Digital program pilot paves way for ABCN to reach more students

Digital GOALS pilot Plumpton High 2019

ABCN will experiment with delivering a digital version of our GOALS program in regional and remote areas in 2020, following the completion of a successful pilot late last year.

One of ABCN’s strategic goals is to bring our programs to students who can’t easily travel to our member companies’ workplaces in the city, as well as removing barriers to mentor participation. We are starting with a digital version of our GOALS program, which aims to encourage Year 9 students to complete Year 12 and consider further study.

In the traditional program, students are matched with a mentor from one of our member companies. The pair meet face-to-face six times over six months, in a group setting with other pairs of participants. The pairs work together on fun activities designed to help with the students’ goal-setting, self-management and critical thinking.

The challenge in creating a digital version of the program is how to replicate the power of face-to-face mentoring in an online environment. The solution – workshopped with Accenture’s design and innovation arm Fjord – involves Zoom video conferencing and a re-imagining of the GOALS curriculum.

In a test run held late last year, 24 students from two schools, Plumpton High and Prairiewood High, plus 12 mentors from EY and Accenture, participated in these pilot digital programs. The students accessed the online program from a computer lab at their schools. The mentors joined from either their workplace or home. The mentors were geographically dispersed, joining from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and – in one case of a super committed mentor who was on leave during the final session – the Philippines. Thank you for going the extra mile, Krizia Irlandez from EY!

Via a custom-designed digital learning platform, the students worked independently on goal-setting activities for 30 minutes. Guided by ABCN Digital Program Manager Gerry Meleady, the pairs were then placed in Zoom ‘breakout rooms’ where they were joined by one mentor per pair to discuss their responses. Allowing students to buddy up when meeting their mentor helped reduce any initial awkwardness and gave each student thinking time when their classmate was talking.

The final session took place with all students gathered around one computer at their respective schools. Mentors left their breakout rooms to join the main teleconferencing room for a virtual completion ceremony.

The feedback from all participants was enthusiastic, with many students commenting that the online self-guided exercises were fun and their mentors easy to talk to despite not being there in the flesh. Likewise, mentors reported that the visual format of the process didn’t impact their ability to connect via screens. ‘It was quite easy to build rapport and pick up again in subsequent sessions,’ one mentor said.

ABCN plans to roll out 10 digital GOALS programs in metropolitan, regional and remote schools this year, starting in Term 2. We are also assessing the potential for additional digital programs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact ABCN Digital Program Manager Amy Weaver at for more information.


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