Rep. Ireland: Experience with online meetings

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By Claire M. O’Connell

The Irish Prison Education Association (IPEA) committee were delighted to host their first webinar in April.

IPEA members and prison education teachers from across the country were invited to take part and connect with each other in these difficult times. As is the case in many other countries, prison education centres in Ireland have been closed since the 12th March. The purpose of this particular session was to provide an update to everyone on the efforts that are being made to continue with education provision for students in Irish prisons for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis.

Four key speakers gave input on the work of their own services. Head Teachers spoke of the huge efforts being made to supply students with printed educational materials, as students in Irish prisons do not have access to the internet. Speakers from both the Irish Prison Service and the Northern Ireland Prison Service updated everybody on the fantastic work that is being done to manage the crisis in prisons. The work of students who are Irish Red Cross Volunteers was particularly noted. The webinar was opened up to all participants at the end for a question and answer session. This was a fantastic success, with almost 80 participants taking part. Since then, the IPEA has hosted a second webinar on the important topic of providing feedback to learners in the assessment process. A presentation was given to all by Finola Butler from the Further Education Support Service, followed by an informative question and answer session with almost 50 prison education teachers taking part.

The IPEA are looking forward to organising future webinars to help everybody stay connected and informed in these challenging times, and is currently arranging a webinar on mindfulness for prison education teachers.