Invite, Awards, News!

Open Badges Invite

We are pleased to announce that the Open Badge Factory, in partnership with NUI Galway, will be hosting an ‘Open Badges Day’ in Galway on December 8th.  This will be an ideal opportunity for anyone interested in the use (or potential use) of digital badges to meet and share ideas with peers, as well as learn from a number of established badging implementations in Ireland, Finland (home of Open Badge Factory), and elsewhere.

Please register as soon as possible as there are only a limited number of places available for this event.

Register Now 

Student Partnership Projects 

The various Digital Champions and Digital Ambassador schemes running in the partner institutions started up again this semester and it has been very encouraging to see growing interest from students in participating in the various workshops and events. We’ll shortly be publishing a set of resources (posters, ideas for projects and activities, workshop guides, badge criteria, etc) as a downloadable pack. We’ll let you know when this is released.  In the meantime, visit  the associated websites ( and or following the twitter feeds:  @allaboardhe @DigiChampsNUIG @UCD_SDA

Wharton-QS Re-imagine Education Awards

The All Aboard team were delighted to hear that our project has been shortlisted for these awards ( This is great recognition, particularly for a project which is still ongoing, and we know that it is only possible because of the enthusiasm of all of our supporters and the hard work of the various colleagues who have helped to develop materials, run events , etc.

Thank you to everyone. We might not end up taking home the big prize, but this is an achievement on its own and it has put an extra spring to our step as the winter approaches.


The All Aboard BadgePack is available to download!

We’ve had so much interest and inquiries about Digital Badges in the past few months, we’ve decided to put together a resource pack: our ‘BadgePack’ Version 1.0!

We hope that this Resource Pack will help you experiment with, or indeed fully implement, a digital badging scheme that is effective and appropriate to your particular organisation’s needs.

The toolkit contains resources gathered from a variety of sources and newer materials arising from the work and experience of the All Aboard project.

Download the BadgePack

All Aboard goes to Cancun…

The OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy took place at the end of June and led to the publication of the Cancún Declaration. In this document 41+ countries committed to a range of goals around internet access and openness, including a section on the need to invest and boost digital skills training and education.  All Aboard’s Iain MacLaren was an invited speaker at the event and reports that the ‘Metro Map’ received an enthusiastic response from participants and with a number wishing to keep in touch with developments and make links to the project.

 The other background documents (including some on skills, education, jobs and innovation) are linked to in this short blog post:

UCD All Aboard Digital Skills and Practice Workshop: Explore and Reflect.

Offered as part of UCD’s TEL day, where participants are invited to experience, share and discuss a variety of technology enhanced learning approaches and strategies, this workshop will brief participants on developments in the All Aboard project and the ongoing implementation activities in UCD.

There will be opportunity to consider the National Digital Skills framework and the Visitors and Residents mapping concept, focusing on using these as reflective tools to interrogate current practice and the potential to develop digital skills within teaching activities.  The workshop will also introduce and demo the Visitors and Residents (V&R) concept while the hands-on mapping exercise will assist participants to reflect on their online identities and practices, as well as those of the students they teach. The session will be lead by the UCD All Aboard Team in conjunction with the Student Digital Ambassadors who will co-facilitate by sharing their own online engagement maps while also contributing to the discussions on digital skills and practice from a student’s perspective.

The workshop takes place on the 9th March, to learn more, please visit:

All Aboard – Launches, Badges, News..

It’s been a little while since our last blog post. We’ve been busy and so have many of you who kindly have been contributing ideas, pointing us to shareable resources and participating in various events. Thank you, once again for your support.

UCD Launch(1) Student Partnership Projects.

We’re absolutely delighted to have supported the launch of two significant student partnership projects in the past couple of weeks:  UCD’s Digital Ambassadors and NUIG’s Digital Champions. These initiatives, (combined with experience of ‘ambassador’ type schemes in other institutions) will lead to the development of a toolkit for running such schemes in any institution (and please let us know if you’d like us to help you get started) and which will help us identify more clearly student needs and indeed tap into some of that wonderful creativity and passion which many of them have been ably demonstrating.


(2) Badges galore!   We’ve been developing, designing, issuing and evaluating badges, drafting guidelines and testing out different combinations of software for each stage of the process. Some of the applications thus far include:

  • Science outreach (see the ReelLife Science badge below)ReelLife_Volunteer15
  • Study skills – linking with existing training materials
  • Aspects of academic practice – such as Compiling a Teaching Portfolio, Peer Observation of Teaching, Independent Student Feedback and Teaching Awards
  • Contributing towards the emerging CPD framework for academic staff
  • Components of credit-bearing courses such as NUIG’s CEL6102 Teaching Online
  • Student mentors, ambassadors and champions (more of this later!)
  • Fire safety and other general ‘staff training’

We’ll be compiling a short report alongside practical guidelines for using badges in higher education and will let you know when that becomes available as well as when we’ll provide a new season of training sessions and workshops. In the meantime if you’re interested in badging and haven’t yet passed on your contact details, please do so now and we’ll be in touch!

Digital Badges – UCD Pilot Launch

UCD BadgeUCD is delighted to announce the UCD Digital Badges pilot project, launching as part of a range of activities related to the All Aboard project. The aim of the pilot is to use digital badges to complement the existing learning, training and professional development environments within UCD by recognising achievement, engagement and knowledge acquired through both formal and informal learning opportunities.

Participants will be provided with support and training on the use and deployment of digital badges for specific learning contexts. This pilot will run from Jan- Dec 2016 (Semester 2- 2015/16, Semester 1 – 2016/17). Dependent on context, both Blackboard Achievements & Open Badge Factory platforms will be used to issue and manage badges during this pilot.

Further information on participation in this initiative is available at


All Aboard Webinar on Digital Literacy / Awareness, Friday 20th November

We are pleased to announce the details of our first webinar,  which takes place on Friday the 20th November. shutterstock_228171394

Online Seminar
Two speakers (plus discussion) on aspects of collaborative/partnership programmes on Digital Awareness/Literacy

Date: Friday 20th November at 2:30 – 4:00pm   

Dr. Jane Secker, London School of Economics:  Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy: sustaining and developing peer support for undergraduate students”

Dr. Louise Connolly, University of Edinburgh: “The Digital Footprints Campaign”

This event will be online, facilitated via Blackboard Collaborate.   If you would like to join (or just view) the session, please register in advance and we will send you the details.

Register at:

UCD Digital Ambassadors

DIGITAL (1)666

As part of the All Aboard project, UCD are currently looking for self-motivated students who are interested in developing and enhancing their digital skills. Participants do not need to be digital experts or have any specific IT skills to take part – this initiative will provide students with the support and training to improve their digital skills in a number of areas such as sensible social media use, educational technologies (including apps), digital identity and digital research skills.

Using what they’ve learnt as a foundation, Digital Ambassadors will engage with the wider UCD community and beyond to raise awareness of digital skills and share knowledge. Ambassadors will also have the opportunity to take part in various different events and activities, including student/staff events, facilitating/co-facilitating workshops and creating and sharing of content/resources.

The initiative will run from January to December 2016, and is currently recruiting participants. To find out more, including full details of the role and the many benefits of participating in this opportunity, please read

Report Release, Metro Map Goes Interactive…

We’re delighted to be able to release the first All Aboard major report:   “A National Skills Framework for Irish Higher Education”.  This publication provides a review and synthesis of the literature on digital skills and information literacies with the focus on higher education frameworks and policies. Some interesting example case studies are highlighted along with a comprehensive bibliography that we hope will be of use to those wishing to explore this area in more depth.   The document also formally presents our own proposed framework with a description of the processes involved in its development.

The hard work behind this publication was undertaken by our colleagues in UL’s Library and Information Services Division who are key partners in All Aboard:  Liz Dore, Aoife Geraghty and Gobnait O’Riordan.  Contributions, suggestions (and corrections) came in from across the wider project team and I’d personally like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved for their efforts, commitment and enthusiasm.

We are also pleased to be able to release an interactive version of the ‘Metro Map’ version of the Framework. Short descriptive videos have been produced for each of the tracks and rollover text summaries of the topic of each ‘station’ have also been added.  Work has also begun on designing and scripting online lessons and the collation of relevant resources for each topic.

Over the past couple of months, a number of the project team have engaged with academic colleagues to launch pilots of digital badge implementations and there’s more about that in the first of our monthly email newsletters (subscribe to find out more and keep up to date!). The pilot projects include badges built into formal taught courses, used for recording staff training and CPD, and with student co-curricular activities (such as volunteering).   Over the coming months we’ll be supporting these and encouraging others to join in, whilst we also develop policy recommendations based on this experience.

Finally, we will be producing a monthly podcast (starting in early November) on aspects of digital skills, badges and technologies in general. Each podcast will consist of 2 or three items with a total runtime of 20 minutes. We’re on the lookout for interesting stories, fascinating interviews and enthusiastic guest speakers – so get in touch and we’ll reach out via the power of the internet!

Taking stock: how we got to where we are

It’s just over a year now since a rather innocently posted blog sought to ascertain whether anyone was interested in developing a joint proposal to Ireland’s National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning on the topic of digital literacies. The ‘innocence’ was in the suggestion that (a) this might be developed in a completely ‘open,’ online and inherently non-competitive basis; and (b) that perhaps someone else would love to take up the idea and follow through on it, with me gracefully retiring to the sidelines! The post triggered contacts through email, phone calls and the classic little chats that form so much of the social glue on this island. Another blog post appeared, mails crisscrossed, articles shared and the good work of others in JISC, Educause, NMC, ALT, ILTA, NDLR and the like, ransacked and taken hostage, before a final proposal was submitted by the few folk left standing when the deadline fell.

A Digital Journey

A Digital Journey

Surviving a light grilling by an independent, international review panel at the first cut of the proposals, the project reached the final rounds where the proposers were called to make their case and slug it out with competing bids in the ornate setting of the library of the Royal Irish Academy, surrounded by dusty tomes asserting their longevity over these new-fangled digital upstarts. This time it was more roasting than grilling, but through luck, we survived yet again and got the funding we sought with the responsibility to deliver on our as yet ‘vapourware’.

Of course, in a project such as this we’re not starting from scratch, the work of so many others with which all of us in learning technologies are familiar, gave us a good basic foundation for the development of a framework and a set of resources that, we hope, might better fit the particular needs of the Irish HE sector and its broad community. We also believe strongly in the benefits of collaboration and have always welcomed ideas and suggestions, actively seeking out contributions wherever the opportunity arose. Having partners in the project team that spanned the library, staff development, learning technologies and teaching and learning communities also helped to keep in focus our desire for a cross-cutting approach that would be accessible and adaptable to all in higher education whether staff, students or faculty (to coin a UL term!).  Brainstorming, doodling and literature reviews all fed in to the process which really switched into gear when the project staff were employed in Jan/Feb and provided points of contact and connectivity with colleagues elsewhere.

The work of so many projects supported by JISC in the UK has to be acknowledged as crucial to our ability to quickly move onto a working model of our digital skills framework. The inherent generosity of open publication (and creative commons licensing) serves not just public accountability but also stokes the fires of subsequent innovation. For those of us who teach Learning Technologies, then work such as that of Beetham and Sharpe has long been regarded as key references and we were certainly familiar also with the excellent work of those in the Library and Information Services organisations such as SCONUL, along with European and UNESCO output.  Even our own past projects such as the European e-Competence Initiative provided some experience regarding academic staff development in digital technologies. The publication of the National Forum’s ‘Digital Roadmap’ (and the extensive consultation which informed it) and the European High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education’s “New modes of learning and teaching in higher education” were also timely.

Our approach in drafting the Digital Skills Framework was to look for opportunities to address the broader, overarching issues of ‘working and living in a digital age’, without losing sight of the need for something which would be seen as practical, adaptable and which spoke to the needs of our various communities. Whether that’s an excuse for a framework which mixes levels of granularity/detail and skills with attributes, I’m not sure, but it does reflect our desire to be pragmatic rather than simply theoretically self-consistent.

We were particularly excited when we heard Helen Beetham present (at EdTech15 in Limerick) the latest version of the Digital Capabilities Framework for JISC – anxious in case there were core areas we’d missed – and inspired in particular by her use of the term ‘wellbeing’ which we felt far more richly captured those dimensions of digital ‘being’ than the alternatives with which we had been juggling (such as ‘citizenship’ and ‘responsibility’ for example) and led to a tweet of acknowledgement and seeking permission to echo it within our own context.


All Aboard- Skills Metro Map

Hexagons, tiles, circles, mind-maps, star charts and more were toyed with as possible visual representations (I think tartan even featured at one stage, but thanks to the whisky that inspired that suggestion, the details and rationale are also long lost), but the project title of ‘All Aboard’ resonated all the more strongly when Blaneth paused on a ‘tube map’ infographic. Following ‘extensive consumer testing’ over coffee, the idea took hold and meme-d its way into the project, being launched at the Galway Symposium in June. Of course we could argue over the details of particular stations on each of the tracks, and indeed, that’s fine, they probably will be modified in the light of feedback and experience. It’s also possible to debate the broad categories that constitute the Metro/subway/tube/underground lines – again, our view is that this is a working model on which to build future work – but the review of other existing models shows broad agreement in the need to capture skills, knowledge and attributes as well as allowing for creativity. Simplifying the category labels into word-pairs we hope will also help demystify much of the jargon which all too often obscures ‘the digital’.

Jisc Six Elements of Digital Capability

Jisc Six Elements of Digital Capabilities

The two frameworks are, inevitably, very similar, but they also differ in a number of respects. For example, we chose to make strong use of verbs, to show our intent to be seen as practical, and we wanted to make overt the recognition that different communities might take different routes, even though they intersect and cross-over in multiple places (eg the ‘Teach & Learn” track which recognises that we all learn and often also have to explain to and support the development of others, but at the same time provides a clear ‘point of entry’ for students and staff).  Of course, a metaphor is merely a tool to help give shape to an idea, and can easily be overplayed, but we hope that, at least in our current context, this simple idea might facilitate engagement and participation more effectively than a more traditional set of headings, sub-headings and the like.

That’s the intention, anyway. Let us know what you think.

Finally, we have really appreciated the fact that working in this area has led to so many useful, supportive and encouraging conversations and exchanges of ideas. With Helen Beetham and Sarah Davies taking time to talk with us recently and discussing complementary work in other areas that are directly or even just tangentially related (such as students as change agents, professional standards frameworks, etc) there is surely plenty of scope for an archipelago of collaboration.