Term 1 2020 saw the Lilydale group of students come together as learners to undertake Certificate IV in Education Support at Cire. During the term, we developed positive relationships by learning about each other, taking part in team activities and working together to build our skills ready for Term 2 placements.
However, early in Term 2, we had to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions which involved changing our approach and continue with our studies virtually rather than face-to-face.
We were unable to undertake our planned placements and could not meet in person in our Lilydale training room – the space that had become so familiar to us each Thursday and Friday.
The transition to online learning has been a steep learning curve! We now get together via Google Meet to work through our units, covering the requirements of our course. This has enabled class members to show the qualities they will need to be effective and capable education support workers.
Many of the students have astounded themselves with their vastly improved abilities with technology. Back in February, several students had no knowledge at all of the programs they are now accessing and using. Have there been high levels of anxiety? Yes. However, to their credit, all students are still in the course, using the online resources and completing their assessments online. They have also all presented a project using our online platform. The class has demonstrated excellent perseverance, communication skills and great examples of overcoming fears and rising to the challenge when overwhelmed.
We could dwell on the frustrations and the many adaptations we have had to make to ensure we keep on track, but we have focused on the positives, supporting each other and working to complete the units. Because we had developed a supportive team relationship before COVID-19, we have been able to reach out and support each other. We have shared a laugh about the lags in video production, the sending of multiple meeting links, and the talking over each other as we try to ‘read’ the best moment to make a contribution.
Teaching online requires a different preparation, different resources and is exhausting but the participation and interest of the group make it all worthwhile. I am so proud of the students for their adaptability, flexibility, perseverance and resourcefulness and know they will take these skills into the next part of their course and to the workplace when they move into their new careers.