Among the many global lessons we're likely to learn from the current pandemic would surely include:
- Mobilising entire countries quickly, to limit the spread of disease
- Making sure your business has an alternative online revenue stream
- Finding better ways to manage and limit 'panic buying'
- Learning how to cope with long periods of social isolation
Perhaps when you look back on this period in the rearview mirror you might add "Finding the courage to invest in good shares when they hit the bottom".
The main focus of this article is point (2) but the internet has many tentacles that touch all of these areas.
What about the internet angle?
For many years, the cynical parents and grandparents among us have been giving our younger generation a pretty hard time regarding their obsession with all things cyber: online interaction, mobile phones and social networks. But in times like this do we need to finally acknowledge that the world today is a different place? Internet businesses and social media networks are the real winners in this environment. Because, if you can't interact in the real world then being able to do so in the virtual world is the next best thing.
For many people, working or studying from home has been the norm for some time. They don't need a pandemic to ram that message home. Young mothers, disabled workers, and anyone who prefers to work or study at home have all benefited from faster broadband, cloud technology advances, mobility and vastly improved software. This group have enjoyed the power of online learning, social media, cloud business and communications software as a reality for many years.
Accoriding to this research, the full-time remote community (teleworkers) still make up less than 10% of Australian workers and students. You can only imagine how those numbers will continue to increase during this exceptional period of enforced isolation. Over 70% of workers and students have been asked to stay at home. Games, conferences and major sporting events have been canceled or moved online. If you're wondering why Software and IT is one of only a few surviving sectors on the stock exchange, just think about what those numbers mean to the NBN and domentic internet infrastructure.
How can you as an RTO increase your online revenue?
With so many productivity frameworks, business systesm, online communication tools and cloud connected services available today, you would not have to look too far in any business to find better ways to leverage the internet.
Here are some ideas and suggestions to help you leverage some of the latest cloud technologies. These will help you prepare your business for those expected long periods of isolation. According to many world experts, this will almost certainly be followed by a global recession.
Learning and Development
Most businesses don't provide adequate training for their staff. If they did 3000 RTOs providing training to the employees of 2.3 Million active businesses across Australia would never be out of work.
Rightly or wrongly, business owners often feel they can provide better and more relevant on-the-job training compared to RTOs. So if you could help improve their skillbase, productivity and reduce inefficiency costs by offering their employees remote, convenient onsite training and assessment, you might significantly improve those numbers and extend the reach of your training and assessment products. How much of your training and assessment could be delivered remotely? Do you have access to tools, resources and expertise to take you into that space?
Microsoft Productivity Tools - Office 365
No doubt you're well aware of the Office suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. But real business prductivity is delivered through your team being able to access centralised online documents, custom workflows taylored to your business management, sharepoint, team meetings and online conferences. Microsoft Office 365 and Teams provide just that.
If you haven't yet experienced the productivity gains of Office 365, now might be a good time to try them out.
Remote Coaching and Mentoring
When you can service students remotely you immediately make your products and services available to markets, well beyond the limited scope of your physical location.
Nothing new there, but being able to offer high quality student support services such as one-on-one coaching and mentoring is now far more convenient. Your trainers, assessors, coaches and mentors don't have to leave their office in order to have one-on-one face-to-face discussions with their students. In fact, they don't even have to come to work. They can do it all from home. Perfect for complex interventions where that one-on-one contact is necessary. How is this done: Admin or Trainer creates an appointment in TEAMS and sends student an invite, Student gets a calendar invite in Outlook with a link to join the online meeting. With student's consent, the sessions can be recorded. Headset and web cam allow for full video and audio interaction, files can be shared and there is a chat option for sharing notes and comments.
Webinars and Presentations
From time to time you'll have topics and discussions that you want to share with a virtual group.
For instance, an assessor may have identified a particular area where students are struggling. Why not create a presntation and deliver it online as a webinar to multipe students who can participate at whatever level you allow. If anyone couldn't make the live webinar you can record it and provide a link. While Microsoft Teams has many capabilities and uses, Online Presentations and Team meetings are the most commonly used.
Live Training and Assessments
The whole training and assessment process can be done using Microsoft Teams "properly" integrated with your Student Management System.
Trust me a half-baked integration or no integration at all is going to leave your students, trainers and assessors overwhelmed and confused.
In this scenario, your curriculum consists of courseware, workbooks resources and, ideally, a suitably equiped workplace. The trainer will use his or her usual courseware and presentation material to deliver the training online with a camera and wireless headset. The remote (onsite) workshop will be equiped with suitable audiovisual equipment and the components required for assessment.
At some point after training has been completed the student(s) can be assessed in thier workplace environment using the equipment or components they'll be assessed on. The process is monitored live by an assessment team and recorded for validation or review.
In some environments workplace equipment or components may not be required for an assessment, e.g. an interview, an oral or a writen exam. This might extend the student's options to include being assessed at home.
These days many industries have access to online simulators that accurately reflect the the work environment.
Example: one of our clients is Offshore Simulation. They have the most sophisticated simulator in the southern hemisphere for offshore marine courses such as Dynamic Positioning (DP), Crane Operators, and Anchor Handling. Not only can the simulated environment be remotely controlled, but so too could the entire training and assesment process. Let's face it, not every aircraft school in the country is going to have planes available in a workshop for assessing pilots in training. Here too, simulators are in common use. The list is of available simulators is enormous and cover almost every industry.
- Mining Vehicles
- Maritine vessels
- Programable Logic Arrays (PLCs)
- Forklift Trucks
- Building and Construction
- Medical and Emergency
- Aged Care and Child Care
These add a new level to remote training and assessment, i.e. the ability to also provide the training context and environment online.
Staff Meetings and Team Activities
Your staff (trainers, assessors, admin team) might also be working remotely.
This is where you can use the full extent of an integrated Office 365 and Student Management System. Your Student Management System holds the trainer capabilities, professional development records and preformance reviews. The resources that support them can be integrated in Sharepoint, performace reviews and meetings can be scheduled and conducted remotely in Teams and the records retained. Email notifications, performance meetings and reminders can be delivered through automated workflows, email and calendar appointments.
Putting it alltogether
The integration of a cloud-based system means you have no IT and infrastructure cost or headaches. And you have the platform to run all aspects of your business remotely.
Bluegem is here to help training organisation and the VET sector save jobs and stay afloat by assisting RTO's to develop alternative online revenue streams. We've optimised our package to make the transition quick, easy and compliant. Our package of features and services include:
- SCORM/xAPI Learning Management System (LMS)
- AVETMISS 8.0/USI 3.0 compliant Student Management System,
- Microft Teams and Other Office 365 components
- Online course design services
- Data Migration
- System integration
- Office 365 Accounts and setup