Advancing Australia’s VET sector – curated industry news #06 2021. SPECIAL EDITION.

This month we focus on sharing articles on disruption within the education industry through microcredentials and blended learning, with many of these changes already in the pipeline and bubbling under the surface now being brought forward into the light by the continual impacts of the global pandemic.

We have sourced a fantastic piece from Inside Higher Education on the parallels between the higher education industry and the reckoning the music industry faced when transitioning from ‘already-bundled’ business model of CD’s to the technological innovation of consumers being able to purchase ‘singles-only’ online via platforms such as Spotify and Apple.

Could the university degree be going the same way? Will platforms become more important than campuses? Will independent educators become the new rockstars? So many intriguing questions and food for thought! This idea is one of our favourites:

“If music festivals are an indication of the value of and demand for intense face-to-face engagement, what can we learn from them? Perhaps most learning in the future will be digital, but people will crave opportunities to take that learning into spaces where they can collaborate, make things, run experiments and have intense, transformative social encounters.

Perhaps universities become sites for more short-term engagements rather than full-time residency. Perhaps most learners in the future will be part of low-residency programs where they learn, design, revise, improve, prepare, prepare, prepare and then come together a few times a year for powerful in-person experiences. Think about how much more efficiently we could use our spaces and how many more students we could serve.”

Pointing to the way of the future of ‘unbundling’ degrees through microcredentials, only 12 months ago Google announced a suite of six-month online ‘Career Certificates’ delivered through Coursera to replace four year undergraduate degrees for data analysts, project managers and UX designers – and there have already been half a million enrolments in these certificates in that time. At just USD$300 per certificate it reveals the appetite for learning in speedier, bite-sized chunks and tailoring learning to individual specific needs and talents.

Preparing for a digital future with an approach of blended on-campus learning and online study has been the subject of more than a few research articles in The Conversation, and we’ve included two below.

Firstly, understanding that ‘emergency remote teaching’ is not ideal and that good online learning needs a particular focus to be developed around creating a sense of community for students.

And secondly, why online teaching shouldn’t be viewed as just the ‘cheap and easy’ option as academics ‘require both initial and ongoing support to build their capacity using online tools and adjusting their teaching practice’ for the transition to online learning to be successful.

It looks like we are in for the long-haul in developing collaborative and innovative digital learning spaces, and it’s an exciting space to watch.


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