From Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education
For a list of entities in Ireland relevant to e-learning, see Category:Ireland.
Experts situated in Ireland
Ireland in a nutshell
(sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Ireland Republic of Ireland)
Ireland (Irish: Éire) is a country in north-western Europe. The modern state occupies about five-sixths of the island of Ireland, which was first partitioned in 1921. It is bordered by Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) to the north, by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and by the Irish Sea to the east.
Legally, the term Republic of Ireland (Irish: Poblacht na hÉireann) is the description of the State but Ireland is its name
In the early 20th century, Ireland became the successor-state to the Irish Free State. Ireland was one of the poorest countries in Western Europe and had high emigration. The protectionist economy was opened in the late 1950s and Ireland joined the European Union) in 1973. An economic crisis led Ireland to start large-scale economic reforms in the late 1980s. Ireland reduced taxation and regulation dramatically compared to other EU countries.
Today, the Index of Economic Freedom ranks Ireland as the world's third most economically free country. This liberalisation has transformed Ireland into one of the fastest growing, richest, most developed and peaceful countries on earth, having the fifth highest gross domestic product per capita and the eighth highest gross domestic product per capita considering purchasing power parity. Ireland also has high rankings for its education system, political freedom and civil rights, press freedom and economic freedom; it was also judged one of the few "sustainable" states in the world. Ireland has emerged as an attractive destination and foreign immigrants who now make up approximately 10% of the population. Ireland's population is the fastest growing in Europe with an annual growth rate of 2.5%.
Ireland has a population of around 4.7 million (July 2012 estimate by CIA's World Factbook). Comparing it with other nearby English-speaking regions - the UK home nations - this makes it bigger than Wales and nearly the size of Scotland. In EU terms it is bigger than each one of the Baltic States but smaller than Finland, Denmark and Slovakia. In terms of countries relevant to benchmarking, it is just larger than New Zealand.
Ireland is a member of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Education in Ireland
The education systems are largely under the direction of the government. The Department of Education and Science (www.education.ie), under the control of the Minister for Education and Science, is in overall control of policy, funding and direction, whilst other important organisations are the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (www.nqai.ie) and the Higher Education Authority (www.hea.ie). There are many other statutory and non-statutory bodies which have a function in the education system. Recognised primary and secondary schools must adhere to the curriculum established by authorities that have power to set them.
The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Ireland's education as the 20th best in the world, being significantly higher than the OECD average.
State owned Primary, Secondary and Tertiary (University/College) level education are all free in Ireland for all EU citizens.
All children must receive compulsory education between the ages of six and fifteen years, inclusive. The Constitution of Ireland allows this education to be provided in the home;[ this has caused much legal wrangling for years as to the minimum standards required for home education since the constitution does not explicitly provide for the State to define these minimum standards.
In 1973 the requirement to pass the Irish language in order to receive a second-level certificate was dropped although a student attending a school which receives public money must be taught the language. Certain students may get an exemption from learning Irish; these include students who have spent a significant period of time abroad or students with a learning difficulty.
English is the primary medium of instruction at all levels, except in Gaelscoileanna (schools in which Irish is the working language and which are increasingly popular). Universities also offer degree programmes in diverse disciplines, taught mostly through English, with a few in Irish.
Education is compulsory all for children in Ireland from the ages of 6 to 16 or until students have completed three years of second-level education.
Four-year-olds and five-year-olds are enrolled in the junior or senior infant classes.
For further detail see the Wikipedia article Education in the Republic of Ireland and the Eurydice "Eurybase" article Organisation of the education system in Ireland 2003/04.
Schools in Ireland
The year stages consist of Junior Infants (not compulsary) and Senior Infants (not compulsary), then six years (First Class tp Sixth Class).
Primary education is generally completed at a national school, a multidenominational school or a gaelscoil.
This consists of:
a Senior Cycle, of twp years (Fifth Year, Sixth Year), with the Leaving Certificate examination sat at the end of this year.
Most students attend and complete secondary education, with approximately 90% of school-leavers taking the Leaving Certificate. Secondary education is generally completed at a community school, a comprehensive school, a vocational school or a voluntary secondary school.
In urban areas, there is great freedom in choosing the type of school the child will attend. The education system emphasis at second level is as much on breadth as on depth; the system attempts to prepare the individual for society and further education or work. This is similar to the education system in Scotland.
Further and Higher education
Higher Education in Ireland consists of:
The universities and institutes of technology are autonomous and self-governing, but are substantially state-funded.
Universities in Ireland
There are nine universities in the island of Ireland - two in Northern Ireland and seven in the Republic. (The two universities in Northern Ireland are the University of Ulster and the Queen's University of Belfast.) All nine work together as Universities Ireland.
The National University of Ireland (NUI) is a federal institute consisting of four constituent universities: University College Dublin, National University of Ireland Dublin; University College Cork, National University of Ireland Cork; National University of Ireland Galway and National University of Ireland Maynooth.
NUI also has three recognised colleges: National College of Art and Design (NCAD), The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and St. Angela's College of Education. The University of Limerick (UL) and Dublin City University (DCU) are our newest universities and were founded in 1989.
There are seven universities in Ireland the Republic.
The National University of Ireland also has three recognised colleges: National College of Art and Design, The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and St. Angela's College of Education.
Several universities are involved in continuing and distance education programmes (aimed mainly at Irish residents).
Polytechnics in Ireland
In this subsection we discuss the institutes of technology and the private providers.
Institutes of Technology
There are currently 14 Institutes of Technology located throughout Ireland (the Republic) offering programmes at degree, national diploma and national certificate levels in a wide variety of subjects. Their qualifications are externally validated by Ireland's national certification authorities HETAC and FETAC. Many of the Institutes of Technology also run postgraduate diploma and degree programmes, both taught and research.
See Institute of Technologies website at http://www.ioti.ie
Independent Third Level Colleges
These colleges offer programmes leading to certificates, diplomas and degrees, which have received recognition by Ireland's national certification authority or from other external accreditation institutions (such as universities). Courses on offer include: Accountancy and Business Studies, Law, Humanities, Hotel & Catering, Tourism Studies and Art.
Colleges in Ireland
Colleges of Education
There are five Colleges of Education for primary school teachers. These colleges offer three year full time courses leading to a B.Ed degree which is the recognised qualification for primary school teaching.
The Bologna Process
(sourced from http://www.bologna.ie/node/4)
A national steering group has been established to oversee the implementation of the Bologna Process. It is chaired by the Department of Education and Science and has nominees of the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the Council of Directors of Institutes of Technology (CoDIT), the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC), the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) and the Union of Students of Ireland (USI).
The implementation of the Bologna Process is now facilitated by 5 Bologna Promoters who provide a resource to the wider higher education community in responding to the challenges of the Process.
Progress to date (sourced from http://www.bologna.ie/node/6)
The Irish Higher Education Quality Network was established in October 2003 as a formal network. The network comprises the main organisations with a role or significant interest in quality assurance in higher and education and training in Ireland. The network is working towards the development of a common national position on key quality assurance issues, in order to inform the debate on those same issues at the European level. The network provides a forum for discussion of quality assurance issues amongst the principal national stakeholders involved in the quality assurance of higher education and training in Ireland and allow for the dissemination of best practice in quality assurance amongst practitioners and policy makers involved in the Irish higher education and training sector.
The Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999 has been enacted, with one of its key tasks being the establishment of the National Framework of Qualifications. The first milestone was reached in July 2004 with the announcement of the implementation arrangements for the framework in higher education. Awards at levels 6 to 10 will be made by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council and the Dublin Institute of Technology, while universities make the awards from level 7 to 10. The framework, however, does not impose any requirements in relation to the duration of programmes, rather, the emphasis is on the development of learning outcomes.
The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland has established a steering group with nominees of the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, the Irish Universities Association and the Dublin Institute of Technology, as well as two international experts, to oversee a process to verify the compatibility of the National Framework of Qualifications with the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area by autumn 2006.
The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland is the Irish centre for the recognition of international awards, and represents Ireland in a European Network of centres known as ENIC/NARIC (European National Information Centre/National Academic Recognition Information Centre) and NRP (National Reference Point) which promote the recognition of international awards throughout Europe.
A Recognition Implementation Group has also been formed comprising representatives of the NQAI, the Department of Education and Science, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, the Further Education and Training Awards Council and the universities. This group is responsible for assisting in the management of the implementation of the national policy approach to the recognition of international awards.
With regard to the Diploma Supplement, the Department of Education and Science chaired a Working Group, charged with responsibility of developing a National Template for this document. This was formally launched by the Minister for Education and Science in February 2004. It is envisaged that most higher education institutions will issue the DS to graduates in 2005.
The National Qualifications Authority in Ireland has been designated the National Europass Centre (NEC) in Ireland. The NEC is currently developing a national Europass internet site.
Third cycle study in Ireland is not limited to university provision. All higher education institutions may provide postgraduate research degrees programmes, in accordance with the principles of the National Framework of Qualifications. Level 10 refers to third cycle studies. Progression from one award to the next is set out, for example, in the policies and procedures that describe the operation of the National Framework. Progression from the Honours Bachelor Degree (level 8) cycle 1 to the research award of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) cycle 3, is possible as is progression to PhD is from the Masters Degree award at level 9, cycle 2.
In 2003, the Irish Department of Education and Science invited the OECD Secretariat to undertake a review of Irish higher education to evaluate the performance of the sector and recommend how it can better meet Ireland’s strategic objectives for the sector. The review was organised within the framework of the OECD's education policy reviews. Following preparation of a Background Report by the Irish authorities [EDU/EC(2004)13], a team of OECD examiners visited Ireland from 15 to 27 February and prepared a report [EDU/EC(2004)14]. These documents together with “Suggested Issues for Discussion” [EDU/EC(2004)15] comprise the documentation for the special session of the Education Committee to review Irish higher education policy. The Examiners’ Report was prepared by an independent team with assistance from the Secretariat. It is based on the Background Report prepared by the Irish authorities (EDU/EC (2004)13) and interviews and meetings that the review team conducted during its visit to Ireland. The document is at http://www.ntua.gr/posdep/International/EU/oecd_policies_IrelandEducation.doc
Strategic Innovation Fund
In Rebruary 2008 the Ministry announced a 97 million euro programme of higher education reform. This was within the context of the National Development Plan Transforming Ireland.
The programme covered many areas outside e-learning - in fact most was outside e-learning. A cut-down version of the press release is below, with parts relevant to e-learning highlighted in italics.
A total of 31 projects have been approved of which 30 are collaborative.
The programme is to support internal change, enhance collaboration between higher education institutions, improve teaching and learning, as well as promote access and lifelong learning and support the development of fourth level education.
This is the second funding announcement under the Government's Strategic Innovation Fund.
New opportunities for workplace based learning will be supported. At an organisational level, the process of internal re-structuring and development will be given further impetus, enabling institutions to grow into the demanding roles now expected of them as innovation leaders in the knowledge society."
Key areas under this round of SIF that relate to e-learning are:
Over the lifetime of the whole programme, a total of €510 million is being targeted through the SIF to support reforms and collaboration in higher education.
Each of theuniversities and institutes of technology will be involved in successful initiatives under the awards, either as a lead institute or collaborating partner. Some 13 involve alliances between universities and institutes of technology.
Examples of the new collaborations supported under the new round of funding were given by the Ministry. However, the only one that appears to link to e-learning is:-
Support for OER
In Ireland, universities have received government funding to build open access institutional repositories and to develop a federated harvesting and discovery service via a national portal. It is intended that this collaboration will be expanded to embrace all Irish research institutions.
Administration and finance
(sourced from http://www.hea.ie/en/funding)
The Higher Education Authority (HEA) manages and disburses recurrent funds to the universities, institutes of technology and other designated colleges.
(These other colleges include: Mary Immaculate College Limerick, St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra, National College of Art and Design, Mater Dei Institute of Education, St. Angela’s College Sligo, the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.)
These recurrent funds include core recurrent grants, grants in respect of the "Free Fees" Scheme, funding in respect of increased student intake, supplementary funding requirements, and other miscellaneous initiatives that may require funding.
Supervision of the universities in financial terms consists of:
The Ministry also uses the Strategic Innovation Fund to drive reform (see the section on Higher Education Reform.)
Information society strategy
The Information Society Commission (ISC) http://www.isc.ie/ was established in 2001 and its term of office expired in 2004. There are a number of useful publications on the website.
Its functions have been subsumed into the Department of the Taoiseach see http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/index.asp?locID=175&docID=-1. extract: 'The Information Society Policy Unit (ISPU) in the Department of the Taoiseach has overall responsibility for developing, co-ordinating and driving implementation of the Information Society agenda. Our aim is to ensure that Ireland develops as a fully participative, competitive, knowledge-based Information Society, with all of the benefits that entails. Work is ongoing on the development of a new national action plan on the knowledge society, which will be published over the coming months. This third national action plan will succeed Implementing the Information Society in Ireland (1999) and New Connections (2002).'
ICT in education initiatives
Virtual initiatives in schools
Bridge21 is a joint venture of Trinity College Dublin and Suas Educational Development, and it is a virtual school initiative offering a new model of learning that can be adapted for use in Irish secondary schools.
iScoil (previously NotSchool Ireland) is a virtual school offering blended learning to students between the ages of 12 and 16 who have disengaged from the school system (school phobics, students suffering from depression and behavioural problems and students from disadvantaged backgrounds).
The National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) was established under the auspices of the Department of Education and Skills in 1998. The NCTE promotes and supports the integration of ICT in learning and teaching in first and second level schools. With effect from 1st June 2012, the role and functions of the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) come under the remit of the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST). This service is managed by Dublin West Education Centre (DWEC). The main functions of NCTE fall into two categories: providing a range of ICT-related support services to schools and policy development, strategic and administrative functions
Virtual initiatives in post-secondary education
The two Irish institutions most likely to be in the Major e-learning iniatives category (MELI) were:
Following this decision, DCU has initiated an elearning strategy development process aimed at consolidating the work of Oscail and mainstreaming elearning throughout the university. See staff consultation document 'an Elearning Strategy for DCU' launched in October 2008 and associated blog at http://www.dcu.ie/~foxs/elearning/. The report details the external drivers for elearning, reviews the provision of elearning in Ireland, and analyses the potential within DCU for increasing its provision of elearning programmes (including report on consultations with key staff and a survey of factors motivating staff to adopt elearning).
It is not regarded as likely that there are any other providers in the MELI category but there may just possibly be some more NELI institutions. However, Irish universities are still rather traditional and there is as yet no e-learning policy from HEA or funding for it.
Other areas to look at:
Atlantic Universities Alliance www.aua.ie a consortium of University College Cork, University of Limerick, NUI Galway which is delivering distance education undergraduate and masters programmes in technology and sciences.
Institutes of Technology Ireland - www.ioti.ie. This consortium has received euro€8.5 from the HEA's Strategic Initiative Fund (SIF) to develop a system of lifelong learning, using flexible (elearning programmes). This group aims to have 102,000 course enrolments, 750 staff trained, & fee income of €23.8m by 2012.
The Dublin Region Higher Education Alliance (DRHEA) led by DCU received funding under the same programme (SIF) part of which was to support 'enhancement of learning' including elearning.
There is an intriguing reference to a course on benchmarking e-learning standards at University College Dublin.