By Glen McMahon, Manager of International Programmes at Belfast Metropolitan College
Belfast Metropolitan College (BMC) works across the city of Belfast and beyond through various departmental and government wide projects ranging from apprenticeships and grass roots programmes to social inclusion community based programmes. To address the different needs of learners and employers we found that we, as educators and facilitators, must be agile and responsive to learners and employers as well as supporting our people to offer flexible solutions and approaches to delivery.
As an example Belfast Met had arranged to deliver a series of workshops as part of the Alternative Pilot Scheme for Live Skills. These included workshops in 'Developing a Social Media Strategy' for Crescent Arts Centre and Youth Lyric and 'Adobe Photoshop for Images' for Belfast Met Computer Club.
Due to the Covid-19 situation the arranged workshops were unable to take place as planned due to the announced lockdown. In discussion with the organisations themselves and British Council, it was agreed that an alternative method for delivery of the workshops would be developed. A range of options were considered including holding live workshops via Zoom. It was felt that this option would not be possible as not all participants would have access to required hardware (PCs/Laptops/good broadband etc.) and/or software (e.g. Adobe Photoshop) to take part as well as the fact that it could not be guaranteed that all participants would be available at the same time.
After careful consideration of the possible scenarios, it was decided that the best solution was to record a series of screencast videos of the presentations that would have been used within the workshops. These would then be available to download through a website created by one of the tutors in BMC that contributed in developing parts of the Digital and New Technologies learning materials too. This would allow the participants to download the videos and watch at their leisure. The website can be accessed here: http://www.lsdnt.co.uk/
This new approach was not originally foreseen within the project. However, the crisis of COVID-19 that striked the globe forced us to show flexibility and innovation. With the basis of good partnership, we were able to attempt this new digital exercise that is becoming more and more relevant as we write these words. While there are disadvantages in these methods (e.g. recording/editing/uploading is time consuming) these are outweighed by the advantages. Participants can download the videos and watch in their own time and at their own pace. They can pause and rewind if they need to. They also do not need to watch the material all at once.
The materials can be shared with other organisations and individuals which can widen the audience for future sustainability.
We may create further material over time which can also be uploaded onto the website in the near future which again will contribute to the sustainability aspect of the Live Skills project.