A previously cancelled series of workshops aimed at readying high school teachers for online challenges has been given a new lease in the COVID-19 online learning world.
Lecturers at Charles Sturt University, including Wagga-based Professor Eleanor Gates-Stuart and Andrew Hagan, will begin delivering the workshops online as of Monday.
Dubbed STEM 2020: On Demand the program aims to run teachers through the most effective ways to deliver science, technology, engineering and mathematics lessons via the web.
Working in virtual technology and animation, the online workshops are something of a situation normal for the Wagga academics.
"Something that would normally take six months to develop will take a few days because we know what we're doing with the technology, and we can render it almost in real time," Mr Hagan said.
"It seems like science fiction, it's exciting times."
Running participants through tech-heavy augmented, virtual and mixed reality software remotely though will still have its fair few challenges to overcome.
"Our first though was to bring people into the workshops, because people are fearful, especially if they have not had a background in visual effects," Professor Gates-Stuart said.
"It helps to be physically engaging, but how do we do that in screen time? We're having to record the sessions and place them [virtually] into the workshops."
Reliance on virtual technology to overcome distance during the COVID-19 situation has, however, presented a fertile ground for understanding.
"With COVID, we've had to think about how we can deal with everyday things in a virtual way," Professor Gates-Stuart said.
"We're seeing videos online all the time of [musicians and actors] playing together using virtual technology.
"Everyone is almost a creative director themselves. We want people to be creative, and teachers are great at that already. It's about confronting a problem and finding a creative solution."
Although online learning was thrust upon schools rather dramatically during the COVID-19 crisis, Mr Hagan sees the present situation as an important step in the future delivery of education.
"We are all trying to communicate in the best way we can using the best of what we have right now," Mr Hagan said.
"But how do we make it better in the future? How can we make better ways of communicating and educating as a society."
The sessions will be conducted by seven separate science and technology academics across Charles Sturt University's various nationwide campuses.