Blog #4 for RTOs - the challenges of student engagement
4 things that's easy to forget about.
When it comes to student engagement #needtoknow.
After 12 years of working with a wide variety of Australian training providers, I’m acutely aware of the challenges and triumphs faced by the industry on a day-to-day basis. And as the CTO for a technology partner who has invested heavily in supporting RTOs and GTOs, I’m going to feel free to wade in with my two-cents worth – starting with student engagement.
It’s a challenge to deliver learning material that your students will find relevant and engaging. It’s not just about coming up with a unique and creative way of passing on knowledge but understanding what’s working - and what’s not. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, here are 4 ways you can quickly improve student engagement.
Face it; if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. While we have sophisticated reporting tools available (and if you don’t, you should), I still find that many education providers don’t do the simple things like survey their students and ask how they’re going. There are many tools (some are even free) that allow you to reach out to your students and get their feedback. It’s also important to be able to record specific comments against the student who provided it, their unit of study, cohort, etc. so that you can track the effectiveness of your approach.
Delivering your content online can provide some valuable insights into student engagement. A Learning Management System (LMS) will provide you with useful information on the amount of time a student spends engaging with your learning material. A well-designed LMS can distinguish between whether a student is spending a solid 2-hour block of time in the learning material, as opposed to diving in for 24 x 5-minute sessions spread over 4 days. While the overall amount of time is the same, the details show a very different level and pattern of engagement.
Make sure that you are across all the different inputs that your students have into your various systems. You should be gathering data about attendance, LMS logins, calls to student services, requests for help, etc. We’ve used some powerful systems to monitor education and training progression and outcomes. Some of these data points might not be important on their own, but in total, they may indicate a student isn’t engaged and that action needs to be taken (before they quit!)
Make sure that you have a staff member dedicated to engaging directly with your students. You obviously can’t get around to everybody, but time should be spent talking one-on-one with students, making a phone call, or sending out a personal email. And don’t just talk to those that are doing really well, or badly, make sure you get good coverage across the student body.
If you do all of the above, you’ll meet your compliance requirements and gain valuable insights that you can turn into engaging actions.
While you’re mandated to collect certain data and report, there is nothing stopping you making this part of a wider process that enables you to keep your delivery on track, keep students engaged and help them realise their qualification.
All of which equates to success for all concerned.