In Ireland, our seven agricultural and two horticultural colleges are adapting to life on-line. Ireland is in it’s third (and hopefully last) lockdown due to the Covid19 Coronavirus, so face to face interaction with learners is currently postponed.
This brings with it new challenges in terms of learner engagement. Teagasc courses are at EFQ levels 4 and 5 mainly (we do partner to co-deliver for higher education institutions as well).
Teagasc courses usually offer the learner a balance of practical skills with theory. While practicals are currently postponed, on-line classes with learners are on-going.
When the face to face experience of being physically in a college or centre is not possible, there is a challenge to keep the learner engaged in a mix of online classes and interactive exercises. Learners on Teagasc programmes usually prefer face to face classroom sessions and outdoor skills practicals. The interaction between learners and their tutors and their peers is most important for effective online learning.
Staff have been hugely innovative in how they are keeping learners engaged, in a bid to keep course schedules intact. Moodle is used as the on-line learning platform, and since the onset of the virus, both staff and learners have been on a steep learning curve in communicating effectively through this on-line medium.
College open / careers days where prospective students visit and meet staff and students are usually run in springtime. This year, there are a series a virtual open days scheduled instead and the table below provides the links to the virtual open days in colleges. EUROPEA members are welcome to view the sessions to learn more about Teagasc education.
Teagasc Education Virtual Open Days 2021: details HERE.
Overall, while there have been huge challenges for staff, one positive development from the process is the effective adoption of teaching and learning in an online setting.
We are also looking forward to the ESEE conference being held in Ireland in June.
All details for the ESEE conference is available: HERE.
By Carmel Finlay and James Maher, EUROPEA-Ireland
Acknowledgements: many thanks to EUROEA-Ireland, Carmel and James (IE) 🙂
Photos: from Carmel and James
Featured image: Pixabay Free Images