Use of e-learning in Australian vocational education and training (VET) institutions is surging, with the technology's use having quadrupled in three years. And students and employers are starting to vote with their feet, with 44 percent of VET students basing their choice of a training organization on whether it offers e-learning.
But while the vast majority of VET students and employers praise e-learning and long to do more of it, significant segments of the market are being left behind.
The third annual E-learning Benchmarking Project shows e-learning approaches are becoming mainstream in VET teaching, communication and assessment, with 29 percent of VET activity now involving technology, compared to just 6-8 percent in 2005.
However, the uptake and nature of e-learning varies by provider type and size, with uptake of e-learning in private, enterprise, industry and other Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) lagging badly.
The report shows most of the growth in the overall uptake of e-learning is being driven by those that already offer e-learning doing more. All TAFE institutes report delivering some e-learning, with 42 percent reporting more than 25 percent of their training delivery involves e-learning. Overall, 31 percent of TAFE activity is now estimated to involve e-learning, up from 18 percent in 2006.
In contrast e-learning use among private, enterprise, industry and other providers grew just two percent, with 37 percent now reporting some e-learning delivery.
And while 57 percent of RTOs report delivering some units involving e-learning, that still leaves 43 percent delivering no e-learning.
"These are more often smaller private and industry-based RTOs, with as many as 72 percent of smaller RTOs reporting that they do not use e-learning. Some RTOs in this 'non-user' group report that they are actively exploring options for introducing e-learning, although many more do not see e-learning as relevant to their training or beneficial to their clients, and the motivation to explore new training options is not strong.
The surveys show 68 percent of VET teachers and trainers now use online resources, 64 percent accept electronic submission of students' work and 17 percent use Web 2.0 or social networking technologies.
VET clients continue to see e-learning as delivering flexibility in VET training and developing information and communication technology skills.
The report also shows overwhelming support for e-learning. It finds 82 percent of VET students and 80 percent of employers find e-learning a more flexible learning option for students, and about the same proportion say it increases students' computer skills.
Sixty-eight percent of teachers report that they have encouraged online access to and downloading of learning materials and resources with at least some of their students in the past 12 months. Sixty-four percent accept electronic submission of students' work in at least some of their classes. Seventeen percent now use Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs and wikis for learning.
"Although the provision of e-business services by RTOs has not increased significantly over the past 12 months, the awareness and use of these services by students and employers has generally increased. In particular, both students and employers have increased their use of online enrolment facilities in recent years," the report says.
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