From Tuesday 6th to Thursday 8th October 2020, EPALE hosted an Online Community Conference with thousands of attendees from across Europe. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event took place in an online format, allowing participation from a broad group of stakeholders, from a range of sectors and countries in Europe and around the world.
AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation, are proud to manage and implement a range of European projects in Ireland, as well as partnering with other adult education organisations across Europe to share learnings and develop best practice. Adult learning plays a central role in supporting individuals to engage in society and learn the skills required to benefit from digital transformation and overall civic participation.
On Monday, 12th October, over 110 participants across the lifelong learning sector gathered online to take a ‘virtual visit’ of community education, highlighting the vital work that is taking place across Ireland. We were delighted to have Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS), Simon Harris TD and Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS in attendance, giving them an opportunity to hear first-hand the unique contribution that community education groups are making at a local level.
On Wednesday, 16th September, Marian Hennessy of AONTAS member organisation and AONTAS STAR Award winner 2020, the Cope Foundation, delivered a presentation at our weekly membership update and engagement webinar on how they have continued to support their learners during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact on the provision of learning, AONTAS members have expressed the need to learn new teaching methods and best practices for engaging with learners and supporting peer collaboration during emergency response online teaching. In a recent weekly membership webinar AONTAS Head of Advocacy, Dearbháil Lawless, outlined innovative activities for delivering programmes online while staying focussed on the principles of adult learning. 78 members from adult education organisations nationwide joined us to share creative ideas for teaching and learning online.
On Wednesday, 23rd September, over 80 participants gathered online to celebrate the launch of the 34th issue of The Adult Learner journal. Since 1985, it has been the only peer-review journal focused on adult, community and further education in Ireland. This special edition brought together a range of perspectives on adult learning to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the English language version of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Each Wednesday, AONTAS members meet for a membership update and engagement webinar. This blog post shares some key takeaway points from our 20th webinar in which Clare Local Development Company, an AONTAS member organisation, shared a presentation highlighting SICAP (Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme) in Co Clare. Their input focussed on how they have continued to deliver their courses with a learner centred approach despite the COVID-19 restrictions, and showcased collaboration in their community.
On Thursday, 20th August, AONTAS and EPALE came together to host an online workshop on why Black Lives Matter still matters, and why it matters in Ireland in 2020. The workshop was delivered as part of the ‘Adult and Community Education: Supported Learner Pathways 2020-2021’ project under the European Agenda for Adult Learning (EAAL), funded by SOLAS and the European Commission.
Part of AONTAS’ communications with members since the move to remote working includes a weekly membership update and engagement webinar. This offers a space for shared learning and regular feedback. This blog post shares some takeaway points from our 19th membership webinar on the use of social media for course promotion and the recruitment of learners.
The 17th online instalment centred on the results from the recent survey of AONTAS Community Education Network members as they prepare for a return to work and learning next month.
At last week’s Weekly Membership Webinar Mary Stokes, Guidance Programme Coordinator for Further Education and Training (FET) from the National Centre for Guidance in Education, gave a presentation about guidance provision for adults and the role played by Adult Education Guidance Services in local communities across Ireland.
On 29th July, AONTAS held its 50th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in a hybrid format; both online via Zoom and with AONTAS staff and board members present at our office in Dublin. This marked the first time in AONTAS’ history that the AGM did not take place fully in person. Over 60 attendees were present at the online AGM, including representatives from Education and Training Boards (ETBs), community education organisations, and adult learners.
AONTAS Research Officer, Dr Eve Cobain, attended the launch of Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report on “The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for policy in relation to children and young people” published on 22nd July. In our latest blog Eve draws comparisons between the ESRI report and AONTAS’ recent publications on the impact of COVID-19 on adult learners, including the “AONTAS COVID-19 Further Education and Training (FET) Learner Report
AONTAS Membership Update and Engagement Webinar 16 (featuring a contribution from Mental Health Ireland)
AONTAS Membership Update and Engagement Webinar 15 (featuring a contribution from AONTAS member The Code Institute),
Sam O’Brien-Olinger, AONTAS Information and Policy Officer gives a brief overview of some of the most important new EU policies relating to adult learning including recent AONTAS advocacy activities at EU level. Sam also outlines aspects of the new Skills Agenda, the recent renewed commitment to the European Agenda for Adult Learning and why these are important for Ireland, AONTAS members and adult learners across the country.
AONTAS Membership Update and Engagement Webinar 14 (featuring a contribution from Dublin Simon Community).
In this blog, AONTAS Project Officer Kalianne Farren reflects on AkiDwA’s ‘Moving Beyond Reactions: Time to Dismantle Racism’ conference and its links to the adult and community education sector.
In this blog, AONTAS information and Policy Officer Sam O’Brien-Olinger reflects on last week’s weekly membership update webinar (24th June 2020) which saw Shane O’Curry, Director of the Irish Network Against Racism, present and build on the conversation started by AONTAS Board member Joy-Tendai Kangere at the webinar on 10th June.
At the 12th AONTAS Weekly Membership Update Webinar AONTAS Member Jane McNicholas gave a presentation on the actions and plans of Dublin South City Partnership's Education team.
Joy-Tendai Kangere is an Adult Learner Representative on the AONTAS Board and co-founder of the oragnisation "Rooted In Africa & Ireland" (@riainetwork). On Wednesday, 10th June Joy facilitated a crucial discussion on incorporating anti-racism in adult education. A recording of the webinar is available at the end of this page.
Advocacy needed now more than ever despite slow progress to form new government
AONTAS continued its weekly consultation with members by focusing on some practical steps for recruiting new learners and on using online platforms for ensuring current learners are engaged with and supported.
At the last Weekly Membership Update Webinar AONTAS members not only received an update from CEO Niamh O’Reilly but also gained interesting insights into the experience of AONTAS Member Longford Women’s Link.
Increased attendance and updates
On Wednesday, 29th April AONTAS Members and staff met for the fifth Update and Engagement Weekly Webinar.
The role of Higher Education institutions in the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis was the focal point of a recent UNESCO UIL Webinar on higher education institutions’ support for local communities, held on Wednesday, 15th April 2020.
Another great AONTAS Membership Update and Engagement webinar with over 30 attendees from across Ireland. In this webinar we asked 'What does reopening mean for your organisation post COVID-19 restrictions?' These webinars are a space to raise concerns & solution based ideas.
A reflection on the AONTAS Member Webinars to date.
Assessment Equality across Tertiary Education
Maintaining Learner Engagement During COVID-19 Emergency: An Essential Means to Support equality and safeguarding the needs of disadvantaged learners.
AONTAS Information and Policy Officer, Sam O’Brien-Olinger, discusses how adult and community education continues to play a vital role in Ireland’s ability to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
AONTAS Adult Learners’ Festival 2020 Policy Day – Community Education 20 years since publication of Learning for Life: White Paper on Adult Education
AONTAS CEO, Niamh O’Reilly and EU Projects Officer, Dearbháil Lawless, discuss their participation in the first National Coordinators meeting at the European Commission in Brussels on 4-5 February.
AONTAS Chariperson Tara Farrell shares her reflections on a recent trip to Finland as part of Erasmus+ KA1 Mobility.
In this blog, AONTAS Information and Policy Officer Sam O’Brien-Olinger discusses the importance of adequately funding adult learning and community education in 2020.