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Why Blended Learning is the solution for your RTO

Bar December 2019

Australian institutions are beginning to adopt elearning, in response to demands for greater flexibility in order to support diversity and in recognition of students that are studying within the global context.

Should your RTO be moving to elearning resources as well? Incorporating elearning methods into your training organisation can be daunting. If you are sceptical of transitioning to delivering 100% online courses, a blended learning model may be more suited to your organisation.

Advantages of elearning

1. Interactive content improves learning

Didasko learning content includes visualisations, animations, videos, simulations, playful learning scenarios and interactive exercises in our resources through our multimedia content and scenario-based assessments and case studies. We also give students access to additional learning content through links and glossaries, in order to encourage a deeper exploration of topics which students find interesting. Our business content includes a simulated business, encouraging students to apply what they learn. Students navigating our content click through realistic scenarios which they can relate to, rather than just reading a PDF file through their computer screen. All this is done in order to improve the student experience and therefore improve retention and completion rates at your RTO.

2. Advantages for students

Many students consider vocational elearning to be ‘fun and motivating’[1], allowing the rate of course progression to speed up. We’ve attempted to nurture this through the use of didactic scenarios and innovative use of digital media. Our online materials are also useful to students, in that they act as training guides and references.

Elearning gives students flexibility in their pace and schedule, as well as their location. This can help remove some of the situational and geographical barriers which may have previously prevented students from studying.

Online platforms also provide a more equitable environment where each student has better access to instructors and all students have a voice. Students are more willing to participate online, as they do not need to worry about having their knowledge gaps exposed in front of their peers.

3. Advantages for trainers and RTOs

Elearning lowers costs, as everything is stored in one place. Reduced costs include travel expenses, facilities and supplies costs and administrative costs.

From an RTO’s perspective, elearning can improve the quality of training. This is because elearning creates valuable learning resources and new content which can quickly be passed onto a large number of students. elearning also enables organisations to offer training around the globe without travel and improves the efficiency of organisations with multiple campuses. This is also true for organisations with campuses in remote areas.

Additionally, trainers can teach from different locations, reducing the need for travel. Didasko’s quick and easy grading and reporting tools also mean that trainers spend less time on admin and more time coaching their students.

4. Advantages for workplaces

The rise of elearning comes with increased employer interest in education vocational training[2] because flexible elearning tools allow for more training to be delivered in workplaces. Previously, apprentices were forced to be away from their workplaces for multiple weeks each year. Elearning also allows for evidence to be recorded and sent back to the training organisation.

Challenges of elearning

1. Challenges for students

Students will face different challenges when studying online, depending on their skill sets. For example, distractions and disturbances will occur more frequently at home than in the classroom/training room. As a result, students must be self-disciplined and have time management skills. Students also need to build their media literacy and computer skills before they can be successful in using elearning resources.

They will also need access to a computer/device as well as high-speed internet.

Students must develop healthy study habits as excessive screen time can result in negative health effects such as bad posture and addictive behaviour.

2. Challenges for RTOs

Many students fear that they will be forced to endure boring online textbook-like content; which is hard to read from a screen and may make little sense to the student. This means training providers must invest in engaging multimedia content such as Didasko.

Training providers face obstacles when embarking on the complex process of integrating elearning into VET programs[3]. Elearning is most effective when managed by experienced facilitators who have positive attitudes about this mode of delivery. Updated technological infrastructure is required for an effective online VET program. Trainers must also be able to effectively control the flow of communication between themselves and their students.

As elearning has been around for two decades, providers will also need to move past any previous negative experiences they had with elearning, while the mode of delivery was still in its infancy.

Blended learning

As explored above, elearning in the vocational education sector can only be successful when it exists in environments that encourage interaction between participants, teachers and employers. All parties must also have a positive outlook when it comes to the benefits of elearning.

Therefore, in order to maximise the benefits of elearning, many Australian RTOs may prefer a blended and/or flipped learning model.

Blended learning[4] includes education programs which engage students both online and at a brick & mortar location away from the student’s home. Flipped classrooms[5] allow for group-work activities to be done in the classroom while instructional content is delivered at home (online).

Online, students have control over time, place and pace of their studies. While at a brick-and-mortar location, students are less likely to feel isolated or anonymous. Another disadvantage negated by blended learning is those students with low computer literacy. Students are able to go through an orientation program at a campus, increasing their confidence in their computer skills.

Blended learning provides flexible and innovative training, responding to employers’ needs, while also nurturing students’ sense of belonging and community.

If you are thinking of embarking on an elearning journey with your RTO, contact us for industry-approved, engaging multimedia content and easy-to-use assessments. Our friendly customer support team provides free training webinars for trainers needing help navigating the platform or uploading additional learning materials and assessments.

With the support of our team, you will be able to provide an engaging online experience while neutralising many of the risks of elearning.

1. ReasearchGate 'Cutting edge or cut loose? An exploration of apprentices’ experiences of workplace e-learning'

2. 'OECD. 2005. E-learning in Tertiary Education: Where Do We Stand? Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. Paris: OECD'

3. 'The Use of e-Learning in Vocational Education and Training (VET): Systematization of Existing Theoretical Approaches'

4. ERIC 'Blended Learning'

5. AdvanceHE 'Flipped learning'

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