Featured Article 21 Jun 2012

June 21st 2012

Ministers Bruton and Sherlock announce €6M in funding for Centre for Learning Innovation

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 jointly announced the investment of €6 million over 6 years in the 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 (21st June), 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 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 maor 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 Centre for Learning Innovation has 4 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 Centre for Learning Innovation, 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 was discussed at a conference in Croke Park 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 Centre for Learning Innovation 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[i]”.

Chairman of the Centre for Learning Innovation, 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;

  • Centre for Next Generation Localisation (CNGL) at Trinity College Dublin, which is providing personalisation, educational games and digital content management technologies. Trinity College Dublin is hosting the centre.
  • CLARITY: Centre for Sensor Web Technologies and SMARTlab at University College Dublin, who are providing intelligent sensor and recommender systems technologies. SMARTlab will provide workshops on virtual worlds for learning and biosensor tools for personalisation
  • Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway, who are providing semantic web technologies
  • Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology, who are providing mobile and data analytics

For more information contact: Grace Labanyi, Enterprise Ireland 087 3286404 / 01 7272746

Issued by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Employment Press Office. 01 6312200

Information on the industry and research partners in the Centre for Learning Innovation
MindLeaders and its group companies have been at the heart the Irish eLearning industry for many years. The Centre for Learning Innovation is one of the most exciting initiatives that we have seen for many years. We are impressed by the collaboration of Industry and Academia within the Centre for Learning Innovation and this bodes well for innovative breakthroughs that will build upon the expertise of both sectors” said Brendan O’Sullivan, CEO, MindLeaders.  He continued: “As a business, MindLeaders must always keep the needs of the customer as its priority and there’s a unique appreciation within the Centre’s team that the customer must be the ultimate beneficiary of the Centre’s research.”

Teresa Hagan, Vice-President, Digital Content Development, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) said: “As a global education leader, HMH is continually working to improve teaching and learning environments through a combination of technological innovation and world-class educational content. We are delighted to collaborate with the Centre for Learning Innovation in our research and development activities.”

Paul Bachy, Operations Director, Enovation Solutions, said: “We are delighted to be part of this very important initiative. As a specialist open source eLearning technology company, we are confident that product and service innovation made possible by our involvement with the Centre for Learning Innovation will lead to significant growth in our international client base thereby creating new jobs in Ireland.”

Peter Hamilton, Education Technology Development Manager, Intel said: “The learning and knowledge industry has a very strong strategic fit in Ireland. We already have great examples of indigenous and multi-national companies who have built very strong international markets in this sector from Ireland. Intel is strongly committed to the further growth of this important sector of the ICT industry.”

Dr. Paraic Sheridan, Associate Director of the Centre for Next Generation Localisation and academic partner said: CNGL has been a core partner of the Centre for Learning Innovation since its formation and very much looks forward to continued successful collaboration with the Centre in translating CNGL's research towards Global Intelligent Content into applications of Information and Innovative Learning across corporate, school and academic sectors.

Professor Barry Smyth, Director of CLARITY and academic partner said “CLARITY is very excited to be part of the Centre for Learning Innovation. This is an exciting time for innovation across the eLearning sector and we view this as a great opportunity for CLARITY's work in social search and recommendation among other mature research topics.”

CLARITY, the Centre for Sensor Web Technologies is a joint initiative between University College Dublin, Dublin City University and Tyndall National Institute and is funded by Science Foundation Ireland.


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