Photography Studies College Melbourne (PSC) is adapting to the rapidly changing educational landscape by introducing new ways of creating an engaging live face-to-face learning experience for students off-campus.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the PSC has been working tirelessly to bring its school community, students and staff closer together, all the while still ensuring social distancing.
In just a matter of days, this small private photography College has broken down the new world of isolation by optimising technology to facilitate real-time group communication beyond bricks and mortar and transformed its more than 40 years of face-to-face on-campus education into synchronous off-campus learning. By keeping their class schedules and all their individual student support sessions the same as before the pandemic, this College has given students a sense of normalcy and continuity to help balance the disruption caused by the pandemic.
“My deepest hope is that we can all survive together through these incredibly testing times, both personally and economically. Keeping our students engaged and our staff employed are intertwined and a priority of the College,” Julie Moss, Managing Director of Photography Studies College said.
In the face of ever-increasing fears in the community and in anticipation of a state-wide lockdown, the College has in the past week successfully completed a learning from home trial for both students and staff. It has adopted video communication software to enable classes and keep communication between teachers and students open to assist with social distancing. All staff are working in new clusters, using Microsoft Teams, to communicate on a daily basis to support and connect each other during these unprecedented times.
“The speed and enthusiasm to which our teachers and support staff have embraced the use of technology for education this week is inspirational and has enabled us to do everything we can to be responsive to students and keep them engaged with us,” Julie Moss said.
Innovatively, the College has successfully created a virtual learning model for practical photography studio classes, which is a core part of the curriculum. The PSC provides a Bachelor of Photography and a Master of Arts – Photography degree, Certificate IV and a range of short courses. Each class has an average of 20 students or less. The specialised College is renowned for its award-winning teachers who are all working in the industry, and for its tight-knit community with international and national networks.
Bolstering a sense of community in new creative ways is also paramount to the College. Having access to video software communication has allowed this to happen, as not only can students watch their classes online, but they can interact with teachers and also discuss their assignments with each other. This form of personalised and experiential learning is a welcomed outcome for students who can now work on their assignments and complete their degrees and certificates on time.
Clare Jellie, a PSC student said, “After the trial last week, I found it so easy to use and now I know that I won't be missing out on anything by completing my course in this way, I am excited to think that even in isolation, I will be still be able to complete my Bachelor. I also feel thankful that I don’t have to go into the College and can continue to keep myself and others safe by social distancing.”
The Photography Studies College also has a dedicated Wellness Officer who facilitates appointments between doctors and counsellors, which has been found to be an effective way to support the physical and mental health of students. Should the lockdown happen, then this interaction and support will continue online.
With a lot of conflicting reports and unvetted news about the pandemic, PSC recently interviewed Dr. Martin Fox from Southgate Medical Centre to provide general advice and facts about COVID-19 to its students. This has helped to ease panic and provide students with the knowledge of where and how to access help if needed. The College has a great relationship with this medical centre, which provides bulk billing to its students and teachers, who are now providing phone appointments during the pandemic.
Until further advice from the State Government PSC remains open. It is offering these temporary measures to students and staff in preparation of a state-wide lock down and for those that wish to self-isolate, but want to continue with their education and/or start a course.
PSC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 website page to keep its students and staff updated https://www.psc.edu.au/covid19. Here you will also find a message from the PSC Managing Director, Julie Moss.