This just released report from NCVER aims “to identify the teaching practices and student support services that facilitate the successful online delivery of vocational education and training (VET), including in blended delivery.” This focus is important given the extensive move to online and blended delivery during, and in the wake of, the pandemic.

The report did this by examining “the characteristics of teaching approaches and student support services across eight qualifications delivered online” which, collectively, comprised diverse student cohorts, industry types and Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) levels. It concludes with the truism that “good training is good training, irrespective of the delivery mode.”

Key features of good online teaching and support

Authored by Sheila Hume, Tabatha Griffin and Upekha Andrahannadi, it concludes that there are five key features in common. These are:

First, simplicity, clarity and consistency of purpose are needed. To achieve this, educators highlighted the need for user friendly technologies, the provision of relevant and timely information and clear instructions to students and, in addition, providing learning resources that are “task-oriented, clear and concise, intuitive and easy to navigate.”

Second, the delivery of effective online teaching requires developing varied and engaging learning materials that accommodate different student learning styles and their differing language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) and digital literacy levels. Learning materials also need to be contextualised, including through workplace simulation. Providing small ‘bites’ of learning (micro-learning) helps too. Finally, the materials need to ensure “training package and/or legislative requirements are met, as well as the additional industry expectations over and above those requirements.”

Third, strong communication and engagement strategies are needed to combat learner isolation, “which can occur in online delivery.” Methods of communication and engagement need to be varied, depending on the delivery mode and whether training is synchronous or asynchronous. The report notes that:

“Communication and engagement strategies used in synchronous online training included: integrating personal stories into training to build rapport; organising regular phone calls and/or video meetings; building relationships through introductions, games and quizzes; and involving students in online sessions by inviting them to provide answers to questions and ‘filling the gaps’ in slides.”

However, asynchronous “self-paced courses required different communication and engagement strategies and include: introductory phone calls to build the trainer-student relationship; course information provided upfront; information distributed through a variety of channels (such as through the learning management system [LMS] and via email); and contact with the student if they are not engaging with the course.”

Fourth, flexibility is needed, and this is described in terms of “scheduling live training sessions to ensure they worked around students’ work schedules and/or personal commitments,” and “shifting due dates in response to students’ needs.” Finally, flexibility involves “responding to individual student needs, including providing in-person options where possible if challenges arise.”

Finally, effective student support, services and facilities are needed to help “facilitate student completion and to deliver learning outcomes that meet the needs of both students and industry.” The research found that “best practice involved proactive provision, while being individualised, flexible and responsive to students’ needs.”

There is also a support document to the report

The support document summarises “previous research on the use of online delivery in the vocational education and training (VET) and higher education (HE) sectors.”

There is also reference to a range of other research into online learning undertaken through NCVER, including the following titles:

These reports have been summarised in past VDC News articles as well.