The first Benchmarking Visit of DigiFLEd took place in the charming town of Maynooth, Ireland, from May 27-31, 2024. Hosted by Maynooth University, this event brought together 25 Ukrainian and European academics on-site and 14 more online, creating a dynamic and collaborative environment. The visit was meticulously organized by the School of Business and the Centre of Teaching and Learning, ensuring a rich and engaging experience for all participants.

The week commenced with a warm welcome from Dr Susi G Gottlöber, the Dean of Teaching and Learning, and Professor Joe Coughlan, the Head of the School of Business. Dr Kypraios, Maynooth University’s DigiFLed Lead, then provided an overview of the week’s activities before leading an elaborate tour of the campus. A highlight of the tour was a visit to the College Chapel of St Patrick’s College, an architectural gem that left a lasting impression on the attendees.

In the afternoon, training sessions kicked off with icebreaker and cross-cultural activities designed to foster a sense of community and collaboration among the participants. The day culminated in a welcome address by Tim Thompson, the Vice President for Students and Learning at Maynooth University, followed by a delightful reception.

The second day was dedicated to intensive workshops focusing on “Moodle Course Page Design Essentials” and “Gamification Essentials in Moodle.” These sessions provided valuable insights and practical skills for enhancing online teaching platforms.

The third day began with sessions on “Foundations of Effective Online Teaching and Learning,” followed by an inspiring talk by Dr Alison Farrell from the Centre for Teaching and Learning. Dr Farrell’s discussion on Writing Enriched Curriculum (WEC) and embedding writing in online courses was particularly enlightening. The day concluded with a memorable Irish pub experience, offering a taste of local culture.

Cultural enrichment took centre stage on the fourth day, with visits to Howth, a picturesque village on the east coast. Participants enjoyed a boat ride around Ireland’s Eye and the Howth Coast, exploring the treasures of Ireland’s Eye, Howth Harbour, Balscadden Bay, and Dublin Bay. This tour provided spectacular views of the island, the Martello Tower, and the thriving colonies of seals and birds that inhabit the area, a sanctuary within the Dublin Bay Biosphere.

The final day featured a series of inspiring seminars. Helen Farrell from Maynooth University Library introduced the concept of Open Educational Resources (OER). Ailín Ní Chonchúir and Dr. Aoife Ní Ghloinn from the Centre for Irish Language Research, Teaching, and Testing discussed the Certificate in Teaching Irish to Irish Adults and explored how digital tools support teaching and learning. Michael Hanley delivered an insightful presentation on Digital Transformation in Higher Education.

Following a concluding lunch, participants were treated to a guided tour of The Russell Library. This venerable library houses the historical and special collections of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, featuring approximately 34,000 printed works dating from the 16th to the mid-19th century. The collections span a range of subjects including theology, mathematics, science, geography, and history, providing a fascinating glimpse into the academic heritage of the institution.

The Benchmarking Visit of DigiFLeD in Maynooth was a resounding success, blending academic rigor, cultural enrichment, and professional development. Participants left with new knowledge, strengthened networks, and lasting memories of their time in Ireland.