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DkIT Lecturer Contributes to UNESCO Prize

06 July 2023

Dr. Ronan Bree contributed to a National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education which recently received a prestigious International UNESCO Prize.


This Forum was recently announced as a Laureate of the revered UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of ICT in Education. The prestigious award recognises the National Forum’s initiative, ‘Supporting Open Education: Ireland’s Model for Supporting the Use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) for Teaching and Learning’, implemented via its National Resource Hub and Open Courses for those who teach.

In 2020, DkIT’s Dr. Ronan Bree of the Life and Health Sciences Department joined the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education on full-time secondment. During his time with the Forum, Ronan was fortunate to work across a suite of national initiatives, one of which was in the space of digital and open education. Here, and working with certain members of the Forum team (Dr. Terry Maguire, Dr. Catherine Cronin and Colin Lowry), the primary focus of his secondment centred around the design and development of the National Resource Hub, a platform to support the use of, and engagement with, open educational resources (OER) for teaching and learning across the sector. 

Dr Ronan Bree noted,

“The National Resource Hub was designed and developed following extensive consultation across the sector, engaging with students and colleagues at all levels to ensure both a user-friendly, considered, and functionality-focused, platform. We ensured the design of the hub offers opportunities for anyone to submit and access open educational resources (OER) for teaching and learning - in any form, and in any media format. In fact, there is even scope to submit multiple media formats, for example text transcript files for videos etc., to improve accessibility. Submitted resources become immediately searchable and browsable, meaning users can identify OER relevant to their needs, or respective field of work, quite quickly. With the National Resource Hub now established and promoted across the sector, everyone can easily identify OER which, depending on the type of open licence applied, can be re-used, adapted, remixed, and so on, for their own context. The platform provides a meaningful way for all members of the sector to engage with OER and open educational practice (OEP) while continuing to create and access high quality resources - and ultimately to support each other across multiple levels.”

Ronan added

“To pause and reflect that a platform developed by the National Forum to support the Irish Higher Education has been acknowledged on a global level by UNESCO is an incredible feat for the Irish HE sector. Many congratulations to everyone associated with the National Resource Hub.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD, expressing his congratulations, emphasised the initiative’s alignment of the National Resource Hub with Ireland’s broader higher education strategy.

“Digital technology and innovation is a key enabler to deliver transformative education. The National Resource Hub is a pioneering platform, democratising access to educational resources, enhancing teaching quality, and facilitating lifelong learning. It is an integral part of our ambitious vision for a more innovative, inclusive, and sustainable higher education system and supports our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Dr Alan Wall, CEO of the HEA, highlighted the initiative’s alignment with education for sustainable development objectives in Ireland.

“This initiative, recognised by the prestigious UNESCO ICT in Education Prize, underlines Ireland’s dedication to these principles. It’s not just about fostering critical thinking and empowerment; it’s about creating active contributors to a more sustainable and inclusive future. The National Resource Hub does this by ensuring equitable, open access to quality education resources, not only in Ireland, but across the globe. The internationalisation of higher education is a key pillar of the HEA’s strategy, and the National Forum’s initiative contributes significantly to this aim. The recognition from UNESCO validates our efforts towards internationalising Irish higher education. It not only enhances our global standing but also encourages international collaboration in open education.”

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