Dublin City University (DCU) is launching a new online learning program called DCU Connected. On its website, DCU explains that the suite of programs will include undergraduate and graduate level courses, as well as flexible short course options and trans-national initiatives in countries where DCU has already established partnerships.
At the launch today, President of Dublin City University Professor Brian MacCraith said, “Today’s announcement is much more than a brand launch – rather it is a public commitment by DCU to embrace the best of digital technologies to enhance the learning experience of students, both nationally and globally. Whether you live in Sligo, Seville or Shanghai, DCU Connected provides access to world-class online education, with international expertise and locally-relevant courses designed to meet your needs.”
DCU Connected “…perfectly describes our off-campus, flexible study options and courses available either directly from DCU or in partnership with one of our strategic global partners, such as Arizona State University.”
The partnerships around the world are what make the difference in the DCU Connected experience, since they broaden the range of the study options to which students will have access. Part of DCU’s mission to develop world class educational solutions for addressing local problems.
One roadblock has been placed in DCU’s road to digital learning. The current funding model for higher education does not offer a subsidy for “flexible” learners, says Joe Humphreys of The Irish Times. Mark Brown, director of the National Institute for Digital Learning, which is based at DCU, said that employers do not want to lose employees to full-time education, and yet there seems to be a need for constant skill-training in the workplace. Those employees who were studying part-time were paying taxes, so how could it be said that they needed to be on-campus to get a proper education? Brown stated…
“The long term prosperity of Ireland depends on investing in a much more flexible higher education system.”
He also suggested that the group of experts that was set up by the former minister of education Ruairí Quinn would “grapple with the issue”.
DCU has approximately 6,000 students; 1,800 postgraduate students; 600 research postgraduates, and 45,000 alumni. In the DCU catalog, there is an explanation of its Open Education program, which is part of the National Institute for Digital Learning. It is in place to enable student to achieve their educational goals without having to attend traditional campus-based classes. Open Education plays a large part for students who are in the DCU Connected course. Basically, it allows students to build up credits towards a degree with a workload that caters to the student’s available time and builds credits toward a degree over time.
The catalog also includes an announcement that the college will be partnering with four other institutions of higher education in a process they are calling The Incorporation, making will “create the largest critical mass of education expertise on the island”.
It is an Irishman who is leading the charge toward private online education. In the city of Galway can be found Mike Feerick, the founder and chief executive of ALISON (Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online).
Sean Gallagher, writing for Independent, says that ALISON is the world’s largest provider of free online learning and certification, teaching workplace skills and basic education. Some important facts about ALISON are:
• It offers 600 different courses.
• There are 3.5 million users.
• The organization has 100,000 Irish learners.
• Alison has 350,000 graduates worldwide.
• It offers workplace skill training.
• All courses are free, with sales coming from advertising and premium services.