EduTech VET Leaders Congress – A Quick Roundup

So the EduTech VET leaders congress is over for 2015 and as most of you know I was the chair of the congress for the two-days.  So I thought for both those of you who were they are everyone else I might give a quick roundup of some of highlights and some of the more interesting discussions that came out of the congress.  One of the most interesting talks of the two days I think was Simon Breakspear’s talk on Wednesday morning on equipping VET teachers to harness digital technologies.  What particularly resonated with me was that just adding technology to a course or a program does nothing to help learning or completions, there has to be a purpose to the technology and it has to linked to the outcomes of the course.  We should always be asking ourselves how does this technology assist learner outcomes.

Also really interesting were the last two speakers on both days of the congress, who both talked about working with disadvantaged groups  of learners and the challenges associated with particularly building those basic level skills which are often missing for a lot of these clients.  Given that we do a lot of work with that client group, it was good to hear some of the solutions that others had come up with, particularly utilising video conferencing as means of delivering training to groups in different locations, having the facilitator in one location and the learner groups in other locations, so that they still get both the experience of working together as a group and the face to face facilitation model of delivery that is often really needed with these groups.

The other really interesting talk for me was Phil Loveder from NCVER talking about the future trends for the sector approaching 2020, as  lot of people at various streams of the conference said openly, between now and 2020 there is not going to be a lot significant changes it will be just a continuation of the directions we are currently heading.  It was also interesting to hear that the VET courses that currently have the most enrollments, community services, construction, retail, health are the same areas where there is going to be increasing demand as we approach 2020 , which seems to bode well for us to be able to meet the jobs needs in those areas.

The panel discussion on Tuesday where we discussed funding issues in the sector also raised a number of important issues, including on from Rory O’Brien about the difficulty that TAFE in NSW had had in adapting to the new Smart and Skilled program particularly around the reporting requirements required for payments to flow through under the scheme.  There was also quite a good discussion about the need to rethink entitlement lists of priority occupations as a means of funding, unless they were really actually tightly linked to job outcomes and needs and perhaps program style funding, which was designed to address particular needs either within participant groups, or within employment areas seemed in a lot of cases to produce better results, particularly where there were arbitrary limits put on the number of people who could receive training under various entitlement lists.  The point was made that it seems strange that given that something like the Certificate III in Disability and other community services qualifications were clearly an area where there would be significant growth and need for new, trained, employees in South Australia for example the Disability qualification  had only been assigned 200 entitlement places, while other programs were growth was already slowly had substantially more or unlimited places.

One of the things that overall we kept hearing through the two days though was that while there is going to be significant growth in online learning and delivery across the board (Craig Weiss in a recent talk suggested that by 2020 about 90% of all training would be being done online and Craig is right more often than not when it comes to these things), we need to understand why we are doing things online.  There needs to be a purpose to online delivery and it needs to link strongly to the learning outcomes that we want from the course.  Technology for technology’s sake doesn’t improve outcomes.

So if you are in or can get to Melbourne next year make sure you get along to EduTech 2016.


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