Recent Submissions

  • HECA Research Conference 2023: Sharing an Open Research Landscape

    O'Dowd, Irene; Byrne, Ann; Butler Neff, Linda; O'Sullivan, Patricia; Browne, Andrew; Zorzi, Debora; O'Connor, Noel; McKenna, Robert; Haugh, Trevor; Finkbeiner, Kristin; et al. (Dublin Business School, 2024)
    This paper provides a succinct overview of HECA's second annual research conference, held at DBS on November 14th 2023.
  • Turning our critical faculties up to eleven: reflections on creating a short course in digital literacy

    O'Dowd, Irene; Byrne, Ann; Davey, Emberly (2023)
    “I believe virtually everything I read, and I think that is what makes me more of a selective human than someone who doesn't believe anything.” (David St Hubbins) Approaching life like David St Hubbins from This Is Spinal Tap (1984) was all very well back in the 1980s, but it is a less good idea in today’s internet-dominated interconnected world, where anyone with a phone can publish anything and beam it around the world. Critically assessing the integrity of information has never been more important or more challenging, and to do this successfully requires digital literacy skills. Inspired by global initiatives such as the United Nations SDGs and the European Commission’s DigComp framework, we created an open digital educational resource to help foster digital literacy within our institution and beyond. This project ties in with an ongoing academic integrity project within our institution; it also coincides with the increasing availability of generative artificial intelligence systems that can potentially spread misinformation at scale. In this context, we feel the project is a very timely one. In this paper, we reflect on the process of developing the course, share what we have learned along the way, and indicate future directions for the project.
  • If You Build It, They Might or Might Not Come: How We Became Repository Detectorists

    O'Dowd, Irene; Byrne, Ann; Davey, Emberly (2023-06-20)
    Developing faculty and staff engagement with a new open-access institutional repository (IR) is a challenge often underestimated during IR implementation projects. The idea that “if you build it, they will come” does not reflect the reality of establishing a successful IR in a third-level institution (Ferreira et al., 2008). Factors that hinder the adoption of open-access IRs are many and varied, and a multi-pronged approach is required both to gain an understanding of these factors and develop a strategy to address them (Narayan and Luca, 2017; Tmava, 2022). For those involved in IR implementation projects, having surmounted the considerable hurdles of securing approval and funding for an IR and then developing the platform, the need for the development of such a strategy often comes as quite a surprise. However, it is arguably the most important part of ensuring a successful IR implementation. In this presentation, the genesis and continuing evolution our own IR engagement strategy will be reflected upon and our learnings shared for the benefit of those at a similar or earlier stage of the open-access IR journey. Crucial to our professional journey has been the process of replacing the hubristic “if you build it” metaphor with one suggesting a more incremental and infinitely less glamorous approach to the problem. Inspired by a popular television series (Crook, 2014-2022), we reflect on the role of IR administrators less as architects and more as detectorists. Informed by the reflective model of Experience, Reflection, Action (Jasper, 2013) and guided by Holliday’s (2017) thinking on the power of metaphor in theory and practice, we present a story of lofty idealism giving way to scuttling skullduggery; of the painful metaphorical journey from building a magnificent baseball stadium to squelching through a muddy field with a metal detector. It is also a story of how we were (almost) desperate enough to dress up in fish onesies and jump into the Liffey.
  • Can a Mobile App Help Create Virtual Learning Spaces and Communities of Practice for Students and Tutors?

    O'Dowd, Irene; Benson, Janet (2023-06-19)
    Engagement and collaboration can be challenging in the online learning space, a fact that was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a leading provider of postgraduate blended-learning programmes, Hibernia College is cognisant of the challenges of creating authentic social-learning opportunities for online learners. In 2020 we launched a collaboration app for students and tutors, leveraging ubiquitous mobile technology to enhance the creation of virtual Communities of Practice (vCoPs) and virtual learning spaces. The platform, developed in partnership with technology company Moxo, provides workspaces and features to encourage online communication and collaboration. The current research project, a collaboration by Hibernia College and Learnovate, explores the impact of the app on students’ and teachers’ collaborative learning practices. Surveys and focus groups were conducted to investigate use of and attitude towards the app and explore whether use of the app had changed over time. Findings indicate that several factors influenced app use, including familiarity, perceived usefulness versus other platforms, and expectations for its use as part of the educational experience. Training on platform use was an important factor for teachers. Further investigation continues, and we anticipate interesting outcomes from a comparative analysis of engagement by different groups over time.
  • An exploration of the impact of a VLE assignment text-matching tool to improve students’ academic writing

    Lowney, Rob (2018)
    Hibernia College delivers blended Professional Master in Education (PME) programmes to students across Ireland. Their backgrounds are diverse: some enter the programmes directly from undergraduate studies, others are returning to education after many years working. Some students have difficulty adopting academic writing conventions such as paraphrasing, quoting, citing and referencing. The College added the URKUND text-matching tool to its Moodle-based VLE in 2018. Its intended use is as a formative tool for students to improve their academic writing (Rolfe, 2011). It generates a text-matching report that students scrutinise and they judge for themselves if they have used another’s material in an improper way – by incorrectly paraphrasing, quoting, citing or referencing. They then have an opportunity to amend their assignment and re-upload. Documentation was provided to students upon its introduction, explaining the capabilities, scope and limitations of URKUND and how to use it. This research on the impact of URKUND used a mixed-methods approach. Three student cohorts had the tool available to them when uploading assignments in spring 2018 and were surveyed after their upload deadline passed. The tool was widely-used and well-received but students also held misconceptions about URKUND’s capabilities. Students also had difficulty in making judgements on their assignment as they were unclear if what the report was showing them was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. To maximise its potential as a formative tool, a continual re-enforcement of URKUND’s capabilities, scope and limitations would appear to be required. Similarly, it would appear students need support in developing skills to interpret the report and to make judgements on their own academic writing.
  • Eye tracking & e-learning: what and how do students see

    Rakoczi, Gergely (2022-05-18)
    Dr Gergely Rakoczi, Head of Digital Teaching & Learning at TU Wien, presents his research on eye tracking in the context of e-learning – specifically, the eye movements of learners during interaction with Moodle courses – and shares some interesting outcomes from these studies. He reflects on the methodology of eye tracking and the possibilities of this approach for enhancing online course design. His research topics of interest are e-learning design, eye movement analysis, user interface design (Moodle), multimedia learning, education with virtual reality and 360-degree content, and technology-enhanced teaching in general.
  • Exploring ePortfolios for Teaching and Learning

    Cassidy, Dara; O'Loghlen, Orla (2016)
  • An Investigation of Student Participation in Synchronous Online Tutorials and the Impact of a Technical Support Resource

    Gavan, Edel (2015)
    As schools, universities, retail stores and corporations flock to Online and eLearning, there are many compelling arguments to support their decision. Synchronous virtual classroom tools are used to support Online and eLearning interaction to mirror face-to-face learning. Martin (2012) identified that synchronous tools are a relatively new solution to supporting interaction in the virtual classroom. Ward et al. (2010) distinguished a strong, convincing body of literature which shows that synchronous online classrooms, enhanced by two-way audio, allow for real-time oral presentation, discourse, and checks for understanding among tutor and learners. Hrastinski (2008) determined the aural component of the synchronous virtual classroom as offering real time contact between teachers and students, mirroring faceto- face contact. Much of the research to date focuses on synchronous online resources and their link with participation while there is little or no research on the use of a resource to assist with technical issues inhibiting learners from participating. The aim of the study was to address this gap through means of an exploratory case study. The research included investigating, creating and assessing the usefulness of a resource to assist with technological issues impacting learners’ ability to participate. The learners were students undertaking a post graduate qualification at Hibernia College. Data was collected through observations and surveys from 46 students and tutors. This research concluded that audio is particularly important for both knowledge construction and learning but also in creating a social atmosphere. While the technical support resource provided a useful aid to learners in this study, further study will need to be conducted over a prolonged period to investigate the full extent of its usefulness. External factors do effect participation and poses a case for extending Moore’s Theory of Transactional Distance to include external factors similar to Fallon’s (2012) suggestion.
  • Surviving the avalanche: Improving retention in MOOCs

    Breakwell, Nicholas; Cassidy, Dara (2013)
    MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) bring together, for the first time, high quality "ivy league" providers, online education and a low-cost model. The evidence to date, however, strongly suggests that any reasonable measure of learner engagement in MOOCs is underwhelming. This paper describes a model of online content development and delivery, known as COACT, which aims to ensuring that higher-order learning and reflection is embedded within the learning process and that, as a result, learner engagement is enhanced. The paper reports on the development and delivery of Ireland's first MOOC, "Exploring Irish Identity" using the COACT framework and will explore whether MOOC content developed in this format can improve learner engagement and retention.
  • Can teachers be trained online?

    Breakwell, Nicholas; Quigley, U.; McManus, A. (2005)
    This paper describes the establishment and delivery of a Blended Learning Higher Diploma in Education, being a professional qualification for Primary School teachers in Ireland. This innovative course represents a major departure from the traditional mode of delivery of teaching training in Ireland. A careful analysis of student feedback and examination scores is therefore of crucial importance to inform further development of the course and to contribute to innovation in teacher training both in Ireland and internationally. The two primary modes of course delivery, that is an Entirely Online mode and a Blended Learning mode, were compared in terms of qualitative feedback from the students themselves and quantitative results from the formal assessment procedures. Across a range of questions that covered perceived workload, satisfaction with objectives and learning outcomes and perceived career benefit, the mode of delivery had no effect on student levels of satisfaction with the course. There was a small but significant grade improvement for Blended Learning courses over Entirely Online courses. However, alternative hypotheses make it difficult to attribute this grade increase to the mode of course delivery. The mode of delivery of course content does not affect student satisfaction or the ability of students to perform well in formal assessment. It is therefore concluded that a blended learning educational system that includes online education is a highly appropriate mode for the training of primary school teachers.
  • The Results: Using Swivl for Digital Observation in an Online or Blended Learning Environment

    Lenehan, John; Lynam, Aoife; McCoy, Selina (2019)
    This paper is a follow-up article on the examination of the use of digital video to enhance professional development for online and blended learning programs in higher education. Our first article published on IJIOE presented a case for using Swivl robot for digital observation. The article provides particular reference to initial teacher education (ITE) and pre-service teachers. The results of a pilot study are examined to evidence pre-service teachers use of Swivl to self-reflect during school placement (i.e., time spent teaching in a classroom as part of an assessment). The results from the study provide strong evidence that the digital video footage created by pre-service teachers in order to self-reflect was highly supportive in developing their self-reflective practice and provides an overview of the usefulness of the technology employed. A more detailed overview of the project methodology can be found in our first paper: “A case for using Swivl for Digital Observation in an Online or Blended Learning Environment”. The aim of this paper is to provide the findings of this pilot study, its effectiveness within a blended learning college, and provide recommendations for those wishing to use similar technology.
  • How to set up a basic student portal using WordPress

    Lenehan, John (2021)
    Hibernia College is a blended learning college that offers postgraduate teaching and nursing programmes in Ireland. Two years ago, the College undertook a review of its technology with a primary focus on what teaching and learning will look like in 5 to 10 years. An outcome of that process was the acceptance that we needed to improve the online experience for our students to keep pace with modern, big-budget web interfaces. We wanted to have more control over some of our websites and have less reliance on external development houses so that we could iterate our designs faster to keep up with the demanding needs of our students, faculty and staff. Internal teams at the College have no dedicated developers, but do have a beginner-to-intermediate-level knowledge of WordPress. We decided to migrate our student portal from Drupal to WordPress. This presentation is focused on beginners-to-intermediate-level users of WordPress. It is an informative session describing our journey, the theme we used and selection process, how we designed our screens, the plugins we used, our integration with O365 for SSO and how we managed our custom code to build a private College portal website.
  • Bridging the online support gap: developing academic referencing competences among remote-learner PME students

    O'Dowd, Irene; Byrne, Ann (2021)
    In Hibernia College, students are expected to take primary responsibility for maintaining academic integrity in their studies. However, lecturers and support staff have an important role to play in educating students about academic integrity and helping them develop the skills needed to practise it. This paper describes a project initiated by the Digital Learning Department (DLD) to improve the College’s online referencing supports, in response to the high volume of referencing queries being received daily by the Digital Librarian. Recent changes to the focus of capstone research projects on the PME programmes, combined with the move to fully online instruction during the Covid-19 pandemic, further highlighted the urgency of ensuring that these resources met students’ needs. The project consisted of a comprehensive update of the College’s core Referencing Guide and the delivery of a series of drop-in webinar workshops where referencing queries from students could be dealt with directly and specific problem areas addressed. The paper outlines the principles informing both the updating of the Referencing Guide and the structure of the online workshops. A preliminary analysis of library logs and student feedback survey data provides early indications of student engagement with and responses to these new supports.
  • Connect, Learn & Earn Does gamification promote increased engagement in interpersonal connectivity activities on an online orientation programme for postgraduate students?

    Gavan, Edel; McKay, Allison; O'Connell, Brid; O'Toole, Ciara (2018)
    Gamification in education is described as the use of “game, game-like activities or game elements” to enhance learning, motivate students and increase engagement (Brigham, 2015). In September 2018 Hibernia College introduced a gamification tool to the two-week online orientation for blended learning initial teacher education programmes in an effort to improve engagement and socialisation. The tool awarded experience (‘XP’) points to the student teachers for participating in activities that required interaction with peers. Its impact was evaluated using VLE log data and survey responses, the results of which indicated a marked increase in activity engagement and a positive response from student teachers.
  • Create the learning analytics policy you (and your students) need

    O'Dowd, Irene; Ní Bheoláin, Ruth (2020)
    This presentation summarises the frameworks and principles informing the process of developing a policy for learning analytics in the College, and highlights the importance of initiatives such as the National Forum’s ORLA and DESSI as well as engagement with the broader research community.
  • The quiz conundrum: sustaining student engagement with formative quizzes

    O'Dowd, Irene (2017)
    This presentation, delivered at Moodlemoot UK & Ireland 2017, summarises a study of VLE activity data to examine students’ engagement with online quizzes, with a focus on three areas: level of quiz engagement over time, patterns of quiz attempts and re-attempts, and the effect of gender on formative quiz engagement.
  • Comma chameleons: lessons learned from studying engagement with an online academic writing toolkit

    O'Dowd, Irene (2019)
    The Academic Writing Toolkit is an online resource that was developed to provide students with accessible and timely guidance on key aspects of academic writing in Hibernia College's blended-learning ITE programmes. Available to students and faculty via the College's Moodle VLE and designed for asynchronous delivery, the Toolkit provides guidance on 'technical' writing skills such as referencing, grammar, formatting and style as well as on specialised areas as reflective writing, assessment writing and dissertation writing. The design was informed by a 'bite-size' ethos to encourage continuous, formative and self-motivated use over time. However, patterns of student engagement with the first iteration suggested that, following an initial peak of activity, there was little evidence of students returning to the Toolkit for help on key topics at crucial points in their programmes. This paper will discuss how the Toolkit's content and positioning evolved in response to, firstly, findings from the initial engagement study and, secondly, increased awareness of the Toolkit's potential among College faculty. Findings from an inferential analysis of learning analytics data collected from activity logs for pre- and post-update iterations will be discussed. The results of the analysis, combined with survey feedback on students' use experience, will inform an evaluation of the impact, if any, of specific design and dissemination enhancements on Toolkit engagement. It is hoped that these findings will provide insights into ways in which instructional design and faculty support considerations can help promote quality engagement with resources of this type, particularly for distance learners.

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