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Unitec’s Learner Outreach Project mobilises expanded team to check on student welfare during COVID-19 lockdown

As Unitec moves into the second week of online teaching, it has mobilised a range of remote-working support staff to further expand the resources of its Learner Outreach Project (LOP), established last year to support students through outreach and facilitate a better understanding of their needs through actively tracking and monitoring progress.

As part of the expanded outreach during lockdown, a range of support teams have joined existing LOP staff to make personal phone calls to students across courses and programmes, checking on their welfare and establishing whether they have the access they need to complete online course activities and assessments.  They’re also providing information about course completion, personal finance and health and wellbeing, and referring students to support agencies if they need help.  Unitec is assisting students who don’t have access to appropriate devices and is advising on cost-effective connectivity options.

Annette Pitovao, Director of Student Success at Unitec, said that the range of support activities has been met with very positive feedback so far.  “Our students appreciate hearing from us, and knowing that there’s someone on the other end of the phone who cares makes a huge difference to their motivation levels,” she said.   “We want our students to have the most optimal learning experience possible under the current, challenging circumstances with the least amount of disruption to their future success.” 

“We’ve been very encouraged to see that students are supporting each other across a variety of platforms, forming chat groups and online tutorial groups to actively stay connected,” she said. 

Teaching staff will continue to teach online after the return from mid-Semester break on Tuesday 28 April but will provide students with further information on their specific course delivery arrangements next week.  Unitec has been teaching its students online since Monday 30 March – taking just four days to move to full online teaching after the campus was first closed due to lockdown.