Leading The Charge In Online Learning As NZ Enters Week Two Of Lockdown
As New Zealand tertiary students grapple with the implications of the COVID-19 lockdown, international students are facing their own unique set of challenges.
With student visa requirements to uphold and limited family support, our international students are navigating extremely difficult times. But Aspire2 International – one of the country’s leading training providers for international students – is ahead of the game, and has this week launched an extensive line-up of online learning solutions that have gained NZQA accreditation in lightning fast time.
That means that the provider’s English, hospitality, IT and business students can transition seamlessly from face-to-face to remote learning in order to complete their qualifications. Online programmes for their cookery and engineering students are also being fast-tracked. Not only that but Aspire2 International has developed an innovative online support system that will help ensure the wellbeing of its international students through the coming weeks and months.
“Aspire2 International has realised the need for an e-Learning presence for a number of years now and we already offered an online component for the majority of our accredited programmes,” says Zoey Haskins, Aspire2 International’s EdTech Coordinator.
“Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak these online offerings were seen as contributing to, rather than replacing face-to-face delivery, but as soon as we saw the potential of a school closure, we ramped up our planning and committed further resources to moving our programmes online. Thankfully we were already in a place where it was easy to identify the tools we wanted to use, and we had the IT support and finance teams to help expediate the rollout.”
NZQA (New Zealand Qualifications Authority) has also been quick off the mark, sensitive to the needs of providers and students as the Corona virus strengthens its hold.
“NZQA realises that education providers are facing unique circumstances requiring expedient processing. They’ve shown flexibility and have made a change of delivery filing relatively painless.”
Thanks to Aspire2 International’s foresight and agility, its students are now well placed to continue with their studies and meet their student visa requirements, even while in lockdown.
A dynamic range of vectors for delivery are offered, from recorded presentations, livestream lectures and face-to-face video conferencing, to discussion boards, synchronous chats and instant messaging.
“This is not a kitchen-sink approach,” adds Haskins. “Each paper and its participants will use the delivery and communication vectors that are appropriate to the situation and their specific course of study.”
The academic side of Aspire2 International’s remote learning programmes will be underpinned by significant and ongoing support – a vital piece of the puzzle as we all learn to adapt to the ‘new norm’.
“International students do not have the same support structures that domestic students generally have, especially during this lockdown period. Providing a way for our learners to maintain contact with their teachers and peers outside of the classroom is one additional way Aspire2 International helps our students. Our approach to fully online, remote delivery recognises that our students are facing psychologically and emotionally challenging circumstances. By maintaining close ties and constant contact we’ll hopefully be able to address these needs, while helping our learners achieve their educational goals at the same time.”
The challenges faced by New Zealand’s training providers are monumental and unprecedented, and Haskins is proud to be at the forefront as educators forge new ways to deliver their programmes.
“I am buoyed by the optimism and determination my colleagues are showing. There is definitely a Kiwi spirit of rising to the occasion that is manifest in the work we’re doing here and I’m proud to be among such dedicated educators and administrators.”