Day 1 Speakers

Speaker: Dr Siobhán O’Sullivan

Dr Siobhán O’Sullivan has a BSc (Honours) and PhD in Biochemistry and Microbiology. Siobhán completed a Certificate and Diploma in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and in 2007, she graduated with a 1st class Honours MA in Teaching and Learning from University College Cork. Formally the Curriculum Development Manager of Structured PhD education in Life Sciences, at Cork Institute of Technology, she is now a Project Manager in the Teaching and Learning Unit, where her project interest to date is the development of an institute-wide Staff Induction programme. Siobhán worked for several years as an educational consultant in addition to curriculum development for teacher science education and professional development. She has published widely on the potential of information technology in the classroom, in continuing professional development and in online learning. Most recently, her research has centered on the effective use of Web 2.0 tools in teaching and learning, the potential use of ePortfolios in documenting learning, reflective practice and the engagement of students in learning. She was shortlisted as a finalist in 2010 for the Jennifer Burke Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

Abstract: The use of ePortfolios as a measurement of the learning journey undergraduate and graduate education: a personal reflection
Portfolio implementations are best viewed as a continuum; they are work in progress. They evolve over a period of time through group interaction and discourse. The expressions of learning in an ePortfolio can range from lower-order thinking skills such as a PowerPoint presentation or a written report, to higher-order thinking skills as seen in a wiki, a reflective journal or a podcast.

To align with learning, ePortfolios offer students the opportunity to self-assess and record learning experiences from a lifelong learning perspective. As colleges implement ePortfolios, it will be important to do more than just replicate their paper-based predecessors or adopt a system where a folder is created to store copies of static non-evolving papers. ePortfolios align with constructivist theories in that students construct their own portfolio, take charge of what it contains, reflect on what makes an entry good or better than others, and use this information to make improvements or changes. As lecturers or mentors/supervisors advise on content, the student takes on the responsibility of collecting materials, selecting what is relevant and reflecting on the content. This presentation reviews and explores the potential use of ePortfolios in undergraduate courses and postgraduate research training. It will also examine the student experience and feedback of the process. We will question the effective use of ePortfolios in graduate education and review how graduate attributes (for example, communication skills, thinking, learning to learn and professional skills) can be documented in an ePortfolio and how these skills can be measured and assessed.

Siobhán first began working with students in the development of ePortfolios in 2010. It began as introducing a reflective piece on a course as the course developed to developing a student portfolio as a rich reservoir of student materials that could be used to reflect student work and achievements. Over time, the interest grew and expanded to her working with various groups at different stages in the education journey. She has been invited to discuss her work in this area with various colleges and universities in Ireland and abroad where she has openly shared her experiences, both good and bad, in an effort to improve the ePortfolio process for both teachers and students. This presentation reflects her learning journey in the development and implementation of ePortfolios in higher education.

Speaker: Eva Kilar

Eva has been working the field of adult training in Dublin for the last 8 years. Prior to that, she was an English primary and secondary state school teacher for a number of years in Poland. She has been delivering teacher training courses for European teachers in Ireland and Spain. Her main expertise would be mobile learning and ICT integration in the ESL syllabus. She holds a DIT MSc degree in Applied eLearning and an MA and BA in TESOL and Translation.

Abstract: Sharing practice: Weebly ePortfolio
As part of ePortfolio planning and preparation, it is vital to decide on the tool that is to be used. This presentation focuses on showing some of the typical features of Weebly as an ePortfolio tool. It outlines steps to take in the ePortfolio preparation and shows how to make it an effective tool showing professional development.

Speaker: Pat Walsh

Pat has been working as a Technical Officer in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) since 2005. From 2013-2014, as part of his MSc research project, he explored the area of learning analytics with a view to evaluating the data analytic features available within the institute’s learning management system (LMS). During this time, he used the Yola platform to chart his professional development and learning experience.

Abstract: Sharing practice: Yola ePortfolio
Yola was used to chart Pat’s learning progression during his MSc in Applied eLearning in DIT. He evaluated the advantages and disadvantages of different ePortfolio platform solutions before deciding on the Yola platform. This platform provided him with a user-friendly means of capturing his thoughts and reflections through multiple forms of media, such as video, blogs, wikis, text and discussion forums. The ability of Yola to seamlessly integrate with other eLearning tools provided an ideal platform to capture his own learning experience.

Speaker: Dr Bettie Higgs


Dr Bettie Higgs has recently retired as Senior Lecturer in Geosciences and Co-Director of the Teaching and Learning Centre in University College Cork (UCC). She was Vice President for Teaching and Learning at UCC from 2013-2014, and a board member of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning from 2012-2016. She is currently Vice President of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and a member of the Preparation for Professional Practice (ePrePP) Executive Team.

Abstract: Using ePortfolios in students’ preparation for professional practice: lessons from the ePrepp project
The ePrepp project is a multi-discipline initiative in the medical and health sciences and has several objectives. At the heart of the project is the objective of inter-professional education and engaging students in inter-professional learning. This is achieved by providing appropriate opportunities for critical reflection, formative assessment and feedback (self, peer and tutor). The ePortfolio is being piloted in multiple institutions as a tool to facilitate this, as well as fulfilling professional requirements for mapping and assessing common core competencies. The ePortfolio should not just act as a substitution for paper-based assessment and feedback but should enable enhanced and even transformed ways of knowing and behaving, evidenced in student performance.

The PebblePad ePortfolio tool has been implemented in several institutions, and student and tutor evaluations were carried out. The presentation will include a discussion of ‘What lessons have we learned in terms of choosing a suitable platform, an appropriate implementation plan, staff and student buy-in, and resources and technical help needed?’ It will also discuss ‘What affordances has the ePortfolio technology provided for enhanced student learning?’ The lessons learned are not specific to the medicine and health sciences but speak to all disciplines. The ePrepp project is supported by funding from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

Speaker: Tracey Dalton

Tracey is a lecturer on the BA (Hons) Interior Design and Furniture at Dublin School of Creative Arts, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Grangegorman. She teaches commercial and domestic design, buildings regulations, construction studies and AutoCAD. An interest in the use of blended-learning methods through screencasting on the CAD module attracted her to pursue the MSc in Applied eLearning at DIT.

Since graduating from the BA (Hons) Environmental/Spatial Design, DIT, in 1996, Tracey has worked in the architecture and interior design industry and is also a lecturer and head of the Interior Design department at Dublin Institute of Design.

Abstract: Using WordPress on an MSc in eLearning: a tool for reflection, course delivery, peer learning and future student learning
This presentation will discuss the benefits of ePortfolios on an MSc in eLearning as a platform for reflection on weekly course delivery and as a repository for course assignments, accessible to module tutors. In addition to this, it showcases Tracey’s eLearning project about AutoCAD screencasts for her students. Reasons for using WordPress for an ePortfolio will also be discussed – assessing the benefits and challenges during set-up, what attracted her to this platform and how user friendly it is to work with. The ePortfolio also provided a mechanism for peer feedback and learning among the MSc learner group. It continues to be used by Tracey’s students as a support mechanism for the AutoCAD module, in addition to face-to-face teaching.

Speaker: Dr Lucía Morales

Dr Lucía Morales is a lecturer in the area of Finance in the Department of Accounting and Finance at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). Lucía is an active researcher in the field of Financial Economics and Econometrics and also in Education. After completing her MSc in Applied eLearning at DIT, Lucía became very interested in understanding the use of technology to enhance students’ learning experience and its value to encourage lifelong learning. As a result, she decided to apply gained knowledge in the field of eLearning to support her students and to help them understand the value of reflective and critical thinking, and inquiry skills in the field of finance. Her work with students helped her to develop research papers that have been presented at international conferences and published by journals in the field.

Abstract: Sharing practice: Mahara ePortfolios
Analysing the versatility of ePortfolios
In this presentation, the use of ePortfolios to support the development of critical thinking and reflective skills will be explored. The aim of the presentation is to encourage an open dialogue among participants with the goal of sharing knowledge and experiences regarding the value that eLearning can bring to any discipline. The discussions will look at specific ePortfolios developed by students that will provide examples of learning progression and also help identify major problems faced by students when working with their ePortfolios. Through the discussions, Lucía will share some of her major research findings and offer some insights in terms of research collaborations that have helped in the development of cyclical processes that help educators assessing if ePortfolios could be used to support their own learning and teaching strategies. Overall, the presentation aims to offer a forum for discussion, reflection, feedback and critical inquiry on how ePortfolios can be further used to support students.

Speaker: Brian McGillion

Brian McGillion is a senior lecturer in Management/Strategic Management in the School of Accounting and Finance, College of Business, DIT. He has a BA in Economics, Mathematics, Statistics and Politics, an MA in Economics and an MSc in Applied eLearning. Brian has been involved fulltime in third-level learning, teaching and research for more than 30 years. He has also worked in management consultancy, living and working for extended periods in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

Abstract: Sharing practice: Mahara ePortfolios
Mahara for student learning
This presentation will provide an introduction to how Mahara works. Brian will present his own Mahara ePortfolio as an example. He will outline the reasons for choosing Mahara to develop his ePortfolio, and strengths and weaknesses of using Mahara.

Speaker: Thomas Kearns

Thomas Kearns was appointed Executive Director of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in April 2014. As Executive Director, Thomas is accountable for providing leadership and direction in the development and delivery of the key strategic and operational aims and objectives of the Faculty. He is accountable for the financial management of the Faculty. Thomas has extensive educational leadership, project management and research experience throughout his 35 years nursing career. Thomas is an innovative, supportive and facilitative leader and has provided leadership in relation to a large number of initiatives across RCSI and with a broad range of external partners.

In 2014, Thomas conceptualised the Overseas Aptitude test as an alternative to the adaptation assessment programme. He scoped the project and conducted the national consultation and research study that informed the development of the Aptitude test during 2015. Thomas is a member of the Rotunda Hospital Risk Committee and is a member of the RCSI/Rotunda Hospital Liaison committee.

From 2001-2014, Thomas was Education Officer and Acting Chief Education Officer in the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (formerly An Bord Altranais). Thomas conceptualised, scoped, developed and was responsible for managing the Board’s online Continuing Education CPD directory. He provided professional advice and guidance to academics, managers and clinicians. His doctorate is in the regulation of CPD and Professional Competence.

He was responsible for standard setting; approval and monitoring of all postgraduate education nationally. He was also responsible for the approval, audit and monitoring of programmes leading to registration as a psychiatric nurse, nurse prescriber, nurse tutor and public health nurse.

In 2004, he was seconded to the Department of Health and Children to project manage a review of the structure of the four-year nursing degree programme and to specifically examine the position of the 12-month rostered clinical placement within the programme. This involved collaborating with Department officials, clinical and academic partners, the regulator and the professional associations and unions.

Prior to joining the nursing board, Thomas was lecturer/course co-ordinator on two higher diploma programmes and a lecturer on the undergraduate programmes within the School of Nursing and Midwifery in University College Dublin. He was responsible for curriculum development, teaching and learning, collaborating with hospital/clinical sites, student assessment, programme evaluation and quality assurance. Thomas’s Doctorate is in the area of Competence Assessment.

Abstract: Maintaining professional competence: the use of ePortfolios

Speaker: Dr Carina Ginty

Dr Carina Ginty is the Learning and Teaching Officer for Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). A graduate of GMIT, NUI Galway and the Public Relations Institute of Ireland, Carina holds a PhD, a M Litt. in Education, a BBS (Hons) degree, a postgraduate Diploma in Public Relations and level 9 teaching and learning awards in Learning Technologies, Civic Engagement, and Assessment and Evaluation.

Carina transitioned from industry as a marketing manager for technology companies to higher education in 2004 and began lecturing on programmes in the School of Business and Tourism and Arts in GMIT. From 2008-2011, she managed the SIFII programme for GMIT titled Student Led Learning and Curriculum Reform and partner collaborations with NUI Galway and AIT. Major achievements included the development of an institute wide First Year Experience and student leadership programme supporting over 10,000 students to date, and a civic engagement institute learning toolkit. Following the SIFII Programme in 2011, Carina re-structured the Schools Liaison Office for GMIT, developing outreach development initiatives, marketing programmes and online learning support resources for teachers and students at second level in Ireland. In addition, she has played an active role in teaching and learning development for GMIT.

In her role as Learning and Teaching Officer for GMIT, she manages a range of projects and collaborates with other higher education institutions in Ireland and internationally and education development networks such as EDIN, LIN, SLL, EdTech and the National Forum. Since 2012, Carina has led the Connacht Ulster Alliance project on Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) with IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT ( Major outputs to date include an RPL ePortfolio assessment tool, an information website, a level 9 training module and an online course on RPL assessment skills for higher education staff.

In 2014, Carina co-founded a national group called Student Led Learning focused on student engagement, retention and the transition to higher education. Project outputs to date are available at Carina is also engaged in the development of a MOOC with 8 higher education institutions in Ireland. This course helps learners transition from second level to higher education (

Carina has represented GMIT at national and international conferences and committees and her current teaching and research areas include student engagement; the First Year experience; peer assisted learning, learning technologies; online learning; student-centred learning; RPL and ePortfolio tools; service learning and civic engagement.

Speaker: Dr Gavin Clinch

After graduating from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, Gavin practised as an architect in the UK and Germany for 15 years. Since joining IT Sligo in 2001, he has lectured in architecture and was centrally involved in the development and professional accreditation of a number of Level 8 and 9 architecture programmes. Additionally, he was programme coordinator of the online Construction Management programme and has many years of online teaching experience.

In his current role as programme manager with the Centre for Online Learning, Gavin has responsibility for online education, blended learning, MOOC pedagogy and development, recognition of prior learning and competency-based education, online exams and digital badges.

Gavin currently leads a collaboration of seven Irish higher education institutions (HEIs) in the development of a MOOC to support the transition from second- to third-level education in Ireland.

Additional roles include:

  • Chair of the institute’s Learning, Teaching and Assessment Committee
  • Member of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA) Steering Group
  • Committee member of the European MOOCs Stakeholders Summit
  • Member of the Programme Committee for MoodleMoot Ireland-UK
  • National Forum associate


Twitter: @gavinclinch

Abstract: Connacht Ulster Alliance (CUA – GMIT, IT Sligo and LYIT) RPL ePortfolio assessment project
This collaborative project started out with an objective to develop a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) ePortfolio tool. However, as we moved through the development and evaluation stages of the project in consultation with a range of stakeholders, the CUA RPL tool evolved into an RPL ePortfolio assessment tool. The ePortfolio works primarily as an online assessment tool, with the evidence being assessed linked to a portfolio of their work experiences and certified learning outputs. It is therefore, a departure from traditional ePortfolios. The reason for this is due to the purpose of the tool and what it needs to do to help a RPL candidate gain entry to a higher education (HE) programme at one of our three institutes of technology. This presentation will provide an overview of the ePortfolio assessment tools development and a live demonstration of how it works from the perspectives of the RPL applicant and RPL assessor.

Speaker: Orna Farrell

Orna Farrell is academic coordinator/digital learning specialist for the BA in Humanities (online) in Dublin City University (DCU). Previously, Orna lectured in history and social science in Dublin Business School. In line with her research interest in ePortfolios, she supported and trained Dublin Business School staff and students using the Mahara ePortfolio system. Currently, Orna is pursuing a PhD in Trinity College in the School of Education. Her dissertation title is ‘An exploration of criticality, reflective learning and ePortfolios among third-level learners’. She is part of the National Institute for Digital Learning, based in DCU.
Twitter: @orna_farrell
Contact details:

Abstract: Critical thinking and ePortfolios (with a Mahara focus)
This presentation will explore using ePortfolios for assessment, personal development planning and employability. Orna will outline her experiences teaching, assessing and facilitating using the Mahara ePortfolio platform. She will then explore different ePortfolio activities and artefacts, marking ePortfolios, practical considerations to implementing ePortfolios in the classroom, and student and lecturer perspectives on ePortfolios.

Speaker: John Kilroy

John is a Director with Harvest and Head of Harvest’s eLearning Consultancy Division. Harvest are Ireland’s leading people development consultancies. John has been involved in the development of people and organisations for the past 10 years. He has led the development of Harvest’s eLearning division since 2011, having spent the previous three years working on design and implementation of Harvest’s virtual learning environment for client organisations. John’s main role involves partnering with Harvest clients and team members to assist them with the integration of learning technology into bespoke development programmes. John is a regular platform speaker with the Irish Institute of Training & Development (IITD) on the topic of eLearning and he recently completed an MSc in Applied eLearning with Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). John’s main research focus is the design of social learning environments for eLearning development programmes with a particular focus on the role of ePortfolios.

Abstract: From ePortfolios to personal learning environments: a review of the emerging trends in the ePortfolio field
In this practical workshop, John will share some of the core findings from his recent MSc research on the use of ePortfolios as a job-seeking tool. John will then share some of the emerging trends in the use of ePortfolios in organisational development as well as the associated key features of ePortfolio tools and platforms. Participants in the workshop will also get an opportunity to review and evaluate some emerging ePortfolio tools and platforms.