Simone Walsh (21) is from Glasnevin in Dublin. She is training to be a primary-school teacher online with Hibernia College.
“I have wanted to do primary teaching forever. I applied through the CAO but I didn’t have the points. In the end I studied Irish and human development in St Patrick’s College in Drumcondra. I absolutely loved that but the desire to do primary teaching was still there. I applied for the post-graduate courses in the teacher-training colleges but I didn’t get in. There are so few places and entry is incredibly competitive.
“A friend recommended Hibernia College. I didn’t know too much about it but I did my research and it looked good. It’s a blended degree. A lot of the work is online but there are on-site days where you meet up with your class for various workshops and things. It’s accredited by the Teaching Council so I applied and I got in.
“The fact that the bulk of the work is online definitely gives you more flexibility but it’s not a part-time programme. I’m studying full-time but I work nights in a pub. Other people in my class are working during the day and studying in the evenings. There’s an amazing mix of people in my class. There are gardeners, accountants, you name it. Everyone brings something different to the mix. While the online element does allow some flexibility, the course itself is very structured. We have to manage our time very carefully but it’s okay because the college lays out exactly what’s expected from week to week.
“People often wonder what exactly it means to do this kind of course online. Well, our lectures are recorded and they generally consist of slides with a voice-over. We’re provided with the slides and the voice-over in both script form and a podcast. You can basically go back to these any time. There are little quizzes and online discussions where you can test your knowledge and explore a topic further with your tutor.
“We also have live tutorials where everyone logs in with our tutor. You can indicate when you want to contribute to a discussion and when you’re given the go ahead, everyone can hear you ,so it’s actually very like being in a classroom. There’s online support, an online library, your calendar with all upcoming commitments and assignments, and there’s even student counselling available. It’s really well thought through.
“I absolutely love it. It’s interesting because we have a good college life. I’m a student rep and the people in my class are in touch with each other every day. We go out and meet up. It’s no different from college in that respect. I think being familiar and comfortable with technology will really help me and the others in my class in our teaching careers.”
Profiles: in conversation with Gráinne Faller