About nine months ago I had the pleasure of meeting GavinClinch, who works for ITSligo in Ireland. His institute does amazing online course work, and in constantly looking for ways to improve opportunities for students who transition from secondary school to university, or from university to professional fields. Like many other countries, Ireland has multiple challenges to orient their citizens for the future, luckily they have strategically, knowledgeable people working on it, such as the teams at ITSligo. Gavin is an expert in learning with technology, and he can bring out the best in people. I also had the pleasure of meeting Brian Mulligan who has 25 years of elearning experience, ranging from web programming, mixing media, drawing up online learning roadmaps… what a great bunch of people to exchange ideas with.
Sheila MacNeill joined us all to give the afternoon keynote, focusing on the blended learning journey she helps to roll out at GCU. She shared multiple tools, tips and struggles, which is always useful if you are in the same field (I twittered some of the tools here). As Sheila is a very generous scientist with a clear believe in transparent knowledge, we had many great talks on a variety of EdTech topics during breaks. Including a potential funding opportunity. Informal learning at these venues is such an enrichment. Mary Loftus also joined the seminar, which was a delight as I had never met her in real life (I had not seen Sheila IRL either). And today Sheila, Gavin and I had the opportunity to visit the grave of Yeats in Sligo (picture).
My keynote focused on the secondary project I set up together with colleagues from GUSCO Kortrijk, to get 16 – 17 year olds ready for lifelong learning based on digital literacies and skills. Although I did give parts of the talk a few times, when preparing the talk at Sligo, I realized the overlap with my PhD study. So I also added the challenges and reasons for building the project as we are. And especially why this project is shaped the way it is, for the goal we have set ourselves: inspire more students to become passionate, successful learners.
While attending the symposium, I also had the pleasure of meeting two people of my online network for the first time. And also Kieran Tobin of ITSligo and an amazing brain to pick or more accurately learn from. Kieran seems to have sailed through many professions, each time increasing his insights, knowledge and wisdom. Kieran, Brian and I talked about nano-needles used for diabetes, the challenges for building a closed circuit insulin pomp, innovations that are happening in Sligo with top companies such as Oracle, the brain versus evolution, the need for interdisciplinary people to create holistic solutions, and of course learning in general.
I had a great, inspiring time, and I am now going home with loads of new ideas. Now, all we have to do is touch base again on the EU project.