The Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning (EDTL) project, led by the Irish Universities Association (IUA), aims to enhance the digital learning experience of Irish university students by addressing the digital skills of all who teach in Irish universities. The project team, comprising a project manager based in the IUA and project leads based in each of the seven universities, began its work in January 2019 to develop a suite of approaches to support academic staff development activities in each university.
In March 2020, all higher education teaching, learning and assessment moved online, in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Most of the project team members were pulled into frontline learning technology support to ensure the continuity of teaching, learning and assessment, now known as emergency remote teaching (Hodges, Moore, Lockee, Trust, & Bond, 2020).
While the Covid-19 virus accelerated the use of digital tools to support teaching and learning, this largely happened in the context of continuity of teaching and without pedagogical considerations, and the student digital learning experience was not enhanced.
With the clear need to move to a more blended provision for September 2020, the project steering group recognised the need to ensure that teaching in the next academic year could be better than just trying to replicate existing teaching approaches in an online environment. The project rapidly re-focused its activities to develop shared resources, based on the existing project work, with a focus on pedagogy.
The EDTL project team’s collective response to the pivot was the ‘EDTL Approach for effective remote teaching’ (Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning, 2020). This pedagogy-first approach, which places the student at the centre, outlines key considerations for those who are adapting a module that is normally taught, wholly or partly, face-to-face, for effective remote delivery.
In the post Covid-19 environment, we hope that the resources developed by the EDTL team will allow us to reflect on and learn from the experience and consider better ways of mainstreaming digital technologies in teaching and learning.