Students as Partners in Digital Teaching and Learning: A Case Study of EDTL Student Associate Interns

Fernandos Ongolly and Sharon Flynn – Irish University Association

The Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning in Irish Universities Project (EDTL) is a three-year project, now extended to September 2022, funded through the Higher Education Authority’s Innovation and Transformation Programme. It is aimed at enhancing the digital attributes and educational experiences of Irish university students through enabling the mainstreamed and integrated use of digital technologies across the teaching and learning process.
Between 2019 and 2021 we hired 20 student associate interns to the EDTL project with the aim of engaging students as co-creators in developing digital teaching and learning resources. We recruited students from across several disciplines such as Anthropology, Law, Mathematics, Engineering, Medicine, Digital Marketing, Data Science, and Journalism among other disciplines out of which 11 were enrolled at undergraduate level and 9 at postgraduate level. During the internship, all the students were actively enrolled in an ongoing course in one of the seven participating universities (DCU, UCD, MU, NUIG, UCC, TCD, and UL). These interns mostly contributed to the project through organizing webinars, writing the project newsletter, as well as sharing resources on the project social media pages among others. The project equally had a staff member in each university who worked collaboratively with their specific student interns to complete project tasks. Whereas each intern was stationed at their respective universities, the project created a ‘student-led’ opportunity for all interns to collaborate.
We are currently conducting a qualitative study to understand the role of students as partners in digital teaching and learning based on the case of these EDTL project interns. In our study, we are interviewing both current and former EDTL student associate interns, and EDTL project representatives in all the seven participating universities with core objectives of i) understanding the role that these interns played in bringing student perspectives to the project (specifically in supporting digital teaching and learning) and ii) how their participation as co-creators benefited them during their internship. By the end of November 2021, we will have conducted a total of 18 virtual in-depth qualitative interviews (10 with current/former student interns & 8 with project staff) and two focus group discussions (1 with student interns and 1 with project staff). We expect that the qualitative interviews will capture in-depth perspectives from personal experiences of both student interns and project representatives engaging with students as co-creators in digital teaching and learning. Our study contributes to the body of knowledge on engaging students as co-creators and we hope that our findings will be useful in informing future models in engaging with students as partners beyond teaching and learning.