AIT Hosted the 3rd National Higher Education Lifelong Learning Ireland Conference (HELLIN)

On Friday 9th December, AIT played host to the HELLIN consortium and the 3rd National Higher Education Lifelong Learning Ireland Conference. The theme of the conference was ‘Lifelong Learning Remembering, Reflecting and Reimagining’ where the HEIs take note of the past, reflect on what they do in Lifelong Learning now, and begin the process of reimagining how as HE providers should begin to position into the future. The conference brought together delegates with a background in lifelong learning, adult learning and professional development in higher education to attend the daylong event.

Keynote speeches and papers from the conference included a paper delivered by Dr Nora Condon, Skills and Labour Market Research Unit, Dublin, Ireland entitled, Lifelong Learning Participation among Adults in Ireland, Mr Ronan Emmett, Head of Learning and Talent Acquisition, Boston Scientific, Cork who delivered a paper entitled Lifelong Learning – Achieving Return on Investment and Mr Brian Mulligan, Centre for Online Learning, Institute of Technology, Sligo who delivered a paper on Lifelong Learning is the Future and the Future of Lifelong Learning’.

In addition to the keynote presentations, over 16 papers from lifelong learning practitioners across Ireland covered themes such as Re-imagining Lifelong Learning, Life Long Learning Practice, Community Based Practice, Work Based Practice, Technological Learning Experiences and Lifelong Learning Policy.

Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin opened the conference on behalf of AIT and added, “AIT has a very proud heritage in lifelong learning and our programmes provide bridges for learners who wish to enter higher education. In AIT Lifelong Learning is an integral part of our programme offerings and the vision for Lifelong Learning in AIT is that it is distinguished by outstanding flexible learning channels, positive student experiences, community and enterprise impact and delivering a distinctive regional and national contribution. Businesses are becoming more specialised requiring higher level of skills and Lifelong Learning plays a key role in equipping people with the skills to address these needs.”

Dr Michael Tobin, Head of Lifelong Learning commented that the conference theme was very timely from an Irish perspective as we see a shift in the focus of Lifelong Learning to accommodating those in the workplace. In particular, he noted how AIT in recent years has developed partnerships with private organisations where through the sharing of the companies learning and talent needs, AIT were able to devise a flexible programme of learning, delivered through a blended learning model (online and formal class that ensured that the company has the relevant talent in place to meet their ever changing talent needs.

HELLIN is a consortium of all HE institutions in Ireland, Universities and Institutes of Technology and their aim is to promote and advance Lifelong Learning and Continuing and Professional Development for adults within Universities, Institutes of Technology and other relevant bodies throughout the island of Ireland. HELLIN are affiliated to the European University Continuing Education Network (EUCEN) and the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE). Dr Michael Tobin, Head of Department of Lifelong Learning at the Athlone Institute of Technology had this past year been the President of HELLIN for 2016.

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