This blog was originally published in June 2020 and has been updated for freshness and relevancy...
Many RTOs successfully pivoted to online learning when the restrictions around physical distancing came into play. ASQA has been supportive of these adaptive measures and has published a new website section outlining compliance guidelines for these arrangements. You can access this resource here.
It's fantastic that AQSA responded when distance learning was vital to keeping VET alive. Not only that, but online study has become an increasingly attractive option. Global enrolments for online courses are up significantly. Clear communication around how to maintain compliance during this time goes hand in hand with the notion that clear communication is vital for students.
In this blog we unpack some of the updated guidelines around the section, Student Support and Progression, and while there are other considerations that will have to be made, we want to discuss what this means for your RTO moving forward and how Cloud Assess can assist in making this transition online as smooth as possible.
With distance learning, the classroom becomes flipped, which means the support is flipped too. RTOs must ensure that individual students are receiving the support to maintain student satisfaction and encourage successful completion. Students must be made aware of how to seek support, so they can be proactive when support is required. There may be more upfront work required from trainers to facilitate learning remotely, perhaps creating more videos, interactive learning content and so on. In addition when students come to a virtual classroom, the learning and assessment may take place in a different way and new concepts around privacy need to be considered i.e. allow them to opt in to having their cameras on in online meetings etc.
If you are using an LMS, half of your troubles are taken care of, as you have a repository for your learning content. But, how easy is it to consume for the learner and how can you track progress on assessments in real time?
ASQA released the following areas to highlight what RTOs need to consider when providing Support and Progression in order to remain compliant:
Determining a student’s digital literacy for distance learning is more than whether or not they can use a computer. RTOs must consider the types of tasks that students will need to complete during the course and whether they possess the required knowledge to do so.
RTOs should consider what impact having limited digital skills will have on their own support systems and if additional support is required at the beginning to equip students with these skills. By including informal training at enrolment is an efficient way of verifying and providing students with the required technical knowledge and should make their learning experience more enjoyable.
The Cloud Assess Learner App is an entirely seperate user interface designed for Vocational Education and Training Students. It focuses on simplicity while placing work front and centre and providing great course navigation and access to library resources. You don’t need to be tech savvy to be able to utilise all the great resources that are available on the Learner App.
Distance learning can make it more difficult to identify when students might need more support during their VET course. RTOs are required to recognise any support needs and provide access to the required services. Students should not be entirely responsible for seeking support when they need it.
Providing multiple methods for a student to make contact with a trainer or assessor is a good idea. These can be by phone, email or text, which will appeal to people with varying levels of digital literacy and LLN skills.
Supporting your individual learner needs can be easily achieved with an online assessment solution with options like voice to text, video or audio instructions or visual aids, to name a few.
The trainer and assessor should be the student’s first point of contact. Positive communication can be encouraged and maintained by proactively contacting students, promptly providing feedback on work and engaging in real-time interaction.
Virtual classrooms via video conference should be considered to encourage collaboration between students as well as promote friendships that would normally occur in a classroom setting.
To support student engagement and provide a safe place for course collaboration, Cloud Assess offers Assessors a Course Newsfeed called Posts. Similar to a Facebook News feed, your assessors will be able to make posts in a course that might include links to resources, multimedia, as well as information such as news, updates, or Zoom meeting links so that you can engage with the entire cohort of learners on a course. Learners will also be able to add comments to posts and reply to each other, further encouraging student discussions and collaboration.
Students should be monitored throughout the course to track their knowledge and skill development and help with motivation.
RTOs should ensure that students are regularly logged in and participating in their learning in order to successfully progress through the course. There must be a process with evidence to document student progression. Keeping regular contact with students to discuss the course content and their progression will help their comprehension and provide support.
Using a digital solution like Cloud Assess provides handy tools like workflows and a dashboard, to keep you continuously informed about your students' progress. The software can be used to run reports and identify students who may not be progressing so they can be contacted for support.
All students will also have access to their assessments in the same way. They can see when actions have taken place and receive real-time information on progress through their dashboard.
- Students undertaking studies via online delivery are not provided with the required support; concerns that trainers and assessors are not responding to emails or phone calls promptly.
Equip your team with a framework that supports regular free time to get back to students. Perhaps students could be made aware of particular days trainers are available for feedback meetings.
- Students complete their assessments but cannot progress to the next unit of competency until those assessments are marked. These delays can lead to a student not completing their course in a suitable timeframe.
Manage expectations up front again with students. If they submit early they can go on to extra course work but it might not be part of their course requirements that they can go on to another unit. If it is possible to release multiple units at a time pick a solution that allows you to do this.
Cloud Assess makes tracking progress simple and keeps everything transparent. Trainers and assessors have complete control with constant access and visibility to their students progression. Verifying student outcomes becomes more reliable with an expanded range of evidence submitted including video, audio and photographs. Student histories are visible at the touch of a button, as all communications and assessments are retained securely.
In conclusion, although the context of how we need to operate will continue to evolve, the Standards for RTOs 2015 are still the same. Any changes you make need to be delivered in line with the standards and may also need to be relied upon for the long haul. It seems that the convenience and flexibility of online learning may stick around long after the full effects of COVID-19 have come and gone.
To successfully continue to deliver learning this way, invest in preparing clear communication guidelines to students in relation to how they use your online platforms, how and when they can expect feedback and/or be communicated with in general, and select a solution that helps you manage progress to keep your RTO moving.
For some more tips on how to better engage remote learners, click here.
To read about the unpacking of assessment guidelines click here.