Invited Speaker of ICEDS 2024




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. 


Title: Depends on the Context: The Problem of Moral Timidity in Higher Education (Download the speech info.)


Abstract: The reason that universities have lasted so long, in fact longer than most institutions, is because of the enduring value of what they do. It’s a matter of basic biology - form and function. Yet it is worth remembering that longevity is in itself small virtue, and institutions and their influence can change. In fact, are changing.
Surely it is an understatement to observe that the process of educational secularization at many universities has been a violent and conflictive process. We cannot assume simply that since universities have been around a very long time means that they will remain the way they are. Neither here nor elsewhere and the reason, simply, is the ubiquity of technology.
In fact, things are unlikely to get easier for universities. Their traditional roles have been expanded and challenged by technology’s omnipresence. We hear the trope in so many ways; some variant to “Technology will make learning more efficient and more interesting.” This is a fine argument, if we’re looking for efficiency and interest as a means but not as an end.
In this presentation, I will show how new technology has imperiously commandeered our most important feature in higher education - our ability and our expectation to make informed moral decisions in higher education. That mixture of “knowledge monopolies” (to use Harold Innis’ term) and new technologies has produced a very real crisis in university education in the 21st century. This crisis is not, as is usually suggested, between the sciences and the humanities. It isn’t even between that other dichotomy, those who believe that universities should be explicit training and employment centers versus those who favor a rich, general education in the classics and creative thinking.
The crisis in education is between technology and moral leadership. Moral leadership, in my view, is what is often in short supply. The roots of this are in Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche in the nineteenth century as well as in Michel Foucault and Herbert Marcuse in the twentieth century. In my title to this position paper, I chose to call it “moral timidity”. Perhaps that is a bit generous.



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).



Principal Lecturer Dr. Panagiotis Fotaris, University of Brighton, UK


Dr. Panagiotis Fotaris, a Principal Lecturer at the University of Brighton, specialises in Game and Narrative Design, User Experience Design, and Design Thinking. With a career spanning over twenty years, Dr. Fotaris has made substantial contributions to game-based learning, the innovative use of educational escape rooms, and the seamless incorporation of generative AI into pedagogical frameworks. His commitment to academic excellence is evident from his receipt of multiple teaching awards and his influential roles at various institutions, where he has developed curricula for several courses and improved student satisfaction and engagement through innovative, industry-aligned teaching methodologies including gamification, flipped classrooms approaches, and the use of immersive technologies.

Dr. Fotaris has contributed to over 40 peer-reviewed publications, accruing more than 1300 citations, that reflect his substantial impact on both the educational and technological domains. His leadership skills are exemplified by his roles as chair of four international conferences, an active participation in over 40 technical committees, and the orchestrator of numerous educational workshops, particularly on the topic of educational escape rooms. Additionally, Dr. Fotaris contributes to the global academic community as a scientific evaluator for the European Research Executive Agency of the European Commission, assessing project proposals under the “Arts and cultural awareness and expression in education and training” theme of Horizon Europe.

Beyond the confines of academia, Dr. Fotaris’s journey encompasses a dynamic array of roles within the Creative Industries. His versatile career includes experiences as a mashup artist, radio producer, music blogger, podcaster, DJ, as well as a graphic and web designer, video editor, and a journalist specialising in video games and music. This diverse background imbues his educational initiatives with a mix of creative innovation, scholarly depth, and insightful industry perspective, significantly enriching his contributions to the field of educational technology and design.


Title: Unlocking Potential: Streamlining Educational Escape Room Design with Room2Educ8 and Generative Artificial Intelligence


Abstract: Educational Escape Rooms (EERs) represent a novel approach within academic settings, aiming to enrich student learning through active engagement, teamwork, and problem-solving. Despite their benefits, the development and widespread implementation of EERs are hindered by the absence of standardised design frameworks and the intricate, time-consuming nature of tailoring experiences to unique educational contexts. To address these challenges, our presentation will highlight Room2Educ8, an innovative, student-centric framework that embodies Design Thinking principles.

Room2Educ8 serves as a comprehensive guide for educators, facilitating the design of EERs that align with their educational objectives. It provides detailed, step-by-step instructions for crucial design phases, including understanding learner needs, defining clear goals, crafting compelling stories, creating challenging puzzles, prototyping, and executing thorough evaluation. By simplifying the EER creation process and promoting flexibility and innovation, Room2Educ8 ensures the delivery of captivating and educationally robust experiences.

Additionally, we will explore how Room2Educ8's effectiveness is markedly enhanced when integrated with Generative Artificial Intelligence. This powerful combination promotes rapid idea generation, expedites the development of prototypes, and optimises content production to cater to a spectrum of learning preferences and goals. As a result, this integration considerably lightens the workload for educators, freeing them to concentrate on refining the educational impact and effectiveness of their escape rooms.

By presenting tangible examples, tips for prompt engineering, and an EER-focused prompt library, this presentation intends to clarify the creation process of these engaging educational environments, making them more accessible to educators from diverse backgrounds.