While some tertiary institutes are worried about coping without the normal enrolments from overseas students with borders still shut, Whitireia and WelTec have kept the relationship with Chinese students buoyant by continuing to teach online.
360 design students from China have seen uninterrupted delivery of their four and six-week sessions twice this year, as normal, from creative technology tutors at Whitireia and WelTec.
Ordinarily, the sessions would be taught twice a year in person in China by Whitireia and WelTec tutors, but the course content was quickly adjusted and transferred online using Trello, WeChat, Dingtalk and other applications to teach and engage with students to share knowledge, projects and feedback.
This meant animation design students from Hangzhou Vocational and Technical College and visual communication design students from Hunan City University could continue with their courses delivered online in areas of illustration and publication design, web and motion graphics.
“These courses have become important for the students who are seeking to develop their creativity and for those who value the cultural and other input we provide around design processes and techniques,” says Brenda Saris, Programme Manager for Creative Technologies, Visual Arts and Music at Whitireia and WelTec. “The feedback we have had has been excellent.”
Students have commented on the detailed videos recorded by tutors, timely feedback on allowing room for revision and progress and how the experience remained meaningful despite the distance.
The relationship started with Hunan City University in 2015 when Brenda travelled to visit the institution, and at the same time, taught for 12 straight days.
“We were faced with 100 first year students all eager to learn from New Zealanders. We taught a design principles course and it was a baptism of fire! We came away from the first trip both impressed and overwhelmed with the engagement of the students, and the experience of grappling with cultural differences in the classroom.”
The relationship and teaching began at Hangzhou Vocational and Technical College in 2019.
Since starting the partnership, around 560 students every year have participated in the courses.
“There have been some changes to the way the courses have been designed, but in essence it is similar to what we would ordinarily teach in person. While it has been a lot of work, it has worked well with relationships remaining strong. This way of working has opened up new possibilities for the future,” says Brenda.