Conor Galvin

Dr Galvin leads or contributes to various Education, ICT, Public Policy and Development Practice programmes at University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and the UN Training School Ireland. His research interests include the politics of professionalism, literacy in an information age, e-learning, schools ICT and the impact of new and emergent technology on learning and society. Dr Galvin is a member of the Minister for Education’s Strategy Group on Education ICT (Ireland). He led the evaluation of the €1.5m Diageo Liberties Learning Initiative, Dublin, designed and developed the case-based monitoring approach used by the EUN eTwinning initiative, was external evaluator on the EU funded DigEuLit  project and recently completed a  research evaluation of the €2.8m CONNECT School project, Ireland. He also acted as an Assessor on a number of EU actions relating to the Information Society -  including eLearning and MINERVA - and have been National Delegate (Ireland) to an OECD summit on the Information Society & Education.  In January 2009, he was invited to join the Scientific Board of the ShareTec Project – an EU-funded digital repository project. He has been a director of Action Lesotho, Ireland, since 2009 and an adviser to the Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GESCI) – a UN sponsored agency working out of Ireland - since 1995.

Dr Galvin holds The President’s Award for Teaching Excellence at UCD and regularly speaks at ICT / IST events in Ireland and Europe. In the past three years he has keynoted LILAC, EUN, British Council, Apple Ireland, and Microsoft Innovative School events. Before joining UCD he worked at University of Wales Swansea and University of Cambridge, England.

Here is a summary of what Conor will be discussing based on his recent article in the Media & Learning News:
The idea that there can be ‘good’ spaces for living has always been, for me, an interesting one. Particularly given that so many spaces fail to make the category. The best spaces are fluid and ‘malleable’; we design them, we shape them to personal need, we furnish them, arrange and rearrange them to match times and taste. With thought and effort we ‘make’ spaces that accommodate the range of our being and activities. We customise and personalise endlessly. Elements are shifted and rearranged. Lines and gradations are revised. As a result these spaces are ‘ours’ in a very particular way and we can be comfortable there.

Yet learning spaces are all too often seen as somehow ‘different’ ¬ as being removed from the tinkering and renovating that goes with those other good spaces in our lives. And this becomes particularly problematic when we take into account the incredible reticence of many in our education and training systems right across Europe to even begin to engage with the possibilities of those virtual spaces that a new digital ecology now makes both possible and rewarding.

That’s why when the opportunity was offered to think a bit more about this reluctance and to speak to a sizable international conference on the value of technology in a reimagined learning act, I found myself thinking principally about 'spaces' and 'power-ups'.

Put simply, the more I considered the problem the more it became clear to me that there are some ‘spaces’ which are particularly useful in offering a better understanding as to the true value of technology. They are helpful as a way of lining-up and opening-up issues and practices that reflect the substance and architectures of contemporary learning. Three in particular seem to me useful when we re/examine what they show about what - until recently, at least ¬ hasn’t always been characterised by imagination or positivity. These are: the process spaces, the content spaces, and the values spaces.

In my contribution to the opening plenary of the Learning & Media Conference in Brussels on 24 November I will be exploring the ways that ‘powering up’ these spaces is usually seen as the self-evident ‘solution’ to a vast range of learning and teaching problems and challenges. And I will be suggesting why this is simply wrong. Instead I’ll be arguing for the value of imaginative technology usage as a meaningful way out of this conundrum. In particular, the dynamic engagement that flows from putting this type of usage at the centre of both formal and informal learning contexts is argued to make better learning more likely. Imaginative technology usage can also push learners and teachers to subvert deterministic sociopolitical and technological agendas, and so offer light & hope in a rising darkness of poor technology usage and flatline learning practices. Plus, of course, it’s a lot more fun.