Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability

Pathways15: Successfully Embracing the Unknown: the TAFE NSW 2020 Student Support Journey

Greg O'Connor, Texthelp and Anita Raftery, TAFE NSW

The new student year started in February 2020. 500,000 or so TAFE NSW students across the state kicked it off by attending classes side-by-side with peers, meeting in face-to-face sessions with their teachers and fearlessly shaking hands and exchanging hugs in greeting.

Then March happened! As with all TAFE colleges and universities Australia-wide, teaching, learning, training and student support literally changed over the course of one weekend! TAFE NSW delivery transformed to accommodate COVID-19 health and safety requirements.

This presentation will share the journey of TAFE NSW rapid move to supporting students studying at TAFE NSW through Connected Learning, connecting teachers and students via virtual platforms like Microsoft Teams. And the need for equally agile transitioning to remotely support students who were previously able to access support on-campus and in-person.

Learning and teaching support strategies and technologies were strengthened, changed and transformed in term 1 to meet these new unprecedented COVID-19 needs and requirements.

At the end of 2019 TAFE NSW had worked towards procuring and deploying a single organisational Read&Write software licence for all staff and students - in line with TAFE NSW commitment to the principals of UDL. Never thinking that this whole of organisation, state-wide procurement and availability would be so timely due to COVID-19. Read&Write software program from Texthelp - was made available to all staff and students state-wide, studying via connected delivery and online or on campus.

This session will explore these finding and implications for future support models moving ahead to the post-COVID training environment.

What will we keep? What have we learned? Can we deliver support services with more agility, equity and effectiveness as a result?


For over 30 years Greg has been actively involved in all levels of education, supporting the learning of ALL students as a classroom teacher, school executive, education department manager and technology consultant. He is currently a member of the Asia Pacific Texthelp Team, supporting technology innovation and implementation across the region.

Anita is a teacher who has worked in the area of education for over 25 years. Anita currently works as Teacher Consultant- Disability with TAFE NSW. Anita’s expertise in inclusive technology has seen her facilitate professional learning activities, recently coordinate the procurement for Read & Write software at TAFE NSW and support the allocation and implementation of assistive technologies for students in TAFE NSW North Region.