collection of conference items: green lanyard, black 'Politics of Seeing' badge, an 'Edtech will not save you' unicorn badge, and a red scarf

In November 2019, I began a 3-year post as Strategic Education Developer at the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. My role has been to work as National Forum lead in the area of digital and open education, spanning policy and practice, working in collaboration with students and staff across the Irish higher education sector. Today marks my last day at the National Forum, after three unforgettable years.

Most of the collaborative work I have been fortunate to have been a part of can be found on the Digital Teaching & Learning page of the National Forum website: supporting open education and developing open capabilities, coordinating the INDEx Survey, supporting the development of enabling policies for digital/open T&L, and contributing to the Next Steps for Teaching and Learning project. But those collections of resources and publications don’t quite capture the heartbeat of the work.

These past two years of isolation, pain and worry have been marked also by remarkable care, kindness and generosity. I have seen this in abundance across all education sectors here in Ireland, with international colleagues, and up close with the National Forum team. I express my heartfelt thanks and deep respect to all with whom I’ve worked during my time at the National Forum – with special thanks to my amazing NF colleagues, many of whom are also moving on to new posts, and our director, Terry Maguire, who deserved all of the warm celebrations she received on her retirement this week.

What next?

Like so many of us, I have put a lot of thought into how to stitch together a healthy and meaningful way of working in our changing world. From January 2022, I’ll be working independently – planning to work both in higher education and the community sector, and to engage in research.

Some of these plans are already in progress. Last week, Laura Czerniewicz and I announced a Call for Chapters for Higher Education for Good: Teaching and Learning Futures, a book we will co-edit in 2022-23 (see http://bit.ly/HE4Good). All else will emerge.

My new contact details can be found at the Contact link above. More blogging lies ahead, but this short post will serve at least as a marker, of thanks above all.

As we grieve the loss of the mighty bell hooks this week, I will end with her words, which have been an inspiration throughout all my years as a teacher and scholar:

I add my voice to the collective call for renewal and rejuvenation in our teaching practices. Urging all of us to open our minds and hearts so that we can know beyond the boundaries of what is acceptable, so that we can think and rethink, so that we can create new visions, I celebrate teaching that enables transgressions – a movement against and beyond boundaries. It is that movement which makes education the practice of freedom.

Image source: Catherine Cronin (Flickr)

4 thoughts on “looking ahead”

  1. Well Catherine. Congratulations on this very impressive milestone. You’ve indeed left an indelible footprint from which others will the privilege draw, grow snd take your project forward.

    I had the pleasure and privilege to invite you, an invitation you graciously accepted, to serve as a panelist at the University of South Africa (UNISA)’s international Open Distance e-Learning conference in August this year, where you were brilliant.

  2. Prof Moeketsi, thank you for your kind comment! I remain grateful for your invitation and the opportunity to collaborate with so many inspiring open educators – at UNISA, in South Africa, and beyond – who participated in the 2021 conference. I look forward to continuing to learn and collaborate with you and with all in our open education global community. Warm regards to you for 2022.

  3. Dear Catherine,

    one reason I am passionately dedicating my career in the field of teaching and learning in HE is the fact that it provides me with the privilege of working with inspiring & thoughtful professionals like you and Terry! Thanks for the fruitful encounters and looking very much forward to stay connected on future learning oppurtunities.
    Allow me to salute you for your next endeauvours with a quote from Michel Foucault which might fit in this transgressional context:
    “There are moments in life where the question of knowing whether one might think otherwise than one thinks and perceive otherwise than one sees is indispensable if one is to continue to observe or reflect”

    1. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful reply, Oliver – with an apt quote for the moment 🙂 I wish you the best of luck for your work in this new year also. I know you will continue to bring creativity and an eye on the bigger picture. Perhaps you might consider submitting a proposal for the book ‘Higher Education for Good’, described above? (see http://bit.ly/HE4Good)
      In any case, I look forward to crossing paths in our work in the future. Thanks for your encouragement and good wishes — and all the best for 2022.

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