LTT1 Online Virtual Training 16th to 20th August 2021 

On the 16th August 2021 International Teacher Artist Partnership Professional Development (I-TAP-PD) launched an inaugural 5-day pilot training program organized by the Austrian partner National Center of Competence for Arts Education-NCoC. This collaborative training was developed in partnership with artists, teachers and their respective organizations in Austria, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands and Serbia. 

This first training within the I-TAP-PD program brought together a unique and deeply experienced group of arts and education practitioners, many of whom have extensive prior experience in leading and developing professional development training. The aim of this group of 54 (9 facilitators and 45 participants as facilitators became participants on days they were not delivering) was to experience, evaluate and review I-TAP-PD training material. This material had been presented by each partner country, refined by the I-TAP-PD Focus Group and developed during delivery by the facilitators. The development and delivery of the project involved intense collaboration between the Partners, Focus Group, Digital Resource Platform Group (DRP), Research Group, the project’s Administrative Support and wider team members. The August training was the first opportunity to trial a new innovative online I-TAP-PD pilot program.

While the pilot program was developed on a Moodle Platform, training took place on Zoom lasting 4hrs live duration each day (starting 8.00 a.m. in Ireland) with additional reflective, artistic, or collaborative work completed after live-sessions. Facilitators met prior to and following each delivery to review and plan for the following day. Activities presented incorporated visual arts, drama, creative writing and dance art forms in addition to theoretical framing and reflective opportunities to support participants in integrating their experience of I-TAP-PD within the schema of their own professional knowledge and understanding. Key to this process was the development of relationships, through training activities and most fundamentally, in sharing personal stories, experiences, perspectives and practice with the international group. 

The I-TAP-PD online pilot program pushed both facilitators and participants to engage with technology extensively and intensely. The requirements of training online through creative processes demanded independence, collaboration, freedom, structure, creativity and reflection simultaneously, and through a computer screen. Many participants noted the physical and mental challenge of this intensity. They also noted how the training provided a deep and realistic potential for greater levels of international collaboration. In developing the program, facilitators were struck by the restrictions and lack of integration within online platforms for working in creative collaboration and the requirement to jump across platforms for functionality. Additionally, the complexity of managing 54 participants across multiple platforms demanded the development of clear protocols and very concise instructions. The work of the DRP in managing and supporting the training technically was indispensable and intrinsic to its success. 

As I-TAP-PD moves toward its second pilot and training in Serbia in November, we acknowledge the significant commitment made by the I-TAP-PD team and by our participants. The first pilot training has highlighted to us many successes of the process and the ways in which training material may be restructured, developed and further improved and enhanced. The August I-TAP-PD Pilot has created new teacher artist partnerships nationally and internationally, as well as a bank of “Tiny Adventures” to share with the teachers, artists and children in Austria, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands and Serbia.