A School Ahead of the Curve

Why students at this school are already remote learning pros

While learning during COVID-19 has undeniably affected the education sector, it’s been especially challenging for students undertaking practical work in Vocational Education and Training (VET) subjects.

But for Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College Burwood (the College) the leap from on-site to remote learning has been smoother than for most, as the College was already at the forefront of online learning long before the coronavirus arrived.

The College – which is especially for senior students seeking vocational education and training pathways – already had an online one-stop-shop, where course content, work and assessments are housed. Plus, a majority of its VET offerings operated in the digital realm (a Virtual Learning Platform).

“The Virtual Learning Platform allows for real-time interaction between students and learning facilitators,” College principal, Tony Patton, said.

“Each Learning Guide contains Learning Checkpoints, which are designed to measure the students’ progress. They also include interactive quizzes and assignments, used to monitor the level of student mastery. Learning Guides allow for continuous progress as students work at their own pace with the support of our staff.”

COVID-19 has prompted the College to add even more online tools to its toolkit, to monitor student progress, engagement and wellbeing.

Students studying together at southern Cross Catholic Vocational college Burwood before COVID-19

Students studying together at southern Cross Catholic Vocational college Burwood before COVID-19. Photo: Kitty Beale

“This is about more than just online learning during a pandemic. Southern Cross has long been creating innovative systems based on well-researched, best practice for a range of learning and teaching methods” – Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College principal, Tony Patton

The College has introduced Zoom cloud meetings and built an interactive community environment, where teachers are referred to as Learning Facilitators.

“I have taught my Business Services Year 12 class through Zoom and Canvas and have found both really great,” Business Studies Learning Facilitator, Mary Bancks, said.

“The 10- to 15-minute Zoom lesson at the beginning of the session focuses the students and directs learning to follow. Students then work at their own pace remotely for the lesson time.”

Ms Bancks said she Zooms directly to those who might need assistance or extension activities.

Hands-on learning from afar

The College is also finding ways to continue the more hands-on aspects of its coursework that have been difficult under COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.

Beauty Services Course Facilitator, Pauline Cole, said she has asked her students to video themselves performing a pedicure on a family member, while answering questions normally asked during an assessment. She said this allows students to build skills remotely, while fostering social interaction and providing a bit of pampering for loves ones.

“We’ll keep building these systems and the supports necessary, ensuring our students are engaged, learning and fulfilling their potential long after school finishes” – Tony Patton

Hospitality teaching staff have been turning the camera on themselves, creating videos of services and cooking techniques for students to study. Students will be asked to re-create these services and cooking techniques once face-to-face teaching resumes.

“This is about more than just online learning during a pandemic – Southern Cross has long been creating innovative systems based on well-researched, best practice for a range of learning and teaching methods,” Mr Patton said.

“We’ll keep building these systems and the supports necessary, ensuring our students are engaged, learning and fulfilling their potential long after school finishes.”

Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College Burwood

Established in 2010, the co-ed Year 11-12 College enrols Year 11 students from across the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Students complete their HSC work-force ready and graduate with either a Certificate II or progress towards/completion of Certificate III in their chosen field – generally the equivalent study requirement of a first-year apprenticeship.

The College is a National Centre of Excellence and two-time winner at the Australian Training Awards.

For more information call (02) 8372 4400 or visit sccvc.nsw.edu.au

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