Invited Speaker




Prof. Alan Garfield, University of Dubuque, USA


Professor Alan Garfield, Emeritus, was Chair of the Digital Art and Design Department at the University of Dubuque, in Dubuque, Iowa USA. He still serves as Director of the Bisignano Art Gallery (a post he has held since 2008). His formal education is eclectic: BA, University of Iowa; MA, State University of New York-Binghamton; Postgraduate work Wadham College, Oxford. As an art historian, his publications are also diverse, including papers on 2D and 3D animation algorithms, images in contemporary politics, 19th century French philosophies, Holocaust studies, Beat Generation poetry, and challenges in higher education. He teaches in Iowa; he lives in Madison, Wisconsin USA with his wife (Phyllis) and grandkids (3yr old and 1 yr old) and summers in Donegal, Ireland. 


Assoc. Prof. Rachel Fitzgerald, University of Queensland, Australia


A/Professor Rachel Fitzgerald is an academic leader, currently serving as the Deputy Associate Dean (Academic) for the Faculty of Business, Economics, and Law at the University of Queensland. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Future of Work Fellow, and a Certified Member of the Association of Learning Technology. Renowned as an academic leader in the digital age, Rachel specializes in Education Innovation and Technology-Enhanced Learning in contemporary higher education. Her extensive expertise extends to the global landscape, where she has spearheaded transformative teaching and learning initiatives across various institutions in the UK, Ireland, and Australia. Her impactful contributions to the field encompass research interests in micro-credentials, workplace learning, and the scholarship of teaching and learning (with AI).
Rachel's influence resonates deeply within higher education institutions, where she has played a pivotal role in shaping curriculum and digital frameworks. Her scholarly achievements have found a platform in leading journals and eLearning forums, advancing the discourse on educational innovation. Her most recent literary contribution is the book titled "Technology Enhanced Learning and the Virtual University," which has been published by Springer and is challenging norms in higher education. As an associate professor in Management, Rachel has led postgraduate programs in Corporate Innovation and Leadership, Project Management, and an e-MBA before focusing on academic leadership roles in Higher Education.
As an internationally acknowledged figure in Technology-Enhanced Learning, Rachel serves as the Senior Editor for the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice and Associate Editor for the Australasian Journal of Education Technology. Originally from Ireland which is still ‘home,’ she much prefers the weather in her adopted home of Queensland, Australia.


Title: Navigating Next Steps in Online and Digital Learning: Adaptive Challenges for Global Higher Education


Abstract: In the aftermath of Covid-19 and with the emergence of GenAI, academic practice in higher education is at an important crossroads. The pandemic created a global emergency response to push education online (Hodges et al., 2020) and in response, many educators developed innovative and creative alternatives to traditional pedagogy to support learning and enable students to succeed. As the world returns to ‘normal’, it has become too easy to return to the pre-Covid-19 models of teaching and to forget lessons learned from innovation in online practice.  We need to build upon lessons learned and explore a range of innovative practices to rethink university teaching and assessment. Traditional approaches to university education no longer fit emerging societal trends that include flexible work, working from home, and lifelong learning. Post-secondary students therefore need more flexibility from universities, as reflected in diminishing attendance in the classroom and a significant increase in students working to support their learning (Williams, 2022). The emergence of Generative AI raises further questions about teaching and assessment practice and security. Digital online technologies present the promise of genuine alternatives for the design of learning and teaching (Mintz, 2021; Paul & Jefferson, 2019), particularly as we prepare our learners for future work and leadership in society.  I discuss how teaching and assessment can be designed to maximize the use of digital technologies, leverage their affordances, and facilitate collaborative and innovative learning in ways that align with the needs of increasingly automated societies. Online education has become a critical element of university business, and ‘virtual learning’ is as important as the ‘physical learning environment’.  It is essential that as much care, if not more, is taken in how this environment looks, feels, and responds to students and staff. Done well, blended and fully online education will support current students through future-focused approaches and serve as a value add for the education of tomorrow. Here, I explore how one can conceivably create a holistic virtual university, using a range of technology-enhanced learning applications, learning tools, and good governance (Sankey et al, 2023). 



Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020, March 27) The difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning. Educause Review.  

Mintz, B. (2021). Neoliberalism and the crisis in higher education: The cost of ideology. The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 80(1), 79–112. 

Paul, J. & Jefferson, F. (2019). A comparative analysis of student performance in an online vs. face-to-face environmental science course from 2009 to 2016. Front. Comput. Sci., 1(7). 

Sankey, M., Huijser, H. & Fitzgerald, R. (eds) (2023) Technology Enhanced Learning and the Virtual University, Springer

Williams, T. (2022) Class attendance plummets post-Covid. Times Higher Education. University class attendance plummets post-Covid. Times Higher Education (THE).