Teachers, students and education leaders are grappling with the most significant changes of the last 100 years. The adjustment in the education landscape in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been swift, a pace of change not seen before.
66% of respondents to a recent global survey recognised that the education system in their country has done a good job adapting to the needs of students during this time. But there is still much to be done.
At a Vocational Education and Training (VET) institution level, the challenges are complex. In the short term, two immediate issues that need to be considered are:
- the effectiveness of online delivery, and
- a rapidly changing workforce.
1. Is online teaching working?
Most tertiary institutions have completed the frantic move to offer online and remote learning. This has been a significant challenge and one that most institutions have risen to.
It’s now a matter of excelling in this new environment, to discover how VET institutions can provide a higher quality experience and remain competitive.
To do this, providers need to understand if the new systems and delivery methods are working effectively, and they need to know fast. A drop in student experience and satisfaction will come just as quickly now as it did before learning was based online, and historically the rate of attrition for online learning has been higher than in-class. Identifying issues and making improvements in real-time will be the hallmark of a strong institutional brand.
Of course, educators experiencing significant change to their delivery, structure and student relationships will also require additional support systems. Understanding the evolving educator experience will enable institutions to provide targeted support quickly. This will further enhance the experience of the students’ as teaching quality improves.
2. A rapidly changing workforce
The changes to the workforce are continually evolving, with volatile global unemployment rates as restrictions change and economies adjust. The OECD employment statistics predict global unemployment rates up to 9.4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, 5% higher than the beginning of the year. Economic uncertainty will drive many to upskill and reskill.
The reskilling and upskilling of displaced workers, encouraged by many government policies, means a rapid increase in demand and pressures on local VET providers. Institutions are moving quickly to employ more educators, provide systems and support to continue to provide high quality teaching & learning, as well as overall student support services. Maintaining a consistent, quality learning environment is only possible if leaders can make changes to respond to fluctuations in satisfaction.
Lack of experience data inhibits action
Both of these challenges require accelerated data generation and visibility about how the changes to demand and delivery are affecting students and educators: what’s working and what isn’t. Generating actionable insight quickly is key to VET providers adapting to the rapidly changing macro environment.
Once new systems are in place, solutions to generate in-house student input and data points on student experience are crucial to maintain high quality. Summative assessment and survey results are a slow measure of performance, and insights only become available after the damage of a sub-par experience has been done.
This year has posed more challenges than any before it for the education sector. While adjusting to accommodate the needs of staff and students, and changing policies, it’s important to continue to generate formative insight into the effects of the changes on students.
Tools like Loop, which gathers live student and teacher experience feedback, deliver much needed insight to education providers to enable improvement of the learning experience. Those organisations who are able to gather data about the student experience, and act quickly, will be best placed to make improvements and thrive vs simply survive.