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Mary Immaculate College Awarded Funding to Lead Significant Teacher Enhancement Project

Mary Immaculate College was delighted to recently learn that all three of their proposed teacher enhancement projects were successful in securing funding from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning with their lead project Research Expertise Exchange (REX) being awarded over €196,000.

REX, which is being led by Prof. Teresa O’Doherty, Dean of Education, MIC, is the brainchild of Dr Marek McGann and Marie Ryan, MIC. Working with colleagues in the University of Limerick and NUIG the project will see the three institutions involved coming together to build a digital bridge between academic and professional practice through the creation of a web-based portal to nurture the digital skills for research and to meet a real world demand for expertise.

According to Prof. O’Doherty the profession of teaching in Ireland has recently seen substantial developments in policy and practices resulting in teachers being asked to act as research-practitioners, without a strong history of research within the profession. In tandem, newly developed Initial Teacher Education (ITE) courses are attempting to foster research-practitioner skills with limited access to school-based research contexts. “This collaborative partnership model for educational research will enable communication in a fluid and dynamic way between teacher-researchers, student- researchers and university- researchers” she said.

There will be three facets to the REX portal; Communication: a means for student teachers, established HE researchers, and practising professionals to find one another and link research needs with capability; Skills Development: the portal will develop and curate Open Educational Resources suitable for novice, competent and expert researchers; and Pedagogic Resource: the portal will be embedded within Research Methods and Dissertation modules across the three institutions on B.Ed. and PME Programmes and will be used as a means of ‘live project’ assessment.

Commenting on the successful bid the International Review Panel said that they “were unanimous in support of this well thought through and presented project. It is an excellent opportunity for an enabling technology to significantly improve pedagogy.”

“This project could have significant impact on the profession and as ITE becomes more school based, the imperative to develop a research focused profession is clear and if we are to consistently improve educational outcomes in schools. The project has potential to become the template for other professional fields.”

Prof. Michael A Hayes, President of MIC, congratulated the REX project team on their successful bid saying “I warmly congratulate Prof. O’Doherty as team leader, and all the REX Project team on this innovative and timely project. In particular I would like to commend Dr Marek McGann and Marie Ryan whose initial idea this project was.”

“The landscape in initial teacher education has changed dramatically in the last decade.  The use of a digital infrastructure such as REX will ensure interaction and collaboration amongst future teachers transforming their development as research professionals while simultaneously linking them to the evolving National Framework for Digital Skills in Irish Higher Education”.

 The REX Project Team consists of Prof. Teresa O’Doherty, Dean of Education, Dr Marek McGann, Lecturer in Psychology, Marie Ryan, BEd Ed & Psychology Programme Leader; Des Carswell, Coordinator of the Masters of Education; Dr John O’Shea, BEd Programme Leader, and Dr Aisling Leavy, PME Programme Leader, all from MIC; Prof. Paul Conway, Professor of Education; Dr Oliver McGarr, Head of Education and Professional Studies; Dr Jennifer McMahon, Lecturer in Educational Psychology, all from UL; Dr Mary Fleming, Head of the School of Education, and Dr Anthony Hall, Lecturer in Education, both from NUIG. Additional information on the project may be viewed here.

The two other projects involving MIC awarded funding under National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning: Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund Phase 2 – 2015 were; Take one step - TEL Week in the Shannon Consortium which will see the Shannon Consortium partners launch a sector-wide initiative to stimulate staff and students to “Take One Step” in engaging with digital literacy and the Enhancing Digital Literacies for Language Learning and Teaching project which aims to develop a digital platform and interactive resource centre for languages which can be used as a significant part of student support mechanisms, and also as an online learning tool for a number of different purposes.

The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education was established in November 2012 by the Minister for Education and Skills in order to enhance the quality of the learning experience for all students at third level, be they full-time, part-time or flexible learners. The Forum calls together all of those involved in shaping third-level teaching and learning in Ireland in order to support and develop excellent practices in teaching and learning by engaging with leaders, managers and teachers across all institutes of education at third level in Ireland. In doing so, the National Forum mobilises expertise and inputs from across the entire sector to shape best practice in the institutes of education.

Back Row: L-R: Des Carswell, Lecturer in Early Childhood Care and Education, Coordinator of the Masters of Education Programme; Dr. Marek McGann, Lecturer in Psychology; Dr. John O’Shea, Senior Lecturer in Education (BEd Course Leader); Dr. Deirdre Ryan, Educational Developer and David Moloney, Co-ordinator of Blended Learning.
Front Row: Marie Ryan, BEd Ed & Psychology Programme Leader; Prof. Teresa O’Doherty, Dean of Education and Dr. Anne O’Keeffe, Director of Teaching and Learning, MIC.

 


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