Seán Sherlock T.D Minister for Research & Innovation, with St Patrick’s Cathedral Grammar School students Jamie Kerry, Sunniva Corr

Education and business sectors to benefit from new approaches to digital learning

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock T.D. have today [Thursday 21st June 2012] jointly announced the investment of €€6 million over 6 years in Learnovate Centre, the Technology Centre for Learning Innovation, which will benefit Irish businesses across both the technology and education sectors. This is the latest Technology Centre to be funded by the Government through Enterprise Ireland which operates the Technology Centres Programme in partnership with IDA Ireland.

Today’’s announcement represents the delivery of a key commitment in the Action Plan for Jobs 2012.

Making the announcement today, Minister Bruton said ““A central part of the Government’s plan for jobs and growth is ensuring that we extract more commercial and employment benefits from the strong base of scientific research we have built up over the past decade. The network of new technology centres, which bring industry and researchers together to work together on creating products and services from scientific research, is a key part of that plan. Today’’s announcement that the Government will invest over €6million over six years to create a Technology Centre for Learning Innovation represents the delivery of a major addition to this network. eLearning is a key growth sector, and I am determined that, with the establishment of this centre and through continued implementation of the Action Plan for Jobs, we can develop this sector in Ireland and make a major contribution to the growth and jobs we need””.

Minister Sherlock said “Ireland’s first technology centre for learning innovation will be hosted by Trinity College Dublin. This centre will help companies in Ireland’’s eLearning and digital media sectors to harness the opportunities presented by digital learning. With support from Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland the research teams will deliver innovative learning solutions for Irish companies, providing them with a competitive edge by changing the way learning is delivered in the future in school, college and the workplace””.

This is the 10th Technology Centre to be funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation through Enterprise Ireland in partnership with IDA Ireland. Sophisticated research that is of benefit to strategically chosen Irish industry sectors is conducted in these centres.

The Learnovate Centre has four key research themes selected for their common interest to the Irish eLearning industry:

  • Social and informal learning;
  • Mobile collaboration and learning;
  • Immersive learning (gaming, simulation, virtual worlds);
  • Metrics and assessment.

““The research team at TCD has already completed its first project””, said Professor Vinny Wade, Acting Director of the Learnovate Centre, Trinity College Dublin. “”We developed new ways of learning for three key sectors – business, higher education and schools. The focus is on moving away from rote learning and towards intuitive learning. Our approach improves critical thinking and problem-solving skills by using gaming technology and personalising information to motivate corporate learners, as well supporting learning innovation in the education sector”” explained Professor Wade.

In trials, the research team brought their schools research solution to a first year Maths class at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Grammar School, Dublin 8. Initial evaluations suggest that using the ‘MyPace’ student portal developed by the Centre helped improve student performance in algebra.

The application of the social and semantic web to learning online for the education, banking, public sector, health and hospitality sectors will be discussed at a conference in Croke Park today entitled ‘Learning for Growth’. The guest speaker at the event is Donald Taylor, who was voted one of the UK’’s top 10 minds in eLearning in 2010 and 2011.

According to Gearóid Mooney, Director of ICT Commercialisation at Enterprise Ireland, today’’s announcement is a significant step for the SMEs and multinational companies in Ireland’s learning technology sector. ““The establishment of the Learnovate Centre in Ireland enables Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland to focus on the opportunities for Irish companies in the global eLearning sector which is estimated will be worth €107 billion by 2015””.

Chairman of the Learnovate Centre, Jonny Parkes said “”through this centre, Irish eLearning companies are collaborating with research teams in Irish Higher Education Institutes to produce ‘next practice’ learning technologies. Our initial aim is to deliver competitive advantage for the companies involved at this stage: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Intel, MindLeaders, Interactive Services, Enovation Solutions, Cisco, Intuition Publishing, WBT Systems and PulseLearning. A key goal for the next phase of development for the Centre will be to bring in more partner companies both from Ireland and from the multinational community that is based here. In particular, we are looking to bring in companies from the other digital media sectors that overlap with our work including social, mobile and gaming technologies””.

The research partners from the Higher Education Institutes are: