Hibernia College will bring its expertise in learning technology to the upcoming 2021 Learnovation Summit, “The Future of Work and Learning.” Members of our Digital Learning Department (DLD) and School of Education (SOE) will participate from 12 – 13 October and share the latest learning technology strategies, tools and solutions.
Learnovation is organised by the Learnovate Centre, a leading learning technology research centre in Trinity College Dublin and a technology centre funded by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland to support organisations developing solutions for our society’s current and future learning challenges.
In anticipation of the upcoming summit, we’d like to share excerpts from a Q&A between Learnovate and Francis McKeagney, Head of Digital Learning at Hibernia College. Francis is a member of the Learnovate Thought Leaders Circle.
Meet the Patrons Q&A with Hibernia College’s Head of Digital Learning Francis McKeagney
Originally posted by Learnovate
Why is R&D important in the learning technology industry?
It is absolutely critical. The rate at which technology changes continues to accelerate but the rate at which organisations can adopt those technologies is significantly lower. It is not possible for any organisation, no matter how big, to stay on top of all the changes in technology. I believe that you need to have people who can move ahead of the organisation and study what is going on and its implications for your business and help bring that into the organisation when needed. The role of R&D is to close the gap between the technology changes that are going on and your organisation’s ability to handle those changes and be ahead. My group has an important R&D role for the college. We need to be systematically looking down the tracks, so we can inform the academic teams and work with them to absorb technology changes when the time is right.
From your experience, what are the current trends in learning?
In higher education, I guess the big one is blended learning because of the pandemic. Here at Hibernia College, we have 20 years’ experience of this approach, so we have a lead in that regard. Blended learning is tougher than people realise as it has all these different components that have to fit together in a seamless way. It has to be a really good experience for students and it requires IT rigour. When you do it for thousands of students, there are disciplines that have to be learned and most of the education system is early in this journey so there is a huge amount of learning still to be done.
Other things we are focused on include collaborative teaching and learning and student engagement, especially if they are 100 per cent online, which was a big issue during the pandemic. We are starting to see some compelling uses of AI and machine learning in education. I expect we will also see some interesting uses of Augmented Reality in education in the next few years with Virtual Reality probably a bit further down the road yet.
How should we prepare for the future of work?
Micro-credentialing is definitely going to be an important consideration for universities and higher education. Continuous learning is also a huge part of future work; there is a need for people to stay flexible. Both of these will be disruptive to traditional models of higher-level teaching and learning and we will continue to explore their implications as well as alternative routes to higher education for those who seek it.
What impact has Covid-19 had on your organisation?
From a teaching perspective, we had to go from 50 per cent online to 100 per cent online. Moving everything 100 per cent online during the pandemic challenged us in terms of optimising the student experience in that environment. We have spent a lot of time working and reflecting on that and, at the same time, engaging with students on their experiences.
Why is membership of Learnovate important to your company?
It feeds back to why R&D is so important. It is crucial to stay abreast of what is happening and to meet with people in other sectors to share ideas. Learnovate is a dedicated learning institution with people, both in the commercial sector and in higher education, bringing different parties to the table and allowing and encouraging participation by member organisations in research projects. This is all really good and accelerates progress for us. It is part of us needing to stay on top of what is going on and Learnovate helps us to do that.