In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, many training providers have already commenced work on changing their delivery methods to support the health and safety of their staff and students. This unfortunate situation has provided a unique opportunity for organisations to embed efficient and innovative online solutions into their training and assessment practices. However, in the chaos of responding to this unique situation, organisations are losing focus of their compliance; this article outlines the Skills First contractual requirements that you must ensure your organisation complies with, regarding online delivery. There are a great deal of contractual requirements and obligations related to online delivery and various additional contractual documents which provide instructions and guidelines.
Learning Management System
This is the most obvious consideration. The Contract doesn’t mandate or recommend any specific systems, however, you will need to purchase an online Learning Management System which offers the features and functions to accommodate the needs of your cohort as well as your business model. It is also important to assess any technical limitations and find out which eLearning system your SMS and/or CRM integrate with. These integrations are a great way for applying automated workflow procedures to your operations and reducing the administrative burden.
Furthermore, make sure that you consult with your Learning and Development team to get an idea on what type of LMS will allow your staff to utilise their experience and skills.
Online Delivery Restrictions
The Department has published the Online Delivery Restriction List which is a subset of the Skills First Funded Courses List and identifies specific courses and qualifications that cannot be delivered wholly online, or marketed or promoted by training providers as such.
The list includes qualifications delivered as an Apprenticeship and some other courses that are not suited to being delivered fully online, due to the need for practical skills to be demonstrated, learned and practiced in an appropriate setting and the level of risk associated with the competencies not being fully attained if this does not occur. Before shifting to online engagement, make sure your programs don’t appear on this list.
Online Service Standards
With respect to Clause 1.4 (d) of Schedule 1, where any training and/or assessment is delivered online, training providers must publish their “online service standards” in a prominent place on their website. The online service standards are a tool to help students make an informed decision of which delivery mode and training provider will suit their individual needs and best help them achieve the outcomes they seek from training.
The Department has prescribed the items that must form part of your online service standards as follows:
- Student support, including details of how and when staff can be contacted by students, response time for queries and student services available and how they can be assessed online
- Student entry requirements and induction, including confirmation of digital literacy, details of platforms to access learning materials and resources and minimum hardware and software requirements
- Learning materials, including how learning materials are presented and how the high-level principles (online materials are presented in manner that is perceivable, operable, understandable, robust) of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are met
- Student engagement, including provision of collaborative learning opportunities with peers and others, provision of ongoing feedback and response of student inactivity or non-participation
- Mode and method of assessments utilised, including assessment tools and technology used to facilitate assessment of practical skills
- Details of trainer and assessor skills and experience in online delivery, including relevant qualifications and professional development.
The Department has also provided a sample of an online service standards; training providers should refer to this template for guidance, but they must create their own version based on their actual delivery/assessment practices.
As discussed in our previous article about implementing online PTR and enrolment processes, training providers delivering training where the proposed learning includes portions delivered online, are required to collect and take into consideration information related to additional items as part of their pre-training review process.
As per Clause 5.1 of Schedule 1, the training provider must identify the individual learner’s digital capability, including access to necessary technology, and where necessary identify steps to overcome any barriers in this regard.
Students must have the capacity to participate in online learning, otherwise no training program delivered online can be deemed as the most suitable and appropriate training option for them.
Training and Assessment Strategy
Training and assessment strategies in relation to either courses or individual cohorts undertaking a course that will be delivered and/or assessed partially or fully online, must reflect and respond to the unique requirements of online delivery of training and assessment, and must include:
- The methodology for engagement between learners, teachers and support staff
- Learner progress monitoring arrangements and evidence-informed feedback models designed to strengthen learning outcomes
- The validation method for online assessment tools
You must ensure that your online training and assessment is planned and delivered in a way that is suited to an online learning environment. A course delivered online needs to be intentionally designed for the online environment, not simply an electronic replication of classroom-based resources.
Skills First Teachers
If any of the training and assessment within your Funded Scope is delivered online, then you must:
- Adopt and implement a professional development program that is specific to online delivery of training and/or assessment; and
- Ensure that all your trainers and assessors involved in online delivery of training and/or assessment undertake appropriate professional development as part of the above.
The Department doesn’t mandate the form or content of this professional development however the professional development should ensure that Skills First teachers have the necessary skills and knowledge to engage and support students in an online environment. This includes the ability to:
- Use contemporary technologies
- Facilitate and communicate effectively in an online environment
- Provide effective and timely feedback
- Ensure students are motivated and continue to progress throughout their course
Details of your trainers and assessor’s participation in professional development related to online delivery must be recorded in the “Register of Trainers and Assessors” which training providers must maintain and make available to the Department or its auditors upon request.
AVETMISS Reporting Requirements
For Units of Competency where the eligible individual doesn’t attend a physical delivery location but undertakes training in their own time and location using training materials which are provided online, the Delivery Mode Identifier must be reported as “External Delivery”. If this type of delivery is specified as the largest or the only component for that Unit of Competency, then the Predominant Delivery Mode must be reported as “External Delivery” as well.
These values are recorded within your student management system at either the course or subject enrolment level, in line with the delivery methods specified in the relevant training and assessment strategy document.
Please note that where the Predominant Delivery Mode is reported as “External Delivery”, the Department will consider this training to have been delivered online or via distance education. In this case, the location of where the training is being coordinated must be reported as the training organisation head office in your NAT000120 file. Even if this location is associated with a non-metropolitan postcode, the Regional Loading (Subsidy x 1.1) isn’t applicable for online delivery.
Where online training and/or assessment is provided to an eligible individual under the Skills First Contract, the eligible individual must be physically present in Victoria at all times at which they are undertaking training and/or assessment.
The Contract doesn’t require for evidence of residence or physical presence in Victoria to be sighted and retained in relation to this. However, it is highly recommended that you include this under the student entry requirements in your online service standards.
Notwithstanding the above requirement, where an eligible individual is temporarily located interstate or overseas for a defined period as part of an industry or practical placement associated with their training, up to 50% of the total scheduled hours applied to the training and/or assessment may be delivered online during the period the eligible individual is interstate or overseas.