Care and compassion are two vital ingredients for the world we want to help create. Continually working towards shaping an education offering that centres around care and compassion is a priority for the team here at Selmar Institute of Education.
Supporting our learners is how we start to make a difference, so that they can go on and make a difference in the world through their work in early childhood education and care. It’s essential that the support we offer meets our learners’ needs during their training journey.
Understanding what learners need to succeed
To ensure that we are doing everything we can to give learners a supported learning experience, we strive to provide open lines of communication and opportunities for feedback.
We have actioned an initiative to improve completion rates and hone our supported learning experience for those who enrol with our training organisations. As part of this, our organisation conducted a survey to a sample cohort to gather information on how we could improve our support offerings. A recurring point of feedback from learners was the desire for engagement with peers and having a community of learning to feel as though they were part of something, especially with covid-19 restrictions impacting the ability to have face-to-face contact.
Connecting learners with Online Community Hubs
Leveraging this feedback, our organisation began implementing Online Community Hubs. These hubs are designed to offer a space to connect our learners with one another and give them the benefits of group learning.
The purpose of the Online Community Hubs are to build up the learners’ knowledge, increase that sense of belonging within our community, as well as enhance their confidence with the topic that is being discussed in each unit.
To maximise the benefits for all learners, the Online Community Hubs cover a range of learning styles from visual to auditory. Learners are exposed to opportunities to interact directly with their trainer as well as other learners who are at that same stage of learning. This additional layer of support and training to our learners where trainers provide real life experiences and scenarios that relate to working in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) setting.
Increased confidence and engagement with learning
Our online community hubs initially ran weekly for every cluster from March through to December in 2020 due to higher demands as a result of the pandemic’s impact. In 2021 and ongoing, we reduced the sessions to once per fortnight.
The success of the Online Community Hubs was evident quickly, with learners reporting feeling more confident in their ability to complete their qualifications. Engagement with course subject matter increased and those who have attended our online community hubs have been progressing through their coursework at a faster rate. From April to September 2020, we saw the percentage of learners who submitted assessments on time increase.
Learners can stay motivated and connected through their participation in the Online Community Hubs. They also have the direct opportunity to clarify topics or questions that they need extra help with, and often the trainers use case studies and real-life scenarios to explain certain topics. This method helps learners understand the topic easier which has resulted in an increase in learner motivation and engagement during their learning journey.
Another success of the community hub has been allowing trainers to work on their presentation skills, giving them the opportunity to review and revisit topics equipped with the learners’ perspective.
A positive impact on the learning journey
As our Team Leader Katherine Hussar explains,
“Our community hubs provide an opportunity for current and future educators to connect with other people in the sector and feel a sense of community as they strive towards their learning and career goals. They provide additional support and really make a difference to the learning journey of our learners”.
Our courses are designed to ensure the learning experience is collaborative and rewarding, to have learners complete their qualifications feeling equipped with the knowledge and skills to have an impactful career.
The Online Community Hubs initiative is just one way we have adapted and evolved to keep giving our learners a supported learning experience.