Technology is quickly changing most industries, including vocational education. Over the last several years there has been a shift toward online learning which was greatly expedited last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the beginning of this shift, online learning platforms were essentially a space for digital course notes, with little to no attention being given to enhancing the student experience. This resulted in lower completion rates and an overall drop in student satisfaction.
As Phill Bevan, Community Advisor at vetr, has said “you can’t convert a paper document to a PDF and call it online learning.”
Luckily, this is no longer the case.
Here, we explore online training, and how it is transforming the VET industry.
The Shift to “Online Training”. What does the term online mean?
Last year we began to see the term ‘online’ used more and more. But when it comes to it, what does ‘online’ actually mean?
Online refers to both the delivery approach of the learner and the location.
While online is commonly thought to be remote, it doesn’t have to be.
Learners can be anywhere, including taking part in face-to-face learning while utilising software that is “online” or “cloud based”.
Understanding the different contexts of online is key.
Why Remote Training Is Growing in Popularity
Technological advancements have made it possible to create engaging experiences while maintaining the authenticity and validity required in Vocational Education. It also opens VET out to a wider audience.
Appeals to those in remote areas
Remote learning is an extremely effective way to learn for some. Technology offers students the flexibility and opportunity to learn where and how they want.
Appeals to workers and part time students
Many of the students today are looking for self-paced options that fit into their lives around work and other commitments. This is particularly true for students who live regionally, where face-to-face learning is simply not an option.
The demand for flexible digital learning options will only grow as people undertake the smaller units or ‘microcredentials’ required to maintain their skills in rapidly changing industries such as tech, or to upskill or re-skill for different opportunities
Assists with Third Party involvement
Using secure systems that are password protected a third party can easily and effectively support assessors with on the job training. Read more in this blog.
Top Tip: The method of delivery should always be in line with your Training and Assessment Strategies. As long as you are following ASQAs standards for RTOs and applying the Principles of Assessment and Rules of Evidence and you stick to the unit requirements you can choose your delivery method.
How is it changing the Student Experience?
Student Experience is of great importance, especially since the student centred audit was initiated in 2017.
Student engagement enabling support and progression
Picking the right tech can help you improve your efforts in this area, especially around student engagement.
Communication remains high on the list of of challenges when online. Creating and maintaining clear channels for communication goes a long way in keeping learners engaged and motivated. Some strategies include:
- Creating a centralised ‘hub’ where all up-to-date information is kept, including calendars, due-dates and to-do lists, is a helpful tool for learners when keeping track of tasks and upcoming assessments
- Utilise group messaging tools like Cloud Assess's Messaging so learners can communicate with their trainer and assessor
- Schedule regular times that trainers and assessors are available, whether it be in person, via web conference or by phone, to answer questions and provide individualised support and feedback. It is important that learners are able to check in from time to time to make sure they’re on the right track
What does the Best Experience look like?
Making sure your students have the best experience possible is not as hard as it sounds. Making meaningful connections with online students is key. A lot of this will come down to an understanding of what each learner’s personality is like and how to get the best from them.
For your courses to stand out you'll need engaging, industry relevant and consistent content. We are now spoilt for choice when it comes to accessing software to create this type of content. Some of our favourites are:
Create custom, interactive courses simply and effectively. Access a huge asset library complete with templates and themes to create beautiful, professional-looking content.
Designed for creating educational content, it has an integrated cloud-based solution for building accessible visual learning environments on your own learning platform. Create 360 degree tours using photo and video with different interactive overlays such as notes, maps, music, video, etc.
Create interactive content such as presentations, infographics, video presentations, quizzes, etc. With easy to use templates and resources you can make engaging and interactive content that is suitable for e-learning.
For more on the top trends to help you 'wow' the learners of tomorrow, click here.
Kerri Buttery from VETNEXUS offers a DIY Online Learning Bootcamp: Introduction to Course Planning that introduces the fundamentals of online learning with examples that can be used with learners.
Additionally, utilising a purpose built solution for training and assessment that has been designed specifically for the VET industry will give give you a leg up. With ease of use, interactive and engaging content, accessibility and ease of gathering evidence, to name a few, Cloud Assess has what you need to stay student focused and compliant.
What is next for the VET Sector?
The height of the pandemic in 2020 was a time of rapid change, with many RTO’s singular focus being on survival. As restrictions are easing we can now spend time considering what worked and what didn’t and focus on becoming future ready.
Since the rapid uptake in digital solutions, many organisations are now reporting higher visibility in terms of student participation and assessor timeliness. This information has proved useful as it provides RTOs with valuable insights about student satisfaction, what additional training staff require as tech advances and what opportunities it may unveil.
To end on a quote from Phill Bevan, “The purpose of digital is to provide better, greater, faster, cheaper services. This is what technology does.”