Teagasc colleges working to ensure education is ‘neither undermined nor delayed’

While students have been returning to schools across the country over the past week, agricultural school students are preparing for some changes to the way they complete courses.

Teagasc says it will be welcoming learners back to colleges this September but courses will be delivered using “blended learning”.

This means that teachers and tutors of agricultural courses will teach skills, as normal, in the large open spaces around its farms, while many classes will be delivered remotely on the online video conferencing platform – Zoom.

Where social distancing cannot be maintained, learners will be required to wear face coverings.

Principal of Ballyhaise College, John Kelly, said that Teagasc adapted to a new environment once the Covid-19 crisis began last March:

Without hesitation, Teagasc set-about transforming its traditional education delivery model to one based on remote learning. This ensured that all learners could complete their course as scheduled.

“In Teagasc, we have been using Moodle, an online virtual learning platform for a number of years. This package is ‘open source’, which means that it is used by many education providers across the world and is the leading package for online learning environments,” he added.

Virtual open days and remote learning

Due to the uncertainty around whether or not courses would go ahead in September, Teagasc held a number of virtual open days in June.

Kelly says: “These were attended by hundreds of prospective students and continue to be watched back on the Teagasc YouTube channel.”

Students hoping to complete a course at a Teagasc college this school term are advised to invest, if possible, in a PC or laptop.

“To get the most from remote learning, we are requesting all our learners starting back this September to have a PC/laptop,” adds Kelly.

It is not practical to share a computer with others in a household who may also require the PC for their studies.

“Staff and learners at Teagasc colleges are working together to ensure education is neither undermined nor delayed.”

Teagasc will offer a fresh round of open days in October at all of its colleges.