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You are reading: NCSEHE webinar: The WPO ‘Pivot’ — Shifting Widening Participation Outreach activities to a remote learning environment

Webinar Overview

Equity practitioners across the sector are currently responding to the impact of COVID-19 and how this influences the design, delivery and evaluation of Widening Participation (WP) Outreach activities. There is increased pressure on staff in WP roles, in responding to the needs of their institution and the needs of their partner schools, whilst maintaining the focus on enabling the aspirations of the students that sit at the heart of WP practice.

Presented by Kylie Austin and Meg Smith from the University of Wollongong (UOW), this webinar described how UOW’s Widening Participation and Outreach team has shifted its program to a remote delivery mode. Underpinned by Cathy Stone’s National Guidelines for Improving Student Outcomes in Online Learning, the webinar shared the practices that have been adopted by the team in shifting the delivery of WPO activities to remote learning in a rapid timeframe.

The one-hour presentation focused on the practical delivery of remote outreach programs, sharing the highlights and challenges of the approach and also what this will mean for the future delivery of UOW’s WPO activities. These were shared from the perspectives of practitioners, student mentors and students engaged in the programs. In addition to the practical implementation of remote WPO activities, the workshop also covered tips for maintaining an institutional commitment to WPO in light of the current COVID-19 global pandemic.

University mentors and students engaging in the program also offered comments.


Webinar recording

Webinar transcript


Online learning and the WPO ‘Pivot’: In conversation with Cathy Stone and Kylie Austin

This post-webinar discussion introduces NCSEHE Adjunct Fellow Dr Cathy Stone into the conversation and addresses more of the questions presented during the webinar.

Meg and Kylie have also answered some of the outstanding audience questions in an extended Q and A summary.


Webinar slides


About the presenters

Kylie Austin, Senior Manager, Outreach and Equity, University of Wollongong

Kylie has 12 years’ experience in working in the higher education sector in leading the strategic planning for student equity initiatives. Over this period, Kylie has led the implementation of outreach, transition and co-curricular programs that aim to increase the participation of students from identified equity backgrounds in higher education. Kylie has a significant research interest in how partnerships can increase outcomes for students from equity groups across the student life cycle.

Meg Smith, Outreach Manager, University of Wollongong
An employee at the University of Wollongong since 2016, Meg was initially in marketing and recruitment roles for faculties, before being appointed as Outreach Manager in 2019. Prior to this, she was the director of a number of marketing agencies in London and Sydney specialising in the wine and spirits sector and also worked as a campaign manager at the RSPCA’s head office in the UK. Meg’s team works with over 17,000 students on an annual basis and collaborates with more than 136 schools, from the Bega region right up to South West Sydney.

We would like to thank the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) for their ongoing administrative support of the NCSEHE webinar series.