Lifelong Learning: Preparing For Our Future World conference to take place at WIT

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Keynote speaker Dr Meg Benke is Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Empire State College, State University of New York.

Keynote speaker Dr Meg Benke is Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Empire State College, State University of New York.

Lifelong Learning: Preparing for our Future World is the title conference taking place on 11 December at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT)

Governments across the globe are striving to help their societies deal with the profound changes that are being wrought through rapid advances in technology; in modes of social and political participation; and in the environment. Considerable energy and investment is being devoted to programmes of ‘lifelong learning’ to help meet these challenges. The EU target for participation in lifelong learning is 15% by 2020, while in Ireland the National Skills Strategy aims to increase to 10% the share of persons aged 25-64 engaged in lifelong learning by 2020 and to 15% by 2025.

Higher Education Lifelong Learning in Ireland Network

This conference is organised by the Higher Education Lifelong Learning in Ireland Network (HELLIN) and will explore policy, practice and innovation in lifelong learning. The 2019 conference is co-ordinated by the WIT School of Education and Lifelong Learning under Dr Helen Murphy the current HELLIN Chair. The conference is aimed at lifelong learning researchers, academics, practitioners and students, registration is still open at

The HELLIN network informs policy relating to all aspects of adult education and lifelong learning whether these be Workplace or Work-based Learning, Continuing Professional Development, Recognition of Prior Learning, Adult and Community Education and older learners.

Dr Murphy says that this year the conference will focus on how lifelong learning can help prepare us for our future world. “The conference aims to explore how lifelong learning is responding to a changing external environment and how shifts in policy, practice and innovations are helping shape our future. The HELLIN conference is an opportunity for researchers, practitioners, learners and policy makers to discuss these shifts, share practice and research and debate the issues facing all those involved in Lifelong Learning.”

Keynote on personalized and connected learning

Dr Meg Benke will travel from New York to give the keynote address on the topic of Lifelong Learning: Personalized and Connected Learning. Dr Benke is Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Empire State College, State University of New York.

“Guided by the three themes of Policy, Practice and Innovation for the Future World, we will examine the future of personalized and connected learning,” she says. “How do we as lifelong learning educators best prepare for ourselves and our learners?  What are new ways to engage with technology and online networks?  How do we re-balance for New Life and Work Trajectories?  What are Emergent models for the Recognition of Prior Learning and greater collaborations between industry and education? And how do we better use data to understand learner success?”


A panel discussion will address topics such as how, in an almost full employment market, can we encourage learners to return to engage with education; what are the gaps that we need to fulfil to encourage and support Lifelong Learning as well as international trends and improving inclusivity and access to lifelong learning.

The panel will feature a diverse range of national and international speakers including:

  • Dr Meg Benke: Executive Vice-President Academic Affairs, Empire State College 
  • Rev. Trevor Sargent: CoI Curate Tramore, GIY advocate and former Leader of the Green Party in Ireland 
  • Edmond Connolly: Manager South East Regional Skills Forum and former CEO of Macra na Feirme 
  • Mary Lyons: Director National Innovation, SOLAS 
  • Donna Tilson: Director Data Insights at Sun Life Financial and founding member Crystal Valley Tech

Themes covered include:

Policy: The Future for Lifelong Learning, New Life and Work Trajectories; Re-balancing social and human capital in Lifelong Learning, International policy developments to support Lifelong Learning.

Practice: The Changing Role of the Lifelong Learning Practitioner, How the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) can facilitate access for Lifelong Learners, Emerging practice, methodologies and pedagogies in Lifelong Learning.

Innovation: Partnership and collaboration for Lifelong Learning, How can technology support Lifelong Learning?

The conference is supported by the HELLIN network of higher education institutions engaged with Lifelong Learning and the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

Register at

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