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ASQA's strategic review into online learning–Insights Paper 2

November 12, 2021

Since our plunge into online learning in 2020, digital technology has changed education and training in many industries across the world. Online and blended learning has become the norm. Taking this a step further, we’ve seen the introduction of Facebook’s controversial Metaverse, companies like Black6 Labs leading the way with mixed reality training environments, and virtual reality experiences becoming more and more common in everyday life
But, for many students the transition to online learning has had its ups and its downs. 

ASQA’s second paper on their strategic review into online learning examines these opportunities and challenges, and how training providers can support students undertaking online learning.

Adapting to online learning – what is needed to deliver quality online VET

Online learning comes with the need to change many aspects of how students learn. Trainers need to consider:

  • screen fatigue
  • the need to remain skilled in a range of online tools and programs used for online learning
  • the suitability of the online delivery method for students
  • the suitability of the subject matter for students
  • the capabilities of both students and trainers/assessors to use digital technologies for training and learning
  • students’ experiences of engaging in a virtual learning environment to support their learning journey.

There’s also the common perception among students that not all trainers and assessors have a basic understanding of digital platforms or technical skills. This is only reinforced by many higher education providers having low engagement with more complex information technology tools other than tools like Zoom[1]. 

Aside from students reporting that not all teachers had a basic understanding of digital platforms or technological skills, the research found that students acknowledged the efforts of trainers and providers in adjusting and responding to COVID-19. 

Some approaches providers took to shift online included: 

  • pausing to take time to determine how to move forward with learning
  • quickly pivoting to online learning
  • adapting systems and approaches.

The opportunities and challenges of online learning

There are some clear benefits to online learning, such as flexibility and accessibility. ASQA found most students said blended learning modes work well for them. Blended learning allows for flexibility and autonomy in how, when and where students study. 

However, learning fully online is a challenge for those students whose learning style thrives in face-to-face, social learning-based environments. Some considered learning completely online as a compromise, commenting on a lack of connection to peers and teachers in an online setting. 

What can training providers do to improve online training delivery?

There were a number of improvements and suggestions students had for providers delivering online. The most prevalent point was that students felt they needed continuous communication and support. 

Students indicated that even if the provider was unsure of the ways they would handle the changes, they still wanted clear and direct ongoing communication. 

One example of how this was regular one-on-one check-ins with students, such as an individual monthly phone call. 

With this better, consistent communication, students also wanted more opportunities for social interaction and more fun and/or practical activities when learning online. 

Another suggestion was to increase monitoring of student progress through attendance and assessments. This would allow trainers to identify those who are having difficulties, and to engage with them to offer extra support. 

A good Learning Management System will offer a feature like Learning Plans, which allows trainers to view student progression at a glance. In a Learning Plan, trainers can create modules. In the modules, trainers can organise and present online course content and assessments. Throughout each module, rules, dependencies and prerequisites for learning and assessment can be set and mapped to Units. 

Learning and assessment can be kept in sync with key Unit and Course dates, making it easier for learners to stay on track through a combination of self-driven and schedule-based progression.

As we like to say at aXcelerate, Learning Plans is as easy as:

Author your content

Build your learning plan

Control the flow of your students’ learning.

An example of a Learning Plan in the aXcelerate Learning Management System


We’re looking forward to the next insights paper, and ASQA’s next feedback loop webinar on 2 December on ‘Moving and staying online’. 

To learn about ASQA’s first insights paper from their strategic review of online learning, view our breakdown of the paper here

Online learning word cloud


Did you know?

aXcelerate is Australia’s number 1 cloud-based Student Management System and Learning Management System. Why pay for two systems when aXcelerate can be your all in one SMS and LMS solution? 

From starting out as an RTO, to developing our software and continuing to grow through many changes in the VET sector over the past 32 years, we’ve helped almost 1000 training organisations thrive with aXcelerate’s One System SMS/LMS solution.

Learn how we can help your training organisation here, or chat with us to see how we can work with you to reach your training management goals here

References

  1. Foundations for good practice: The student experience of online learning in Australian higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. Online learning in the VET sector | Australian Skills Quality Authority

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