DERRY City and Strabane District Council, alongside funding partners North West Regional College and Ulster University, held the world’s first Virtual Learning City Festival on Wednesday and Thursday.
Over 50 online events took place during the two-day programme in the form of information sessions, live presentations, short films and live chats exploring key areas such as Jobs & Skills, Health & Well-Being, Arts & Culture and Technology & Science.
In total, there were 40,000 engagement views on Facebook and other social media platforms during the two days.
In addition, there was over 9,500 visitors to the bespoke Learning Festival website, including views on Youtube coming largely from the UK and Ireland, but also due to the nature event and associated global conference which launched the festival, recorded traffic also came from Europe, Ukraine and Japan and Brazil.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Brian Tierney joined speakers from Colombia, Seoul, Bangkok, Cork, Hamburg, USA and Derry to open the festival, and he said he was delighted to see so many had enjoyed the programme on offer.
“Achieving the UNESCO Learning City status for the Derry and Strabane region was an important moment for our district, it was brilliant to see it celebrated in virtual format.
“The wide variety of topics covered meant that there was something to attract everyone’s attention, and it really captured the essence of what learning is about – picking up new skills and information.
“Thanks to our Council team, to North West Regional College and Ulster University, and to all those who delivered workshops and interactive sessions across the two days without this collaboration we could not have run a virtual event.”
Malachy Ó Néill, Provost at Ulster University’s Magee campus said: “Ulster University has been privileged to collaborate once again with our neighbours Derry City and Strabane District Council and North West Regional College to acquire UNSECO Learning City status for our city and to host the inaugural Virtual Learning Festival. Well done and thank you to all involved.
“It has been inspirational to see and hear so many people come together to learn. As our thoughts turn to enabling the cultural and tourism sectors in the North West post COVID-19, we look forward to building on this initiative in the future for the good of the people of the city and region.”
Leo Murphy, Principal and Chief Executive of North West Regional College said: “This was a fantastic festival and all at NWRC were delighted to be part of such an innovative event in this new era of learning through a virtual format.
“We continue to support career ambitions across the region and look forward to continued collaboration with the partners of the festival in the future.”
Padraig Canavan, Chair Learning City said: “It was an honour for us to attract so many distinguished speakers from around the globe to our opening seminar.
“With ‘Lockdown Learning’ as the theme we heard about individual, community and nationwide learning initiatives like ‘Classrooms without Walls’ and the new libraries – ‘Smart Learning Civic Centres’. A great first for Learning Cities and for Derry and Strabane.”
If you missed the festival over the last few days you can watch all of the LIVE Zoom recordings and premiered events at the Learning Hub.
Learning City’s is delighted that this Learning hub can be now used and shared. It is a valuable resource for people of all ages to enjoy at any time, over and over again available at https://www.derrystrabane.com/LearningFest