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Victoria rolls out online wellbeing support for families

The Victorian Government is helping parents and carers manage home learning and stay resilient during the coronavirus pandemic by providing a range of free online resources. The Minister for Education introduced a notable child psychologist for a webinar on 25 August 2020 and following high demand, a second will be held, 15 September 2020 – aimed at providing parents and carers with practical skills, knowledge and strategies for managing the lockdown period and remote learning.

The webinars will focus on strategies and tools to help families manage their wellbeing, including establishing a supportive parental role and dealing with uncertainty and disappointment. Families will have an opportunity to ask the child psychologist questions.

The Government has also partnered with Raising Children Network and funded a 10-episode podcast called ‘Raising Learners’ featuring parenting experts from organisations including the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Career Education Association Victoria and the eSafety Commissioner. Raising Learners will provide parents with practical advice, tips and ideas for supporting children’s health, wellbeing and engagement at school. Topics will include connecting with your child’s school community, how to best support your child’s learning, what to expect for VCE and VCAL students and how to keep your child safe online.

These themes were drawn from common parent questions received by the Department’s coronavirus hotline and Parentline. The first three episodes will be launched on 1 September, the remaining episodes will be available throughout Term 3 and 4. Raising Learners will be available via Raising Children Network and podcast apps.

Following an unprecedented response with more than 12,000 registrations, a second webinar will now be held on 15 September at 7:30 pm. Places are still available for Managing the Coronacoaster – Tips for building resilient families webinar on Tuesday 15 September at 7:30 pm. For more information and to register, visit the website.

The Minister for Education stated that the health and wellbeing of students and families are particularly important during this uncertain time. That’s why we’re providing tailored resources to help parents and carers support their children – and themselves.

The child psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, stated, “coronavirus has turned the lives of many Victorian families upside down, asking them yet again to navigate a new reality of remote learning, working from home and for some, financial hardship. Never has it been more important to provide families with simple, practical and evidence-based strategies to help them maintain the family’s wellbeing and build resilience, he added.

The Executive Director of the Raising Children Network noted that all parents need support to help their children thrive, and podcasts are great ways to deliver engaging, reliable and credible information on topics that are on parents’ minds. Raising Learners will focus on how parents can support their children’s learning at school, and home.

Pushing online and blended learning

Universities in Australia and New Zealand have been investing in digital learning for some time. However, in the past two years, major changes have been happening, the ANZ Regional Director of Learning Management at a global software company stated.

There is a heightened awareness of the importance of student experience, and universities’ adoption of new digital solutions is now driven vice-chancellors’ “large transformational visions”. As digital learning has become a requirement, more and more institutions have found that a sub-par virtual learning experience can deter students.

The emergence of micro-credentials in Australia has enabled students to take short, blended courses for a few hundred dollars that can stand alone or “stack” into a larger qualification. Students can now, for example, obtain a master’s for about half the usual cost, in less time and in a way that fits around their working hours.

The expert stated that in future, more students will be learning online while working. He anticipates that internships and research placements will increase, as students “learn and earn”. This model also offers value for businesses, not least through research relevant to their interests.

Blended learning will also enable those already in employment to upskill, too. “There is a very clear need – and significantly growing demand quarter-on-quarter – for professional learners who have disposable income but they don’t have the disposable time, nor are they close enough to universities [to sit a traditional course],” he concludes.

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