The lecture theatre has been traded for the lounge room and the syndicate room for the study as Defence has moved education online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While COVID-19 has seen Defence change the way it conducts education, the mission of intellectually preparing our current and future leaders has continued uninterrupted.

Across the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and the Australian War College, students have found themselves digitally welcoming their classmates and teaching staff into their homes as video conferencing and online education platforms replace classrooms.

For Midshipman Aimee Jeffers, a 3rd year trainee officer at ADFA studying a Bachelor of Business degree, the move to online learning came with some trepidation, but has ultimately proved to have benefits.

“I was able to pretty quickly re-establish a routine to my studies, with a mixture of lectures and online tutorials meaning I quickly got back in the flow of things once classes moved online,” Midshipman Jeffers said.

“The ability to video call my lecturers if I have any questions has also been really helpful. 

“If I have any questions or need some clarification, they’ve made themselves available to me, and I’ve really appreciated that.”

Flexibility in learning was also appreciated by Squadron Leader Jay Spence, currently studying the Australian Command and Staff Course (ACSC) at the War College.

“Pre-recorded lectures have really helped me, particularly as I have three school-aged children at home with me,” Squadron Leader Spence said.

“I’m lucky that my kids are of an age where they can mostly study independently, but being able to pause the lecture to check in on them or help them with their school work is invaluable.

“The level of support I’ve received from course staff has been great ever since I started the ACSC program, and that has carried on with the move online.”

A member of the ACSC directing staff, Commander Vanessa Power, says that her experience balancing caring responsibilities for her 11- and 13-year-old children and work commitments has given her a new outlook on her job.

“My work sees me supervising students undertaking postgraduate, Masters-level study, while I now also find myself at the same time helping my children learn the basics of research and essay writing while they study at home,” Commander Power said.

“That change in focus throughout the day has given me a fresh perspective on my work, and has made me consider how I can do things differently.”