Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (Driving Enhancement through Capacity Building in Irish Higher Education) Call for Proposals Phase 3 2016

The objectives and priorities of the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund reflect and support the enhancement and transformation agenda that is being pursued at both a National and a European level.  This fund continues to be used strategically to optimise the synergies and scope that can be enabled by strong sectoral collaboration, or through partnerships with other education providers or external stakeholders and through institutional enhancement, for maximum national impact. This is the 3rd phase of the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund the call maintains a focus on collaboration for national impact while also enabling capacity building at a local level.  The fund builds on and develops the completed and ongoing work from phases 1 and 2.

Specifically this call for proposals aims to support recent national developments in the higher education sector. As with phase 1 and phase 2 this call supports the further advancement of the recommendations of the report Teaching and Learning in Irish Higher Education: A Roadmap for enhancement in a digital world 2015-2017 – which brings together the findings and priorities from the sectoral consultation, research and scoping process for building digital capacity undertaken by the National Forum. A fundamental recommendation arising from the digital roadmap was the need for strong, student focused, professional development for teachers and leaders not just in the realm of digital skills but also in the wider pedagogical processes, practices and provision that make for a highly competent cadre of staff across all disciplines and at all levels in higher education. Building on that recommendation this call also provides strategic support for sectoral alignment of existing professional development provision with the newly developed professional development framework for those who teach in higher education. Click here to view the consultation document (March 2016). This framework is strongly evidence-based, reflects the contextual needs and drivers for professional development in the Irish setting and has also emerged as a result of wide and intense consultation and input throughout the entire higher education sector.

The aim of this phase of the fund is to continue to enhance teaching and learning by building on the outcomes of previous funded phases and by further driving enhancement capacity in higher education institutions.  This call issues in relation to proposals type 01-03 below.

Information Webinar

An information webinar on this call will be hosted by the National Forum in early September 2016 (Date TBC).

Context for the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund

The National Forum provides a key system-level infrastructure for the enhancement of teaching and learning in Irish higher education, and for the implementation of the recommendations of the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 in this area. The National Forum aims to support institutions to enhance the learning experience of all students in Irish higher education.

Driving enhancement through capacity building is a core element of the National Forum’s work and requires the integration of strategic elements, namely:

  • Professional development;
  • Building Digital Capacity
  • Identifying, endorsing and awarding excellent teaching;
  • Scholarship in teaching and learning;
  • Partnership and collaboration with key networks and other stakeholders.

A series of cross-sectoral consultations has taken place to inform both the work of the National Forum and in particular the roadmap for building digital capacity in Irish higher education[1] and the emerging professional development framework for those who teach in Irish higher education[2] In the extended roadmap report, a strong vision for building digital capacity is articulated, which includes the four key recommendations.  Some of the  recommendations and associated priorities are already being progressed by project teams funded through the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund phase1 (2014) and phase 2 (2015).

Areas already being progressed include for example a review of infrastructure across the sector, the development of national digital skills requirements within a national professional development framework. Full details of all proposals funded under the 2014 and 2015 fund can be viewed at http://www.teachingandlearning.ie/digital-enhancement-funding/.  New proposals under phase 3 need to be cognisant of the projects and activities underway that have been funded in earlier phases to ensure coherence and avoid duplication of effort.

A major focus of this phase of enhancement recognises that outstanding, impactful teaching across all disciplines depends on the professional competence and development of teachers.  This call is situated within the wider teaching and learning enhancement context. In particular addressing the need to build capacity of our teachers through professional development.  In addition the call for Phase 3 of the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund 2016 continues to be guided by the digital roadmap.  In this instance the focus is on a number of the identified priorities in both Recommendation 1 and Recommendation 3 and forming a major strategic foundation for this next phase of investment.

Recommendation 1: Prioritise the strategic development of digital capacity in institutional and national policy and quality frameworks in a way that supports innovation for impact

Recommendation 3: Develop a consistent, seamless and coherent digital experience for students in Irish higher education and actively engage with students and teachers to develop their digital skills and knowledge.

After extensive consultation with the higher education sector. A new national framework for professional development of those who teach in higher education has been drafted. This approach brings coherence through synthesis to the range of accredited and non-accredited provision already in the sector. It attempts to describe the breadth of teaching, learning and scholarship activities in a modern higher education environment. Based on the consultation, it sets out the values, domains and learning phases that are considered to represent the essence of these activities overtime.  The consultation also highlighted the need for a supported implementation phase of the professional development framework to enable institutions to align the new framework within their own context.

This call provides opportunities for institutions and their academic units to align and embed the new framework within their institutions.  In addition, it specifically focuses building the capacity of middle and/or senior managers as leaders of teaching and learning enhancement and as digital champions.

In order to meet the diverse needs of the higher education sector, the 2016 call incorporates a variety of proposal types to address national, regional or local issues. Additionality for impact remains an important component in the evaluation of all proposals submitted in response to this call.

[1] Teaching and Learning in Higher Education; A roadmap for enhancement in a digital world 2015-2017.

[2] National Guidance for the Professional Development of Staff who Teach in Higher Education PLEASE NOTE the National Framework  for professional development for the first phase of implementation will be published in the first week of September 2016