Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) is an approach to research that seeks to develop opportunities for growth by identifying community resilience and resources. In UCC PG6025, a postgraduate module, teaches PhD students the principles, policies and practices of CBPR in a community setting. Central to the module is a face to face collaboration involving the students and the community that allows for co-learning and a reciprocal transfer of expertise between partners.
A series of in person sessions form the core learning experience for students and are structured to ensure democratic and equal participation for the community partners. 2020 marked the fifth year of PG 6025 in UCC and our community partners for the year were led by Green Spaces for health in South Parish in Cork city. Our students and community partners first met in February 2020 and were scheduled to work together for the spring semester. However the module was interrupted by lockdown, disrupting the ability to meet the community partners. This led to the completion of the module in online fora, including, Zoom and Jamboard and hosting data collected during walking interviews such as photographs, and written data.
Given the context of lockdown and varied access to technology of the student and community group this transition presented a particular series of challenges. Initially it was assumed that the online forums would fall short in their ability to facilitate the type of experience that allows the students and community partners to build meaningful relationships and collaborations. However, the collaboration flourished and even proved to increase the capacity within the cohort to engage in community projects of this type. The lessons learned from the period of enforced remote teaching has provided the module coordinators with valuable insight and led to continued inclusion of technology to increase community participation that adhere to Universal Design for Learning principles. In this presentation we will detail the transition process, including the digitising of existing materials, the use of the online fora, and discuss the potential for improved facilitation of community participation using online platforms.