Specific and targeted digital skills support was required by both staff and students from March 2020 onwards to enable them to survive and thrive during the Covid-19 pandemic when all teaching, learning and assessment activities moved online. Funding was provided through the ALF Working Group Academic Planning & Delivery for 20/21 and supported that group's workstreams 1 and 5 specifically.
Activities undertaken as part of the eLearn Project built upon the foundations laid by previous successful projects such as the LinkedIn Learning pilot, the IMPACT project, the Le Chéile initiative, and The First Year Checklist for Student Success.
The eLearn Project objective was:
Create high quality online learning experiences, and a sense of belonging, for all TU Dublin students through the provision of structured digital skills training for students, and professional development opportunities for staff.
The project consisted of four main elements. Please click on each link below to expand the section and read about the work undertaken.
Postgraduate students were employed on an occasional part-time basis to work with TU Dublin lecturing staff, supporting them in their use of the VLEs Brightspace and Moodle. The support schedule included one-to-one online support by appointment and the facilitation of scheduled open online drop-in Q&A sessions.
In September 2020, the VLE Tutor Scheme was extended from City Campuses to our campuses in Tallaght and Blanchardstown.
|Dates||Number of Tutors||Campus Location|
|Sept 2019 to June 2020||2||City Campuses only supporting Brightspace|
|Sept 2020 To Dec 2020||6||4 City Campuses; 1 Tallaght; I Blanchardstown|
|Jan 2021 to June 2021||7||5 City Campuses; 1 Tallaght; I Blanchardstown|
|Sept 2021 to Dec 2021||4||2 City Campuses; 1 Tallaght; I Blanchardstown|
|Jan 2022 to June 2022||3||1 City Campuses; 1 Tallaght; I Blanchardstown|
To give an idea of the volume of support provided by the VLE Tutors, set out below are the scheduled sessions run in three of our five campuses. Two x 1.5hr sessions were run every day when our university was 100% online. This volume of sessions was reduced to 1 session a day x 4 days we week since September 2021.
|Dates||Number of Drop-in sessions|
|Jan 2020 - June 2020||86|
|Sept 2020 - Dec 2020||94|
|Jan 2021 - April 2021||127|
|April 2021 - June 2021||103|
|Sept 2021 - Dec 2021||60|
|Total hours over this timeframe||>700 hours of one-to-one support|
Two eLearning Support Officers started in Jan 2021 for 18 months and they acted as tier 1 staff support for Brightspace. All queries were channelled through an online form. In 13 months they had closed 1,800+ support queries. That figure does not include queries emailed directly to them, or follow-ups by email & MS Teams calls.
They also recreated and relocated all Brightspace guides in the move from Google to Microsoft and maintained those on an ongoing basis; managed VLE Tutors’ schedules and pay claims; handled all LTA training and events bookings; issued all Brightspace related communications and weekly update emails; and managed the Brightspace monthly releases preparation process.
The work undertaken by these eLearning Support Officers provided the additional vital support needed by lecturers as they continued to teach online.
As part of the eLearn project, two Digital Skills Coaches were employed in Jan 2021 for 18 months to work with lecturers and students across all five campuses. Over this timeframe they guided lecturers and students in developing their digital capabilities so that they could become innovative and self-empowered users of modern technology enhanced learning tools such as Screencast-O-Matic, Vevox, LinkedIn Learning, and the VLEs Brightspace and Moodle, and more. They provided support through interactive workshops, webinars, consultancy and personal guidance. They were also heavily involved in related Communities of Practice, and the digital skills strand of the second National Forum and HEA funded Strategic Alignment of Teaching and Learning Enhancement (SATLE) project.
For more information on how to get a Vevox and Screencastomatic licenses, avail of all LinkedIn Learning has to offer you and your students, and other tips, hints and resources, access the Digital Skills for Teaching and Learning website:
Over the spring and summer period of 2020, Learning, Teaching and Assessment staff designed the TU Dublin VLE Baseline Checklist followed quickly by the VLE Baseline Plus. The purpose of these checklists is to provide non-prescriptive, VLE-agnostic, clear, actionable guidance for ensuring quality and consistency in online provision across the University. The checklists contain sets of good practice recommendations for the design and delivery of a quality, student-centred online learning experience against which staff may benchmark their module design and teaching approaches within the VLE, and practical recommendations to guide the further development of modules in our VLEs in ways that encourage student engagement and enhance the learning experience.
The checklists can be accessed here:
An article was written about the development of the VLE Baseline Checklist, From Pivot to Foothold: Facilitating an Institutional Approach to Online Teaching and Learning at Ireland’s First Technological University and that can be accessed here (Theme C, chapter 5).
Full reference: Boylan, F., Dodd, D., Harvey, J., and Schalk A (2021) “From Pivot to Foothold: Facilitating an Institutional Approach to Online Teaching and Learning at Ireland’s First Technological University” in Keane, M., McAvinia, C. and O’Sullivan, Í. (eds) (2021) Emerging Issues IV: Changing Times, Changing Context. Educational Developers in Ireland Network (EDIN): https://www.edin.ie/?page_id=421