MICHAEL Holmstrom says COVID-19 has changed his business forever, but not necessarily in a bad way.
He’s the managing director of Samford- based education service STEM Punks which provides science, technology, engineering and mathematics education to students mostly through incursions at schools.
So, when schools started to close and cancel bookings, Michael had to work quickly to pivot his business and offer an alternative online.
“We went from having a full calendar (for most of this year) to everything being pulled out from under us,” he says.
While STEM Punks has offered an online learning platform for schools for the past two years, the team had not previously created content for children to use at home.
That’s now changed!
The small team has created a studio at Samford where they can film and put together four to five programs each week.
They’re also producing live lessons on YouTube and social media.
“The content is designed so students can work autonomously. Parents aren’t teachers,” Michael says
There’s content for students of all ages, but autonomous lessons are best-suited for children from Year 2-12.
Michael says there’s free content available, or a standard bundle for $29 per month. Premium content is available for mature-aged students.
“We had to shift the mindset of the team, getting the team to understand that the reality is that we’re not going to deliver content for a long time, in the way we used to do it,” Michael explains. “But there’s a great opportunity here as well.”
He says the team of primary and secondary school teachers were already good at using technology, so the focus is now on producing quality content.
“Because they’re teachers, they’re aware of the learning process,” he says.
He says anyone can put anything online and it can be entertaining, but it’s purely entertainment without learning outcomes.
Michael says it’s early days but uptake has been promising since they changed their business model in mid-March.
While the team will return to face-to-face lessons when it is safe to do so, online learning will now be a key component of what they do.
“After these months of staying at home, parents will have a new appreciation for teaching and teachers. This is more about maintaining a level of learning and how to free up parents so they can do some work as well,” Michael says.
Visit stempunks.com.au for more information