Lucy Hewes, who delivers a variety of sewing and textile courses at the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) centre at Clare House in Scunthorpe, was announced as the winner of the ‘WEA Tutor – Digitally innovative teaching’ category at the 2021 WEA Awards on Thursday 6 May. The award is supported by the Education and Training Foundation.
Lucy has delivered the courses since 2017. When Covid-19 closed them, she explored the possibility of delivering her planned Summer term classes via Zoom and Canvas, investing in devices and applications to bring them to life and make them interactive. As a result, her classes attracted new students from all across the country, some of whom would not be able to access them in their area.
After initially struggling to show learners what she was doing while talking at the same time, and then experimenting with talking over pre-recorded videos – neither of which she found allowed her to deliver her classes as effectively as she’d like – Lucy began using a visualiser. This allowed her to line things up and show the students what she was doing as she sewed. The final piece of the jigsaw was a digital switcher, which allowed her to jump from pattern instructions to the visualiser in a click of a mouse button, and meant her teaching flowed really well.
The runner-up was Emma Williamson, who leads WEA tutors in a large EU-funded ESOL project for refugees in Glasgow. When lockdown hit, Emma’s dedication kept the project alive and greatly enhanced the WEA’s profile within the city and across Scotland. Her work has helped learners continue their study, overcoming technological barriers to get them set up on Zoom and Canvas, and preparing them for initial language assessments remotely. By maintaining a link during these last difficult few months with these ‘new Scots’, she has given them a voice and the opportunity to use it.
The WEA awards celebrate students’ achievements and the quality of teaching and support its tutors provide. For details, visit the WEA website.