The Annual Galway Symposium in Higher Education Date, June 19th, 2015
Venue: Áras Moyola, NUI Galway Twitter: #CELT15
Keynotes: Sian Bayne, University of Edinburgh and Doug Belshaw, Dynamic Skillset UK.


Conference Overview

In this year’s  Galway Symposium on Higher Education we explored the domain of virtual learning. We heard about the the media frenzy over MOOCs and tales of avalanches, tsunamis and disruption. We also heard how universities and other organisations have been running successful online learning programmes, providing flexible and stimulating educational experiences to students across the world.

Our first keynote speaker, Dr Sian Bayne, University of Edinburgh described her experience with ’teacher automation’ and  the ’teacherbot’ which was developed at the University of Edinburgh. The ’teacherbot’, an automated answering tool which answers individuals'  frequently asked questions, was designed as a critical experiment within a MOOC and was used as an experiment across the torn landscape of pedagogic automation.

A discussion was then held on Open Practices in Learning and Teaching.  Dr. Sharon Flynn and Catherine Cronin (NUI Galway) guided us through different examples and practices used in open education. They demonstrated the use of the Kahoot polling tool to gather real time data from the audience on open resources.

The second keynote speaker, Dr. Doug Belshaw discussed his work on Open Badges which he began during his time working with Mozilla. Doug gave practical examples of ways digital skills can be scaffolded through badge-based learning pathways. He showed how easily it is for any organisation to implement digital badges. He explained how each badge could be associated with meta data which gives a true meaning to the skills associated with the badge that the user achieved.  Following on from this, Dr Iain MacLaren, NUI Galway discussed the All Aboard ( project which is in the process of developing a national framework of digital skills. Iain launched the first version of this framework, displayed visually by a Metro Map - Digital Skills‌ comprising of tracks and stations representing key digital competencies /skills.  He also invited feedback and participation from the audience and will be used to drive the next phase of the project.

We also heard from two speakers who work in the area of producing online educational products. Our first speaker was  Mark Campbell, from Pocket Anatomy, a local based company in Galway. Mark  demonstrated an interactive educational multimedia designed human body which is used extensively in the study of medicine. Mark works collaboratively with a US firm and students from the school of medicine in NUI Galway.   Our second speaker was Victoria Pavry from Epigeum, a UK based company which designs online courses.  Epigeum works closely with higher education institutions to develop online courses in the areas of teaching, research, studying and leadership. This Epiguem course material is currently being used in NUI Galway on the Postgraduate Diploma in Academic practice.

In the afternoon we had three parallel sessions: 

  • Parallel session one, was a hands on workshop on Wikimedia editing, ’ Editathon’.  A discussion was held debating if Wikipedia was a useful tool in education or,  are students ashamed to be using such a tool?
  • Parallel session two took us through the in and outs of developing and running online and blended courses.
  • In the third parallel session we learned about an array of tools and resources useful for online learning.

Conference Photos

Conference Recordings

Open Badges, Digital Literacies, Learning Pathways 
Doug Belshaw, (Dynamic Skillset), UK 


Badges and Frameworks: What's the Craic ?  
Iain MacLaren, CELT, NUI Galway  


Open Practices in Learning and Teaching  
Catherine Cronin, CELT, NUI Galway