Effective delivery and support – online VET

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research is an independent government funded agency that conducts regular research into vocational education and training (VET) within Australia. Research was completed recently aiming to identify teaching practices and student support services that facilitated successful online delivery.  It included the blended delivery model, that is a combination of online, classroom and / or workplace training. 

The research found having interactive learning materials is important, yet it is often not easy to fulfill because of the parameters of training packages and industry requirements. Addressing different learning styles and literacy and numeracy challenges can be difficult when using online learning and needs to be addressed differently to the conventional face to face delivery model. If training is self-paced, they found it needs to be simple, clear and consistent. 

Learner isolation is a problem and research found that regular good communication and engagement strategies, such as, using personal stories to build rapport, organising regular phone calls or video meetings and getting the students to interact by providing answers to questions went towards addressing this. Proactive and personalised student support is an important element of good online delivery, taking the time to educate students on how/when/where to get support, as well as identify and responding to additional support needs also assisted. 

As part of the research, eight qualifications were examined as to how online delivery varies with the Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician being one of the eight. It was chosen to provide insight into the appropriateness of online delivery for apprenticeships.  

There was a broad spectrum of views from providers that they interviewed for this qualification, on how online learning was used. Three of the four providers used online learning during “block release” via the LMS in a classroom setting, with trainer support. Two of the providers were keen to explore additional elements of online delivery for this qualification, while a third expressed that they preferred to link theory to practical application moving between the classroom and workshop. The fourth provider delivered the theory via self-paced online delivery, with the hands-on training and assessment taking place in the workplace. One provider suggested that the location of the apprentices determined the mode of delivery. Workplaces remotely located are ideal for online delivery with this provider discussing the difficulties of delivering face to face training when locations are scattered. 

Statistically from 2019 to 20211 the unit delivery has not changed for the Cert III in Electrotechnology, as opposed to other qualifications, even in light of the COVID pandemic. However, it is difficult to make a true judgment, as the delivery method during COVID didn’t have to “pivot” as dramatically as other qualifications at the time. Or does this further reinforce the requirements of the qualification, industry expectations and the cohort? Regardless, the research suggests it would be worth investigating blended learning more broadly for trade apprenticeships. 

Full report available on NCVER website

1. Hume, S, Griffin, T & Andrahannadi, U 2023, Effective teaching practices and student support services in online VET, NCVER, Adelaide. Page 63, Table B5