This is the final blog post about about an Erasmus+ Staff Training experience to the FernUniversität in Hagen which took place in June 2018. In this post I will summarise the keynote presentation that concluded the training week and reflect on my experience of attending an Erasmus+ Staff Training experience.

Keynote: The Future of Distance Education: Mind the Gaps – Professor Mark Brown

One of the highlights of the week was the inspiring keynote presentation from Professor Mark Brown, Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning at Dublin City University. Professor Brown discussed the future of distance learning and the work being done at DCU.

Professor Brown also highlighted the importance of having a philosophy for delivering distance learning and explained some of the key principles that constitute a DCU programme and a DCU student. At DCU distance learners are referred to as being part of DCU Connected or as “connected learners” and this is part of the student experience that they have envisioned for their learners. They also refer to their learning technologies as part of a suite known as “the loop”. The loop includes Moodle and various other learning technologies and personal tools that a student may use and that might connect learners in the course of their studies. However, DCU avoids referring to systems as Moodle or their students as distance or online students, as this is just the mode of delivery. This is also linked with the negative view of technical determinism, that we should not be rushing to follow technological innovations, instead, we should be considering what is best for education. The quote featured in the presentation, “The future is not something we enter, the future is something we create” is something that resonated in this session and something that we should consider as a University.

A number of different aspects on the future of digital learning were also discussed in this presentation including MOOCs and the global Higher Education market. Professor Brown’s presentation can be found on Slideshare.


The Erasmus+ staff training week I attended was a fantastic opportunity to visit a University which specialises in distance education. I was able to learn from the Fernuniversität through workshops and by visiting their resources. I was able to network with colleagues from the institution and also with attendees from across Europe. The training week provided an opportunity to gain knowledge of HE practices from other European institutions, discuss and share ideas with fellow participants and also take part in the of the cultural exchange of visiting another country.

I would highly recommend the Erasmus+ staff training weeks to staff as personal and career development opportunity. I have made new networks and now have an understanding of HE in a global market. If you would like to know more about Erasmus+ staff training activities please see the Erasmus intranet website.

Image credits: Photographs by James Brand