Digital Learning in Irish Higher Education: Integrating Strategic and Leadership Perspectives into a Roadmap for Digital Capacity

Jim Devine
Devine Policy, Projects, Innovation, Ireland

Terry Maguire
National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Ireland


Digital learning finds its way, as if by stealth, into the mainstream of higher education. Aseducators, however, we are aware of a persistence of traditional teaching and assessmentpractices. Taking innovative and potentially transformative pedagogical practices to scale is awell known but poorly addressed challenge. Innovation in digital learning spins out furtherinnovation as devices, learning platforms, digital tools and resources proliferate and areselectively adopted or promoted by a cadre of enthusiastic, curious and committed academicpractitioners, well versed in technology enhanced learning. Bottom up approaches to digitallearning, however, often give rise to an unsustainable multiplicity of practices acrossdisciplines and faculties, usually layered on top of existing practices rather than replacingthem. On the other hand, top down institutional initiatives, intended for mainstreamadoption, are often seen by pedagogical innovators as driving conservative or constrainingdecisions about technologies, platforms and learning spaces. Addressing this bottom-up, topdown dilemma is today’s key challenge for innovation and modernisation of higher education.This paper looks at one facet of this challenge, and how the perceptions of those in academicleadership roles are informing discourse and strategy development for digital learning in Irishhigher education.

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