Carpentry and Joinery teachers team up to provide consistent training for apprentices

More than 600 carpentry and joinery apprentices across the state have been able to combine practical training with online learning over the past few months thanks to a collaboration between TasTAFE teachers.

During COVID-19, four carpentry and joinery teachers from the south, north and north-west worked together to convert theory elements of the Certificate III in Carpentry and Certificate III in Carpentry and Joinery to the digital environment.

Dan Forster, Paul Baker, Paul Lanham and Chris Smith led the project, consulting with more than a dozen carpentry and joinery teachers in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie to ensure all theory elements of the training package were covered in the online resources.

Paul Baker (pictured right) said the team had already been using online assessment tools for around two years so were already familiar with some aspects of online delivery.

“The priority was to get all of the learning resources online to give our apprentices the best chance of getting through their theory assessment.”

The teachers combined the theory with relevant resources and You Tube clips, embedded into the online training to keep students engaged while studying at home.  They used a learning management system to deliver the online learning, along with video conferencing tools such as Zoom and MS Teams.

Paul said that despite being at different ends of the state, the collaboration had worked well.

“We worked well together. We were all allocated different units of the training package to convert to online. It worked because we each respected the skills and knowledge of the others.”

He said one of the great outcomes of the collaboration had been the opportunity to provide a more consistent experience for apprentices state-wide.

“Working together and having the resources online has been a great way of making sure apprentices across the state are all getting exactly the same learning experience. We were able to create a blueprint and map the training.

“This process has been an opportunity to look at any gaps in the training and make sure it’s consistent for everyone. All of the resources are there now and we can update them quickly as required.

“None of that takes away from our face to face practical training – that will always be a key part of what we do and is an opportunity for students to consolidate what they’ve been learning online.”

Chris said, “We were worried that there would not be acceptance of delivering training this way but have been surprised at the take up. The challenge now is to fine tune and build on what we have started.”

Paul Lanham added, “Education is not a one-size fits all approach. Online learning allows students to tackle theory anytime, anywhere. The progress made by students demonstrates that many thrive in an online environment.”

Since May, a number of apprentices, including carpentry and joinery apprentices, have been coming back onto TasTAFE campuses in small groups for timetabled practical sessions.

TasTAFE has implemented a specific COVID Safety Plan and is operating in line with Worksafe Tasmania Tertiary Education guidelines which specifically state that it must continue to deliver online learning where possible, and to maintain small class sizes if face-to-face learning is required.

More than 200 small group practical sessions are now taking place on TasTAFE campuses. This has been a planned process which began at the start of the COVID-19 closedowns.

From the start of Semester 2, TasTAFE’s planned process enters its next phase. From Monday 20 July, students will be back on campus provided their teachers can comply with checklists that are part of the TasTAFE COVID Safety Plan.