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What’s the Consensus on Online VET?

August 5, 2020

NCVER’s Vocational Voices podcast with Dr. Tabatha Griffin (NCVER Senior Researcher), Simon Walker (NCVER Managing Director) and Steve Davis (interviewer) discusses if online VET is a good course of action. Their conversation revealed there are pros and cons to online VET versus face-to-face VET. This included findings that student satisfaction was a little lower for online VET, but still quite high at 80%, yet employment outcomes were either similar or better than students who graduated from courses with other delivery modes.

Of course there’s course confusion

It’s true that many trainers, RTOs and students have faced issues with online VET. NCVER found that sometimes there is an element of confusion that students face when choosing online learning options. This can involve:

  • A lack of awareness of what the course involves (such as work placements and resources)
  • Delivery mode issues
  • Students’ intentions when they enrol in an online course (for example only intending to do one or two subjects in the course)

A decade of unchanging tech

Online training also has its limitations when it comes to practical courses, as we have seen in this case of a nursing student. COVID-19 has shown not all courses are fit for online training - at least not with our current technology which hasn’t drastically changed in a decade in most places. NCVER’s observations suggested a future of online learning technology such as virtual reality could change the way online programs are run for students, trainers and RTOs, however this kind of technological development seems to be only very slowly being integrated into learning.

With the Australian government and ASQA’s new COVID-19 grants and programs such as JobTrainer, it could be a great opportunity to invest in these new technologies. In order to recover and unite, we need to embrace online VET and the opportunities and advantages it can afford. Did you know aXcelerate can help your RTO adapt even further by moving your training online all within one system?

And we’re back at square one

Another issue raised in the podcast was engagement. How do you maintain and transfer the rich connection and engagement created at the face-to-face level to an online environment? Although emerging technologies such as VR could increase engagement levels and enhance the ‘online’ learning experience, while also enhancing students’ work-readiness after graduation, NCVER found the technology factor was not as important as the relationship between the trainer and student, and how much engagement can come from that. In the words of Steve Davis, ‘if the kids are coming up and tapping you on the shoulder while you’re doing that [teaching], you’re still back to square one’.[1]

We’ve got a list of tips for successful online training that’s guaranteed to get your students engaged.

So what do teachers and trainers think are important factors for good online delivery?

NCVER found trainers thought these factors could improve engagement and completion rates:

  • A positive and supportive attitude and ethos in the training provider
  • Ensuring students have realistic expectations of the course and the delivery mode when they enrol
  • Having well structured and current, engaging resources that cater to a range of learning styles
  • Making sure there’s an effective and accessible student support system in place
  • Having highly skilled and knowledgeable teachers who display empathy and are creative problem solvers

Overall, the researchers found that no matter what delivery mode is being used for VET, good quality is good quality. Good teachers are essential to the quality of students’ learning and the engagement that comes from empathetic, creative and knowledgeable teachers is vital and irreplaceable - and can thrive on and offline.

References:

  1. Transcript of Online VET: a good course of action?

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