“Taking our cue from the major universities, as featured in the press recently, we have introduced a new, ‘Blended Learning’ format for our most popular course, the Level 4 Certificate in Wood Science and Timber Technology,” said Woodexperts director Jim Coulson.

“Blended Learning is a new style of education in which students learn via online media as well as via traditional face-to-face learning that we always use,” he said. “This offers flexibility for both tutors and students in how the wood science study material is presented; and also gives variety to the learning experience.”

“We made a start during lockdown with one of our existing tutorial groups, because their scheduled tutorial had not happened due to the Covid outbreak,” added Simon Brock, Woodexperts’ tutor.

“They found the online format easy to follow, and were supplied with a variety of slides and visual material, which they said had been very useful.”

“The tutorial, split into smaller sections, was perfect for learning,” said Luke Wilczynski of Hanson Plywood.

“Personally, I really enjoyed it via Zoom and I feel that, with this particular section, I have taken it in the best, since the start of the course.”

Another Woodexperts client, Russwood Ltd of Newtonmore, in the Scottish Highlands, also took advantage of the new format to take part in an interim online chat, as the tutor was unable to travel to Scotland due to the restrictions.

“We were very pleased with the format and content of the first two days of the [face-to-face] course” said John Russell, Russwood’s managing director. “And the attendees all remarked to me how much they enjoyed Jim Coulson’s engaging tutorial style”.

The interim online session helped the students to discuss aspects of the learning outcomes, to compensate for the delay in holding their next scheduled tutorial.

“All new students for this qualification will be offered our blended learning format in future: which will consist of both the traditional classroom style, combined with a series of ‘bite-size’ online tutorials, enabling a high level of flexibility with lower overall costs, with less need to travel or to be away from the workplace,” said Mr Coulson.

The flexible layout can be configured to suit the needs of each client’s business, but it will be based on the following;

  • Day 1 : Characteristics of wood as a material – classroom format at Woodexperts’ or client’s premises
  • Day 2 : Grades and qualities – online tutorials (scheduled to suit staffing needs)
  • Day 3 : Panel products – classroom format, including practical work and samples
  • Day 4 : Processing and manufacturing – online Tutorials
  • Day 5 : Revision day – usually classroom format but could be partially online, depending on travelling and social distancing requirements
  • Examination: To be a ‘blended’ format, with secure access to question papers ensuring confidentiality

“Woodexperts will be offering this new format as we return to normal working in July following the relaxation of lockdown,” said Mr Coulson. “We look forward to offering this exciting and innovative approach, so that as many timber industry professionals as possible can take advantage of these changes, to help them enhance and grow their knowledge of wood as a material.”