The response to the COVID-19 outbreak has created many changes in the tertiary education space. Students have rapidly transitioned to remote learning, while institutions worked to set up virtual classrooms and upskill their training staff. Perhaps the most difficult challenge for students during the transition has been attempting to complete their work placements in the Community Sector when most organisations have sent the workforce home. Indeed, the prospect of completing placement on time has been grim for some. However, for the students doing placement at Cire Training and Hubs, the experience has been quite different thanks to their ability to adapt to the changing landscape of community need.
As with many organisations, Cire Training and Hubs shifted a number of its services to online delivery and offered social and educational programs via Zoom or social media. The transition to this medium provided an opportunity for placement students to engage with the community in a new and exciting way. A handful of students jumped on board with the experimental venture and produced a “Social Isolation Survival Guide” filled with activities and information on personal wellbeing. The survival guide was distributed as a free resource to dozens of organisations and community groups with hospitals, early childhood education centres and schools among those who provided their clients with the guides, receiving an astoundingly positive response.
Following on from the success of the survival guide, students were eager to set up a program consisting of community interaction and engagement. After many planning sessions and Trello cards filled with ideas, the group came up with the concept of running an evening Zoom session for the community with special guest speakers. The name of this project was “Friday Night Live” and after a number of sessions, it became a hit with guests ranging from Pat Boucher from Yarra Ranges Life TV to Neal Taylor, CEO of Holy Fools. The program gave members of the community an opportunity to log on and ask the special guests questions and discover ways to become involved in their community.
The placement students have expressed the value they have found in learning how to deliver community programs in an online format. The process of adapting to new ways of doing things alongside our staff has helped immerse the students in what it is like to work in the community services sector. Furthermore, the ideas they have developed and the projects they have implemented have served ongoing needs within our community in a fun and inventive way. The possibility of delivering an online placement would not have been possible Box Hill Institute’s trust and support in the placement program at Cire Training and Hubs. For our students, this may have been an unusual placement, but they have risen to the challenge and delivered amazing results. Thank you!
Jarred Kellerman – Business Support Manager – Training & Hubs