27 September 2023

ANZSOG’s masters course a first for COVID

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Students have graduated from the Australia and New Zealand School of Government’s (ANZSOG) Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program — the first to be held during the COVID-19 era.

Dean’s Prize Winner, Duane McKibben, from the New Zealand Public Service Commission, delivered the valedictory speech for the 2020 cohort.

Mr McKibben said that all of the participants who began the program in February 2020 had been affected by COVID-19 — both by being pulled into their jurisdictions’ COVID responses and having to adapt to online learning delivery.

“As the first ‘COVID cohort’, we grieved, sometimes in denial, sometimes in anger, perhaps moving towards a begrudging acceptance, that the world was just going to be different now,” he said.

“We persevered, and we adapted, and we ‘muddled through’.

“In many ways, that’s often what the Public Service does.”

In a statement, ANZSOG said it moved quickly to shift the EMPA online when the pandemic hit in 2020, engaging experts in education technologies to work one-on-one with subject leaders to convert material and teaching methods to the online environment.

“To check things were progressing as planned, we ran ‘pulse checks’ with participants after the first day of online teaching in each subject, and detailed evaluations at the end of each subject,” it said.

“This feedback showed an increasing level of satisfaction as the semester progressed and students and subject leaders became used to the new environment.”

Mr McKibben said the EMPA had helped prepare him for the complex and demanding world that public managers faced in the post-COVID era and the complex policy challenges that needed to be addressed.

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