Celbridge Community Health Training celebration and certificate presentation

It was very exciting to be part of the Celbridge Community Health Training celebration and certificate presentation evening in the Mill Community Centre, Celbridge village on April 17.  Any teacher educator could not-but-be-proud of the excellent work of Tracy and Bernice, graduates of the Higher Diploma in Further Education at Maynooth University, directors and teachers of the QQI level 5 Certificate in healthcare services at Celbridge Community Health Training.

The certificate presentation was to recognise the achievements of the graduates of this academic years’ course.  Candidates for graduation and their families were so excited, if a little nervous, at the prospects of being awarded their certificates by Eileen Cullen, Head of Training at KWETB (Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board) and Dr Joe Larragy, Lecturer in the Applied Social Studies Department Maynooth University.

John Lonergan, Former Governor of Mountjoy prison, was the guest speaker.  John identifies with the struggles of learners returning to education; particularly those who have stories that cause them to look for a second or third life chance.  This group were lucky enough to come into the Celbridge Community Health Training programme and to get the support of quality teachers with the most gentle and supportive of approaches.  Learners talked about the welcome, the support, and the guidance they got while on the programme and the fact that they’re all going into caring service employment or further higher education study.

J Lonergan

GROW ModelBrochureTracy and Bernice, as programme teachers, and Mairead, as chairperson of the community training workshop committee, should be very proud of the service they give their learners on behalf of KWETB. They apply a simple but effective GROW model of adult education with personal development.

The GROW model follows the steps: Goal, Reality, Options, Way-Forward.

  • It empowers the learners and encourages them to take responsibility

  • It increases learner and tutor engagement

  • It supports the development of active individualised learning plans (AILPs)

  • It improves individual performance

  • It helps to motivate and empower learners to excel, and finally …

  • It improves learner retention.

For information Phone 01-6288670, e-mail: celbridgecommunitytraining@gmail.com



Can Basic Digital Skills Help Adult Learning?


                            Digital Empowerment for Digitally Upskilling Adults: A Project.

The DESI Index (Digital Economy and Society Index) monitors the performance of EU member states digital connectivity, digital skills online activity, and digital public services . There 2018 index results says Ireland is lagging behind the other member states.  With 48 per cent of Irish citizens having at least basic digital skills and being 17th in the EU with regard to the number of people actively using the internet Ireland is still one of the least digitally competent states in the entire EU.

When you put these two findings side by side with Ireland being ranked as the State best in the euro zone for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates, it means a large portion of Irish citizens are in need of upskilling.

We are all aware of the rural broadband difficulties but we should not take the possibility of high-speed connection for every household out of context; we rank 11th among EU countries for digital connectivity! Importantly, the state the State ranks top in the EU for open data and is in second place for business services according to the Colin Gleeson article Fri, May 18, 2018, in the Irish Times .

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment’s ‘Digital Skills for Citizens’ Programme   is a response to the challenge of getting more citizens familiar with engaging online. The Digital Skills for Citizens Programme focuses on supporting and empowering citizens to participate fully in Ireland’s digital economy and society. The scheme provides digital skills training for citizens who have never used the internet, through a range of providers. The Digital Skills for Citizens Programme seeks to remove a key barrier to digital adoption; the fear of technology. However, adult educators know the barrier is equally as lack of self-belief. Many adults believe they could not learn new skills and that they would ‘break the computer’.

Irish Rural Link (IRL) has supported approx. 7,000 rural adults throughout Ireland to complete the Digital Skills for Citizens Programme through their Getting Citizens Online (GCO) Programme. Through digital education champion trainers IRL has brought digital training to people who want to be able to send an email, Skype their family abroad, access online information, or complete a single farm payment return.

Indeed as more and more vital services are moving online not being able to navigate public services online is a form of social and economic exclusion. The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment  advise that flexible access to information and services 24 hours a day 7 days a week is increasingly necessary. The Department says the advantages of being online are:

  • Connectivity: keeping in touch with family and friends worldwide through social media, email, Skype and Facebook. Using the internet builds citizen confidence and wellbeing. It also reduces the feeling of isolation.
  • Save money: The internet provides access to a wider market and makes it easier to compare prices leading to more informed purchasing decisions.
  • Better use of time: Using the internet saves time travelling and queuing to access goods and services e.g. online banking, NCT booking, paying car tax, etc.
  • Entertainment: People with online access skills can follow their hobbies and interests, stay up to date with current affairs and catch up on things like TV programmes.
  • Education: Online exploration can allow a person expand their knowledge and skills, undertake online courses and facilitate your learning at their own pace.

Irish Rural Link (IRL) secured a strategic partnership ERASMUS+ contract to determine how providing access to basic online/internet skills can upskill adults, i.e. promote adult learning. DELSA: Digital Empowerment for Digitally Upskilling Adults   This programme with 5 project partners will run from November 2018 to October 2020.

DELSA (Digital Empowerment for Digitally Upskilling Adults) Project contacts:

Michael Kenny Department of Adult & Community Education Maynooth University (MU) michael.kenny@mu.ie

Mary Keys Irish Rural Link (IRL)  maryk@irishrurallink.ie

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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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