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Covid-19 brings a dawn of a new way of Teaching, Learning and Assessment.

 

"Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think..."

Jawaharlal Nehru.

Spring 2020 brought a whole new meaning to the bright beginnings that spring normally delivers. When Covid 19 hit us in mid March in Ireland, we had no idea what was ahead of us and the storm that it had the potential to create for students undertaking our programmes. We knew that we needed to keep going and facilitate our students to finish their studies but we really did not quite fully understand how we were going to achieve this.

Transtitioning to online learning

When transitioning students to online learning, we first had to recognise our various demographics of students, across multiple disciplines who had varying learning styles. With this in mind we designed learning spaces with specific student demographics in mind. Firstly Programme Manager’s and Tutors were given intensive training on delivering courses online and changing styles to accommodate different programme and student needs. Accommodations were also made for students with limited internet connectivity or those working on the frontline, which included live online session recordings and one to one tutor sessions

A fulfilling and rewarding process 

Teaching, Learning and assessment has continued and skills to do this online have evolved within each of our teams. The contingencies we have in place to support eaxch and every learner are different as are their approach to their studies. However it is still a very fulfilling and rewarding process that is proving to offer even greater accessibility to education than we could have previously imagined. Moving teaching online has been a huge challenge that the team in Portobello Institute have embraced with open arms. Many of our students and teaching teams have found the thoughts of moving over more daunting than the actual move. This smooth transition has been made easier and possible with the support of our eLearning development manager and team and we are very grateful for their calm, supportive , methodical approach to this process.

A reflection from those engaged with the "New Way"

One of our team of SNA tutors reflects and shares her own experience in the last few weeks:

“Going online as a tutor was very daunting for me, but I finally got my head around it and I just love it. I pre-record my sessions and the students can listen to them in their own time. Once a week we are online together which gives the students the opportunity to interact with me and each other. The students have told me that it's great to be able to listen to sessions in their own time as everyone is out of routine now.” Anne Canney SNA Tutor  (Galway)

Our students have also got their own story to tell:

“When Covid 19 hit and we heard all the schools and colleges had to close we as a group were worried and unsure what was going to happen but   the college have been great at keeping us updated on everything that is going on and offering extra support. The tutors and course co- ordinator have been fantastic working hard behind the scenes to get everything up online to ensure our classes keeping running to complete our course work”  (Rebecca Fox 2nd year Fashion student)

Covid 19 and the forced closure of our Institute stopped us in our tracks and forced us to think. We have gained new skills, and in the process, we have discovered we can enhance the delivery of our programmes for the future. We can make education even more accessible and available. These extraordinary times have certainly paved the way for a new way of thinking, for considring the options differently and embracing disruptive change at a pace we would have never considered possible. 

About the author

Denise Flood is the College Director of Portobello Institute since 2013. Denise also holds the role of is head of the Early Years department at Portobello Institute since 2008 and remains part of our core tutoring team due to her continued love of teaching. Denise teaches on core subjects of the degree programme including Reflective Leadership, Working with Children and families in the Early Years and Research and Thesis supervision.

She comes with a solid twenty-four years working in the child protection arena, welfare, and education.   Her vast experience includes investigating and prosecuting child sexual, physical and child neglect cases and was a member of the first Child Liaison teams in the Ballymun area between the local child protection professionals.

Denise has also successfully set up and managed her own Montessori School and has been tutoring across our Montessori courses for 8 years and teaching on our Early Years degrees since 2013.

To complement her huge experience Denise has completed several degrees and related master’s degree programmes in both child protection & welfare and Integrated work with children and families in the Early Years.

Denise continues to take huge pride in supporting all learners through their educational journey with us. “I love watching students confidence grow as they discover and learn things about themselves and the sector in which they have chosen to study”.

Denise shares a longstanding highlight where one student will always stand out in her mind from almost 15 years ago. “She had dyslexia and had never finished any formal education. Her self-esteem and confidence were rock bottom before starting the course. She continued to blossom throughout the course, and I worked alongside her to make her believe that anything is possible when you believe in yourself”.   This inspirational student successfully went on to open her own Montessori school and continues to take students from Portobello Institute on work placement.

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