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Connected Conversations: HECA Next Steps Research Report

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The Higher Education Colleges Association (HECA) launched the ‘Connected Conversations’ report on 26 January. HECA is an active partner in the National Forum Next Steps research project related to the COVID-19 emergency response in higher education in Ireland. The Next Steps report includes 54,000 voices from 15 different partners.

The study explored the teaching, learning and assessment (TLA) practices selected and applied by HECA members to cope with the emergency shift to remote learning during the COVID-19 crisis. It looked at how the practices were experienced by all relevant stakeholders, including, but not limited to, lecturers and students. The research also provides recommendations for policy and practice — or ‘next steps.’

HECA Participating Members

The research included five focus group meetings where HECA educators and students shared their experiences of teaching and learning in the context of an evolving public health crisis. HECA consists of 12 independent higher level institutional members, all of whom participated in the study: Hibernia College, CCT College Dublin, Dorset College, Dublin Business School (DBS), Galway Business School, Griffith College, Irish College of Humanities and Applied Sciences (ICHAS), IICP College, Open Training College (OTC), Setanta College, SQT and St. Nicholas Montessori.

Ruth Ní Bheoláin, Quality Assurance and Enhancement Manager was part of the Next Steps Steering Group, directing and providing support on the National Forum Next Steps project. She worked with Orla Butler, Lead Researcher for HECA on the National Forum Next Steps project and lecturer at Griffith College.

Research Outcomes

Professor Diarmuid Hegarty, Chair of HECA and President of Griffith College states, ‘Through these critical conversations, five core policy-related recommendations and 10 practice-related recommendations emerged for HECA members to consider and implement to ensure that the post-COVID TLA landscape will be more accessible, inclusive, collaborative and supportive for staff and students alike.’

Orla Butler continues, ‘HECA will use the Next Steps project findings to contextualise its own evidence-based vision of a post-pandemic teaching and learning landscape. This project has helped to find clarity in the detail of our peers’ lived experiences and inspiration from the collective consciousness of the sector. Greeting the dawning of a new horizon brings a responsibility for us to continue our critical conversations towards a shared vision that enacts meaningful and far-reaching change.’

Read the full report at Connected Conversations: The Teaching, Learning and Assessment Practices Experienced in Higher Education Colleges Association (HECA) Colleges during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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