How creative schools are bringing to face-to-face learning back again

As AFTRS moves back into face-to-face teaching, Short Courses and Industry Certificates leader Krista Jordan tells us what students should expect in the near future.

Amongst Australia’s various creative colleges and schools, AFTRS (the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School) seemed amongst the quickest to adapt. Whole courses were delivered online, as was the Virtual Open Day, and the staff even began devising new seminars to suit the times.

But now (with fingers firmly crossed) it looks like we’re on the way out of this mess, and you can bet creative students all over the country have missed learning experiences that don’t occur through a webcam. Screen time fatigue is at an all-time high, and the educators will need to readapt.

With AFTRS now taking registrations for their popular Short Courses and Summer Intensives, we spoke to Short Courses and Industry Certificates leader Krista Jordan to find out how the school will be adapting to the times… again.

“Anecdotally, amongst ourselves and all the research that’s been done, we’re all craving this hands-on contact,” Jordan declared, right off the bat.

“[The courses at AFTRS are] really creative and it’s hard to be creative continuously in a vacuum, and the nice thing about having everyone be able to come in and actually engage with people is… after this whole year with COVID we have this fabulous opportunity to reconnect people in that really tangible, face-to-face way in a safe environment.”

“So we have adjusted the course structure to manage that COVID experience. If you’re doing a camera course for example, we limit the amount of people in a certain space, we make sure that you’re not sharing cameras. If you’re doing a radio course we have covers on the mics – whatever it is, there are protections in place. It’s lovely to be able to actually have people come in and be able to see each other and do some creative stuff face-to-face.”

Jordan’s current role is to help develop the Short Courses and Industry Certificates, planning how best to “deliver those courses, and hopefully make them exciting, interesting, and really valuable.”

These courses in particular are amongst the school’s most popular – they’re shorter than conventional degrees, aimed at fast-moving learners who want to skill up in an environment they’ll have fun keeping up with.

“The feedback is that the intensives are some of the most popular of those courses, because as is inferred in the name, they’re quite an intensive period, usually about five days, and you come in for a high-level deep dive into the subject matter. All of the lecturers in those spaces come with professional expertise in those areas, and they’re all really designed to be hands-on in various ways.”

“They’re a low-threat, low-hurdle way to experience some areas of craft or expertise that people might be interested in, without having to commit too much or having to feel, ‘oh, I can’t do that’. They’re really designed to give people a taste of what it’s like in those spaces.”

But beyond the design of the courses, Jordan takes pride in the community experience AFTRS provides. Which, admittedly, has been lost a little bit during the pandemic and the remote learning it enforced. Luckily, the end of such times is an opportunity to reinstate an important part of the AFTRS experience.

The fact is for many students, the people they meet along the way are as important as what’s taught in the courses themselves.

“One of the reasons I love working at AFTRS – and I particularly love about the Short Course component – is it’s continuously allowing people to connect with other networks, those they wouldn’t engage with outside of the school. So you might come in and do a lighting intensive and you talk to someone and find a real connection, then you speak to them outside and some creative project comes along and you ‘oh yeah, I remember that person’.”

“So there’s this whole networking experience that happens at AFTRS that’s a really cool part of the success of the school, a nice thing about the school.”

It’s this part of the school’s offering, Jordan believes, that keeps students coming back – sometimes even for life.

“In principle, you can keep coming back to the school throughout your whole life. The Short Courses, the Summer Intensives, and the Industry Certificate, we’re the glue that binds that lifelong learning experience. Say you’re in high school and you’re doing a video course to assist with your HSC, then you go ‘oh that’s exciting, I’m interested in working in film or screen production’.”

“Then you think it’d be great to do a BA, so you do your BA, come out into the world, and then you might come back and do some Short Courses because there’s a skill gap or you’re trying something a bit left-field of where you are. So you do some Short Courses or Intensives, and then maybe you want to start your own business! You come back and do a Masters of Business, then you’ve got your own people working for you, then you send those people back to AFTRS to fill their skill gaps. Then you might end up teaching.”

“The whole idea is that it’s one big learning arc, and these Short Courses and intensives are a part of that belief.”


Find out more about AFTRS Short Courses here and Summer Intensives here.