A social learning curve…

Sydney Community College Blog |

There are so many reasons people sign up for a short course – it’s not just about getting the skills. Sydney Community College has always been about social and practical learning experiences, with our classes a great way for people to gather around a common interest and learning goal.

When along came COVID and the lockdown this year, we saw a clear demand to continue offering these opportunities. So we made a firm decision: our Zoom classes will be small, live and interactive – to capture the banter and group dynamics of an in-class experience.

And Sydneysiders were up for it, as they joined us on the learning curve to get online classes up and running quickly.

We devised courses and webinars in response to the lockdown experience, such as “Pandemic Panic Patch” for those who had just discovered a green thumb. There was “Learning from the Lockdown” to talk about climate change in a year with other distractions… and “Stoic Philosophy” looking at ways to think about the pandemic and uncertain times.

But on a lighter note, we devised Urban Sketching from Home (how better to capture the experience of lockdown than through sketches out your living room window?).

Then we migrated more regular favourites over to Zoom – creating quality distractions for people, an alternative to streaming TV. With a home delivered kit, students signed up for Resin Art, Perfume Making, Drawing and Painting classes. Then came languages, business, creative writing and more.

Now 6 months on, we have delivered 244 courses on Zoom. That’s just under 1,000 class sessions to 1,640 participants.

And it turns out they’re not all Sydneysiders! We’ve hosted students from across NSW, from Blue Mountains out to Dubbo, Bourke and Broken Hill. We had students log in from Cairns in the north to Frankston down south, from Perth, Adelaide and Hobart.

But the distance award goes to the Urban Sketching participant join the class all the way from Vancouver. Turns out it was a little tricky sketching out the window into the 10pm darkness, but the opportunity was taken to spend time with a friend and fellow student zooming in from Sydney’s inner west.

With many enrolments made for two, a course is a great way to socialise while you gain rich learning experiences. And so we continue, online and in-class…

Claire Pickard
Sydney Community College