As digitalisation is increasingly important in the traditionally practical and nature-oriented forestry and wood cluster, enabling digital skills must become a core task of forestry education.
This also applies to forestry teaching practice: integrating digital media can help innovate education approaches towards hybrid, flexible, student-centred methodologies. However, forestry trainers need support and new skills to adapt from face-to-face instruction to integrated blended learning.
This is where the FOREE project comes in. Five partners from Austria, Germany, Estonia and Italy have developed a train-the-trainer programme on eDidactics – blended learning models and digital learning tools specifically for forestry trainers.
The course design will be based on a survey among European forestry education centres and six focus-group workshops involving 71 participants from 24 institutions offering diverse experiences with adopting digital teaching technologies.
Key barriers identified include organisational challenges, an initially increased workload for trainers, and the lack of digital competencies among teaching staff. Limited availability of suitable training exacerbates these challenges, prompting educators to rely on learning-by-doing to enhance their skills.
However, combining digital and practical teaching has already proven to increase efficiency, particularly during the preparation and post-training.
Contributors confirm that multimedia approaches improve trainees’ performance and facilitate knowledge retention and skill development. Virtual and augmented reality training, especially for safety-related topics, is also supported and seen as underrated.
Providing missing training and sharing experiences among forestry education institutes, FOREE will help to transform forestry education into an effective hybrid training system.
In forestry, as in other vocational education occupations, innovative, multimodal and flexible learning concepts will help to reach new target groups and to increase sustainability and attractiveness – for learners and teachers alike.
Featured image: Tierney – adobe.stock
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