2020 Wrap up


2020 has been a year unlike any other, words like unprecedented have been worn out. Just like the rest of the world the VEDT have had to adapt to working from home, home-schooling, lockdowns and the fear of uncertainty around what a global pandemic would mean for us on a personal level and for our loved ones. Luckily this close-knit team banded together to tackle not only the personal hurdles but the professional ones as well.

The education sector has been hit hard by the pandemic and subsequent restrictions. With the necessary hasty move to online learning for as many courses as would allow, a change generally years in the making happened in days and weeks.

Stepping into a more active support role this year the VEDT has delivered guidance to VE teachers throughout RMIT so that they can continue to deliver quality education programs to their students through flexible or online delivery. All while continuing to produce quality work on already committed projects.

You can read more about the other projects the VEDT worked on this year including the Higher Apprenticeship Program for the Social Service Sector and National Infection Control courses  here.

The VEDT team successfully ran 120 one-one-one support sessions, 71 group training sessions, 28 drop-in sessions and 26 classroom support sessions. This has equated to 310 hours of support delivered since March with over 860 participations by teaching staff. They also produced countless resources including course templates, videos and training guides to continue to support VE teachers, along with providing quality checks on hundreds of VE courses.

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While the focus has been on supporting teachers the relationship has been mutually beneficial says Senior Learning Coordinator Andrew Newhouse, “from my perspective it’s been great to learn from teachers in some ways, how to do some things better and more efficiently and also imparting some information that we have that ends up having a fairly significant impact on how the teachers can deliver their courses and then how students interact with them.”

The teachers have been able to provide suggestions and feedback on the LMS system Canvas including on structures that would help facilitate more effective course delivery. The VEDT can then feed this back into the work and training they do.

Senior Learning Designer Gordon Napier says this year has been one of rapid change. “The assistance we were providing to teachers to help them move to flexible delivery was five or ten years ahead of schedule. Some of the work that our team have been doing in previous years was exactly what everyone was trying to do now, everyone was trying to put their courses online, work out how to develop online activities and student engagement.”

One of the projects the team had been undertaking this year was a digital uplift and rectification of the Certificate III in Plumbing. The team led by Senior Learning Designer Rebecca Summits needed to re-write and digitise the assessment tasks for 91 units in a short time frame.

With limited or no digital material, and an urgent need to move the course delivery online the teachers had to quickly put in Canvas not only upcoming weeks of material so that current students could finish their course, but also whole courses so that they could continue to have students move through the program. Rebecca and the broader VEDT team were able to continue to work on the re-writing while also working with the plumbing team to quickly help the teachers move content (including assessment tasks and Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) documentation) online.

The teachers had to quickly upskill on the use of Canvas and other online learning tools such as Collaborate Ultra, not only how to navigate them as teachers and assessors but how to help their students navigate them as well. Rebecca and the broader VEDT conducted a mix of group sessions but also tailored one on one tutoring sessions where the teachers could work through their active course and solve problems while learning the system.

Within quite a short period of time the digital literacy skills of the plumbing teaching team were increased greatly, along with a more positive mind set towards using Canvas. “Their approach to using a digital LMS and their approach to how they could possibly teach lessons online changed and they became quite animated about it and quite positive so that cultural shift, that cultural change really, was quite remarkable and I was really proud of all of them for taking it on and being open minded. And the transformation in them was really impressive.”

Rebecca says her greatest joy from her work this year was seeing the transformation in the plumbing team, to the point where they are advocates for the online program and are excited and enthusiastic about it and how that then opened up opportunities for them to teach in different ways.

Senior Multimedia Coordinator Jack Dunstan says “my observation is that rather than transition to online learning, the early part of the year was emergency remote teaching. Rather than going for a digital first or conscience online and blended delivery, they just said ‘how can I move what I’m doing now into the digital space and then switch back’. But as the year went on and we provided support people realised that this methodology is more effective in some ways, the emergency remote teaching became conscious learning design in their courses.”

Now that teachers have developed their digital literacy skills, they can build on them and continue find new ways to engage with students. Teachers who needed demonstration videos but couldn’t find the resources in the library or broader RMIT network used family members and children to help create the resources because that’s what they had to do. I think the great opportunity going forward is that with resources like Press Play studios and the AV loan system at RMIT they will be able to redo those videos and resources at a much higher level to really enhance the learning experience for students going forward and reassert that value proposition says Jack.

Gordon says that “for a lot of people we saved the year, I think that’s important. Some students would have just left high school, so for them they’re wanting to get started with their lives. So, I think RMIT did a really great job of saving the year for those students.”

Sadly, this is the last year of the VEDT with some members moving on. Next year, there will be a new VE College, and the VEDT will be morphing into the Learning Experience team and reviewing their service model.

On the past year and the VEDT as a whole, manager Elissa McKenzie reflected that:

“I have never been prouder of this team and the fantastic people I have had the privilege to work with. Despite personal hardships and the ever-changing landscape and priorities, they pulled together. They shared insights and supported each other. The student experience and hardships that our teachers and students were facing was their primary focus, and they pulled out incredible innovations and ideas to ensure that programs and courses could continue. Overtime, these ideas have grown into projects that will have long-term impacts and benefits for our students.

I have learned a great deal from my experience leading this team and I am very proud of what they have achieved in the last three years. Even more so, I have enjoyed watching the personal growth in each of our team members and am grateful for everything they’ve taught me along the way. I am humbled that I now get to call each of these creative, smart, funny, driven, intelligent and brilliant people a friend.”