Tutors using technology to keep students up to date

By Maurice Garvey

REMOTE learning has become a vital go-to-model in third level education following the closure of colleges and institutions in Ireland due to the Covid-9 virus.

It is a distinct possibility that colleges will have to remain closed beyond the March 29 date announced last week by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Cecilia Munro compressor

Cecilia Munro, Principal, BCFE

At Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE), over 1,100 students, 125 staff and 200 part-time students, are trying to make the best out of a bad situation.

“All have some form of remote access,” according to Cecilia Munro, Principal, BCFE.

“It is very concerning. On March 6, we had a briefing, which included an audit, to see where you are at the end of the year, and a contingency in case of a shutdown. Nobody thought it would come so quick.”

Ms Munro says the remote access is co-ordinated by staff but admits they might be lacking infrastructure resources.

“The Department of Education have put a lot of resources into primary schools, but that is lacking a little bit in the further education sector. However, our staff are resourceful.”

Ms Munro says tutors are using technology like Trello, Google Docs, and Microsoft to keep students up to date where they can, but for teachers that are not as tech savvy, good old fashioned emails are used to communicate and keep students engaged in their studies.

For students with underlying health issues, guidance counsellors were asked at a meeting on Wednesday, to make contact with them, and keep that connection in what is an extremely challenging time for educators.

“As of now, we are conducting a survey in terms of how we cope with end of year exams,” said Ms Munro.

“Our main primary focus is that students get the awards they are entitle to based on the work done and quality administered.

“We have concerns with the September start-up, a lot of our base comes from Leaving Cert students. We have no idea about the recruitment of Leaving Cert students in September, this could have a detrimental effect for the college and students.”

Irish colleges will take their cue from the Department of Education as to what may happen over the coming months.

“The academic calendar is a highly tuned machine but that is in danger of complete disarray,” said Munro, who is concerned that academic standards could slip.

Speaking to The Echo remotely from her home in Donabate, Ms Munro, who has a 12-year old son, said: “We made an agreement that we would do homework between 9am-11am, it is important to keep a routine,” she said.

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