DCU links with FutureLearn to offer first Irish language MOOC

Fáilte ar Líne is a new Irish language and culture online lifelong learning initiative developed by Dublin City University and co-funded Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the Twenty Year Strategy for the Irish Language with support from the National Lottery.

Fáilte ar Líne (Welcome online) provides a first step in learning the Irish language (ab initio) and learning about Irish culture from any location in the world. The initiative, aimed primarily at the diaspora, the ‘new Irish’ population and those who learned Irish in school but wish to begin again, will leverage DCU’s recognised expertise in digital learning and in the Irish language to make learning the language accessible to everyone, anywhere in the world. Participants will be able to progress from beginner to advanced courses and can, if they wish, complete a full degree in Irish language and culture – entirely online.

The Fáilte ar Líne initiative is seen as an important step in enhancing the global, online presence of the Irish language; connecting with the Irish diaspora; and promoting opportunities to study in and to visit Ireland.  It will also complement the financial supports provided by Minister Joe McHugh’s department for the teaching of Irish in over 40 3rd level colleges worldwide, many of which send students to visit the Gaeltacht on an annual basis.

Minister McHugh said,  “I am delighted to launch ‘Fáilte Ar Líne’ here today.  This exciting new endeavour demonstrates how we can utilise modern technology and innovation to bring our language and culture to new audiences around the globe.  As Minister of State with responsibility for the Irish language, and in my previous role as Minister of State for the Diaspora, I have witnessed at first hand the incredible interest and passion that there is for our language and culture worldwide.  I am sure that this will be reflected in the number and diversity of participants that ‘Failte Ar Líne’ will attract.

I believe that this course will not only be of great interest to the Irish community and diaspora abroad, but also to many Irish people here at home who would like to re-engage with the language, as well as new communities who may be connecting with the language for the first time.  This is particularly timely as we celebrate Bliain na Gaeilge 2018, and as we are connecting with Irish speakers worldwide with the #TrasnaNadTonnta cyber-Gaeltacht this week.  I would like to commend the team at DCU, in particular Professor Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, for their work in bringing this project to fruition, and I look forward to monitoring its success over the coming months and years.”

The first major milestone of the project was announced at the event – the launch of Irish 101, a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), one of the first of its kind to offer Irish language learning globally.  The MOOC, which will start on the 29th of January, is being delivered in conjunction with FutureLearn, the social learning platform, which boasts over 7 million learners globally and partnerships with almost 100 leading universities worldwide.  DCU will also deliver a MOOC on High Performance Computing starting on the same day on FutureLearn.

Mark Lester, Director of Partnerships Development at FutureLearn, commented, “Dublin City University is one of the top 50 under 50 universities shaping the future of higher education, and an innovator in online education in Europe, and we’re delighted that they’ve chosen to partner with us to deliver the Irish 101 online course. It’s fantastic to be working with such a driven team who’s focused on delivering the highest quality digital experience for learners across the world and we’re excited to see what we can achieve together in the months and years to come.”

The project, led by Associate Professor Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl from DCU’s Irish language school, Fiontar agus Scoil na Gaeilge and The Ideas Lab in DCU’s National Institute for Digital Learning, draws on expertise from Irish language specialists, learning technologists and digital researchers across the university.

Professor Nic Giolla Mhichíl said, ‘We want to give first, second and third generations of the Irish diaspora an opportunity to learn more about Irish language and culture.  We also want to ensure that learners can come to Ireland and experience the Irish language first hand in the Gaeltachtaí. Our strategic partnership with FutureLearn gives our offering a truly global reach, allowing DCU to build on its well-established reputation for democratising access to higher education through online learning.  It is truly inspiring to see so many international universities with Irish language and cultural offerings. We hope to work with many of these to create synergies between their programmes and DCU’s Fáilte ar Líne project.”

Irish 101 will offer an introduction to the Irish language; Ogham and the first writing in Irish; greetings, blessings and curses; and Irish names and mythology amongst other subjects.  Learners can register online for a number of flexible learning options.  All that is required is a device and an internet connection.  Registrations for Irish 101 are already open and thousands of learners have already registered for the course.

A number of learners have reviewed the course for the team:

“It was enjoyable, engaging and insightful. It is suitable for not only beginners but also for those who wish to ‘water their roots’!  Madeleine Fitzpatrick, Limerick

“It is an easy to follow course which surprisingly covers a lot of topics demonstrating the ease of online language learning.” Ruth Moylan, Dublin

“I really enjoyed the course; it made me feel excited about my Irish roots and eager to learn more about the language and culture.” Adam Shaw, United Kingdom

“It is very motivating.” Maxime Le Mée, Rennes, France

Register for Irish 101 at https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/irish-language.

ENDS