In March the lives of all New Zealanders were turned upside down as the country went into lockdown, Response Level 4, to combat the global Covid-19 virus pandemic.
SIT Chief Executive Penny Simmonds advised staff and students on 23 March that all SIT campuses would close down for a four week period, but that SIT would “continue to operate as much as we can remotely, including remote delivery of programmes.”
In the space of two days, SIT staff and 6,000 on- campus students collected their work and study devices, equipment and documents from offices , classrooms, workshops, computer rooms and clinical suites from all SIT campuses and headed home to locations in and beyond Southland.
SIT’s amazing Information Technology Services (ITS) team supported the transition to home bases and maintained support throughout the Lockdown, calmly aiding and encouraging staff and students while dealing with all types of devices, a full range of remote teaching and learning technology tools and a huge variety of urban and rural internet connections.
For the 5,000 distance students already studying in online programmes in the SIT2LRN Faculty, the delivery of their programmes continued much as per usual, although students were profoundly impacted by the changed environments in their homes, families and work places.
Staff in every faculty of SIT worked hard to ensure that both on-campus and distance learning students were engaged and well supported with pastoral care, and that delivery of programmes operated smoothly in remote teaching mode, using the tools of Blackboard LMS, Microsoft Teams Meetings, emails, phonecalls, Youtube and others.
Everyone went the extra mile and within a few days SIT had academic delivery and development, student and staff support services, administration, finance, quality assurance, marketing, facilities planning and monitoring, amounting to near capacity of normal operations, working remotely, which was a very successful outcome in unprecedented circumstances.
In the School of Hospitality, Tutor Ray Flutey became an overnight sensation with New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4) students when he hit the screen with his YouTube presentations. Ray created the presentations to teach his students by distance; his ‘followers’ followed Ray’s instructions for designing and preparing dessert recipes and then uploaded videos or photos for assessment. Students also answered questions via Blackboard Discussion Board on methodology, preparation and completion. Feedback from the students on the YouTube dessert design and preparation exercise was very positive.