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Home » Education » How educators and innovators are driving ATU’s Higher Education 4.0 project

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Noel Mulkeen

HE4.0 Innovation Projects Manager

Learn how ATU’s Higher Education 4.0 innovations are merging technology and creativity through Massive Open Online Courses, MakerSpace workshops and agile learning models.

Innovation is at the heart of ATU’s Higher Education 4.0 (HE4.0) project, with the Innovation Projects team dedicated to building a comprehensive system that responds swiftly to the needs of employers and learners in an agile, efficient and cost-effective manner.

Initiative bridges tech and creativity

ATU is committed to pioneering new educational models that engage both young and lifelong learners. This goal has been achieved through several key initiatives.

One of the flagship projects is MakerSpace, which includes workshops at ATU’s Galway, Sligo and Donegal campuses and an outreach programme that brings technology and creativity into secondary schools. This initiative aims to inspire students to consider careers in science and technology.

“We wanted to help students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, identify pathways into higher education,” explains Noel Mulkeen, HE4.0 Innovation Projects Manager.

Student solutions and workshops

“ATU MakerSpace provides a collaborative environment where students can develop innovative solutions to contemporary challenges. It also features a mobile unit equipped with laser cutters, 3D printers and robotics kits, which our educators use to deliver STE(A)M-focused workshops in schools across the North West region,” adds Mulkeen.

We have implemented ‘lean’ methodologies
to develop these courses quickly and
efficiently, without sacrificing quality.

Innovative learning models and technologies

The Innovation Projects explore a wide range of innovative learning models, including project-based and work-based learning. It has developed remote laboratories that allow users to control equipment and perform experiments remotely. It has also embraced AI-based adaptive learning, established professional recording studios to support academic staff in creating online content and collated extensive subject material for lifelong learners.

HE4.0 introduces 12 new MOOCs

The HE4.0 project has introduced 12 new Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) — free and open courses accessible to anyone worldwide. These MOOCs are available through ATU’s free course portal,, which will also be undergoing a relaunch in the coming month.

Part-time, accredited courses

Building on these, ATU offers a series of micro-credentials: short, accessible courses that can be completed part-time in up to 14 weeks. These accredited courses allow students to accumulate credits towards a major award over time.

Creating agile courses

Central to these efforts is the instructional design team, which creates reusable learning content. They collaborate with subject matter experts to develop courses that meet the needs of both students and industry.

“We have implemented ‘lean’ methodologies to develop these courses quickly and efficiently, without sacrificing quality,” Mulkeen concludes.

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