Planning online learning
Before you decide if online learning is right for you and your students, there are several things to consider.
Why deliver learning online?
There are many benefits in delivering VET courses online.
It can offer your students greater choice and control.
Students have the flexibility to:
study at their own pace
choose when and where they will learn
study when it is convenient for them.
You have flexibility to decide when, where, and how they deliver learning to your students.
Students can study from anywhere they can access the required technology.
This flexibility means you have greater geographical reach to a wider range of students.
You can offer more units of competency online.
- greater choice when creating a training plan
- students a wide range of options when planning their study.
Students have different learning styles.
Online learning gives you the flexibility to use digital tools to personalise resources and delivery modes.
You can create a learning environment that best suits the needs of your students.
Online courses may reduce costs such as travel, parking, and printed course materials.
Disadvantages of online learning
Reduces face-to-face contact with trainers and fellow students.
This can cause a sense of isolation and may affect a student’s motivation.
Needs a level of self-discipline and planning for students to learn ‘on their own’.
Needs reliable technology. The internet and digital tools need to work and technical issues might occur.
You may need to provide ways for learning to progress during long or short-term technical issues.
Students and trainers need to understand how to use the required technology.
Student learning styles differ. Online delivery may not suit all students.
Students need to have the communication, motivation and time management skills needed to learn online.
Online delivery may have start-up costs.
Digital technologies like software, cloud-based platforms, devices, and the internet can require initial and ongoing costs.
How to plan for online delivery
Review our Users’ guide to the Standards for RTOs 2015.
Check your VET course training aligns with:
- training package requirements
- student skills, knowledge, and experience
- your intended delivery mode.
When you develop, document, and implement online learning always:
- Ensure students can access suitable resources, facilities, trainers, and support.
- Consider whether this is the best delivery method for you and your students. Some courses may not transfer to or benefit from this delivery method. You may decide to use a combination of delivery methods and technologies for your VET course.
- Show how your online course will address all workplace skills and knowledge requirements.
- Check the terms of any contract arrangements with state and territory funding bodies to make sure your agreement allows for online delivery.
- Check with the industry regulator that online delivery is suitable if your course can result in a licence. This might be a White Card or registration as an Enrolled Nurse.
Learn more about other licensing and registration requirements.
Before you design an online learning program, think about your students.
Who you deliver to is just as important as how you deliver your course.
There are various online delivery methods to consider.
Understanding the needs of your student group will help you decide the best method or combination of methods to use.
Your students need the resources and ability to learn online.
Things to consider for online students:
- access to the required technologies
- digital technology skills
- access to peers and trainer
- learning style
- ability to self-pace study time
- maintain motivation and progress
- benefits of flexible learning
- support needs
- travel needs
- assessment requirements
Provider advice on planning for online learning.
Consider the needs of industry and employers when planning online learning.
Employers need to have confidence in the graduates they employ.
Graduates must have the skills to be safe and productive in the workplace.
You need to provide access to training and resources to meet training package requirements.
Include opportunities for students to:
- engage with content and absorb the knowledge
- practise the skills in different contexts
- apply skills and knowledge in various ‘real world’ environments
Check your resources align with industry standards.
Review the Standards Clauses 1.5 and 1.6, Engage with industry.
When you develop trainer to student ratios consider:
- course requirements
- trainer access
- student learning styles
- delivery methods
Trainers may have greater flexibility if students don’t need to be online together.
There may be more time to teach a higher number of students.
This ratio may be higher than in a normal classroom environment.
Focus on student needs. Ensure your trainer is available for queries and support.
Trainer to student ratios need to support student motivation and progress.
ELICOS providers need to check class ratios don’t exceed 1:18. This is a requirement of Standard P3.1, ELICOS Standards 2018.
Students need access to digital technology to study online.
Technology requirements vary depending on the mode of training and the resource needs of the VET course.
Digital technology can include:
- cloud-based file hosting services
- video conference facilities
- online recording tools
- printers and photocopiers
- mobile phones.
You need to tell students the technology requirements before they enrol.
Check your students have access to the correct technology.
- Do students have access to a computer and reliable internet connection?
- Can you provide alternative delivery modes? You need to clearly communicate if alternatives are not available.
- Will you provide the technology or do students need to provide their own?
- What can students do if they can’t access their own technology? You could connect them with potential borrowing and funding programs.
- Are you going to use a learning management system (LMS)? Ensure the LMS is easy to navigate and use. Provide simple instructions and uniformity across units. Make sure your system allows you to keep a record of the student’s work and backups of these records.
- What is your plan for managing privacy and security? Ensure you have a policy to cover you and your students, both domestic and international.
Digital tools are becoming more accessible to a wider range of students.
This gives you greater options when designing an online course.
There are many tools available for training online.
- Digital learning software
- Hardware such as, computers, tablets, communication devices
- Digital learning resources
- Online platforms
- Collaborative learning environments
- Learning Management Systems (LMS)
- Augmented reality
- Cloud technology
- Video conferencing
- Wearable technology
- Simulation tools
- Social media
- Online forums.
What to consider when choosing digital tools:
- course goals
- ease of use
- content design features
- multimedia functions
- help desk support
Your digital tools need to meet the requirements of Clause 1.3 in the Standards.
Your trainers and assessors need the digital skills to use the tools chosen for online delivery.
Review Clauses 1.13 to 1.16, Employ skilled trainers and assessors.
Adapt your training and assessment strategy for online delivery.
Show how you support your trainers and assessors to deliver online.
Provide professional development to help them develop the skills needed to deliver online.
Check they have suitable:
- qualifications, knowledge, and skills
- understanding and access to digital tools
- ongoing support
Learn more about online training and assessment requirements:
Keep your delivery locations updated so your students know where your courses take place.
Tell us when you change to an online delivery mode. You have up to 90 days after starting online delivery to update your records in asqanet.
Monitor, review, and record your training and assessment practice.
Your training and assessment strategy is a record of your current training and assessment practices.
Update your strategy when you change to online delivery.
Record keeping supports reporting. It makes it easier to show and report compliance.
Learn more about reporting and record keeping requirements in Chapter 6—Regulatory compliance and governance practice.
Advice from providers
Provider advice on planning for online learning.
Know your Training Package. Some Training Packages will permit online or e-learning. Others will not. Or to be more particular, some Training Packages may have some units that require face-to-face delivery or assessment, while others may be well suited to online delivery and assessment.
In particular, look for action words in the Elements/Performance Criteria and check Performance Evidence and Assessment conditions. The Performance Evidence and Assessment conditions may specify particular conditions in which a student is to be assessed. Live, online supervision may meet this criteria, or it may not, depending on the Training Package. So check your package carefully.
Serryn O'Regan ASQA Stakeholder Liaison Group (Evolve College Pty Ltd)
It may be more difficult to offer online delivery to student cohorts with extremely low language literacy and numeracy abilities. This type of cohort is often able to navigate social media sites but struggle with reading more complex content online and comprehending what is being requested.
Alison Heagney and Vicki Zammit (Community College Northern Inland)
If you are going to provide online learning, consider it as an investment in your students, in the industries they will enter, and by your offering of quality education.
If you cannot afford to do it properly, don’t do it. Tech-delivered learning (online or e-learning or any other related means) should be equivalent in quality to its on-campus alternative. That is our number one rule of thumb and the basis on which we developed our custom-designed and built LMS platform.
Do not cut corners. Delivery online or through e-learning should never be a 'quick' solution to keeping your RTO going or looking for a way of generating quick business or cutting costs.
Consider your students. What are they asking for in terms of delivery? Many students these days expect online or e-learning to be available. Do the research to see what your students want. And above all—make what you do student-centric (not profit-centric).
An organisation focused on quality first will be your very best marketing tool—by providing an experience that supports students to grow and makes their learning and assessment experience enjoyable and truly fulfilling.
Serryn O'Regan, ASQA Stakeholder Liaison Group (Evolve College Pty Ltd)