Responding to COVID-19 – Canberra Institute of Technology
Through three case studies we see how CIT staff and students are responding to COVID-19 and adapting to their new learning environment.
Teachers who are studying a Diploma in Vocational Education and Training (TAE50116) to improve their skills and abilities have banded together online to better share their knowledge and ideas. Not only is this a great opportunity for teachers to learn to be better teachers, but it is also creating a social setting to support colleagues in this period of isolation.
Wise words from the culinary teacher echo the changes that need to happen, “Our industries constantly change and we should be adapting and redeveloping how we train our students to meet these changes”. For visual art students, “It is important that they keep their minds in shape and keep up with their creative habits.” The culinary and visual arts tutorials have proved popular with students. One student has even started making videos herself of what she is creating at home inspired by her culinary arts teacher, while another is baking cakes for frontline health workers.
Situation and challenge
As one of the region’s largest education and training providers, the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), caters to a very broad range of students. To do this we are committed to innovative and flexible approaches to training to meet our students’ needs and respond to opportunities or challenges.
This has never been more important than right now.
The practical, technical and face-to-face nature of vocational education and training means that not all courses can be moved to online or be offered via remote delivery. The restrictions of social distancing have posed us with a real challenge as we reconfigure our teaching and learning activities, much more so than schools and universities.
While working within these restrictions, we are strengthening connections with our students, ACT industry and the local workforce so we can continue to have a positive impact on our community, now and post COVID-19.
Response and approach
For the safety of students, teachers and staff CIT paused classes a week prior to the Term 1 Easter break through to the start of Term 2 (28 April). This pause allowed the institute to reconfigure delivery of teaching and learning to continue to provide ongoing training for our students.
Term 2 2020 commenced under unprecedented circumstances. We asked our students to study from home and to not attend any CIT campus. Where units of competency can be transitioned into an online training environment, we will continue to provide that course through a virtual classroom setting. Some of our more hands-on and face-to-face teaching and learning activities may be able to be offered later in the term, provided they meet the social distancing requirements at that point.
We are assessing our readiness to transition back to some face-to-face teaching and learning activities during Term 2 in alignment with current COVID-19 restrictions, as well as planning to offer further activities as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
We will continue to support our students and will be working to re-introduce face-to-face learning as soon as practical, based on the advice of the ACT and Federal governments.
Case Study 1: CIT teachers preparing to deliver VET online
A group of CIT teachers (Nichola Perry, Jacqueline Purves, Luke Young and Marcus Tolley) have been studying a Diploma in Vocational Education and Training (TAE50116) to improve their skills and abilities and banded together online to better share their knowledge and ideas.
Like many Canberrans they are mostly working from home and decided to continue connecting online to develop learning tools and discuss lessons.
Nichola Perry teaches children’s education and care. She said, “One of our current courses is about designing online learning. Given the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been very topical.”
She studied with IT teachers expanding their understanding of online teaching options available. IT teacher Luke Young was able to share his experience with others. “I know how to use many of these online tools already, but I am learning how to apply them to education, which will be especially useful in teaching our students in Term 2.”
Jacqueline Purves, a CIT business and leadership teacher said, “The online connection has provided us with an innovation hub to test ideas and troubleshoot problems to support delivery and implementation of eLearning.”
Fitness teacher, Marcus Tolley said, “We are learning by doing, and we are getting better at delivering this type of training.”
Not only was this a great opportunity for teachers to learn to be better teachers, but it is also creating a social setting to support colleagues in this period of isolation. It is providing a place for teachers to share their issues and catch up with each other.
Case Study 2: CIT Culinary
CIT culinary teacher and trained chef, Monique Roeton, created a series of instructional live videos to help her students continue their training during the Term 1 pause in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students wanted to continue to work and learn so Monique took it upon herself to start running online tutorials to help with baking and decorating.
The students loved the online class, and this prompted another video of how easy it was to ganache cakes using simple products. As her students were at home due to social distance requirements, Monique made sure her training allowed students to make use of the basic equipment and tools available at home.
Her students have found these online tutorials to be invaluable to their training, but also in helping to foster a sense of community. One student has even started making videos herself of what she is creating at home. Inspired by Monique’s efforts, Nicole Caldersmith from Tiny Toppers has been posting instructional videos on her Facebook account www.facebook.com/TinyToppersStudio.
Another student, Donna Zhao, said it was very helpful that teachers like Monique have stayed in touch and given students opportunities to keep training. Donna has gone on to use the skills she has learned at CIT to make donations of cakes and muffins to front line health staff. Donna’s efforts were recently highlighted in a story entitled Bringing smiles and muffins to the community.
Case Study 3: CIT Visual Arts
CIT visual arts teacher, Bernie Slater, has given his students the opportunity to keep improving their artistic skills through a series of online tutorials.
Bernie wanted his students to stay engaged with their studies and their own creative processes. “They needed to exercise their creative behaviours, make art and think creatively,” Bernie said.
“It is important that they keep their minds in shape and keep up with their creative habits.”
Bernie has produced over 10 video tutorials for his students, with several more still to be posted. Tutorials focused on what he described as “creative warm-ups,” some based on exercises taught in the classroom.
Bernie said the trick to teaching online is to keep students motivated, having fun and providing them with a positive, encouraging environment. “It also helps to have your teaching broken down into small, more accessible chunks. This includes short engaging videos that still challenge your students.”
One of Bernie’s students, Sally Black said that while she was looking forward to a return to the classroom, the online warm-ups have been very helpful. “Bernie’s warm-ups have been excellent. They have been like a springboard for me, just like in class. As students, we have been able to transfer his ideas into our own environments.”