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South East Technological University (SETU) was delighted to host Professor Meg Benke, a leading scholar in adult education and lifelong learning from State University of New York (SUNY) Empire State University in the United States. Her recent week-long visit was impactful in strengthening SETU’s knowledge in research in education, lifelong learning, online learning and the development of micro-credentials in higher education.

Dr. Helen Murphy, Head of the School of Education and Lifelong Learning at SETU, expressed her enthusiasm about Professor Benke's visit. She stated, “We were delighted to have Professor Benke visiting the School to share her insights and expertise. Our relationship with Meg goes back almost 10 years and she has brought unique awareness and a positive contribution to our ongoing work in the delivery of high-quality education and research in the development of adult education and lifelong learning.” 

Professor Meg Benke, PhD, a former SETU Fulbright scholar, has built an impressive career at SUNY Empire State University, with roles that include academic affairs vice president and acting president. During her visit, she met with Prof Veronica Campbell, President of SETU, to share discussions on education. Prof Benke actively collaborated with several working groups within the School of Education and Lifelong Learning throughout the week, exchanging insights and discussing strategic considerations of professional doctorates in education, research in education, micro-credentials, recognition of prior learning, and the potential of technology in higher and further education.  

One of the week's highlights was a collaborative hybrid talk, which took place both online and in-person on Wednesday, 11 October 2023 as part of the Community of Practice series organised by the SETU Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning. During this session, she discussed 'Harnessing Student Engagement for Student Success: Using Data and Course Redesign.' This thoughtful discussion explored innovative strategies for improving student engagement through curriculum redesign and the effective use of Learning Management Systems/Virtual Learning Environments (LMS/VLE) to increase student retention rates. The talk also provided insights into predictive analytics and how strategic online and blended course redesign can boost student success while fostering a dynamic learning community. 

Fostering an international Community of Practice and collaboration in higher education through IGNITION 

Professor Benke is also a member of the International Steering Board of the IGNITION Erasmus+ funded project and met in person with Laura Widger (assistant head of the Department of Education) and colleagues in the School who are working on IGNITION and other funded education research projects. The SETU IGNITION project team shared their ongoing work in developing an international Teachers Community of Practice (CoP) and details of their upcoming CoP online seminar on Tuesday, 7 November featuring a keynote presentation from Prof Mike Sharples and a panel discussion on the opportunities and issues of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) for more inclusive education.  

Reflecting on the visit, Prof Benke commented, “The School of Education at SETU continues to promote strong research and innovation related to adult learning.  I look forward to working with the leadership of SETU on “Connecting for Impact” which clearly points to regional improvements in talent development in the South East of Ireland and well beyond.”  

For further information on the School of Education and Lifelong Learning, tap here.

For further information on the IGNITION project, tap here.