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Covid-19 provides moment for thought on teaching methodologies at college of horticulture

The National Botanic Gardens is home to the Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture, located at Glasnevin, Dublin 9. Photo: Peter Stears.

John Mulhern, principal of Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture, provides an update on the impact Covid-19 has had on horticulture teaching methodologies at the college.



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21 May 2020

For over 200 years there has been training in horticulture in the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, but Covid-19 is making the Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture look at their teaching methodologies in a completely different way.

“The primary model of student instruction around the practices in horticulture are well proven in this most prestigious of settings. The Covid-19 pandemic has dictated that our world in education will perhaps never be the same again.”, said John Mulhern, college principal of the College of Amenity Horticulture, located in the National Botanic Gardens.

Mulhern continued: “More and more people in horticulture are saying that this may not be a bad thing. The ‘new normal’ will become a blend of online availability of concise structured content allied with practical content which is available online or face to face.

“Underlying everything is the safety of the learner and exhibiting best practices in terms of social distancing.

“I envisage a weekly engagement with groups through our virtual learning platform: the MOODLE website. We currently use this website for our learner engagement in terms of access to material and resources.

“In the new normal we will use it a lot more, it will become the repository for all class resources. Students will no longer be tied to attending a specific class timetable as the session would be available on the platform in a recorded format.

“Continuous assessment has been part and parcel of our format for many years and this will continue. Students will be challenged regularly through online quiz formats which will track their learning through each module.

“We do, however, recognise the huge part the Office of Public Works (OPW) National Botanic Gardens has in training students.

“Practical events will centre around this primary location coupled with practical delivery in our Teagasc location at Ashtown in Dublin 15.

“We are advising students who apply for our courses to be equipped with three items as prerequisites:

  • A driver’s license or permit to allow for safe operation of driving machinery.
  • Safe pass for accessing work experience locations.
  • PC, laptop or equivalent with good home broadband connectivity for accessing online content.

“These items are very important for the learner in terms of progressing career wise in the world of Horticulture.

“Like all change this new normal will be difficult for some but I think the realisation that we can engage in an environment that will suit ourselves will bring many benefits.  These has never been a better time to study the world of Horticulture.

“Covid-19 has changed our world immensely and will continue to do so. Horticulture will become now more important than ever as people realise that less commuting time and more time in the ‘home office’ will bring more rewards for the natural environment and the individual’s family in so many ways.

“We will be holding a virtual open evening session on Wednesday, June 3, between 7 and 8 pm where we will be taking questions on our courses in horticulture in the Teagasc College, National Botanic Gardens.

“Keep an eye on Botanics’ Social media for updates on this and other events in our College.”

Applications for our full-time and part-time courses are available on the Teagasc Botanics’ website or via email and telephone: +353-(0)1-804-0205.

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