Green Cert goes global - Students can now study for their Green Cert all over the world
Students are currently studying for their Green Cert from as far away as Perth in Australia and Abu Dhabi.
An initiative to provide the Green Cert course for students on an island off the west coast has acted as the springboard for a novel educational service.
Westport College of Further Education (CFE) is this year delivering an online Green Cert course to around 100 people, with some students thousands of kilometres away.
The online Green Cert is also good for the environment, as Westport CFE claimed this year's course had saved 300,000km of travel - and that's not counting the lads on the other side of the world.
The concept of the online course grew from an enquiry to Westport CFE from the development company on Clare Island off Louisburgh, Co Mayo on how eight students could best access the college's Green Cert course. "The teachers going out to provide the course on the island, or the students coming in to Westport, didn't work with the ferry times," college principal, Michael Murphy, recalled.
It was then proposed that the classes could be streamed live on the internet to the eight students. This solution worked so well that 12 more students on the mainland enrolled for the online classes.
This year the college has around 100 students doing the Green Cert online, with three separate classes.
Mr Murphy explained that keeping the class sizes at around 30 means that students can ask specific questions. The classes can be received on a laptop, a personal computer or a mobile phone, with the input of each student, and interactions between the teacher and students, relayed to all the class.
The classes take place two nights a week and last for three hours. There are 60 classes in total over the 30-week term, and the students must log in for the live classes to meet the attendance requirements.
The reaction to the online classes has been exceptional, Mr Murphy said. Although some of the students are overseas, he said most were based in Ireland.
"We have students from Tipperary and from Donegal," Mr Murphy said. "We also have a lot of teachers based in Dublin that do the course."
Asked about the overseas students, he said the two lads doing the course in Perth are from Tipperary. "They get up at 4am and can do the course before work," the Wesport principal explained.
The pair can also work around the four practical farm days that the course demands, with these being scheduled on back-to-back Saturdays.
These are held on a holding outside Westport which the college specifically leases for this purpose.
While the time difference is perfect for those working in Australia and the Middle East, Mr Murphy pointed out that North American residents are generally working at class time.
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