Lockdown doesn’t stand in the way of learning

Picture of Swinburne University teacher Anna Konopcik

Swinburne University teacher Anna Konopcik and her colleagues came up with a creative solution to learning in lockdown.

This story was first published on Wednesday 10 February 2021. If you wish to use this content, please contact media@dewr.gov.au to confirm that the information is still current.

A small group of ingenious teachers at Swinburne University of Technology were determined that students could continue to learn despite Melbourne’s lockdown, so they developed a Remote Guest Speaker Circuit Program, supported by the Australian Government Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program.

The SEE program continued to deliver language, literacy and numeracy training, despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The SEE program helps eligible job seekers get the skills they need to participate in Australian society and achieve better employment outcomes, particularly where English is an additional language.

Swinburne University teacher and program creator Anna Konopcik said their goal was to give students experience interacting with professionals other than their teachers, to help build their language skills and confidence.

“During lockdown, the time students had to interact with native English speakers was very limited, so this was to give them more experience in this area,” Anna said.

Students ranged from 18 years to 65 years and were mostly from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. They could attend virtual and interactive presentations to learn about job skills and employability. Topics included job trends, creating a resume, speaking with officials and professionals, improving communication and useful information on housing.

The program even had students practicing CPR on pillows in their own homes, as part of training from Life Saving Victoria.

SEE student Rebecca Cho Cho Win, when asked about what she had learnt, responded “I remember about fires, escape plans, how to save people at the beach, and different education in Australia.”

Guest speakers included:

  • Migrant Information Centre
  • Life Saving Victoria (who provided information on first aid and water safety)
  • Fire Rescue Victoria
  • Services Australia
  • Eastern Regional Library Service
  • Swinburne Student Success Coaches
  • Eastern Employment Forum.

Reflecting on the success of the program, its creator and Swinburne University teacher Cynthia Johnson-Wellard said “I am inspired and very pleased that by initiating this program and working collaboratively as a team, we were able to provide useful and memorable learning experiences for so many of our students, under very challenging circumstances.”

More information

For more information on the program, including how to refer someone who may be interested, visit Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) Program webpage.

From the Newsroom

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Correct at time of publication.