Aligning Teaching and Learning Across the Technological Sector (ATLAS)

Researchers from 5 collaborating institutions: Nuala Harding (Athlone I.T); Dr. Moira Maguire (Dundalk I.T.); Gina Noonan (I.T. Carlow) ; Dr Deirdre McClay  (Letterkenny I.T.) and Dr Mary Fenton (Waterford I.T.).

Funding: €75,000 from the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund 2016 (Driving Enhancement through Capacity Building in Irish Higher Education) of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. This funding was divided among 5 collaborating institutions: Athlone I.T. (lead partner), Dundalk I.T., I.T. Carlow, Letterkenny I.T. and Waterford I.T. The project ran for 18 months from January 2017 to June  2018.

Project Aim

ATLAS aimed to interpret the National Professional Development Framework (click here for NPDF document) within the context of existing accredited provision across technological higher education institutions in Ireland.  This was undertaken with a view to examining and addressing specific professional development needs in the technological sector using a reflective and evidence-based approach.

Since the introduction of the HEA Strategic Initiatives Funding (SIF), accredited teaching and learning modules and programmes were developed and offered across the higher education sector. Within the technological sector, the Learning Innovation Network (LIN) group collaboratively designed the ‘LIN Flexible Pathway’ to a postgraduate diploma. In addition, other LIN members developed programmes in response to their own specific requirements. Building on this work, the collaborators in ATLAS sought to: (i) map existing accredited T&L provision against the NPDF; (ii) interpret existing provision using the NPDF domains; (iii) identify opportunities to align provision to the Digital Capacity Framework; and (iv) explore the development of a framework/tool to support colleagues in using the framework to guide and inform ongoing professional development.


The project involved 5 partner organisations (Athlone I.T. (lead partner), Dundalk I.T., I.T. Carlow, Letterkenny I.T. and Waterford I.T.) and 3 supporting institutions (Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Galway, Mayo Institute of Technology and I.T. Sligo). A steering group was set up comprising representatives from the 8 collaborating institutions and a student union representative. All accredited professional development modules and programmes in teaching and learning within 7 of the collaborating institutions were mapped  to the NPDF. This involved 6 major awards (including the MA in Learning and Teaching at LYIT) and 49 modules/special purpose awards. The process included consultations with programme staff and graduates. Using an iterative approach, the partners mapped and interpreted existing provision using the NPDF.     

Engagement Activity

ATLAS involved extensive engagement activity with both internal and external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders with which the project engaged comprised: partner representatives for the various accredited programmes and modules, student union representatives, current and graduate students, academic staff and management, programme boards, institute committees and academic council. External stakeholder engagement included: THEA,  LIN and the National Forum (including other project teams from the 2016 funding call). The outputs of ATLAS were discussed and critiqued at a variety of National Forum seminars and national and international conferences:

  1. “ATLAS – Exploring the sharing of Accredited Academic Professional Development Collaboratively for the Technological Sector”. National Forum Seminar Series 2017/18, March 2018,  Athlone I.T.
  2. “ATLAS –a seminar for HR managers, educational developers and learning technologists.’ National Forum Seminar Series 2018/19, March 2019 TU Dublin. THEA.
  3. The Weakest Link? Digital Identity and Wellbeing in Accredited Continuing Professional Development in Teaching and Learning’ paper presented at EdTech 2018, 31st May-01st June 2018,  I.T. Carlow.
  4. ‘ATLAS – A Model for Mapping to the Professional Development Framework,’ paper presented at AILTA 2018, 30th October 2018, Marino Institute of Education.
  5. ‘ATLAS: A Model for Mapping to a Professional Development Framework in Ireland,’ 90 minute workshop at SEDA 23rd Annual Conference, 15-16 November 2018, Birmingham.


The key output was a bespoke mapping tool and consultation pack developed to support educational developers in using the NPDF to review and develop programmes. The project also helped in terms of impact to: raise awareness  of the NPDF in partner organisations; develop relationships and deepen collaborations between T&L staff in partner organisations; interpret the NPDF within the context of each mapped  programme and module; identify areas of development for mapped  programmes and modules; and, identify opportunities for sectoral collaboration. For more details and output from the ATLAS project see