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Tertiary students go online

Most classes at UCOL Wairarapa are now held online. PHOTO/FILE

Story by Tom Taylor

With university and polytechnic campuses closed during Alert Level 4, Wairarapa’s tertiary students have moved online.

At UCOL Wairarapa, the changes were implemented swiftly to avoid as much disruption to students as possible.

Director Carrie McKenzie said her team had learned what worked in last year’s lockdown, and that knowledge had informed the institute’s next course of action.

McKenzie started in her new role in May, having previously worked as a senior manager at Carterton District Council.

“As a new member of the team, I’ve really benefited from UCOL’s past wisdom,” McKenzie said.

“Our staff just knuckled down and got everything done … We’ve got more online resources prepared, and many of us took our equipment home as soon as the first case popped up as a precaution.”

McKenzie said UCOL’s nursing classes were up and running online the day after the lockdown announcement.

“It was a really impressive effort across all of UCOL and we’re really pleased.”

UCOL students are using learning platform Moodle to access course resources during lockdown. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Most other classes had also moved online, with some of the more practical programmes being adjusted to focus on theory.

“That way, our students will be rearing to go when we’re back on campus,” McKenzie said.

Some practical assessments had also been postponed, with learning schedules adjusted accordingly.

“Every learner’s journey is different, and that’s really core to us. We’re always checking in with our students, and each student’s circumstances are considered if an extension is needed.”

McKenzie said student well-being was one of UCOL’s top priorities, with online counselling and targeted learning support offered.

Early childhood lecturer Maryann Corrigan said her programmes had already settled into a routine since moving online.

“This lockdown feels more manageable than last year’s from a teaching point of view,” Corrigan said.

“We have more online access, and ensuring students had laptops and access to wifi between lockdowns has been a key ingredient to how smoothly things are going.”

For students who found it harder to focus online, UCOL’s Student Success team had joined virtual classes to offer advice.

Despite the lockdown, her students’ work remained on track.

McKenzie said UCOL Wairarapa would follow Ministry of Health guidelines when reopening its campus after lockdown.

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