MICRO Project prepares to test Open Training Courses for Rural Craft and Micro Entrepreneurs

MICRO Project LogoERASMUS+ Logo

The Department of Adult and Community Education at Maynooth University was represented in Malaga, Spain, on January 25th and 26th for the third meeting of MICRO (Enhancing Competitiveness of Microenterprises in Rural Areas). MICRO is a Project co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Commission, Key Action 2, Strategic Partnerships for Vocational and Educational Training. MICRO is implemented by 7 partners from 6 countries (Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Macedonia and Spain) over 2015-2017. The MICRO project is led by Irish Rural Link (See http://www.irishrurallink.ie/erasmus-project/micro-project-for-rural-micro-enterprises/)

MICRO seeks to enhance the growth and competitiveness of rural microenterprises by developing practical training resources and a dedicated Open Educational Resource (OER Platform). The platform will initially contain short focused online training on topics suggested from a consultation with microenterprises in rural areas in each of the 6 participating countries.

During the meeting, partners finalised the OER Platform and pilot the training courses to be tested and validated by rural microenterprises in each country. Partners also discussed dissemination initiatives that will bring awareness of the OER and the training courses to rural microenterprise entrepreneurs and those who work in support services for rural microenterprise entrepreneurs.

The Department of Adult and Community Education at Maynooth University is a leader in adult education research in Ireland and has an excellent international reputation for work in further education, higher education, adult guidance, community development and transformative learning. Participation in European and international research is part of the remit of the Department

For further information about MICRO project, contact: Michael Kenny michael.kenny@mu.ie or Siobhan O’Malley Siobhan.OMalley@mu.ie

Visit the Department’s website at https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/adult-and-community-education and the MICRO website: www.microsmetraining.eu

MICRO Project Partners in Malaga Spain

MICRO Malaga Picture


Teacher Shortage?? Letter to the IT Editor Jan 2018


Teacher Shortage Jan2018

12 January 2018


Dear Editor,

We write in response to Carl O’Brien’s article “Teacher Shortages risk damaging Education, School Managers say” published on the 8th January.  Quite correctly, O’Brien identifies a crisis within the Irish education system where “school management bodies and unions have warned in stark terms how acute staff shortages are impacting in different ways across the primary and secondary system“(Irish Times 8/01/18).  The impacts, we learn, are excessive free classes for students, teaching posts remaining unfilled, and, at times, teachers delivering subjects they themselves are unfamiliar with.  One school manager is quoted as noting “[t]he situation managers find themselves in is ‘anybody is better than nobody’. This does not serve students or parents and managers, who know that they have appointed unsuitable staff and end up dealing with legacy issues long after the appointment date.”  Solutions offered are familiar to those of us tuned into current teacher shortages namely enticements to attract retired teachers into practice, incentives for overseas teachers, and financial weighting for teachers working in Dublin.

There is however another solution that is much more accessible, and, we argue, a more appropriate fit. This is that the many graduates of Teaching Council of Ireland approved teacher qualifications in Further Education (FE) be allowed work in the post-primary school system.

Since 2012 eight Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) nationally have delivered Teaching Council approved Initial Teacher Education (ITE) courses to university graduated subject specialists graduating approximately 200 teachers a year. These students currently work in a range of FE settings from VTOS, PLC and youth-reach, to disability education, to prison education. Their experiential competence is highly respected and they teach with cutting edge methodologies. Yet they are de-barred from teaching at post-primary level.

Regulation 5 of the Teaching Council Act 2001 and the Teaching Council [Registration] Regulations 2009, states that those “… whose qualifications are not comprehended by regulations 2 (Primary), 3 (Montessori and other categories) or 4 (Post- Primary)” of the Act, can be registered by the Teaching Council as Further Education teachers. These teachers graduate from approved programmes as “…teachers of courses or programmes leading to FETAC (Further Education and Training Awards Council) awards (or equivalent recognised accreditation) on the National Framework of Qualifications in recognised schools” (Regulation 5.1.a.). However, these qualified teachers, for whom work is predominantly precarious (Immanent Maynooth University research, 2018), are not allowed to teach at Post- Primary level (See Regulation 5.1.b), despite the fact that those within Post- Primary schools are free to move between both realms; Post- Primary schools and Further Education (FE) colleges, without restriction.

In the case of Maynooth University, we have many fine educators amidst our alumni who not only hold a recognised teaching qualification in FE, but hold primary degrees (subject specialism) in subjects that include those O’Brien describes as “most pressing” such as Maths and European Languages, and Minister Bruton describes as “pinch points, such as science, Irish and other languages.”  Some of our graduates have also extended their credentials to include Masters and even PhD studies. Yet they are currently ineligible to work within the post-primary school system.

Surely this inequality of treatment for qualified teachers should not be tolerated, but cannot now be tolerated in the face of a “serious shortage” according to Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) the management body for over 200 secondary schools, and a “crisis” according to school managers and principals.

We are confident that, if school managers were to look towards this cohort of teachers, they would be rewarded with a wealth of experienced, reflective, and highly competent educators who would bring much sought after expertise to the school sector.


Dr. Camilla Fitzsimons, Michael Kenny and Angela McGinn, Course team for the Higher Diploma in Further Education, Department of Adult and Community Education, Maynooth University, Co. Kildare

Contact mobile and email: Michael Kenny 087 2549540 michael.kenny@mu.ie, Camilla Fitzsimons 085 7639949 Camilla.Fitzsimons@mu.ie

Word of Mouth at Optic Fibre Speed Gets Citizens Online

Fibre Optic cable

As the national effort to get every household in Ireland online by 2020 continues [“Minister for Communications Denis Naughten has claimed Ireland will be the first country in the world to bring broadband into every home” (See https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/ireland-will-be-first-in-world-to-bring-broadband-to-every-home-minister-1.3202180)] Irish Rural Link is reporting great achievements in its Getting Citizens Online initiative. Using the simplist technology ‘Word of mouth and community mobilisation’ Mary Keys of Irish Rural Link, and the team of ICT trainers, have brought the ‘IT Skills for Farmers’ free computer classes run for 5 weeks, one 2 hour class per week, to local venues all over Ireland.

According to the Getting Citizens Online webpage the main objective of Getting Citizens Online is to get more people online especially people who have never used the computer before. Getting Citizens Online focuses on particular target groups such as:

  • Age profile 45+
  • Farming communities
  • Small business owners (<10)
  • Unemployed persons
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Disadvantaged groups

To date, Irish Rural Link has delivered this type of Internet training to over 4,500 participants around the country for all different age groups particularly to most isolated areas including the islands. Delivering to the most disadvantaged is a challenge to which Getting Citizens Online has significantly risen. Those who deliver education to disadvantaged groups have much to learn from the IRL Getting Citizens Online experience.

Michael Kenny (michael.kenny@mu.ie)

Continuing to study ….

Learning after College

Progressive learning after college is both challenging and expensive. Peter Maguires’ article 26/09/2017 explores this:

Education once took a fairly linear route: primary, secondary, college and work. Those days are gone. Now, postgraduate education – also known as fourth-level – is increasingly common, while almost every job will require at least some ongoing professional development. And, whether it be out of interest, a desire to upskill or perhaps to change career direction, legions of graduates will return to education many times throughout their lives.

Read more at https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/finished-college-it-may-be-time-to-hit-the-books-1.3227805?mode=amp.

Michael Kenny (michael.kenny@mu.ie). Disseminate freely

Tips on securing a Job – FET Teaching Graduates

Tips on Jobs

Camilla Fitzsimons and I are conducting a brief survey on the success of graduates from the Higher Diploma in Further Education in getting work.  We are asking past graduates to tell us in confidence if they have work, if it is part-time and full-time, if it is in the area they desire/studied for, or it is in an alternative area because they have to work to earn a living.  Ultimately we want to know if the professional diploma is delivering professional employment for the people who invest their money and time in the course.

Peter Maguire presents an interesting article in the Graduate Options supplement of the Irish Times on Tuesday, September 26 titled “Top 12 tips to help you get the job offering you want”.  It is valuable to have this information.

Additionally a workshop on the employment of non-traditional learners as part of the EMPLOY Erasmus+ project  noted that the CV and interview preparation process provided by the careers development office of the university is appropriate for a traditional graduating students, but is not appropriate for a mature student who already has significant experience that needs to be acknowledged and presented in the best possible way in their CV.  The preparation of a CV for an experienced person requires time and a specialist knowledge that the a general careers office, though willing, cannot provide.

Michael Kenny (michael.kenny@mu.ie)

Further Education & Training (FET): What is IT?

FET P Maguire Article 2017

Peter Maguire presents a very good article in the Irish Times on Tuesday, September 26, 2017.  In this article he summarises “All you need to know about your options in the diverse further education and training sector”.  The article gives a valuable summary of the wide FET range addressing access programmes, apprenticeships, community education, further education, interest and night courses, massive online open courses, springboard courses, & workplace learning.  He also summarises grants and supports under the sub-headings BTEA & BTEI, childcare, disability, and maintenance grants.

You will find the article online at https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/navigating-the-world-of-adult-further-education-and-training-1.3227747

Michael Kenny (michael.kenny@mu.ie) Please disseminate freely.

DIMA Pilot Blended Online Learning Training Course Workshop, Maynooth University in Ireland

The Department of Adult & Community Education at Maynooth University in Ireland is one of six partners in the DIMA project, developing e-learning material and a toolkit for adult learning policy makers.

Four hundred Irish adult learning and policy making practioners were invited to participate in the DIMA pilot blended online learning training course during May 2017. Almost one in four responded positively and thirty-nine (39) actually participated and provided feedback by the 30th June 2017. The 39 participants comprised adult learning practitioners, Education and Training Board (ETB) policy makers, educational technologists and Higher Education (HEI) academics.

Given the time of year (end of academic year), geographic spread and workload the high level of interest in this pilot training was evident. A user- led process was designed to facilitate their participation with the technical support of CARDET, Cyprus.

Feedback was collected through face-to-face (14 participants) and online (9 participants) workshops on Tuesday 20th and Tuesday 27th June 2017.  Feedback details are available in the National Implementation Report, Ireland, or from the DIMA website.

Photo: Dima Pilot course participants receive certificates of completion on Tuesday 20th June 2017

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Maynooth Education Forum – Recognising the 12%: Ethnic Minorities’ Trajectories through the Education System

MU Ed Forum

Maynooth Education Forum – 16 June 2016. Recognising the 12%; Ethnic Minorities’ Trajectories through the Education System

Now in its fifth year, the Maynooth Education Forum is an open space where an invited group of education policymakers and stakeholders come together to exchange ideas and reflect on key issues in education. The 2017 Education Forum is recognising the 12% of migrants in the Irish Education system and we would be honoured if you were to attend and add your voice to the discussion.

This year’s Forum seeks to promote progressive change by:

  • Exploring how migrants are faring in the Irish education system and seeking to understand their lived experience
  • Sharing best practice from other countries
  • Understanding how teachers and the education system can adapt to cater for migrants and identify supports required for teachers

Keynote details are below, and you can register your attendance here.

Keynote speakers:

Dr Zelia Gregoriou, University of Cyprus, is a philosopher of education. Her research has explored the need to rethink intercultural education with regards to curriculum and pedagogy, policy frames, and research methodology.

Prof Irena Kogan, University of Mannheim, is project director of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries, focusing on the intergenerational integration of the children of immigrants in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Prof Frances McGinnity, ESRI, with colleagues has conducted a large study of migrant children in Irish schools. She is currently collaborating with EU colleagues on a project examining early socio-cultural integration patterns of migrants

Dr Victoria Showunmi is Senior Lecturer in the Maynooth University Department of Education. Her research focuses on Gender and Educational leadership and Black young women and their wellbeing through an intersectional lens.

Register to attend: here (Please circulate to potentially interested parties)

Further information: www.maynoothuniversity.ie/MaynoothEducationForum


See Blogpost on Matters FET at https://fetireland.wordpress.com/

: European Life Long Learning Project. The DIMA project A practical toolkit for monitoring Adult Education strategies, policies and practices.

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Michael Kenny, Lecturer, Department of Adult & Community Education, Maynooth University (Ollscoil na hÉireann Má Nuad) Click here

INVITE become a member of the DIMA project e-Learning Expert Review Group


Last week I started inviting a number of adult educators to become a member of the DIMA project e-Learning Expert Review Group. The DIMA project (http://dima-project.eu/en/) “A Toolkit for Developing, Implementing and Monitoring Adult Education Strategies” is a two year project, 2015-2017, involving 6 partners/5 countries, (See http://dima-project.eu/index.php/en/partners), to investigate and design a toolkit to support policy makers in the field of adult/further education.

The toolkit is underpinned by a 10 hour online learning course comprising 9 modules. The project partners are currently testing the appropriateness of the course. To do this the project partners are seeking an expert review group who will, between now and the end of June;

  1. Review the online course
  2. Complete a feedback form
  3. Meet in sub-groups (F2F or virtual), to offer more detailed feedback on the online course/toolkit, advise on content, and explore additional support to Adult Education policymaking.

If this might interest you the project partners invite you to be a member of the DIMA Online e-Learning Expert Review Group. Members will have first access to an online toolkit and course for adult/further education policy makers, and, get an insight into a simple online content delivery method.

If you are interested in participating, please let me know by blog feedback or email to michael.kenny@nuim.ie. I will send you course access and details. If you cannot participate, perhaps, you may suggest a person(s) of equal expertise whom I should invite.FET_profile_pic

I will keep you up to date with progress. Thanking you,

Michael Kenny, Lecturer, Department of Adult & Community Education, Maynooth University (Ollscoil na hÉireann Má Nuad) Click here

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