:00am
Keynote 1
Professor Sian Bayne
Making a Teaching Philosophy from Research in Digital Education
10:00 - 10:15am
Brief Panel Response
Catherine Cronin - NUIG
Dr Conor Galvin UCD
Dr Charlotte Holland - DCU
10:15 - 10:45am
Levels 2 & 3
10:45 - 11:40am
Research Spotlights 1
Concise Papers
Strand 1
The Mahony Hall
Strand 2
The Space
Strand 3
The Gallery
Strand 4
The Blue Room
11:45 - 12:45pm
Research Spotlights 2
Concise Papers
Strand 1
The Mahony Hall
Strand 2
The Space
Strand 3
The Gallery
Strand 4
The Blue Room
12:45 - 13:30pm
Levels 2 & 3
Research Posters
13:30 - 14:10pm
Keynote 2
Professor Grainne Conole
Research Through the Generations:
Reflecting on the Past, Present and Future
The Mahony Hall
14:10 - 14:55pm
Looking to the Future
Major Research Themes
Key Questions
Roundtable Discussions
Final Report Back
The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
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14:55 - 15:00pm
Tribute to Barry McIntyre
Rapid Fire Presentations
Paul Gormley
Irish Learning Technology Association
15:00 - 15:30pm
Levels 2 & 3
15:30 16:10pm
Research Snapshots
Rapid Fire Presentations
Facilitator, Dr Tom Farrelly
Order of Presentations Random
The Mahony Hall
16:10 - 16:45pm
Keynote 3
Professor Paul Conway
From Manuscripts to Digital Era Publishing:
Old and New Academic Practices?
16:45 - 17:00pm
Next Steps
Irish Research Community
Journal Announcement
A Research Network for Scholarly Professionals
17:00 - 17:15pm
Summary Reflections
Professor Mark Brown
Analysis of Major Themes
Weaving Together the Generations
17:15 - 17:30pm
Final Reflections
Symposium Participants
Programme Chair
17:30 - 18:30pm
Level 3
The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
Registration Desk
The main Registration Desk located on the ground floor of The Helix will be occupied
throughout the Research Symposium to assist with questions.
Information for Presenters
If you submitted your slides for Concise Papers, as requested before the event, then they
will have been downloaded onto the laptop in the room of your presentation. Please check
and locate this room from the information contained in the Programme Outline, and that
your slides appear on the laptop. Should you need to install your slides on the local laptop
then this should be done no later than at the start of the morning refreshment break. All
Rapid Fire Research presentations will appear in a folder on the laptop in the Mahony
Hall. It was a condition of this category of submission that all presentations had to be
submitted in advance of the event. If you have any technical problems, then please
contact the Registration Desk or locate one of The Helix technicians assigned to support
the venue.
Symposium Pack
Your symposium pack contains a number of background articles which have been
selected to support further discussions about current and future research initiatives in the
general area of digital learning. More specially, the articles serve to highlight some of the
gaps in the literature and indicate a number of the more credible academic publications in
the field. We trust that you find these readings helpful. In addition, you will find in your
pack a copy of The Best of EDEN Research Workshop 8 and information about the next
EMPOWER Online Learning Leadership Academy (EOLLA), which will be hosted in
Brussels in January 2017. This leadership development programme targets both experi-
enced and new and emerging leaders in the area. Further information about the EOLLA
programme is available from:
The Research Symposium utilizes a number of rooms in The Helix. The welcome,
keynote addresses, Rapid Fire Research presentations and closing sessions take place in
The Mahony Hall on the ground floor. There are four separate streams for the Concise
Papers spread across the Mahony Hall, the Gallery, the Blue Room, and The Space.
Please check the Programme Outline in your symposium pack for a more detailed
description of the time and room for individual papers. Tea and coffee during the refresh-
ment breaks will be served on level 2 and 3 of The Helix. At the end of the day drinks and
finger food will be available on level 3 of The Helix.
Internet Access
The Helix is well equipped in terms of supporting wireless Internet access. You should
have two choices: (i) connect via Eduroam if you normally have access to this network,
or (ii) connect via the guest access. If you have any difficulties connecting to the Internet,
then please contact the staff on the Registration Desk. The website with further informa-
tion about the Research Symposium can be accessed at the following address:
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
We encourage symposium delegates to tweet about the event. In so doing we request that
you are respectful of other attendees and presenters. The Research Symposium aims to
provide an open environment for academic and scholarly exchange but please follow
standard etiquette protocols. The main hashtag for the Research Symposium is:
We also encourage you to include the following hashtag whenever you can which will be
used after the Symposium for the Research in Digital Learning Special Interest Group
(SIG) managed by the Education Studies Association of Ireland (ESAI).
Media Team
The main keynote addresses will be recorded and made available after the event. We also
hope to stream the keynotes and other presentations in the Mahony Hall using Periscope
but to a large extent the quality of the streaming depends on external factors. Over the
course of the day we also have a small media team consisting of teacher education
students who hope to record your reflections on the event and what you see as the major
opportunities and challenges facing educators and researchers in the area of digital learn-
ing. Please look out for this team and we trust that you will be willing to be interviewed
if they ask. Also note that we will be taking a number of photographs over the course of
the day and please let our official photographer know if you do not wish to be included in
any of these photos.
Follow Up Workshops
Two follow up Next Generation Digital Learning workshops on the topic of Learning
Design and Doctoral Study are being offered on November 2nd and at the time of writing
space is still available in the latter workshop. A waitlist is being kept for the Learning
Design Workshop and please contact the Registration Desk to see if any spaces have
become available. Equally if you have registered for one of the follow up workshops but
can longer participate, then please let us know or go online to cancel your registration.
Further information about the follow up workshops is available on the Research
Symposium website:
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
The Research Symposium is anchored by three keynote addresses that have been selected
to provide different perspectives on research in the area of digital learning from both an
Irish and international perspective.
Manifesto: Making a Teaching Philosophy from Research in Digital
Professor Sian Bayne
University of Edinburgh
Teaching online challenges us to think differently about some fundamental issues for both schooling and
higher education: changing ideas about the importance of place and space, new modes for assessment and
academic writing, and new models of what it means to teach. In this talk I will discuss some of these, and
explore ways in which research in the field can offer critical and theoretical frameworks for engaging with
them. Using the ‘manifesto for teaching online’
[link:] developed at the University of Edinburgh
as a starting point, I will discuss two particular issues currently facing teachers and researchers in digital
education: teacher automation and the re-thinking of physical space.
Research Through the Generations: Reflecting on the Past, Present
and Future
Professor Grainne Conole
Visiting Professor, Dublin City University
Research into the use of technologies for learning can be traced back to the sixties or even earlier. In the
eighties authoring tools and e-assessment tools enabled teachers to create multimedia resources for their
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
students and provide them with formative feedback on their learning. The Web emerged in the early
nineties and there is no doubt that its impact on education has been transformative. UNESCO argues that
education is a fundamental human right and hence we have seen the emergence of Open Education
Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are challenging traditional
educational offerings. Mobile devices mean that learning anywhere anytime is now a reality and social
media mean that teachers and learners can be part of a global community of peers. Therefore digital
technologies offer a plethora of ways in which learners can interact with rich multimedia and ways of
communicating and collaborating. As such now is a good point to critically reflect on the use of technology
in education, identify some of the defining technologies and how they are being used and think of some of
the big challenges associated with the field. Despite the potential technologies offer for education they are
not being used extensively, teachers and learners lack the necessary digital literacies to make effective use
of technologies and teachers need support to rethink their design practice to make appropriate use of
technologies. The talk will centre around the following questions:
What do we know from the research literature?
What research is currently being conducted?
Who else is conducting research in my area and how does it relate to my own work?
Where are the gaps and methodological weaknesses in the current research literature?
What are likely to be the future questions, challenges and possibilities in digital learning research?
The talk will conclude by tentatively projecting what are likely to be some of the key developments in the
field over the coming years and suggesting some potential areas for research.
From Manuscripts to Digital Era Publishing: Old and New
Academic Practices
Professor Paul Conway
University of Limerick
From books to blogs, manuscripts to metrics, ‘closed' to green/gold access and from ivory towers to
engaged scholarship – all remind us of striking changes in the dynamics of academic publishing in the last
two decades at least at first glance. In the context of the fast changing digital era, this presentation
provides some reflections on the ways in which academic publishing has changed, or not, vis-à-vis
authorial practices, dissemination ‘publics’ and the political economy of publishing. To what extent, if at
all, has academic writing and publishing changed in the digital era? In what ways has the ‘consumption’ of
the academy’s ‘goods’ shaped the dissemination of academics’ writing within and outside academia? How
have the major publishing houses shaped the contemporary dissemination arena? What are the challenges
for emerging and experienced academics in this new era of digital dissemination?
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
Following a peer review process the following presentations were accepted under the Concise Paper
Apps for Active Learning - A Digital Futures Pilot
Richard Beggs
Students’ expectations are rising year on year and they expect to see digital technologies throughout their
journey in ways that are relevant to their academic success (Beetham, 2013). Using active learning apps is
an ideal way to address these expectations and raise the digital literacy of both staff and students in the
process. As part of the Digital Futures Strategy the Office for Digital Learning, within Ulster University
organised a ‘Apps for Active Learning’ pilot for academic year June 16 to June 17. At Ulster University we
are in a period of change, with a new campus under development in Belfast, we are exploring changes to
curriculum delivery, there is also the Learning Landscapes project, the Teaching Excellence Framework
and the Digital Futures strategy all of which combined have created an opportunity to enhance the student
learning experience. This however has a flipped side and brings challenges with it and in particular how to
meet the added expectation of technology integration. Our statistics have highlighted that each student has
3 devices on average, they already have the technology in their pockets (BYOD), the pedagogical
opportunities that these devices bring to a collaborative and active learning experience are immense.
Nearpod gives us a platform to test the technology integration. This paper explores the early interactions
with students and academic/professional support staff, their concerns, training needs and case studies of
enhancing their teaching using apps for active learning. Methodology: 50 licences were purchased for use
by academic and professional support staff, in addition there are 5 administrator accounts to manage the
pilot. Along with the academic and professional support staff there are approximately 600+ students
involved in the pilot. Currently in week 2 of semester one there are 26 active teachers, some academic and
support staff will be using Nearpod in semester two. There have been 2805 active students in 289 sessions.
Qualitative and quantitative feedback has been gathered from all participants, both student and staff through
questions tailored to that role via Nearpod at the commencement of the pilot and then throughout. NOTE:
As an incentive to students 10 x £25 iTunes vouchers will be randomly drawn towards the end of semester
two 2017.
Key Readings
Beetham, H., & White, D. (2013). Student expectations. Jisc. [online] Accessed
15 July 2015.
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education
Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Kandiko, C, B. (2013). Student experience QAA report [online] Accessed 14 July 2015.
McConatha, D. (2013). Mobile pedagogy and perspectives on teaching and learning. [online] USA, IGI Global.
Availanle from
emy&source=gbs_navlinks_s. 13 Accessed 12 February 2015.
Murphy, B. (2015). Digital Futures Strategy – Executive Summary. Belfast: Ulster University.
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
Critical Reflections on the Irish Horizon Report
What Did We Learn From the Exercise?
Mark Brown & Paul Gormley
This talk critically reflects on some of the lessons from Ireland’s first Horizon Report on future trends and
challenges facing Higher Education (Johnson, Adams Becker, Cummins & Estrada, 2015). The Horizon
Reports are widely followed internationally and produced annually for many regions and countries by the
New Media Consortium (NMC). An online Delphi method using a standard template of questions, which
was adapted for the Irish context, invited a panel of local educators to rank and comment on the relative
importance of different trends, challenges and future technologies. In this respect the Irish report presents
the wisdom of a purposively selected crowd who were identified for their specialist knowledge and
experience of learning technology within the local context. That said, particular attention was given during
the selection of the so-called expert panel to include a wide range of perspectives, including those of new
and emerging academics. However, it also needs to be acknowledged that previous Horizon Reports have
been strongly criticised for fad hopping, overly focusing on technology rather than pedagogy, and failing
to accurately predict the future (Downes, 2015). More specifically, the reports are challenged for the lack
of explanatory narrative between annual editions, which fail to connect previous predictions with the latest
ones. In contrast the annual *Innovating Pedagogy* reports published by the Institute of Educational
Technology at the UK Open University (Sharples, et. al., 2015) adopt a different methodology, which
arguably have greater validity. While aware of the above limitations the primary aim of the Irish Horizon
Report was to generate wider discussion around the impact of new pedagogical models and new
technologies on the future of Higher Education. With this outcome in mind we reflect back on the value of
the exercise and to what extent the report met its original objective. Finally, the paper takes another look
at what the Horizon Report said (or did not say) in terms of major trends, challenges and developments for
Ireland and with the benefit of hindsight briefly reflects on the currency of the findings.
Key Readings
Downes, S. (2015). *NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition.* Available from
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015). 2015 NMC Technology Outlook for
Higher Education in Ireland: A Horizon Project Regional Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Sharples, M., Adams, Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller, M., & Whitelock, D. (2014). *Innovating
pedagogy 2014: Exploring new forms of teaching, learning and assessment, to guide educators and policy makers. *Open
University Innovation Report 3. Available from
Factors Affecting the Introduction of Digital Portfolios in Irish
Martin Brown, Joe O'Hara, Gerry.McNamara & Paige Poole
This paper, provides an analysis of the first part of a two-year study on the integration of ePortfolios in
Irish Post-Primary Education that is being carried out at the Centre for Evaluation, Quality and Inspection
(EQI) at Dublin City University in Ireland. Through a series of interviews with school principals and
teachers, this phase of the research explores the place of and factors affecting the introduction of
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ePortfolios in Irish post-primary education. Evidence suggests that, on the one hand, although principals
and teachers view the use of ePortfolios to enhance teaching and learning favourably. On the other hand,
there are a number of unresolved issues such as equity of broadband access, and the disconnect between
ePortfolio functions and the Leaving Certificate Curriculum that need to be resolved before ePortfolios
become a common feature of the Irish educational landscape.
Key Readings
Becta. (2007). The impact of e-portfolios on learning. Available from
Carney, J. (2006). Analyzing research on teachers’ electronic portfolios: What does it tell us about portfolios and methods for
studying them? Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 22 (3), 89-97.
JISC. (2008). Effective practice with e-portfolios: Supporting 21st Century learning. Available from
Rhodes, T., Chen, H., Watson, C., & Garrison, W. (2014). Editorial: A call for more rigorous eportfolio research. International
Journal of ePortfolio, 4 (1), 1-5.
A MOOC to Facilitate Flexible Learner Transition into Higher
Education - Head Start Online: First Steps to Flexible Study
James Brunton, Mark Brown, Eamon Costello & Orna Farrell
This paper reports on a five week pre-induction socialisation MOOC developed on a new MOOC platform
called Academy built by Moodle HQ, and designed to facilitate successful transition into higher education
for flexible learners. In this context a broad definition is adopted of flexible learners, which includes adult
learners engaged in part-time and/or online/distance education. Enhancing retention and completion rates
of this group of flexible learners has become a significant problem throughout the world, especially with
the growth of new models of online learning. Although the number of flexible learners in Ireland is
relatively low in comparison to many other countries, around 17% of all undergraduates.The MOOC
targets prospective flexible learners during early parts of the study life-cycle, when they are considering
entry into Higher Education, or have just made that decision and may benefit from advice about how to
effectively prepare. The MOOC utilises a number of the digital readiness tools developed by the Student
Success Toolbox project ( and combines these tools with supporting materials in order to
deliver a comprehensive pre-induction socialisation course. The key areas of focus in the MOOC are to:
Present information that aids in the creation of a realistic set of expectations about flexible
learning in Higher Education, especially around the importance of time-management
Facilitate prospective flexible learners in reflecting on their readiness for study in Higher
Reduce anxiety by presenting reassuring messages
Offer opportunities for socialisation with other prospective flexible learners
Equip these prospective learners with advice and tools on how to effectively prepare for the
educational journey ahead.
A small-scale pilot of the Head Start Online was carried out in Aug-Sept 2016. Participants were made up
of prospective flexible learners planning to start courses in Ireland this year and also a cohort of about 70
learners from a German organisation called Kiron, who support refugees in gaining access to higher
education. 150 individuals enrolled on the course, 105 signed into the course and 50 of those went on to
receive a certificate of completion. Survey results indicate that the course has the desired impact on
participants’ perceptions relating to readiness for flexible learning.
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Key Readings
Brunton, J., Brown. M., Cleary, A., Costello, E., Delaney, L., Fox, S., Galvin, C., Gilligan, J., O’Regan, L., & Ward, J.
(2016). Lost in transition: A report on enabling success for flexible learners. Dublin: Dublin City University
Brunton, J. (2016). Guide for supporting flexible learner transition – Student Success Toolbox Project, October (Also see
Brunton, J. (2016). Guide for supporting flexible learner transition – Appendix One – Transition plan audit
Farid, A. (2014). Student online readiness assessment tools: A systematic review approach. Electronic Journal of
e-Learning, 12(4), pp.375-382
Nichols, M. (2011). Intervention for retention through distance education: a comparison study. Project output ed. New
Zealand: Aotearoa: National Centre For Tertiary Teaching Excellence.
Simpson, O. (2009). Student retention in distance education: Are we failing our students? Open Learning: The Journal of
Open, Distance and e-Learning, 28(2), pp. 105-119
Minecraft and Digital Learning: Building a Research Culture
Deirdre Butler, Mark Brown & Gar Mac Críosta
This presentation describes a unique project known as MindRising Games. It reports how the innovative
use of Minecraft combined with the principles of authentic and meaningful learning contributed to a rich
digital story telling experience. MindRising Games was a competition, which was part of the 100-year
commemoration of the Easter Rising, designed to celebrate 200 years of the Island of Ireland. It involved
over 400 young people and educators from nearly every corner of Ireland in a digital exploration of the past,
the present and the future. In short, MindRising Games was about telling digital stories through the
experiences of today’s youth in reflecting on the events of 1916 and reimaging what the next 100 years
could bring for Ireland. Participants were required to create a project portfolio in Sway, build a virtual
world in Minecraft and make a short video showcasing their efforts. The paper reflects on this experience
and outlines our intention to build a long-term programme of research in the area of educational video and
computer games, including both the opportunities and challenges.
Key Readings
Clark, D., Tanner-Smith, E., & Killingsworth, S. (2014). Digital games, design and learning: A systematic review and
meta-analysis. Menlo Park, CA: SRI Education.
Entertainment Software Association. (2015). Essential facts about the computer and video game industry. Washington.
Available from
Koutromanos, G., Sofos, A., & Avraamidou, L. (2016). The use of augmented reality games in education: A review of
the literature. Educational Media International, Early release copy.
Lee, M., Dalgarno, B., Gregory, S., & Tynan B. (Eds.) (2016). Learning in virtual worlds: Research and applications.
Athabasca: AU Press.
Nebel, S., Schneider, S., & Rey, G. D. (2016). Mining Learning and Crafting Scientific Experiments: A Literature Review
on the Use of Minecraft in Education and Research. Educational Technology & Society, 19 (2), 355–366.
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Improving the Student Experience and Attendance at Mathematics
Tutorials using the Computer Aided Assessment Tool Numbas
Deirdre Casey, Julie Crowley, Tom Carroll, Kieran Mulchrone & Aine Ni She
We have rolled out e-assessments in Mathematics to over 1000 students in Cork as part of a joint initiative
between UCC and CIT and funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning
in Higher Education. The initial motivation for using e-assessment was to manage lecturer workload in
correcting continuous assessment and therefore allow regular assessments and timely feedback to take
place (, 2016). Regular assessment and quick feedback improves learning (Black & Wiliam, 1998).
Students tend to be very judicious in where they focus their efforts and can be 'selectively negligent' when
there is no assessment associated with a topic (Gibbs & Simpson, 2004-5). Assessment and feedback,
although widely accepted as increasing engagement, are all very difficult and time consuming in practice.
The idea of automating these processes (or partially automating) seems very attractive as the students get
the benefits without the huge increase in workload involved in marking tests and giving timely feedback.
We chose to use Numbas (Foster, Perfect, & Youd, 2012), a freely-available e-assessment tool for
mathematics, which has been developed at Newcastle University. It allows students to input mathematical
formulae easily and creates a similar but different question for each student. It gives students instant
feedback and also interacts with Learning Management Systems like Blackboard and Moodle. Numbas
worked very well as an assessment tool for both formative and summative assessment. However, there was
also an unexpected discovery, the students seemed to like the Numbas work and it appeared that they had
a positive user experience. Attendance records show that attendance at the Numbas tutorials was better than
traditional pen and paper tutorials. Surveys conducted show that Lecturers and students agree that students
were more engaged with the mathematics presented. Over the course of the three years since we first piloted
Numbas assessments lessons have been learned about what works best when using e-assessment and what
difficulties might be encountered. Our talk discusses how we gradually introduced e-assessment and our
experiences with it (, 2016). It also discusses student and lecturers’ views and the possibilities of
applying this system in other contexts, e.g. Second level mathematics.
Key Readings
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment. In Education: Principles, Policy &
Practice, 5(1).
Foster, C. P. (2012). A completely client-side approach to e-assessment and e-learning of mathematics and statistics.
International Journal of e-Assessment, 2(2). (2016, August 1).
Gibbs, G., & Simpson, C., (2004-5). Conditions under which assessment supports students' learning. Learning and
Teaching in Higher Education, 1(1), pp. 3-31.
Implementation Guide. (2016). Retrieved from (2016, May 1). Retrieved
Integration of Tablet Technology in Post-primary Education: A
Case-Study of Teachers’ Experiences
Stephen Comiskey, Eilish McLoughlin & Odilla Finlayson
The integration of technology into classroom practice has been widely research over the last two decades.
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In Ireland, most primary and post-primary schools are now equipped with overhead projectors, classroom
PCs, interactive whiteboards, dedicated computer rooms and more recently, tablet technology.
Deployment of each of these educational technologies has generated much discussions regarding
appropriate teaching and learning strategies, classroom practices and transformative assessments. This
study examines the opportunities and benefits that tablet technology offers to both teachers and learners in
post-primary schools. This research has been carried out in an Irish post-primary school with a small group
of teachers (n=10) whom developed and video-recorded several lessons which integrated tablet
technology in the classroom. This presentation will discuss the approaches adopted and challenges faced
by these teachers when integrating tablet technology in multiple Junior Cycle subjects. The findings from
interviews with these teachers revealed that the integration of tablet technology in the classroom was
beneficial and generally a positive experience for both teachers and learners. However, these teachers felt
that the use of tablet technology demanded a significant investment in time for planning and implementing
lessons. They also expressed their reservations to the use of tablet technology for developing and assessing
student learning, as this method was not aligned with current national assessment practices.
Key Readings
Canbazoglu Bilici, S., Guzey, S. S., & Yamak, H. (2016). Assessing pre-service science teachers’ technological
pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) through observations and lesson plans. Research in Science &
Technological Education. Routledge, 34(2), pp. 237–251. doi: 10.1080/02635143.2016.1144050.
Comiskey, S., McLoughlin, E., & Finlayson, O. (2015). Opportunities and challenges for the integration of 1:1
technology in Lower Secondary Schools, Inted2015 Proceedings. IATED, pp. 6288–6296. Available at: (Accessed: 16 March 2015).
Ertmer, P. (1999). Addressing first and second-order barriers to change: Strategies for technology integration.
Educational Technology Research and Development. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 47(4), pp. 47–61. doi:
Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T., Glazewski, K. D., Newby, T. J., & Ertmer, P. A. (2010). Teacher value beliefs associated with
using technology: Addressing professional and student needs. Computers & Education, 55(3), pp. 1321–1335. doi:
Openness and praxis: Exploring the use of open educational
practices for teaching in higher education
Catherine Cronin
Openness in education attracts considerable attention and debate. Much recent research, within Ireland and
globally, has focused on MOOCs, open educational resources (OER), social media in education, and
concomitant issues related to privacy, data ownership, ethics, and equality (National Forum, 2015;
Schuwer et al., 2015; Weller, 2014; Wiley et al., 2014). There has been little empirical research, however,
on educators’ use of open educational practices (OEP). OEP is a broad descriptor that includes not only
the creation, use and reuse of OER, but also open pedagogies and open sharing of teaching practices
(Ehlers, 2011; McGill et al., 2011). Veletsianos and Kimmons (2012) note that educators “can shape or be
shaped by openness”. It is this individual meaning-making and praxis that I explore in this paper. The
paper presents findings from my ongoing PhD research study exploring the digital and pedagogical
strategies of a diverse group of 19 university educators, focusing on whether, why and how they use OEP
for teaching. Using a constructivist grounded theory approach, four co-related dimensions were found to
be shared by open educators in the study: balancing privacy and openness, developing digital literacies,
valuing social learning, and challenging traditional teaching role expectations. The use of OEP by
educators is complex, personal and contextual; it is also continuously negotiated. The findings suggest that
research-informed policies and collaborative and critical approaches to openness are required to support
staff, students and learning in an increasingly complex higher education environment.
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Key Readings
Ehlers, U.-D. (2011). Extending the territory: From open educational resources to open educational practices. Journal of
Open, Flexible, and Distance Learning, 15(2).
Schuwer, R., Gil-Jaurena, I., Aydin, C. H., Costello, E., Dalsgaard, C., Brown, M., Jansen, D., & Teixeira, A. (2015).
Opportunities and threats of the MOOC movement for higher education: The European perspective. International
Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL), 16, (6).
Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Assumptions and challenges of open scholarship. International Review of
Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL), 13(4).
Weller, M. (2014). The battle for open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press.
Wiley, D., Bliss, T. J., & McEwen, M. (2014). Open educational resources: A review of the literature. Handbook of
Research on Educational Communications and Technology. New York: Springer.
Using Case Study Methodology to Explore the Relationship
between Digital Learning and Widening University Access
Lorraine Delaney
Much of the focus on digital learning in higher education (HE) relates to how technology can enhance the
knowledge, skills and employability of traditional full-time on campus students. Little attention is paid to
how technology might broaden access to new and diverse students who are unable to attend. Yet equality
of access to university is one of the big issues facing society in the 21st century. While Ireland has
experienced a dramatic expansion in HE participation research indicates that certain groups continue to be
under-represented: those from lower socio-economic bands, first-time mature entrants, students with
disabilities, part-time/flexible learners, further education (FE) award holders and Irish travellers. There is
typically an intersectionality between some of these groups, for example mature students are more likely to
be part-time learners. Age, in turn, is often related to socio-economic background, with adults more likely
to have delayed their participation in higher education for reasons related to social class. FE award holders
too are likely to be from lower socio-economic groups and tend to have chosen FE in constrained financial
circumstances, knowing that their course will be short and allow them to enter the labour market sooner.
Furthermore, costs associated with travelling, or having to live away from home while studying, present a
significant barrier to accessing full-time HE for many working class students. Research tells us that most of
the underrepresented groups are more likely to require part-time study options yet funding to widen
participation is funnelled exclusively into full-time courses. This study employs case study methodology to
examine the pre-participation profile and employability outcomes of 268 recent distance graduates from
Dublin City University (DCU) Ireland.
Key Readings
Croxford, L., & Raffe, D. (2014). Social class, ethnicity and access to higher education in the four countries of the UK:
1996-2010, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 33(1), pp. 77-95
Cullinan, J., Flannery, D., Walsh, S., & McCoy, S. (2013). Distance effects, social class and the decision to participate
in Higher Education in Ireland. Economic and Social Review, 44, (1), Spring 2013, pp.19–51.
Furlong, A., & Cartmel, F. (2005). Graduates from disadvantaged families: Early labour market experiences. York:
Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Accessed online 2nd Feb 2015 at:
HEA (2015). National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019. Accessed online Jan 2016 at:
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Harnessing the Crowd: Framing a Research Agenda
Enda Donlon, Mark Brown & Eamon Costello
This presentation explores the growth of crowdsourcing and the potential as a context for educational
research. Crowdsourcing is a term often used for processes of data collation and creation where
individuals or groups of users who are not necessarily located centrally generate content that is then
shared. While the term originates within the world of business, it has since gained traction within a number
of academic and professional disciplines including education. Drawing upon two Irish examples, the paper
reflects on the educational potential of crowdsourcing and opportunities and challenges as a context for
research. Firstly, it reports a unique one-year open crowdsourcing initiative which compiled a
comprehensive A-Z directory of edtech tools for teaching and learning through collaborative
contributions. Secondly, it describes an initiative to develop a crowdsourced repository of study tips and
suggestions for adult, part-time, online and flexible learners embarking on further study. These two case
studies provide a valuable context for discussing a wider research agenda on the potential of
crowdsourcing in education.
Key Readings
Armstrong, A. W., Cheeney, S., Wu, J., Harskamp, C. T., & Schupp, C. W. (2012). Harnessing the Power of Crowds:
Crowdsourcing as a Novel Research Method for Evaluation of Acne Treatments. American Journal of Clinical
Dermatology, 13 (6), 405-416.
Corneli, J., & Mikroyannidis, A. (2012). Crowdsourcing education on the Web: a role-based analysis of online learning
communities. In A. Okada, T. Connolly & P. Scott (Eds.), Collaborative Learning 2.0: Open Educational Resources
(pp. 272-286). Hershey, PA: IGI Global
Foulger, T. S. (2014). The 21st-Century Teacher Educator and Crowdsourcing. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher
Education, 30 (4), 110.
Hossain, M., & Kauranen, I. (2015). Crowdsourcing: a comprehensive literature review. Strategic Outsourcing: An
International Journal, 8 (1), 2-22.
Paulin, D., & Haythornthwaite, C. (2016). Crowdsourcing the curriculum: Redefining e-learning practices through
peer-generated approaches. The Information Society, 32 (2), 130-142.
The Next Generation of Online Learning: How can Digital
Portfolios Enhance the Nature of the Learning Experience and the
Development of Criticality among Flexible Learners?
Orna Farrell
This paper reports on a doctoral research project which examines the nature of the learning experience of
using an eportfolio and whether it enhances the development of criticality among flexible learners. It aims
to interrogate the process of the development of criticality rather than the product. The project adopts a
case study approach, following 20 flexible learners over the course of one academic year in a Dublin based
third level institution. This study is using an exploratory holistic single-case design where the “object of
the study” or the single issue/ the of the learner experience of using an eportfolio and the process of
developing criticality are investigated. (Creswell 2007,Stake 1995, Yin 2014) The setting is a unit which
is a provider of online, ‘off-campus’ programmes in a Dublin based higher education institution. The
participants are intermediate flexible sociology learners studying a module called Soc3A as part of the BA
(Hons) in Humanities.The participants are mature adult students combining study with work and family
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commitments, in the context of this project they are defined as flexible learners. In order to gain a rich,
thick and personal description of the experience of using an eportfolio the following data collection
methods are selected; physical artefacts contained in an eportfolio and interviews. The main source of data
will be the written, visual and multimedia artefacts from the learner’s eportfolios, and the focus of the
interviews will be the learner’s eportfolios and their experience of the process of learning with an
eportfolio. Participants will use their eportfolios to create a critical commentary of their learning and will
complete five eportfolio entries over the course of one academic year at key points in their learning
Key Readings
EUFOLIO. (2015). EU ePortfoliop pilot project 2013-2015. Summary report Ireland. Available from
EUROPORTFOLIO (2016). Green and white papers. Available from
JISC (2008). Effective practice with e-portfolios: Supporting 21st Century learning. Available from
Mohamad, S. N. A., Embi, M. A., & Nordin, N. M. (2016). Designing an E-Portfolio as a Storage, Workspace and
Showcase for Social Sciences and Humanities in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Asian Social Science, 12
(5), 185.
Simatele, M. (2015). Enhancing the portability of employability skills using eportfolios. Journal of Further and Higher
Education, 39(6), 862-874
A Framework-Based Methodological Approach to Embedding
Digital Literacies into Professional Education Programmes (PEPs)
Paul Gormley
Recent Irish and European Commission educational strategy publications have identified the need to
support the development of key professional competences for adult educators practicing in the Irish lifelong
learning sector (CEDEFOP, 2013; European Commission, 2013; Irish Teaching Council, 2011; SOLAS,
2014). An emergent body of higher and further education research has developed around this discourse
which posits the view that the development of digital literacies is now considered an essential competency
for adult educators (Laurillard, 2012). This proposition has led to the development of pedagogical
frameworks (e.g. JISC, Beetham and Sharpe, 2010; NFETL/All Aboard!, 2015) that, at a high level, claim
to enable the embedding of contextualised digital literacy tools practices into professional education
programmes (PEPs). However, methodological questions remain around: (1) how learning designers can
best operationalise these frameworks into constructively aligned professional curricula (Biggs, 2003); and
(2) whether this can be achieved through accessible and sustainable practices which do not necessitate
reinventing the wheel. This paper describes how NUI Galway employed the DigEULit digital literacy
framework approach (Martin, 2006) to embed digital literacies into their professional education
programmes for adult educators; and highlights the methodological tools and practices employed in this
process. It will:
Explain how the DigEULit 5-step framework was operationalised
Introduce a pre-and post- PEP self-efficacy survey tool used by the course participants that was
generated through the DigEuLit operationalisation process
Highlight the Cronbach alpha reliability results carried out to test the robustness of the tool over
four academic learning cycles
Identify the digital literacy tools and practices the participants engaged with
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Highlight how the DigEuLit framework methodology was employed to underpin two doctoral
study investigations addressing the following research questions:
o Are student-reported self-efficacy ratings reliable indicators of academic performance?
[a quantitative quasi-experimental methodology, 2012]
o How does adult educator engagement with professional digital literacy curricula impact
on their professional identity? [a mixed methods methodology, 2016]
This presentation will be of interest of institutional educational providers, policy makers, researchers and
practitioners; particularly those interested in operationalising digital literacies within professional
curricula, and in QQI standards development.
Key Readings
Biggs, J. (2003). Aligning teaching for constructing learning. Higher Education Academy 1-4.
JISC, Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (2009). JISC digital literacies development framework
Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a design science : building pedagogical patterns for learning and technology. New
York, NY: Routledge.
Martin, A. (2006). Literacies for the digital age. Digital literacies for learning 3-25.
Nephin, E., & Luker, W. (2013). Embedding digital literacy at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Aladdin’s Lamp: A Vision or Creating, Supporting, Sustaining and
Improving the Impact of UCD’s Digital Scholarship
Helen Guerin
The emerging trends in higher education internationally indicate that researchers are increasingly
conducting their work in the context of interdisciplinary collaborations emerging around the field of digital
scholarship – scholarly activities that apply computational methods and digital media and technologies to
teaching and research. This points to the need for a coordinated approach within the university to support
innovative faculty engaging with new media and initiating digital scholarship projects (e.g.
UCDscholarcast). From a strategic perspective, developing a digital scholarship service that effectively
facilitates the discovery, development, dissemination of UCD research outputs, and measures their impact
would increase the visibility of UCD scholarship globally, as well as strengthen the university’s public
engagement efforts. Digital Scholarship Centres (DSC) are integrated facilities that include staff offices,
public workstations with software licences, collaboration spaces, service point/desk, consultation areas,
seminar/workshop/classroom spaces, media production studios, makerspace, exhibition space,
visualization lab. These spaces are enhanced by the co-located technical skills and digital scholarship
experts who can be called upon to support a wide variety of digital media projects throughout their
lifecycle. The team that support the use of this facility include a mix of librarians, software developers,
multimedia professionals, faculty and graduate students. DSC are considered by many university leaders to
be the future for libraries “librarians will work side-by-side with faculty and students through all steps of
the research process, including the selection and management of resources, the analysis, documentation and
design of findings, and the dissemination and preservation of scholarly works.” (Maron, 2015, p. 34). DSC
are viewed by the current players in this emerging field as potential catalysts to affect a cultural change
across universities and repositioning the university from an organising of learning to a ‘learning
organisation’ (Senge, 1990), providing students with a 21st century education and the graduate skills
required for an increasingly digital world.
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Key Readings
Ayers, E.L , (2015). Does digital scholarship have a future? Monday, August 5, 2013, EDUCAUSE Review. Available
Goldenberg-Hart, D. (2016). Planning a digital scholarship center 2016. Coalition for Networked
Information/Association of Research Libraries.
Lippincott, J. et, al. (2014). Digital scholarship centres: Trends & good practice, Coalition for Networked Information.
Nowviskie, B. (2012). Too small to fail (October 13, 2012 blog post)
Senge, P. (1990). The fifth discipline: the art and practice of the learning organisation, Doubleday, New York.
DBR3: Design-Based Research for Digital Learning Research in
Formal and Informal Education Contexts
Tony Hall
The interoperability, interactivity and mobility of technology create new opportunities to enhance
learning, teaching and assessment (Thompson Long & Hall, 2015; Hall, Ó Grádaigh & Ghuidhir,
2016). Importantly, the emergence of increasingly sophisticated digital devices and applications can
potentially enable learning that is more constructionist and interactive, where the predominant focus is on
learners' creativity with technology (Resnick, 2016). But how do we effectively design digital learning, in
a conceptually principled yet practically impactful way, informed by the exigencies of our teaching
contexts while at the same time inspired by relevant theory? One methodology that can help to enable and
support this type of systematic digital learning research is design-based research (DBR) (Reeves,
Herrington & Oliver, 2005). This paper explores concepts and principles of DBR in education, and how
DBR – as a practitioner-oriented, interventionist methodology - can help with the systematisation of the
design of digital learning research for different educational settings, elective and compulsory. After setting
the context and outlining the challenges of contemporary technology-enhanced learning, the paper
discusses key features and principles of design-based research methodology. It outlines the main
contributions and limitations of DBR, and how it might be applied – over time - to scale and optimise the
impact of design for digital learning research in a range of educational contexts, formal and informal. The
paper concludes with a framework for digital learning research: DBR3, framed and guided by DBR
methods and principles. Based in particular on the educational design research of McKenney & Reeves
(2012), the DBR3 Model consists of a ternary of key impact axes for digital learning research: proximal
(local implementations); medial (adaptable resources and technologies); and distal (ontological design
Key Readings
Hall, T., Ó Grádaigh, S., & Ní Ghuidhir, S. (2016). (Eds.) Special issue: Mobile learning in teacher education.
International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning. 8(2).
Long, B., & Hall, T. (2015). R-NEST: Design-Based Research for technology-enhanced reflective practice in initial
teacher education. In Kopcha, TJ., Schmidt, M., & McKenney, S. (Eds.), Australasian Journal of Educational
Technology. Special Issue: Educational Design Research for Technology-supported Post-secondary Learning.
31(5), pp. 572-596.
McKenney, S., & Reeves, T. (2012). Conducting educational design research. London: Routledge.
Reeves, T. C., Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2005). Design research: A socially responsible approach to instructional
technology research in higher education. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 16(2), 96–115.
Resnick, M. (2016). Designing for wide walls. Available from Thompson
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Flipped CPD Redefines Teacher’s Role in Professional
Jillian Kellough
Fostering professional learning networks and transforming learner’s role in teacher education is one
objective for this research study’s exploration into an alternative model for continuing professional
development (CPD). This study aims to explore the use of a flipped instructional approach within teachers’
professional development and its impact on teacher learning among Ireland’s secondary teachers.
Embedded within a virtual learning environment, Flipped CPD has the potential to encourage teachers to
reflect and re-envision their role as an active learner and teacher amongst their colleagues. Flipped CPD
draws on similar flipped approaches to Learning, Leadership, and Professional Development, encouraging
collaboration and discussion through the restructuring of the ineffective and traditional CPD model.
Broader exploration of learning and instructional theory and practice provides renewed opportunity to
explore the structure of CPD. Literature, as well as current reform initiatives, address a need and demand
for CPD to evolve with the innovative instructional practices embedded within the classrooms of the 21st
century educator. Today’s classrooms are transitioning to a collaborative/active learning and
learner-centred approach, an approach that experts within the field of teacher professional development
hope to embed. The research on Flipped CPD will be conducted as an evaluative case study and utilise a
concurrent mixed methods approach that draws data from teacher/student questionnaires, teacher
interviews, student focus groups, classroom and workshop observations, digital artefacts, and learner
analytics. The data collected from Flipped CPD will explore the expected benefits of providing teachers
flexibility in engaging with CPD, contribute to content and personalise learning, as well as engage in
continuous support from a valuable community of colleagues. It is the aim of this research study that
Flipped CPD will encourage teachers as active learners and change agents throughout their CPD experience
where teachers share, collaborate, and lead their colleagues within a virtual professional learning network.
Key Readings
Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. Eugene, Or:
International Society for Technology in Education.
Conley, L. (2013). Seven steps to flipped. Principal Leadership, 14(1), 42-46.
DeWitt, P. (2014) Flipping leadership doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
EdCamp Foundation (2014). The EdCamp Model: Powering up professional learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin
Flipped Learning Network. (2014). The Four Pillars of F-L-I-P™. Retrieved March 5, 2015, from
Teaching Computational Thinking to Irish Secondary School
Students: A Doctoral Study in Progress
Colette Kirwan
It is argued that in multiple fields of study, the fundamentals of Computer Science are becoming
increasingly important, including meta skills such as problem solving, logical reasoning and algorithmic
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thinking (Wing, 2006). This generalisation, of both the study and application of Computer Science
principles as key problem solving skills, is known as Computational Thinking (Wing, 2006).
Computational Thinking is a highly valuable 21st century skill (Mohaghegh & McCauley, 2016). It can be
used to support problem solving across all disciplines, including science, mathematics, and the humanities.
In September 2014, England became the first European Union country to mandate Computer Science
classes for all children between the ages of 5 and 16. Its goal is to “equip pupils to use computational
thinking and creativity to understand and change the world “ (UK Dept. of Education, 2013). The Irish
Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 (pp.66) details an action to accelerate “ … the Digital and ICT agenda
in schools by including a coding course for the Junior Cycle and introducing ICT/Computer Science as a
Leaving Certificate subject”. This presentation will discuss a (newly started) PhD research project funded
by the Irish Research Council in this area whose overriding aims are firstly to investigate the pedagogical
approaches to teaching Computational Thinking to post primary children and secondly to investigate how
the emerging technologies and pedagogies designed around MOOCs can be married with contemporary
pedagogical approaches to teaching Computational Thinking.
Key Readings
Curzon, P., McOwan, P.W., Plant, N. and Meagher, L.R. (2014). Introducing teachers to computational thinking using
unplugged storytelling. In Proceedings of the 9th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education (pp.
89-92). ACM.
Department of Education and Skills (DES), (2016). Action Plan for Education 2016-2020. Available at:
s-Strategy-Statement-2016-2019.pdf [Accessed 10/10/2016].
Mohaghegh, M., & McCauley, M. (2016). Computational Thinking: The Skill Set of the 21st Century. International
Journal of Computer Science and Information Technologies (IJCSIT), 7(3) ISSN: 0975-9646, pp.1524-1530.
(UK) Department for Education (2013). Statutory Guidance National Curriculum In England: Computing Programmes of
Study. Available at:
Wing, J.M. (2006). Computational thinking. Communications of the ACM,49(3), pp.33-35.
On-Message Out-of-Class: An Exploration in to the Effect of
Message Source Credibility and Message Content on Student
Engagement on Twitter
Theo Lynn, Binesh Nair, Anna Gourinovitch, Mark Brown & Eamon Costello
Kuh (2009) defines student engagement as the “time and effort students devote to activities that are
empirically linked to desired outcomes of college and what institutions do to induce students to participate
in these activities.” Numerous studies suggest that students who invest more time and higher quality of
effort, and thus engage more fully, gain more from the college experience than those who do not (Pace,
1990; Astin, 1984). Engagement may be in-class or out-of-class and therefore may include a wide range of
activities including interactions with faculty, extra- and co-curricular activities as well as peer interactions
(Kuh, 2009; Pascarella and Terenzini, 2005). Unsurprisingly, studies have found a positive relationship
between technology and engagement including voting devices, video games, and more recently social
media (Heiberger and Harper, 2008; Junco et al. 2010; Junco, 2012). Social media (and social networking
sites) are a pervasive feature of student life. Twitter, a predominantly public social networking site, is
widely used for student engagement in the delivery of conventional higher education courses and so-called
massive online open courses (MOOCs)(van Treeck and Ebner, 2013; Shen and Kuo, 2015) . Despite its
popularity, there is a dearth of empirical studies exploring the determinants of Twitter engagement in
educational contexts. This presentation will discuss research in progress relating to the relationship
between message source credibility and message content (including content, interactivity and tone) on
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out-of-class student engagement on Twitter.
Key Readings
Heiberger, G., & Harper, R. (2008). Have you Facebooked Astin lately? Using technology to increase student
involvement. New Directions for Student Services, (124), pp.19-35.
Junco, R., Heiberger, G., & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of
computer assisted learning, 27(2), pp.119-132.
Junco, R. (2012). The relationship between frequency of Facebook use, participation in Facebook activities, and student
engagement. Computers & Education, 58(1), pp.162-171.
van Treeck, T., & Ebner, M. (2013). How useful is twitter for learning in massive communities? An analysis of two
MOOCs. Twitter & Society, pp.411-424.
Shen, C.W., & Kuo, C.J. (2015). Learning in massive open online courses: Evidence from social media mining.
Computers in Human Behavior, 51, pp.568-577.
Primary Physical Education Initial Teacher Educators’
Experiences of Integrating of Technology in their Teaching
Susan Marron & Maura Coulter
Alongside numeracy and literacy, information communication technology (ICT) has been identified as a
key national priority area in Ireland (Teaching Council, 2011). Teachers in today’s classroom must not only
be prepared to use technology, but must also know how to use technology to support children’s learning
(Butler, Marshall & Leahy, 2015). The effective preparation of teachers in the use of educational digital
technology has been extensively discussed by researchers in the past few years (Khoo, Merry, Bennett &
MacMillan, 2016; Butler, Marshall & Leahy, 2015; Kirschner & Sellinger, 2003). This 3- year study
describes physical education initial teacher educators (PEITE’s) experiences of integrating technology into
a physical education module. The research design was emergent with each year planned and conducted to
answer particular research questions. The methodology utilised in year 1 was lesson study followed by
qualitative methods in year 2. In year 3 qualitative and quantitative methods were used simultaneously. The
participants (N=2) were physical education initial teacher educators and their students, (pre-service
teachers [PST’s]) (N=25). Data included video recordings, audio files, a weekly reflective journal, a student
focus group interview, questionnaires and field notes. Following data analysis a number of themes were
developed including learning the technology, managing the technology and integrating the technology. The
findings showed that the PEITE’s were grappling with their own technological pedagogical content
knowledge [TPCK] assuming that the PST’s were technologically competent. The added challenge of
integrating technology into the module was overcome. It took time to learn the technology, teach the
technology and integrate the technology with physical education. This research confirms the importance of
ensuring that technology is integrated and contextualised to develop PSTs TPCK. It provides evidence of
the initial teacher educators themselves being an important resource and the need for their professional
development to become more comfortable teaching technological applications (Graham, Culcatta, Pratt &
West, 2004). We, ‘the people’ are beginning to make things happen (Butler et al., 2015) to inspire the new
generation of teachers.
Key Readings
Butler, D., Marshall, K., & Leahy, M. (Eds.). (2015). Shaping the future: How technology can lead to educational
transformation (1st ed.) The Liffey Press.
Graham, C., Culatta, R., Pratt, M., & West, R. (2004). Redesigning the teacher education technology course to
emphasize integration. Computers in the Schools: Interdisciplinary Journal of Practice, Theory, and Applied
Research, 21, 127.
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Khoo, E., Merry, R., Bennett, T., & MacMillan, N. (2016). "It's about the relationships that we build": iPad supported
relational pedagogy with young children. Digital smarts (pp. 8-26). New Zealand: Wilf Malcom Institute of
Educational Research. The University of Waikato.
Kirschner, P., & Selinger, M. (2003). The state of affairs of teacher education with respect to information and
communications technology. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 12 (1), 5-17.
The Teaching Council. (2011). Initial teacher education: Criteria and guidelines for programme providers. Retrieved
Towards a Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in Online Teaching: An
Irish Perspective
Geraldine McDermott
The aim of this qualitative interview study is to explore the extent to which faculty in one Irish higher
education institution consider the cultural nature of what they include in the design and delivery of online
courses. As the number of online courses increases nationally and internationally, there is a need to
consider the diverse background of the students that faculty will meet and work with. However, from the
literature examined it seems that the focus is primarily on identifying suitable pedagogical approaches and
technology, rather than the cultural dynamics amongst participants in online programmes. In this study, it
emerged that though faculty are aware of diverse learning needs of their students, culture was not
considered either in the design or delivery phases of their courses. Recommendations for how to address
this are included and intended to provide some assistance for those working as or with faculty teaching
Key Readings
Gorski, P. C. (2008). Good intentions are not enough: a decolonizing intercultural education. Intercultural Education,
19(6), 515–525.
Rogers, A. (2014). PISA, power and policy: the emergence of global educational governance. International Review of
Education, 60(4), 591–596.
Spring, J. (2008). Research on Globalization and Education. Review of Educational Research, 78(2), 330–363.
The Importance of Emotional Design for Positive Engagement in
Technology Enhanced Learning Tools
Denise McEvoy, Benjamin R Cowan & Marcus Hanratty
The past decade has seen major advancements in both technology and its acceptance in educational
environments. This Ph.D. research is examining the application of emotional design theory via
technology-enhanced learning tools for positive student engagement in the field of Human-Computer
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Interaction (HCI) education. It aims to explore how emotionally designed interfaces can engage the
learner on a positive level while reducing perceived difficulty and learner frustration. The current
generation of learners are interacting with products with excellent user experience across a range of
platforms, fostering high expectations on the tools developed for technology enhanced learning (TEL).
Research has begun to merge both Technology Enhanced Learning and Emotional Design, in an attempt
to explore the positive benefits of the role emotions play on engagement in multimedia learning
environments. The theory of emotional design is to design the product with emotional intent. Human
emotions are derived from our inner representations and interactions with external factors, such as people,
places, objects and things. The majority of research conducted into emotional response toward products is
focused around the stream of affect (feelings) and cognition (thoughts). Research finding suggest that both
have an enormous influence on how we interact with products and the emotions that they elicit can change
the experience dramatically. The use of emotional design in TEL is in constructing the interface in a more
attractive manner by enhancing the interface and user experience to be more visually appealing,
functional, usable and engaging. As a result, positive emotions elicited by the user can enhance the
learning experience by the task being perceiving to be less difficult while increasing both motivation and
learning outcomes. Preliminary findings from primary research conducted with HCI educators in Ireland
has found that TEL tools are being utilized in the support of HCI education and the majority agreed that
aesthetics were important for student’s perception of quality and continued. It was also noted that the
quality of TEL tools aesthetics was lacking or overlooked in general.
Key Readings
Mayer, R.E., & Estrella, G. (2014). Benefits of emotional design in multimedia instruction. Learning and Instruction,
33, 12-18. Available from
Norman, D.A. (2004). Emotional design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. New York: Basic Books.
Plass, J.L. et al. (2014). Emotional design in multimedia learning: Effects of shape and color on affect and learning.
Learning and Instruction, Available from
Tettegah, S. Y., & Gartmeier, M. (Eds.) (2015). Emotions, technology, design, and learning. London: Elsevier
Publishers Academic Press.
Um, E. et al. (2012). Emotional design in multimedia learning. Journal of Educational Psychology.Available from
The Flipped Classroom as a Vehicle for the Enhancement of
Accessibility in Higher Education: A Literature Review
Michael McMahon
In recent years there has been a significant global shift towards an inclusive approach towards Higher
Education. The drivers for this are varied and are among others legislative, attitudinal, economic and
political. Due to commercialisation a market has developed which requires Institutes of Higher Education
to be proactive in the recruitment and retention of students. The challenges posed by the increasing
diversity in the modern classroom require that changes are needed in the way that education is delivered.
New technologies are seen as a means by which this change is delivered. The flipped classroom is viewed
as a strategy which can effect change. This paper describes a traditional narrative review of the literature
relating to the concept of the flipped classroom. In particular it examines whether the flipped classroom can
increase accessibility to education for marginalised groups. It commences by detailing the historical
development of the concept and then establishes definitions for key concepts and terms. Literature
describing flipped initiatives is reviewed as is empirical research on the topic. The review concludes that
while some research shows some benefits for students from the use of the flipped classroom significant
further research is required in this area before definitive conclusions can be drawn. It is further concluded
that there is an absence of research in the field relating to the use of the flipped classroom as a vehicle for
the enhancement of accessibility.
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Key Readings
Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. Alexandria, Va:
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Blackhurst, A. (2005). Perspectives on applications of technology in the field of learning disabilities. Learning Disability
Quarterly, 28(2), 175.
Eager, A., Peirce, J., & Barlow, P. (2015). Math Bio or Biomath? Flipping the mathematical biology classroom. Letters
in Biomathematics, 1(2), 139–155.
Feledichuk, D., & Wong, A. (2015). The impact of a flipped slassroom on international student achievement in an
undergraduate Economics course. University of Alberta.
Moraros, J., Islam, A., Yu, S., Banow, R., & Schindelka, B. (2015). Flipping for success: evaluating the effectiveness of
a novel teaching approach in a graduate level setting. BMC Medical Education, 15(1), 1–10.
E-Learning Policy: A Trojan Horse for Neoliberalism
Morag Munro
This paper will present a snapshot of the findings from my recently submitted doctoral research, a Critical
Discourse Analysis (CDA) of thirteen e-learning policy texts published in the UK between 2003 and 2013.
Via thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006) I identified recurring themes across the 138, 900 word
corpus. These were then clustered around a trinity of neoliberal ‘Master Narratives’ (Jessop 2004;
Fairclough 2006): Marketisation, Instrumentality, and Modernisation. The themes and narratives were then
subjected to an ‘Ideology critique’ (Held 1980) in order to expose evidence of myths, contradictions,
biases, hegemonies, and omissions. CDA sees the wider context as essential to making sense of a text
(Bloor and Bloor 2007; Van Dijk 2008), thus I also examined each text within its historical and
socio-economic context. Furthermore, since ideologies can be enacted and obscured by language (Bloor
and Bloor 2007; Henriksen 2011), my analysis also examined the role of visual presentation, lexical
choices, and rhetorical techniques in communicating the policies. My findings demonstrated that, overall,
the policies considered were predominantly motivated by neoliberal imperatives aimed at placing HE
within the realm of the market and enhancing the UK’s economic competitiveness. Furthermore, the
policies persistently reflect a deterministic and uncritical perspective towards technology, while many of
the claims made about the supposed characteristics and capabilities of e-learning are exaggerated,
unsubstantiated, duplicitous, or justified via reference to contested discourses. I contend that this
problematic framing of e-learning is exacerbating the negative impacts of neoliberalism on HE’s social,
cultural, and intellectual role as a public good, and is intensifying social inequalities. It is also channelling
e-learning into a restricted form that limits any possible pedagogical or egalitarian opportunities that the
judicious application of digital technologies in HE teaching and learning might support.
Key Readings
Brown, R., & Carasso, H. (2013). Everything for sale?: The marketisation of UK Higher Education, Routledge and the
Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE), London.
Fairclough, N. (2010). Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of Language, 2nd edn, Pearson Education Ltd,
Giroux, H. (2014). Neoliberalism's war on Higher Education. Haymarket Books, Chicago.
Selwyn, N. (2014). Distrusting educational technology: Critical questions for changing times. Routledge, Oxon.
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Exploring the Role of Blended Learning Courses in the New
Managerialism-Collegiality Debate
Tony Murphy
This paper reports on the pilot study stage of a doctoral thesis on the management of blended learning (BL)
courses in the Irish higher education (HE) sector. The full research, which is being undertaken as part of
Lancaster University’s Doctoral Programme in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning, takes an
exploratory case study approach to viewing the management of BL courses using Activity Theory as a
lens. The research is motivated by a desire to explore the impact of the challenges posed by online
education to the HE sector, which, it has been argued, is already experiencing a conflict between
collegiality and new managerialism brought on by the introduction of more business-like practices into the
sector. The suggestion is that an exploration of the specifics of managing BL courses using Activity
Theory to expose contradictions and conflicts will better inform the development and delivery of such
courses. More significantly, it is hoped that the research will offer some insight into how the HE sector in
Ireland might emerge from the larger collegiality vs. new managerialism conflict. The full research will
look to explore the experiences of managing BL courses within this context at three Irish HEIs, using
in-depth semi-structured interviews. This presentation looks at the insight gained from the pilot study in
terms of informing the choice of methods required to pursue the research and the manner in which the
researcher implements these methods in practice. The presentation will also discuss the impact of that
learning on the choice of Activity Theory as a lens and the rationale behind the research itself.
Key Readings
Moskal, P., Dziuban, C., & Hartman, J. (2013). Blended learning: A dangerous idea? Internet and Higher Education, 18,
Robertson, I. (2008). Sustainable e-learning: activity theory and professional development. Ascilite conference
proceedings, 819–826.
Tight, M. (2014). Collegiality and managerialism: a false dichotomy? Evidence from the higher education literature.
Tertiary Education and Management, 20(4), 294–306.
LMOOCs? Language Learning MOOCs – First Steps and Growing
Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, Gearóid Ó Cléircín & Elaine Beirne
Title LMOOCs? Language Learning MOOCs – First Steps and Growing Pains Moving from what was
described in 2014 as a neonatal position into their infancy, language learning MOOCs are increasingly
being offered by higher education institutions. In 2014, few LMOOCs were available in Lesser User
Languages and most LMOOCs adopted approaches to language learning based on an asynchronous and an
acquisition design-based approach. The research undertaken is to establish whether this situation remains
the case. The paper begins by describing the aims of study is to benchmark the expansion of language
learning MOOCS. Using Conole’s (2014) classification of MOOCs the study frames how this growth is
unfolding in terms of pedagogical approaches, technical advances and support for language learners by
providers. Preliminary findings from the classification are provided in the paper. A short case study is also
presented which explores the delivery of one LMOOC with multiple iterations investigating the specific
pedagogical, technical and learner support issues faced by the LMOOC provider. The paper concludes by
contextualising these findings with the wider expansion of MOOCs.
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Key Readings
Bárcena, E., & E. Martín-Monje (2014). Language MOOCs: an emerging field. Language MOOCs: Providing learning,
transcending boundaries. E. Bárcena and E. Martín-Monje, DE GRUYTER OPEN.
Conole, G. (2014). A new classification schema for MOOCs. INNOQUAL-International Journal for Innovation and
Quality in Learning, 2(5).
Sokolik, M. (2014). What constitutes an effective Language MOOC? Language MOOCs: Providing Learning
Transcending Boundaries. E. Martín-Monje and E. Bárcena, DeGruyter Open: 16-32.
Twitter for Professional Learning: Myths and Realities
Muireann O’Keeffe
Twitter, an online social networking service, has been commonly encouraged as a learning tool for
professionals. However to-date little evidence exists on how professionals use Twitter for learning
purposes. This study draws on the responses of seven higher education professionals working in various
roles. Individual case studies illustrated participants’ use of Twitter for professional learning and
cross-case analysis highlighted similarities and differences among cases. This study calls into question the
widely accepted notion that Twitter inherently enables social learning and thus enables professional
learning. Wenger’s (1998) community of practice model, which proposes that learning occurs in
relationships between people and that mutually negotiated activities contribute to identity construction,
was used to problematise how professionals used Twitter for learning. The findings of this study confirm
the complexity of professional learning in online public spaces such as Twitter. While participants were
digitally literate, certain factors contributed to a lack of presence and participation on Twitter. These
factors were confidence, cautiousness, vulnerability, and capacity to participate in social networking
activities. This study concludes by asking if professionals in higher education are truly ready to embrace
digital spaces for learning, and how they can be supported in that process in an increasingly digital world.
Key Readings
Carrigan, M. (2016) Social media for academics. Sage
Selwyn, N., Facer, K. (2013). The politics of education and technology conflicts, controversies, and connections.
Veletsianos, G. (2016). Social media in academia: Networked scholars. New York, NY: Routledge. [Amazon;
Barnes & Noble]
Veletsianos, G., & Stewart, B. (2016). Scholars’ open practices: Selective and intentional self-disclosures and the
reasons behind them. Social Media + Society, 2(3).
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Are We There Yet? Why has the Virtual Learning Environment
Failed to Transform Teaching?
Naoimh O'Reilly
This paper takes a case study approach to look at the current status of virtual learning environment
implementation in one faculty of a newly research intensive university. It adopts an activity theory
perspective to examine the contradictions that have impacted on how the tool has been adopted within the
faculty. The study finds that the virtual learning environment has been successfully adopted, but has not
transformed teaching. This is explained in terms of contradictions within and between internal activity
systems. In particular, the activity system of the internal unit charged with delivering blended learning is
identified as complex and marked by contradictions. The VLE is assessed as overly complex, with a strong
emphasis on the more administrative functions. The lack of a community of practice (Lave & Wenger,
1991) is a critical factor in inhibiting the sharing of innovation in teaching practice. Again, this is partially
attributed to a culture that is seen not to value teaching but also to the characteristics of the users of the
platform, and to differences in motivation for so doing.
Key Readings
Ashwin, P. (2012). Analysing teaching-learning interactions in higher education: Accounting for structure and agency (2nd
ed.). London: Continuum International Publishing Group. Retrieved from
Bligh, B., & Coyle, D. (2013). Re-mediating classroom activity with a non-linear, multi-display presentation tool.
Computers & Education, 63, 337–357. Retrieved from
Blin, F., & Munro, M. (2008). Why hasn’t technology disrupted academics’ teaching practices? Understanding resistance
to change through the lens of activity theory. Computers & Education, 50(2), 475–490.
Coates, H., James, R., & Baldwin, G. (2005). A critical examination of the effects of learning management systems on
university teaching and learning. Tertiary Education and Management, 11(1), 19–36.
Jackson, S., & Fearon, C. (2014). Exploring the role and influence of expectations in achieving VLE benefit success. British
Journal of Educational Technology, 45(2), 245–259.
Applying Theory to Practice: Raising a Virtual Child
Suzanne Parkinson
This qualitative study explores the perceptions of first year preservice teachers studying Developmental
Psychology during the 2015-16 academic year using ‘My Virtual Child’. ‘My Virtual Child’ programme
was utilized as a virtual field experience to provide preservice teachers with an opportunity to apply the
various developmental theories under study, such as Erikson, Bowlby, Ainsworth, Piaget, Vygotsky,
Skinner, Bandura and Bronfenbrenner, to practice. ‘My Virtual Child’ is a virtual parenting simulation
programme, designed by Frank Manis at the University of Southern California in 2007. The programme
can be used in different types of courses and in various formats – face-to-face, hybrid or online. Following
registration, students select the gender, child’s physical characteristics and complete cognitive and
personality quizzes. Once the initial student choices are made, the task of raising a virtual child from 0 to
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18 years begins. Each child’s development is unique and may affected by a variety of factors. When
students have completed the programme, they will have made 275 parenting decisions. This qualitative
study of preservice teachers’ experiences of raising a virtual child explores the strengths and limitations of
this virtual programme in supporting effective learning. The data sources of the study consisted of
reflective exercises and end of term evaluations which were analysed by the researcher to develop
thematic categories of the participants’ experiences of the programme. Findings are presented and
implications for future use of ‘My Virtual Child’ are provided.
Key Readings
Girod, M., & Girod, G.R. (2008). Simulation and the need for practice in teacher preparation. Journal of Technology
and Teacher Education, 16 (3), 307-337.
Manis, F. (2011). My virtual child: An instructor's manual. Las Angeles, CA: University of Southern California.
Symons, D., & Smith, K. (2014). Evidence of psychological engagement when raising a virtual child. Psychology
Learning and Teaching, 134, (1).
Gamification in Education
Laura Rafferty
This presentation draws on the literature review process undertaken as part of an MA in E-learning
Design and Development. The term gamification can be traced back as far 2002. Although it does go
back over 10 years, it is still a relatively new emerging trend in the educational world. At its most basic,
gamification could be described as taking elements of the principles of play and applying them to real
world activities in an attempt to make them more motivating and engaging. However, this will only work
well if gamification is used in an effective way. This presentation will discuss the both the positives and
negatives of using different digital gamification techniques in an educational context. This presentation
will conclude by offering some practical examples of how gamification can be used.
Key Readings
Dicheva, D., Dichev, C., Agre, G., & Angelova, G. (2015). Gamification in Education: A Systematic Mapping Study. *Journal
Of Educational Technology & Society, 18*(3), 75-88.
Brunder, P. (2015). GAME ON: Gamification in the Classroom*. Education Digest, 80*(7), 56-60.
Cheong, C., Filippou, J., & Cheong, F. (2014). Towards the Gamification of Learning: Investigating Student Perceptions of
Game Elements. *Journal Of Information Systems Education, 25*(3), 233-244.
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Can Technology-enhanced Classes be Truly Interactive?
Barry Ryan
NearPod is a multiplatform, blended e-learning tool that allows students to engage with each other and the
lecturer in real time, independent of learning space size or type. In this research the use of NearPod was
investigated in three different third level educational settings; a large foundation organic chemistry
module, a medium size intermediate biochemistry module and a small maths for STEM programme. The
rationale for this investigative case study was two-fold; practical implementation of key trends in higher
education and enhancing the student learning experience. Recent NMC Horizon Reports cite the higher
education adoption of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and flipped classroom learning is imminent. One
aim of this project was to identify if NearPod, could address these two key trends in a simple, cost effective
way. Secondly, the research sought to investigate if embedding technology into the learning environment
could enhance the student learning experience and create a truly interactive environment. Beauchamp and
Kennewell’s (2010) Interactive Teaching with Technology paradigm formed the underpinning theoretical
framework for exploration and evaluation. The use of NearPod as a constructivist learning tool was
evaluated in terms of student interaction, engagement and participation through NearPod facilitated
synchronous learning activities. Evaluative data was collected in several forms; anonymous
questionnaires of all students that experienced a NearPod module, independent academic facilitated
discussion fora with purposefully sampled students, staff reflective diaries and NearPod data analytics.
Qualitative data analysis was carried out under Braun and Clarke’s (2006) model and fed into a
triangulated data set, ensuring only valid themes emerged. Overall, the students perceived use of the
technology, and the academics personal reflective writings during student use, informed the success of the
project. It was noted that the learning environment evolved towards a student-orientated, social
constructivist space where the students took ownership for their participation in the learning activity and
interacted with their peers and the academic through meaningful dialogue. Additionally, students became
responsible for constructing their learning ‘product’; created by the students, for the students and, hence,
their learning overall. Finally, recommendations for practice and future research directions will be offered
to stimulate further debate.
Key Readings
Baeten, et al. (2010). Using student-centred learning environments to stimulate deep approaches to learning (..). Edu.
Res. Rev., 5, 243-260.
Beauchamp & Kennewell. (2010). Interactivity in the classroom (...). Comp.& Ed., 54, 759-766.
Vuopala, et al. (2016). Interaction forms in successful collaborative learning (...).. Act Learn H. Ed, 17, 25-38.
A Survey of Prior Experience of Computing and Engineering
Glenn Strong, Nina Bresnihan, Catherine Higgins & Richard Millwood
Despite the wealth of research into the teaching and learning of software development at 3rd level,
educators are still being challenged to find the right blend of technology and pedagogy in order to facilitate
student success and retention in computing and engineering programmes (Price & Smith, 2014; Coull &
Duncan, 2011). Equally, it has become apparent that increasing numbers of students arriving in college to
sit such programmes have prior experience of computer programming (McInerney & Margaria, 2015).
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However, the proliferation of this prior exposure as well as its nature, origins, depth and
usefulness is not known beyond anecdotal evidence. It follows that understanding the computing
profile of incoming students is vital for the ongoing design and improvement of college courses
with the aim of achieving a positive impact on student outcome and retention. For this reason,
members of the Computational Thinking for Life research group based in Trinity College Dublin
decided to conduct an annual survey of first year undergraduates in Irish colleges. It began with
a pilot study in 2015 followed by a larger study in 2016 which involved 8 colleges nationwide
with 313 students responding. This paper reports on the results obtained to date. It was found that
34% of first year students had some prior experience of programming with nearly half of that
group reporting that they had a reasonable level of fluency in one or more languages. The most
common languages reported were Java, C/C++/Objective C and Web languages (HTML and
CSS). Over half of the respondents gained experience via online courses such as Codecademy; a
quarter though school related clubs and activities; 10% though non-school related clubs such as
CoderDojo and the remaining students learning via books and projects. The aim is to grow the
number of partner colleges going forward so trends and patterns can be identified in the years
Key Readings
Coull, N. J., & Duncan, I. M. (2011). Emergent requirements for supporting introductory programming.
Innovation in Teaching and Learning in Information and Computer Sciences, 10(1), 78-85.
McInerney, C., & T. Margaria. (2015). Software as a high-tech weapon in Ireland's strategy. Computer
Software and Applications Conference (COMPSAC), 2015 IEEE 39th Annual, Taichung, 2015, pp. 658
– 663.
Price, K., & Smith, S. (2014). Improving student performance in CS1. Journal of Computing Sciences in
Colleges. 30(2). pp 157 - 163.
Two Digital Learning Challenges at Third Level – Digital
Expectations and Digital Learning Fatigue
Monica Ward
It is important that digital learning researchers continue to investigate what works and why
(Beetham and Sharpe, 2013). Dissemination of their findings can improve the effectiveness of
digital and inform educators of good practical pedagogical practices that are backed up by
research so that (sceptical) lecturers can be convinced of the real benefits of digital learning and
make it an effective reality for their students. However, there are several challenges to be faced.
One challenge is different digital expectations i.e. the misalignment between what students expect
on leaving secondary school and what they experience at third level. At second level, the students
are exposed to a relatively uniform use of educational technologies - at least across their school.
The recent Digital Strategy for Schools (DES, 2015) will see continued improvement in this area.
However, at third level, there is a wide range of use of digital technologies in the learning process
and this inconsistency can be confusing and at times frustrating for students. Some lecturers use
digital technologies extensively, while others may only use them for providing lecture notes to
students. Another challenge is digital learning fatigue. This could occur when an initially
interesting and novel technology becomes over-used and loses its effectiveness. For example,
in-class quizzes are becoming popular, especially for large classes, but what happens if/when
in-class quiz fatigue sets in and the negatives outweigh the positives? Will this really be a
problem? Will Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) become so normalised (Bax, 2003) that such
a question will seem ridiculous in 20 years time or will there still be lecturers who use digital
technologies in a limited way? Although the technology will change, there will always be the
need to have a careful balance between what is possible and pedagogically sound practices – of
course, the two are not mutually exclusive, but divergences can arise. In digital learning, there
needs to be a balance between easier-to-do lower order learning and not-so-easy-to-do higher
order learning (Fullan and Langworthy, 2014) – not an easy task, but an important one.
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Key Readings
Bax, S., (2003). CALL - past, present and future. System, 31(1), pp.13-28.
Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (2013). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: Designing for 21st century learning. London:
DES (2015). Digital Strategy for Schools (2015-2020) - Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Assessment. Department of
Education and Skills.
Fullan, M., & Langworthy, M., (2014). A rich seam: How new pedagogies find deep learning. Pearson.
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Rapid Fire Research
Following a peer review process the following presentations were accepted under the rapid-fire research
If TeachMeet is the Answer, Then What is the Question?
Mags Amond
TeachMeet, a recently burgeoning form of CPD, is “an organised but informal meeting for teachers to share
good practice, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching with technology”. There is currently
an inadequate knowledge of the practice of TeachMeets - their nature, diversity and effectiveness. Tacit
knowledge in TeachMeet organisers is not appearing in literature to date, and positive outcomes might
easily be lost if not researched. Research questions that will be addressed to fill this gap may be as follows:
How do TeachMeets work - what are the typical elements at play? How has social media influenced this?
How can the value of TeachMeet be measured - in terms of its effect on teachers, classrooms and students?
Is it possible to evaluate the role of TeachMeet as part of Teacher CDP? How is teachers’ participation to
be recognised formally as part of their CPD?
Key Readings
Bennett, L. (2012) Teachmeets: Guerilla CPD. Educational Developments 13.3 pp23-27 SEDA Available from 2.
TeachMeet UK - Multiple authors, (2006-2016), 3.
TeachMeet IE - Multiple authors, (2009-2016),
Pedagogical Constructs that Support Teacher Learning in an
Online Setting
Barbara Collins
Pedagogies are the key factor in teacher learning (Loughran, 2007). This study focuses on teacher
learning, in particular the pedagogical approaches used during an online professional development
activity in formative classroom assessment. Knowledge of assessment is a professional requirement but
without access to well researched evidence based professional development opportunities teacher learning
in assessment is confined to the knowledge gained from unquestioned classroom practices. The three
principal challenges of learning to teach are countering the apprenticeship of observation, the challenge of
enacting the theory and the difficulty of the complexity of the task of teaching and the teaching
environment (Darling-Hammond, 2006). Quality teacher learning in assessment therefore involves
pedagogies that “disrupt the apprenticeship of observation” (Westrick & Morris, 2016). They argue that
such effective teacher education pedagogies must contain five separate elements that reflect Korthagen’s
(2010) model of teacher learning. Effective pedagogies involve 1. The presentation of dramatically new
ideas to elicit the awareness of gestalts and unexamined assumptions about teaching and learning 2. The
usefulness of affect in awakening that awareness 3. An opportunity to develop metacognition and process
reactions through writing that uncovers gestalts and articulates new understandings as schemas. 4.
Cognitive work that engages with concepts and ideas from the new schema, rather than ideas that are too
abstract or settled. 5. Experiences or topics that reveal the complexity of teaching while also offering
practical and conceptual tools accessible to those at beginning levels of Korthagen’s (2010) three-level
model of professional learning. Teacher learning online must extend beyond participant satisfaction to
collaborative practice that contributes to sustainable school improvement (King, 2014).
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Key Readings
King, F. (2014). Evaluating the impact of teacher professional development: an evidence-based framework. Professional
Development in Education, 40 (1), 89-111. Retrieved from:
Korthagen, F. (2010). Situated learning theory and the pedagogy of teacher education: towards and integrative view of
teacher behaviour and teacher learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26 (1), 98–106.
Westrick, J. & Morris, G. (2016). Teacher education pedagogy: disrupting the apprenticeship of observation. Teaching
Education 27 (2), 156-172.
Constructivism in a Computer Mediated Communication Software
Engineering Project
Cornelia Connolly & Nicola Marsden
Two distinguishing characteristics of adult learning most frequently advanced by theorists, are firstly the
adults autonomy of direction in the act of learning and secondly the use of personal experience as a learning
resource. Digital Learning is facilitated by technology, giving the students some element of control of their
learning over time, place and pace. Computer-mediated communication can be defined as human
communication that is maintained or altered through machines. By exploring computer-mediated
communication in a digital learning environment, this project undertook a key challenge for educators
teaching students to engineer software in globally dispersed teams. The current workplace emphasis on
teamwork, technology and globalization make these core learning concepts, and none more so than in the
software development industry. Organizations have increased their reliance on technology as a mode of
communication. Software engineering development in virtual teams, across international boundaries, is
common-place in industry, however this is seldom obtainable to students within educational institutions.
This paper describes the constructivist approach, supported by computer-mediated communication theory,
to teach Software Engineering. The project involved three international higher educational establishments
teaching Software Engineering to computing students. The paper contribution presents a comprehensive
course design that accelerates team and group theory beyond the traditional face-to-face team application.
It coveys the potential for growth in online pedagogies and explicates the value of technology in course
design and delivery with today’s millennial student-learners.
Key Readings:
December, J. (1996), Units of analysis for Internet communication. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 1
Papert, S. (1993). The children's machine. New York: Basic Books.
Walther, J. B., (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction.
Communication Research, 23(1), 3-43
Your Course is Bigger Than You Think!
Laurence Cuffe
In this talk I discuss the digital footprint of a course and its impact on learning. For many courses much of
the content of the course is reproduced in a shadow course, curated by course participants and commercial
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organizations, whose functionality can undermine the goals of both formative and summative assessment.
I refer to it as a shadow course, insofar as the goal of those who create it is often to keep its content, or even
its existence hidden from those in charge of formal course delivery. The course structures may mimic those
of the formal course LMS, where present, but may attract greater engagement for cultural reasons which
are not hard to understand. For effective course delivery certain steps may be taken to mitigate the negative
effects of this shadow course, and curate its content in a manner which will enhance learning and student
engagement. This may involve student education, specifically addressing cultural norms, redesigning
assessment tasks, and increasing the use of social media in course delivery. Keywords: Plagiarism, online
learning, blended learning. Course curation.
Key Readings
Belmont Lay, “This S’pore Whats App hotline is called Homework Gods. They will help you solve
your homework questions.” Commercial website
Fattah, Said Fathy El Said Abdul “The Effectiveness of Using WhatsApp Messenger as One of Mobile Learning
Techniques to Develop Students' Writing Skills” Journal of Education and Practice, v6 n32 p115-127 2015
Watson, George; Sottile, James; Liang, Jia Grace, “What Is Cheating? Student and Faculty Perception of What They
Believe Is Academically Dishonest Behavior” Journal of Research in Education, v24 n1 p120-134 Spr-Sum 2014
Low-cost MOOC Development Techniques do not Significantly
Reduce the Quality of the Learning Experience Compared to
Higher-cost Production Methods
Rita Day
Education is changing on a global scale; one of the foremost changes has been the impact and use of
technology inside and outside of the classroom; as any type of course can now be uploaded and made
completely online or blended. The educational trajectory has been making the transition from traditional
classroom methods to online methods within further and higher educational institutions, the next
evolutionary step is how these institutions can access students through the use of (MOOCs) Fain (2012).
The MOOCs have been utilised as taster courses, continuous professional development and as part of
undergraduate marketing, the next step is the integration into mainstream education. At present, there is a
disparity between the cost of creating a MOOC and the income they generate. This is one of the
considerations for MOOC sustainability, The cost consideration is based in terms of creating the content
from the perspective of the academics (subject matter experts) time quantification and the technical or
support workers, as well as the facilitation support to keep the MOOC re-running again and again. The
synergy exists between reducing the cost of production and sustainability of the MOOCs; as it would
suggest that this is the only prohibitive consideration for most institutions, albeit that the research will
attempt to prove that lowering production costs does not have a detrimental effect on the quality. MOOCs
potentially disrupt the traditional tenets of formal education. A framework for thinking about quality and
the different variables and questions that need to be considered when conceptualising quality in MOOCs
has been Biggs’ (1993) 3P model. The literature on MOOCs cannot assess how quality can measured and
the PhD will provide original content in this respect. If MOOCs are to be viewed through the lens of
economic sustainability in the long term for most educational institutions with budgetary considerations,
then they need to reduce the cost of production and delivery. The PhD will address this disjunction by
providing the framework for which other institutions can model and build upon the IT Sligo model.
Key Readings
Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university: what the student does (2nd ed.). Buckingham: SRHE &
Open University Press.
Lesse, M. (2009). Out of class – out of mind. The use of the virtual learning environment to encourage student
engagement out of class activities. British Journal of Educational Technology. 40 (1) pp70-77.
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Gestural User Interfaces for ALL - a practice-based Inclusive
Design approach to teaching Computational Thinking with Kinect
Stephen Howell
This research proposes to examine the effectiveness of teaching and learning Computational Thinking
through natural user interface design and development. This practice-based research focuses on original
software, dubbed Kinect2Scratch, that enables any student (or educator) develop body tracking
psycho-motor games and software in Scratch utilising the Kinect sensor.
This research is a critical review of how the software is deployed in a teaching environment and the
best-practice strategies for teaching Computational Thinking with it. This will allow a definitive distillation
of how, why and when natural user interfaces should be deployed to teach Computational Thinking.
Key Readings
B. Daily, S, E. Leonard, A, Jörg, S, Babu, S, Gundersen, K & Parmar, D 2015, 'Embodying Computational Thinking:
Initial Design of an Emerging Technological Learning Tool' Technology, Knowledge and Learning, vol 20, no. 1,
pp. 79-84. doi: 10.1007/s10758-014-9237-1
Dasgupta, S., Clements, S.M., Idlbi, A.Y., Willis-Ford, C. and Resnick, M. (2015) ‘Extending scratch: New pathways
into programming’, 2015 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC). doi:
Knochel, A. and Patton, R. (2015). ‘If Art Education Then Critical Digital Making: Computational Thinking and Creative
Code’. Studies in Art Education, Vol. 57, Issue. 1
Kivunja, C. (2015) ‘Creative engagement of digital learners with Gardner’s bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to enhance
their critical thinking’, Creative Education, 06(06), pp. 612–622. doi: 10.4236/ce.2015.66060.
Chang, Y.-J., Kang, Y.-S., Liu, H.-H., Wang, C.-C. and Kao, C.C. (2015) ‘Designing Kinect2Scratch games to help
therapists train young adults with cerebral palsy in special education school settings’, Proceedings of the 17th
International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers & Accessibility - ASSETS ’15. doi:
Learning analytics for learners
Mary Loftus
Like many other sectors, education is looking to the emergence of data analytics for new insights into the
process of learning. The field of learning analytics is moving past earlier crude behaviourist interventions
and showing promise as a light to shine into the dark corners of individual student experience. In Ireland,
educational researchers at DCU, working with the Insight analytics research cluster, are leading the way.
Exciting developments in Australia are emerging in supporting student metacognition using dispositional
analytics (Deakin-Crick 2015). By making the richness of the learning process more visible, learners and
teachers can access deeper insights into the effectiveness of their learning and teaching approaches. As
Gašević (2015) reminds us, Learning Analytics are about learning. However, little attention has been paid
to the student’s role in these data-rich learning environments, as noted by Kitto (2016). This paper sets out
a PhD research project which will use learning analytics approaches to augment the pedagogical
underpinnings of a module in a BSc in Computing degree course. Optimally refined machine learning
techniques will be used to analyse learner, teacher, content and connected classroom interactions. These
analyses will clarify the learner’s path through the course, offer data for self-reflection and help teachers
provide the most appropriate guidance and support. Learners will be supported in building their data
literacy skills so they themselves can become more active participants in their own data-driven learning
process – rather than be passive objects of an analytics driven set of interventions by teacher or institution.
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Key Readings
Deakin Crick et al (2015). Developing resilient agency in learning: The internal structure of learning power. British
Journal of Educational Studies, 63(2), 121–160.
Gašević, D., Dawson, S. & Siemens, G. (2015). Let’s not forget: Learning analytics are about learning. TechTrends,
59(1), 64–71.
Kitto et al (2015). Learning analytics beyond the LMS: the connected learning analytics toolkit (pp. 11–15). ACM Press.
What's Up with Whats App
Anna Logan & Suzanne Stone
This presentation is based on recent research around student engagement in the online virtual classroom
conducted with students from the Masters in Special Educational Needs at St. Patrick's College now the
new Institute of Education within DCU. A mixed method two-phased approach was used with two cohorts.
Phase 1 comprised anonymous online student evaluations (n=27) and Phase 2 comprised two focus groups;
one face-to-face and one online with 10 participants. Initial findings from phase 1 suggest that while most
participants expressed a preference for the face-to-face classroom, the convenience of the online element
was highly salient in enabling them to complete the programme. Data from phase two shed further light on
student perceptions of engagement and expectations of online learning prior to registration. Building on
Falloon’s (2011) conceptual framework, this study suggests that collaboration between lecturer, learning
technologist and students can help online learners develop the technical, procedural and operational
knowledge required to make this transition and thus harness the affordances of the online synchronous
classroom. In this presentation we focus on one key finding from Phase 2. The virtual online classroom tool
used for this programme is Adobe Connect. Despite a variety of communication tools available in this
platform, students elected to use a back channel to discuss the programme and as a social tool, in this case
the Whats App messaging tool. Participants indicated that confidence levels in using the virtual classroom
technology pushed the participants towards the use of a back channel. The public nature of presenting
opinions in an online space was also an issue when using the Adobe Connect communication tools. While
the use of a back channel has also been found to foster peer interaction and reduce the instructor’s burden
in the virtual online classroom (Vu & Fadde, 2013), the researchers are concerned by the level of
discomfort that students are reporting in communicating within the Adobe Connect classroom itself. In the
next phase the researchers would like to explore how student expectations of virtual online learning are
influencing the level of confidence for participants in the online virtual classroom and how student
expectations might be managed to support the development of confidence within this learning space.
Key Readings
Falloon, G. (2011a). Making the connection: Moore’s theory of transactional distance and it’s relevance to the use of a
virtual classroom in postgraduate online teacher education. Journal of Research on technology in Education, 43(3),
pp. 187-209.
Falloon, G. (2011b). Exploring the virtual classroom: What students need to know and teachers should consider.
MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching 7(4), pp. 439-451.
P. Vu, P.J. Fadde (2013). When to talk, when to chat: student interactions in live virtual classrooms Journal of Interactive
Online Learning, 12 (2) (2013) Retrieved from
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Using Game Elements for Motivation and Engagement in Digital
Daire O Broin
Game elements have been used in non-game contexts such as learning to make it more engaging and
motivating. There are many examples of learning systems that contain game elements for increasing
engagement, such as the language learning app DuoLingo, which includes game elements such as
experience points, clear goals, enticing feedback, progression (both momentary and longer term), player
agency, and wagering. When using game elements, it is vital that they are selected or designed to be
relevant and well integrated into the experience, as many systems exist in which the game elements are
meaningless or even harmful (Nicholson, 2012). One approach to mitigate this is to adopt a
Human-Centred Design (HCD) process. This talk presents an overview of some work in this area currently
being undertaken by the gameCORE research group in IT Carlow, using HCD to apply game elements to
improve learning at third level with a focus on: peer and self assessment, student time management,
forming study habits, and using career opportunities to encourage selection of learning goals and
motivating learning.
Key Readings
Hamari,J., Koivisto, J., & Sarsa, H. (2014). Does gamification work? – A literature review of empirical studies on gamification.
In proceedings of the 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, USA, January 6-9, 2014.
Fishman, B. J., & Aguilar, S. (2012). Gaming the slass: Using a game-based grading system to get students to work harder... and
like it. In C. Martin, A. Ochsner, & K. Squire (Eds.), Proc. GLS 8.0 (pp. 111-118). Pittsburgh, PA: ETC Press.
Hanu, Michael D., & Jesse Fox. (2015). Assessing the effects of gamification in the classroom: A longitudinal study on
intrinsic motivation, social comparison, satisfaction, effort, and academic performance. Computers & Education, 80,
LMOOCs Development and Blended Learning Integration
Oisín Ó Doinn
The number of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has grown exponentially in recent years.
Language MOOCs or LMOOCs have also grown in this time with courses available in both so called
‘modern languages’ and minority languages. MOOCs afford minority languages with the facility, such has
never been seen before, to reach a massive audience of learners and also to connect these learners. These
MOOCs subsequently enable the formation of new communities of learners and the generation of unique
and complex learning environments. Additionally, the availability of these LMOOCs impacts on the
provision of face to face language education when utilised as a part of a blended language learning strategy.
Furthermore, minority LMOOCs facilitate integration among others and cross-cultural understanding
between traditionally antagonistic groups. Lastly, LMOOCs for minority or lesser used languages can act
as a sociolinguistic time capsule providing a snapshot of a language for future study and indeed possibly
revival. This paper examines the development of the highly successful Irish language course on, the difficulties its contributors experience and the possibilities of integrating such platforms
for all languages into blended language learning courses.
Key Readings
Blin, F., & Jalkanen, J. (2014). Designing for language learning: agency and languaging in hybrid environments.
Yamagata-Lynch, L. C. (2010). Understanding cultural historical activity theory. In Activity systems analysis methods
(pp. 13-26). Springer US.
Neumeier, P. (2005). A closer look at blended learning—parameters for designing a blended learning environment for
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language teaching and learning. ReCALL, 17(02), 163-178.
Examining Virtual Learning Environment (VLE): A Comparison
Between High Performance Schools and Other National Schools in
Ruzana Tukimin
In a world where information and communication technology (ICT) becomes increasingly important, many
nations have responded by transforming school education from the traditional face-to-face and
teacher-oriented experience to a student-centred environment that goes beyond the classroom, as well as
promoting pedagogical approaches that encourage interactivity and the development of 21st century skills.
One of the ways to achieve the transformation is via enabling schools to have access to Virtual Learning
Environment (VLE), as it allows for the implementation of synchronous and asynchronous teaching and
learning. This study focuses on the Malaysian government’s initiative of implementing VLE to all national
schools in the country. The existence of different types of national schools in Malaysia makes it interesting
to compare and explore the effectiveness and impact of VLE implementation between the nation’s preferred
choice of school and other national schools.
Key Readings
Kong, S.C. et. al. (2014). E-learning in school education in the coming 10 years for developing 21st century skills: Critical
research issues and policy implications. Educational Technology & Society, 17 (1), 70-78. Retrieved from
Livingstone, S. (2012). Critical reflections on the benefits of ICT in education. Oxford Review of Education. 38, (1),
February 2012, pp.9-24.
Teoh, B.H. (2015). National online platform for collaborative teaching: The virtual learning environment in Malaysia.
Outcome Document of the Central Asia Symposium on ICT in Education 2015, p17. Retrieved from
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Facebook as a Learning Space for Adult Basic Education (ABE)
Margot Walsh
An online collaboration environment was constructed for an adult basic education (ABE) setting using best
practice guidelines reported for Higher Education settings. Facebook was used as the online platform.
Examination of the resulting learning outcomes, revealed several salient findings. Similar to findings for
Higher Education settings, higher order learning was facilitated through the online collaborative
environment, making it a realistic and achievable objective for ABE. Other equally important learning
outcomes were also indicated – increased confidence, self-regulation and an equalisation effect, indicating
it’s potential as a pedagogical approach for ABE.
Key Readings
Garrison, D. R. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: Social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues. Journal of
Asynchronous Learning Networks 11 (1), 61-72.
Koh, E., & Lim, J. (2012). Using online collaboration applications for group assignments: The interplay between design
and human characteristics. Computers & Education 59, 481-496.
Meyer, E., Abrami, P., Wade, A., Aslan, O., & Deault, L. (2010). Improving literacy and metacognition with e-portfolios:
teaching and learning with ePEARL. Computers & Education 55 (1), 84-91.
Collaborative Information Seeking in Online Learning Contexts
Meg Westbury
Collaborative information seeking (CIS), i.e., how people work together to fill information needs, has been
studied extensively in organisations, but little in digital learning environments, a surprising gap given
pedagogical emphasis on group projects in such contexts. For my PhD, I hope to explore how social factors
such as context, division of labour and technologies intersect to shape CIS as well as how CIS leads to
higher-order learning (e.g., through the collective definition of a discipline or topic). For this 3-minute
presentation, I will discuss preliminary results of a pilot study conducted in October which explored how
globally-dispersed students in an online postgraduate course organised their social search behaviour, for
which I used semi-structured interviews and review of their discussions on Slack. I was curious whether
collaborative search was happening, what social factors and technologies intertwined to shape it and what
higher-order learning could I discern.
Key Readings
Knight, S., & Littleton, K. (2015). Learning through collaborative information seeking. In P. Hansen, C. Shah, & C-P
Klas (Eds.), Collaborative information seeking: Best practices, new domains and new thoughts (pp. 101-116).
Heidelberg: Springer.
Shah, C. (2014). Collaborative information seeking. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology,
65 (2), 215-236.
Shah, C., & Leeder, C. (2016). Exploring collaborative work among graduate students through the C5 model of
collaboration: A diary study. Journal of Information Science (42) 5, 609-629.
The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
Evaluating the Usability of a Social Network Analysis Resource for
the Digital Humanities
Judith Wusteman
Social network analysis (SNA) involves the mapping, evaluation and measurement of relationships and
flows between information, people and groups. SNA visualisations comprise a series of nodes,
representing the actors of a network, and edges, which represent the links between these actors. SNA is an
increasingly important topic in many disciplines. In recent years, researchers have begun to apply it to the
digital humanities, in particular to literary studies. However, it is still at an early stage of application in this
field, and there are many open questions concerning to how humanities researchers might use this
technique, how the visualisations could be presented so that they are maximally meaningful to researchers
and students of literature, and what computational tool sets might best supported such potential users. The
"Nation, Genre and Gender: A Comparative Social Network Analysis of Irish and English Fiction,
1800-1922" [1] project began in December 2013; the Principal Investigator is Professor Gerardine Meaney
of the UCD Humanities Institute. The aims of the project include advancement of social network analysis
of the novel and the establishment of an electronic corpus of novels and related SNA visualisations that can
be used by other researchers, students and interested parties [2]. This Rapid Fire presentation describes the
usability testing of an initial prototype of the the Nation, Genre and Gender (NGG) project website. The
‘think-aloud’ method was employed and two participant groups were involved: academics and
postgraduate students of English literature. The session will briefly explore some of the usability issues
identified that were of relevance to social network analysis in the literary digital humanities context. It will
consider the potential usefulness of the visualisations in their current static state and ask whether - or not -
the next best step would be a more interactive site. Finally, it will discuss the implications of such projects
for network, services and computational tool support.
Key Readings
Nation, Genre and Gender Project Available from
UCD Humanities Institute (2013). Nation, genre and gender: A comparative social network. Analysis of Irish and
English Fiction, 1800-1922. Retrieved from
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Following a peer review process the following posters were accepted for presentation at the Research
CoderDojo Mentors' Perceptions of Teaching and Learning
Abeer Alsheaibi
CoderDojo is a global network of volunteer-led, independent and community-based programming clubs for
young people. The CoderDojo foundation is promoting a learning philosophy to be adopted by all Dojos’
globally to develop young people’s coding skills. Since Dojo clubs are set up and run by volunteers
(mentors), each will have a different set of skills and strategies of learning. This research attempts to
investigate CoderDojo mentors' perceptions of teaching and learning through a survey to explore
CoderDojo mentors' personal beliefs based on their experience. Outcomes may reveal the nature of
alignment with the learning philosophy promoted by the foundation.
Digital Readiness Tools for use in Supporting Flexible Learner
Transition into Higher Education
James Brunton, Mark Brown, Eamon Costello, Lorraine Delaney & Seamus Fox
This poster presents a suite of openly available digital readiness/preparation tools, created by the Student
Success Toolbox project (, which can be used by programme teams/institutions, to
address the problem of effective flexible learner transitions into higher education (HE), during the
study-lifecycle’s initial stages. Flexible learners are defined, here, as adults engaged in part-time or
online/distance-learning. Enhancing retention and completion rates of this group is a problem both globally
and within the Irish context. This poster presents a summary of how each tool can be utilised, along with
links to further online information, along with the tool itself. Eight tools have been created, based on an
analysis of existing literature and tools used internationally, along with a guide to supporting new flexible
learners, which will inform institutions/discipline teams on how to effectively deploy these tools. This
poster aids in the dissemination of the tools and related guide.
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
Combining Emotional Design and Technology Enhanced Learning to
Create Engaging Digital HCI Learning Experiences
Denise McEvoy, Benjamin R Cowan &Marcus Hanratty
This poster describes PhD research currently exploring how Emotional Design and Technology Enhanced
Learning (TEL) can be used to develop engaging digital artefacts to improve the HCI education for digitally
engaged students. It outlines the main concepts of emotional design, TEL and the Design-Based Research (DBR)
methodology which drives the project. It also reports preliminary findings from interviews with HCI educators
conducted as part of Stage 1 of the research project. From this, the research will leverage an aesthetic lens through
which emotional design and DBR will be used to create an engaging TEL tool for HCI education.
Social Media Interactive Learning Environment
Denise McEvoy, Séamus Ó'Ciardhuáin & Ailís Ní Chofaigh
Social Media Interactive Learning Environment, SMILE, is a digital interactive learning tool aimed at Smart
Agers (users above 55 years of age). With technology-enhanced learning, SMILE will help to teach Smart Agers
how to use social networking sites (SNSs) and engage them through the use of emotional design and gamification.
Using qualitative research and user-centred design, SMILE hopes to bridge the digital divide by providing Smart
Agers with a tool designed specifically for their ICT and learning needs. Having strong social connections
improves our well-being; SMILE aims at teaching Smart Agers to use ICT to enhance their social connectivity
Assessment Feedback Practice In First Year – Findings from an Irish
Multi-institutional Project
Lisa O’Regan, Mark Brown, Moira Maguire, Nuala Harding, Elaine Walsh, Gerry Gallagher,
Geraldine McDermott
This poster reports on a baseline review of Assessment Feedback practices at four Irish third level institutions as
part of the Supporting Transition: Enhancing (Assessment) Feedback in First Year Using Digital Technologies
project. This two year project (2015-17) is funded by the (Irish) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching
and Learning and is a collaborative initiative between the Higher Education Authority (HEA) cluster partners:
Maynooth University, Dublin City University, Athlone Institute of Technology, and Dundalk Institute of
Technology. The aim of this project is to identify and pilot approaches to enhance assessment feedback in first
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The Next Generation: Digital Learning Research Symposium
year undergraduate programmes, using digital technologies. The study is particularly timely in the Irish context
given our strategic focus on improving the transition to Higher Education and the first year experience (Hunt,
2011). While evidence shows that regular and frequent formative feedback in first year is associated with student
success (Nicol, 2009; Tinto, 2005) the reality, particularly in large cohorts, can be quite different. The Irish Survey
of Student Engagement (ISSE) 2013, found that nationally, 23.3% of first year undergraduate students never, and
45.1% only sometimes, received timely written or oral feedback from teachers on academic performance. This
poster reports on the first phase of the project, particularly on the research undertaken in the first half of 2015 to
identify current assessment feedback practice in first year undergraduate programmes, which consisted of: (i) an
anonymous online survey of lecturers teaching on first year undergraduate programmes; and (ii) focus group
interviews with first year undergraduate representatives. In this poster, we will provide an overview of the project,
overall rationale and describe the research approach taken for the current practice review.
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Technical Report
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Report Overview This report is presented in four sections. • Section one presents the analysis of existing literature and foregrounds the key trends that emerged from that analysis. Initially outlining the questions and methodology used to frame the literature analysis, this section of the report then presents the literature relating to: flexible learning; the importance of student success in the first year; and transitions into higher education. Consideration is given to what tools the literature indicates are useful in supporting such transitions. • Section two begins by setting out the methodology used to create the database of existing digital tools available internationally to support successful transitions during initial stages of the study lifecycle for flexible learners, before presenting an analysis of the tools that were located. • Section three explores the connection between the literature and the digital tools that are in use internationally. This section also presents a number of potential areas for tool development in Phase three the Student Success Toolbox project. • Section four presents the conclusion to the report.
Computer code and programmable objects are a ubiquitous part of our everyday lives. Over the past 25 years critical engagement with digital media has become a part of the art education curriculum. However, involving art students in utilizing processing agents as part of studio practice by learning how to code programming languages is a rare occurrence. This article advocates for computational thinking as an urgent need within art education to prepare students to utilize digital innovations and create code-based artworks. By reviewing the constructionist origins of computational thinking for art educational purposes, we posit that creative code can benefit studio art practice while making broader contributions to conceptions of computational thinking across disciplines. We emphasize three concepts to engage in critical digital making by recognizing code as critical text, code as open or proprietary, and code as digital material to be performed and acted upon.
Addresses what educators, young people, and concerned citizens can do to reclaim higher education from market-driven neoliberal ideologies.
Conference Paper
Children with cerebral palsy (CP) may need to undergo long-term physical rehabilitation to enhance neural development. Currently, commercial rehabilitation products cannot be customized easily and are expensive; consequently, public special-education schools generally cannot afford purchasing these products. This study employs the Microsoft Kinect technology and image recognition technology to create a rehabilitation system which may be applicable for people with CP. To motivate people with CP to engage in exercise training, we gamified the movement training of self-feeding and self-dressing for young adults with CP in special education school settings. By leveraging the Scratch language and Kinect2Scratch tool, the physical therapists (PTs) who will use the system may be able to do the customization without technical support. Preliminary results of 5 healthy college students testing the exercise games are presented. The precision and reliability of the Kinect2Scratch Games are 100% and 97.5%.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to gain a better understanding of the collaborative information seeking (CIS) behaviors of students conducting authentic group work projects, and the features of a collaborative search system that are most useful to these students. Design/methodology/approach An exploratory study was conducted with 41 participants in ten groups working on an in class, for-credit group project assignment utilizing a collaborative search system. Quantitative and qualitative data were gathered on the everyday search practices of students over the course of the group project, along with quality scores for the sources found. Findings Results showed that student behavior during their CIS related to the quality of their search outcomes, as the effective and efficient searchers found better quality sources. Students’ pre-task attitudes and experiences toward group work also relate to the quality of their search outcomes. Student feedback demonstrated the importance of making collaborative search tools convenient, lightweight, and easy to use. Practical implications These findings may be useful to researchers designing and studying the effectiveness of collaborative search tools, and to instructors planning to incorporate group projects into their classes. Originality/value In this paper, the authors document the authentic behaviors and attitudes of students conducting group projects in an classroom setting, and offer specific recommendations for developers of collaborative search systems. These findings provide greater context for CIS research into the collaborative search behaviors of students conducting group work projects.
Conference Paper
We present the Scratch extension system, a toolkit that enables anyone to extend the vocabulary of the visual Scratch programming language through custom programming blocks written in JavaScript. The extension system is designed to (i) enable innovating on the Scratch programming language itself, in addition to innovating with it through projects, and (ii) enable the creation of new interest-driven pathways into Scratch programming. In this paper, we describe some of the prior work done in this space, our design and implementation, open questions and challenges, and some preliminary outcomes.
This chapter discusses Collaborative Information Seeking (CIS) from an educational perspective. Our core claim is that CIS has the potential to bring together rich collaborative, and multimodal, contexts in which important learning processes may take place. We thus see CIS as more than just an activity with potential to ‘speed up’ information seeking, or contribute to effective division of labour. This claim is independent of the particular classroom subject, or the form of technological mediation; rather, the chapter provides a focus on some key considerations in collaborative learning that should be of interest to both educators and those interested in the ‘benefits’ of CIS. This chapter first outlines our broad educational interest in elements of CIS, connecting that to the focal points of CIS research. We go on to highlight the importance of dialogue as a tool for learning, before discussing the complexities of understanding ‘success’ in CIS tasks, and then specifically the role that dialogue has played so far in CIS research. We conclude with a call to researchers in both CIS and education to explore the nature of learning in CIS contexts, making use of a rich understanding of the importance of dialogue to create meaning together.
Conference Paper
This demonstration introduces the Connected Learning An-alytics (CLA) Toolkit. The CLA toolkit harvests data about student participation in specified learning activities across standard social media environments, and presents information about the nature and quality of the learning interactions .
Although there are tools to assess student's readiness in an online learning context, little is known about the psychometric properties of the tools used or not. A systematic review of 5107 published and unpublished papers identified in a literature search on student online readiness assessment tools between 1990 and 2010 was conducted. The objective of this paper was to identify via a systematic review different tools allowing to assess the level of student's preparation in an online learning environment and which were published or not in scientific journals, and determine which of these tools have been validated. The results of the systematic review show that a standard tool does not exist, and that only ten instruments have been developed and published over the past 20 years to assess student's readiness. In addition, few tools published demonstrated good psychometric qualities, and many unpublished tools, considered as homemade tools, were internally developed in the universities by a team of professors without regard to their psychometric quality. Also, it appears that the tools that were published in scientific journals are rarely used by universities that offer online courses. Generally, the universities prefer to develop their own instrument that fits their online programs.
Collaborative work among students, while an important topic of inquiry, needs further treatment as we still lack the knowledge regarding obstacles that students face, the strategies they apply, and the relations among personal and group aspects. This article presents a diary study of 54 master’s students conducting group projects across four semesters. A total of 332 diary entries were analysed using the C5 model of collaboration that incorporates elements of communication, contribution, coordination, cooperation and collaboration. Quantitative and qualitative analyses show how these elements relate to one another for students working on collaborative projects. It was found that face-to-face communication related positively with satisfaction and group dynamics, whereas online chat correlated positively with feedback and closing the gap. Managing scope was perceived to be the most common challenge. The findings suggest the varying affordances and drawbacks of different methods of communication, collaborative work styles and the strategies of group members.