Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, ABCN has been working quickly to transform many more of our core programs into digital formats, building on pilots run in 2019. Here’s where we’re at.
There was a lot of laughter in the room when a dozen South Australian students were introduced to their mentors online several weeks ago during ABCN’s first digital pilot program of 2020. The Year 9 students had gathered at Le Fevre High School for session one of a digital GOALS program, in which students are paired with a mentor for weekly online meetings over five weeks. After the students completed some self-paced learning activities, their 12 mentors – from CBA, IAG, KPMG, Navitas and Optus – joined them online for a 30-minute meet and greet.
Following some initial nerves and technical glitches, the icebreaker conversations started to flow. ‘He was awesome,’ one student said afterwards of his mentor. ‘We talked about gaming!’
Other students said they loved meeting their mentors, describing them as ‘so nice’ when making them feel comfortable talking to someone new.
The teacher supervising the students told Cathy Torjul, our ABCN representative on site, that students had gone through a stressful time during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and programs like digital GOALS helped engage them in their education and offer them a different experience from the standard curriculum.
As with the original face-to-face program, digital GOALS aims to widen the life choices and aspirations of students in their middle years of high school, encouraging them to complete their schooling by focusing on goal-setting, self-management and critical thinking. It is part of a suite of ABCN digital programs to be rolled out over the second half of 2020 as students return to face-to-face learning. Other digital pilots running during Term 2 include Focus (leadership skills for girls) and Future Thinkers (innovative problem solving through design thinking).
These programs have been developed with the support of our member companies Accenture and EY and in consultation with students, educators and mentors, with a view to providing a new path forward in how ABCN programs are experienced and delivered.
Creating digital versions of our traditional face-to-face programs will allow ABCN to bring our programs to students who can’t easily travel to our member companies’ workplaces, including instances where school excursions have been postponed due to COVID-19 safety precautions. It also means we can reach far more students in regional and remote areas in future. Our digital programs will also remove barriers to mentor participation since they can join from their home, office or wherever they happen to be at the time.
We are running several pilots in selected states during Term 2, followed by a full rollout nationally in Term 3. For more information, talk to your local ABCN program manager.