You know you are doing something right…

… when people are reluctant to leave their conversations to take a coffee break! And this was very much the case at the recent ITELab Universities – Industry workshop in Brussels, 6-9 June, where we deliberated on our progress to date in relation to the project and – more importantly – our plans for the next stages of the work.

UCD is a core partner in the ITELab Knowledge Alliance Project  funded under ERASMUS+ Programme. ITELab is unique in its combination of university and industry interests with a central focus on innovative and engaging programming on technology usage in relation to initial teacher education. We were well-represented at the event with two PME Yr 1 students travelling who participated in pilot module development activities – Aoife Carew and Seamus O’ Sullivan – along with two members of the UCD ITELab Team – Elena Revyakina and Dr Conor Galvin (Local Project Lead). 

 

Dr Conor Galvin

During a series of workshops over the two days, a group of student-teachers who have piloted the beta versions of our MOOC The networked teacher–teaching in the 21st century and our test-module on Teaching, Learning, & Professional Development in a Digital World shared their experiences with us as core project partners drawn from a range of industry and university settings and interests.

Their observations and insights were invaluable and ranged from the simple & practical – more suggestions and advice on immediate use of the technologies in day-to-day teaching settings – to the  deeply philosophical – how best to learn and share professionally in an ever-changing world.

A total group of approx. 15 young teachers from Ireland, Italy, Norway, and the UK, participated in the workshop which was hosted by European Schoolnet at the wonderful EUN FCL facility in Brussels. Industry partners from IRIS Connect, Microsoft, Smart Technologies, and Steelcase also participated in all aspects of the workshop, leading some sessions and joining others led by the university faculty, EUN colleagues or the student teachers themselves. The resulting conversations were little short of inspirational at times.

The main outcomes of the event include a thorough evaluation of the pilot phase and products and the start of a process of building the lessons-learnt into the next iterations of the ITELab programme – the full pilots of both ITELab MOOC and ITELab modules that will take place in the coming spring.  The MOOC will be streamlined to include more pathways for both school-based and institute-based activities and the modules will include a number of additions providing shorter, more experience-focussed activities relating to Designing for Learning and Working with Learners. Resulting from the workshops, the ITELab industry partners have now developed an on-line ‘share-space’ to facilitate their joint activities and share content and expertise with university partners. This should greatly assist in the process.

We look forward to contributing to the building and shaping of these novel and innovative materials as part of our work here at UCD on ITELab over the rest of the project.

Of course, it wasn’t all work when ITELab came to town! Aoife and Seamus took part in a very enjoyable ‘scavenger’ hunt organised by EUN colleagues and also took in the sights of Brussels Grand’ Place and the city more generally by night. The rumour is that a very considerable amount of chocolate made its way back to UCD (!)  – as well as memories of work well-done and the start of friendships that we hope will last.

Looking back on the trip, Seámus observed:  “ For my own part, I believe I have had the opportunity through this experience to understand many things in a new light. I have seen how a module is developed; having given my insight and heard others. I have a greater understanding of the considerate approach taken in the development of such modules on all levels – coordinating between those in university, industry, and policy making. I also learned many new things about pedagogical technologies of which I was either completely unaware or only partially aware before; learning not only what they are but how I can use them purposefully. However, I mostly gained a sense of community: I was given the opportunity to interact with peers across Europe and to build relationships with likeminded individuals; to consider how my future as an educator can be enhanced through building relationships – in both virtual and personal meetings – with other teachers, educators, and industry partners globally.”

Aoife noted a similar sense of benefit and enjoyment:  “As a year one UCD PME student, attending the ITELAB workshops in Brussels was an experience like no other!  I’m an avid lover of all things technological, educational and international, this opportunity to collaborate with student teachers from various international learning institutions was a truly eye opening experience. Reflecting back on the entire event, while it passed at an incredibly fast pace, it was completely invaluable as my own development as a teacher. My networking, technological and pedagogical skills have improved immensely! I look forward to being involved in the ITELAB modules here at UCD in Year 2 of the PME programme as I believe it will build further on my skills and help me to become the best teacher I possibly can be.”

 

Dr. Conor Galvin