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Online Learning and Assessment: A Clearer Picture

23 - March - 2021

With so much noise around online learning and assessment and a Strategic Review of Online Learning underway by ASQA, it’s likely that your head is buzzing.

Don’t fear we have some simple explanations to keep you from losing your marbles!

What is Online Learning Compliance?

When ASQA are talking about “online learning”, it’s not just the training and assessing component, it is the entire Student Experience. This was outlined by Emma Marks, ASQA’s Education and Guidance Manager, in a recent webinar held on Digital Learning Day and illustrated below:

Online Learning ComplianceUnderstanding the difference between Online as a Mode and a Method

ASQA’s Michele Dawkins, Director of Business Analytics and Intelligence, discussed the difference between a mode and a method when we refer to online and using it in context.

Mode is the interface you use for learning, training and assessing i.e. paper or computer.

Method is how you deliver training and assessing i.e. face-to-face, online or blended. 

It’s confusing as online can be a mode i.e. using an internet source remotely and a method i.e. digital log books, online learning objects, digital observation check lists etc, all of which could be delivered face-to-face, online or blended!

Vocational Education and Training Requirements

As we work in the VET sector it's important to weigh up the regulatory requirements in relation to the technology adopted.

In the Department of Education’s discussion paper on the Quality of Assessment in VET, it is stated that, “In a competency based training system, assessment is the gatekeeper of quality.” To learn more on this topic click here.

RTO Standards

The diagram above represents the 8 Standards for RTOs 2015. Training and Assessment is covered in Standard 1. Astoundingly, this includes 27 clauses. To give some context, the remaining 7 standards only has 30 clauses altogether. This alone highlights the emphasis on assessment by the regulators, so when you are looking for technology to support your needs, look for one with assessment at its core.

What Types of Online Tech is Available for RTOs?

There’s a range of ways you could be adopting technology and applying it to your learning and assessment practices within your RTO.

This diagram shows a hierarchy of methods from digitally transferring electronic or paper documents, through to utilising digital forms all the way up to adopting a fit-for-purpose solution. They each support an RTO’s needs at various levels of capability and suitability, with a fit-for-purpose solution coming out on top.

Heirarchy

Click here to access tips on how to chose RTO Software.

What Tech is Right for Vocational Education and Training 

Post K-12 there are 2 clear pathways for Learners: Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Higher Education (H.E). There can be some cross over and there are some synergies, but when it comes down to it, they are completely different. They engage different people, through different learning experiences, with different regulation and needs. So it makes sense that each sector requires a different form of technology to provide the best student experience. For example, Learning Outcomes and Knowledge Transfer are a higher priority for universities, whereas Assessment is the keystone of quality in VET. A Learning Management System is therefore more aligned to H.E and an Online Assessment and Training System, like Cloud Assess, is a fit-for-purpose solution for VET.

Risks for Remote Learning Compliance

When ASQA’s Michele Dawkins went through some common complaints about “online”, it was notably around remote Support and Progression of Learners and access to Trainers and Assessors. ASQA advised that for RTOs to provide any remote learning, the same support should be accessible to that if they were onsite or in a face-to-face environment. A fit-for-purpose solution will give you the ability to manage this with ease.

If moving your method of delivery to online, the standard in quality of resources cannot drop, particularly if there is no facilitator. In addition, Trainers and Assessors need the ability to create resources for online delivery. 

When you move to a different mode i.e. from paper to a screen, you will need to adjust your operations. However, remember that, the unit requirements that you are delivering your training and assessment against remain the same. It’s up to you to ensure you do not let your quality slip and keep compliance front of mind.

Identifying Risks for Remote Assessment

Authenticity

Where online is referring to the delivery mode being remote, the topic of authenticity comes up regularly. There are many opportunities a fit-fo-purpose solution offers on top of the common sense and skills of the assessor. These include electronic and touch screen signatures, geo login maps, unique logins and 2 factor authentication.

Ensure you are keeping in contact with your learners and if you have concerns an appropriate system will allow assessors to add notes for feedback to Learners to ask for more information, or raise concern over authenticity.

Still a Need for Practical Evidence and Face-to-Face Delivery 

During ASQA’s recent webinar, many questions were raised about the delivery of assessment. Just because the assessment can be conducted using online technology, doesn’t mean competency can always be assessed remotely, nor does it mean that the practical element of assessment can be dropped.

An ASQA spokesperson stated, there is still a need for face-to-face and there is still a need for learners to gather their skills in a simulated or workplace environment. When adopting technology, make sure you select a solution that really allows you to continue to deliver your assessment in the context of your unit requirements.

Still have questions? Click here to watch a webinar where Phill Bevan, Community Advisor at vetr, and the Cloud Assess team discuss online assessment, recent trends in audits and what to look out for moving forward.

Online Learning and Assessment