8 Apr 2020





8 Apr 2020

With the announcement of the nationwide Level 4 lockdown alert on 23 March in response  to COVID-19, SAE Creative Media Institute quickly began shifting its focus to supporting students through online learning. 

While SAE’s campus doors are temporarily closed in response to government advice,  SAE’s creative community is far from silent. The institute has quickly and confidently shifted all operations to an online delivery model, with classes recommencing on Monday 6 April after a trimester break.

“Despite the challenges, the move online has been incredibly rewarding,” says Dr Major. “Our staff are collectively doing what creatives do best – problem-solving. While some of the more practical course components have been pushed back in the calendar, we can deliver most of our programs online, and are rolling these out with great success.”

Through the innovative use of digital technologies and platforms, SAE is facilitating  communication between students and staff in an engaging, interactive and fun way.

A student-body IT survey has shown almost all students have a computer and/or internet access; those with limited access are being given extra assistance and are able to engage via smartphone. Classes are also recorded and  asynchronous to support and enhance self-directed learning.

SAE’s global network and parent company Navitas have made all necessary software freely available to students for the duration of the lockdown period, so there is nothing to slow down their creativity during this time.

Head of Screen Production Dr Julia Reynolds said there were many positives arising from the new programme delivery model. . “It's exciting to interact with the students online, it makes me confident in them,” says Dr Reynolds. “They seem really free to chat – in the safety of their own environments they share a lot. It’s really positive.”

Close contact over phone and email has been maintained with staff and students throughout this period. Dr Major and International Student Support Officer Alex Harter also met online with international students studying at SAE Auckland – along with their parent/guardian where possible to assure families locked down in entirely different countries that their child is safe and classes are proceeding. 

“Our top priority remains the health and well-being of our community,” Campus Director Dr Suzette Major says. “Staying connected is crucial at this time, for both students and staff. We may be physically distanced but we are ensuring every one of our students is safe, engaged and learning in spite of trying circumstances.”

SAE has also opened a daily Student Support Zoom room, where students can check in, hang out and move into breakout rooms for private conversations with Student Support Officers. 

Students are pleased at the speed and commitment with which SAE Auckland staff have switched to this new ‘normal’. Many have reached out personally to staff with messages of gratitude for their hard work in a difficult and unprecedented situation. 

“SAE has done well to implement remote-working technology at such short notice,” says Screen Production student Peter Conway. “It’s an opportunity to think outside the square, improvise, and use technology differently.” 

Dr Major agrees. “It’s now more than ever that we need creative thinking and interconnectedness – values we proudly seek to impart to our students through our collaborative, progressive curriculum.”

“In this extraordinarily challenging time, it is rewarding to see our staff and students rise to the challenge, and how important the creative community is,”  she says. “Nothing will stop people working together, we will maintain connection, even from our individual bubbles.”