In March 2020 the Irish government introduced emergency measures to stop the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 virus. The change was immediate, and the protection of public health was paramount. All citizens were requested to cooperate and adhere to the restrictions. Key features included, restricted movement within the country, all non-essential workplaces to close and where possible move to remote working, the closure of all schools, training centres and universities, education was to be provided by online means. This research focused on a specialised section of the Irish education system - the Standard Based Apprenticeship - and how apprentices experienced the move to online provision during the lockdown periods. A mixed-method research approach of online questionnaire and telephone interviews was used to explore the facilities, supports, wellbeing, teaching and learning materials, and communication. The sample group was apprentices in off-the-job training and education phases during the closure periods (N=3,000). The responses received were - survey N=362 and interviews N=11. From the data, respondents acknowledged the need to move provision online however, they were concerned that normal informal peer learning could not occur in the absence of meeting each other and having practical skills demonstrations in centre/college workshops. Respondents identified the types of supports made available by employers and education/training providers. However, they also noted issues relating to the digital divide and lack of access to IT equipment and broadband. Some respondents reported concerns about isolation and personal wellbeing. A key concern that respondents identified was matters to do with the provision of timely information and communication. The research suggests there is a need to develop a comprehensive communications platform to facilitate up-to-date information flow from all stakeholders, a need to host a repository of technical and learning resources relevant to each trade area, and provision of a mechanism for apprentices to actively engage with each other to enhance informal peer learning. In addition, apprentices’ experiences of their studies and work should be regularly gathered and reported.
"Apprentices’ experiences of studying online during the Covid-19 emergency in Ireland: A report of research findings,"
1, Article 1.
Available at: https://arrow.tudublin.ie/level3/vol17/iss1/1
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