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How the Right Digital Solution Will Help Your RTO Survive and Thrive

15 - July - 2020

Recently, Cloud Assess hosted a live webinar with Phill Bevan, Community Advisor at vetr, called Survive and Thrive: How to use an online solution to help your RTO stress less about audit time!

The webinar was around the need to be future-focused to ensure longevity and prosperity. Online Training and Assessing is not a new phenomenon; however, it’s becoming a key ingredient to surviving in these times of change.

We summarised some of the key findings from that webinar to create this blog.

Physical distancing restrictions didn’t stop reviews and audits from happening, it just changed the way they were carried out. Like the rest of the world’s communication, they went digital.

Many organisations followed suit in implementing a digital solution. Some of this was done well, with appropriate resourcing and a huge number of hours invested in making this transition. Some unfortunately were not. Inappropriate technology and insufficient training have left holes in training and assessment that will leave RTOs susceptible come audit time.

Based on recent audits and internal reviews, student engagement and support during online training is a top cause for concern.

Making meaningful connections with online students is an ongoing issue, particularly when faced with the added issue of timeliness. Online students expect everything to happen faster, with many believing that feedback and support should be nearly instantaneous.

This has raised a few questions;

  • How does timeliness change when adopting an online solution?
  • Does a trainer need to be online 24/7 to respond to student queries?

When looking at responsiveness it’s important to remember that while a digital solution makes things more efficient, it doesn’t necessarily mean that communication needs to be instant.

Timelines need to be determined early on so students know when to expect responses and feedback. The same can be said for trainer availability. Responsiveness must be effective and reasonable. If students were attending face-to-face training, there would not be an expectation for 24/7 contact hours. The same applies for online learning.

With Cloud Assess, you can communicate in a timely manner with all of your students throughout their journey. To learn more, click here.

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Biggest Challenges RTOs Face Around Compliance

The obligations around the principles of assessment and the rules of evidence remain the same regardless of what delivery method is being used.

During the initial phase of pivoting to online delivery, the focus was on innovating. As part of continuing development, you now have to look back and find the traps that weren’t considered during the transition phase.

Records will need to be kept as evidence of what you’ve done and that you met the required standards.

Some common issues that can lead to non-compliance include:

  • How did you keep track of attendance online?
  • Does attendance meet the requirements of participation?
  • How are you maintaining authenticity in assessment?
  • When were assessments submitted?
  • What support were students receiving?

Some evidence that can be collected through a fit-for-purpose solution like Cloud Assess, include:

  • Unique Login ID
  • User name and password
  • Date and time stamps
  • When marking was occurring
  • Feedback provided

While some tech may be appropriate for delivery, they fall short for record keeping. It is imperative that this area be examined closely before any decisions around choosing a digital solution are made.

When using Cloud Assess software to facilitate the assessment process, Authenticity is considered throughout the app, allowing assessors to gather evidence face-to-face, build in acknowledgement forms and even capture electronic signatures, audio and video.

When assessors cannot directly collect all the necessary evidence to support a competency judgement, it may be appropriate for it to be gathered or reported by a third party, most commonly, a workplace supervisor.

With Cloud Assess you can create a third party login and issue them with a form where they can upload evidence and so on. This is then submitted directly to the assessor for their judgement. Read more about this here.

Top Tip: When it comes to the principles of assessment and the rules of evidence, the method of delivery doesn’t matter. You must be able to show how you collected evidence following the rules and that assessments were implemented in line with the four principles whether you use face-to-face delivery, online delivery or blended.

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Why you need to go digital now

The future is tech! There is a growing demand for remote, flexible, online training and assessment solutions. These digital tools are the most effective way to deliver training and conduct assessment. And they aren’t just for distance learning. Digital tools can also be used for onsite learning as well as workplace delivery.

As an RTO, you may have many reasons why you need to turn to technology to solve your business problems.

These might include:

  • Huge amounts of data to process
  • Requiring a bullet proof audit trail
  • Having more tech savvy students
  • Wanting a paperless office that is more sustainable
  • Needing to increase efficiency in your RTO for profit / growth

It could be all of the above and more.

The reasons are compelling, and ultimately if you are not moving forward with tech you are connected to the past, not the future, which is where your target market is.

In addition, the recent pandemic caused so many organisations to update their modes of delivery - quickly. This left many scrambling to find a solution that may not have been the right fit, while those that had already gone digital were prepared to pivot with their students without missing a beat.

What is next for the VET Sector?

The height of the recent pandemic was a time of rapid change and panic, with many organisations focusing on survival. If there is any positive to be taken from this, it is that we can now be more thoughtful about what the future will look like like and how we might put ourselves in a better position post-COVID.

With the rapid uptake in digital solutions, many organisations are reporting higher visibility in terms of student participation and assessor timeliness. This information provides RTOs with insights about student satisfaction, what team members may require additional support as well as possible business opportunities.

The right digital solution with the right approach should help you not only survive and weather any storm, but to thrive too.

“The purpose of digital is to provide better, greater, faster, cheaper services,” said Phill Bevan in Cloud Assess’s recent webinar, Survive and Thrive. “This is what technology does.”

We have come through a time of great uncertainty but that has also provided us with some clarity. There are major changes expected in the VET sector over the next couple of years, from different funding opportunities to the way learning is delivered, perhaps the best thing you can do for your business is buckle in and be as prepared as you can be.

Benefits of using a fit-for-purpose solution

When considering a truly fit-for purpose digital solution, it’s crucial to find one that fits to your existing mould. You shouldn’t be forced to change your existing resources, you should be able to incorporate them, after all, you’re not making a massive shift, you’re just adopting a more flexible method. A truly fit-for-purpose digital solution will allow you to continue delivering training and assessment at the same level, while maintaining your own workflows.

Think of it like this, incorporating technology shouldn’t feel like a big step change, more like swapping out your clipboard for an iPad. You will still be able to do everything you were already doing, just more efficiently.

Some things to ask yourself when considering a digital solution are:

  • How do we implement these solutions?
  • Is it unique to our needs?
  • Does the provider understand the requirements and how we assess?
  • Can we gather quality evidence?
  • How do I get the most out of the technology?

The right online solution should use the terminology aligned to the VET sector. Does it speak in AQF Framework, qualifications, units of competency, etc.?

When implemented correctly you will be able to create, conduct and control all types of assessment, while achieving the benefits of automation, which include an increase in student satisfaction.

Huge thanks to Phill Bevan, vetr Community Advisor, for his input into these findings.

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