Preparing TVET for the Digital Age | Daily News
Skills urgently needed in today’s high-tech working environment are best acquired in technology-enabled settings.

Preparing TVET for the Digital Age

Students learn computer skills at a community e-center in Bhutan. Photo credit: ADB.
Students learn computer skills at a community e-center in Bhutan. Photo credit: ADB.

Information and communications technology (ICT) brings both challenges and opportunities to technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

What you need to know

Digital technologies have changed how organizations work, creating new jobs and replacing others. For workers, this means reskilling themselves in order to thrive in a high-tech working environment. For educators, this means integrating ICT in skills development, not just in the course materials but also in course delivery.

Technology can make it easier to deliver TVET to more people. More than 80% of the youth population are now online (link is external). Students can use their own digital devices to access courses through the internet. Skills for technology-oriented jobs are also best acquired in a high-tech learning environment.

However, many challenges remain for countries without reliable electricity, computers and internet connectivity, and where teachers are unable to use technology in their teaching. There is a danger that ICT will widen the gap between rich and poor, unless policymakers and educators can accommodate learners with poor computer literacy or lack access to digital devices.

Four Steps to Take in Integrating ICTs in TVET

Step 1: Plan for technology enabled learning

Digitalization influences labor markets, job profiles and the way countries envision their education and training systems of the future. Plans for ICT usage need to take account of training for new sectors, training for new jobs, and the impact of technology on existing jobs. Retraining and upskilling will be critical elements of the plans to make workers resilient to labor market changes, will require close collaboration with industry, and will impact on learning resources and teacher competency.

A Digital Skills Partnership as part of a wider Digital Strategy will ensure that skills training is included in future plans. In the United Kingdom, the government is planning to develop a world-leading digital economy, which includes policy on digital skills and inclusion (link is external) and plans to close the digital divide. The country’s Digital Training and Support Framework shows how a government might procure the necessary training and support for citizens who lack digital skills, confidence, or access.

Creating an industry skills council for ICT is one way of ensuring that the sector is efficiently governed, that forward planning is being done and that there are close ties to industry. In Sri Lanka, the ICT Sector Skills Council has been established as part of a pilot program, with assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Australia’s National VET e-Learning Strategy (link is external) allows the training sector to take advantage of the rollout of the National Broadband Network. By using the new technological environment, innovative approaches can be introduced to increase participation in training and work, and improve the skill levels of the workforce. The strategy is a 3-year program with continuous measurement of outcomes to allow for ongoing improvement and responses to changes.

Step 2: Build smart buildings, outfit new laboratories, update old facilities

The following examples show how starting with small steps, collaborating among institutions, and partnering with the private sector can help create a digital learning environment.

A pilot project in Bangladesh shows how equipping five labs for a national ICT center had a wide impact on teacher training and e-governance. The project is an example of how south-to-south cooperation can work in the context of setting up and operating a state-of-the-art training center, and how effective knowledge exchange can benefit both partners.

An interactive center with immersive technologies (link is external) enables alternative forms of learning for students from technical trade training centers in Australia. The center offers programs to improve students’ scientific literacy and critical thinking skills, broaden their understanding of possible study and career paths, and raise their aspirations.

Ericsson India and Plan International established 12 digital learning centers for girls and young women (link is external) in marginalized communities in Delhi, India. The aim is to reach isolated girls and women across Delhi by making skills development affordable and available in a safe environment. Apart from teaching ICT skills, the centers offer classes on core general education subjects and provide career counselling.

Step 3: Create courses and materials for digital delivery

It is important to take stock of existing multimedia and ICT-enabled resources, and establish an online repository.

An open-access repository containing technical and skill development materials (link is external) for downloading and adapting is maintained and developed by the Commonwealth of Learning, an intergovernmental organization of the Commonwealth of Nations based in Canada. Establishing the repository recognizes that access to learning resources is critical for lifelong learning.

Step 4: Teach for the new learning environment

The task is to find and deploy competent, confident teachers to deliver learning in a digital environment.

ICT competency standards for teachers and guidelines for planning teacher education programs are available in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s ICT in Education Program. Four case studies (link is external) were produced showing how different journeys can reach a common goal and provide step-by-step references for countries that wish to introduce competence-based teacher training in ICT.

Technical teachers in remote villages in Cambodia benefit from a bank of video recordings of TVET instructors (link is external) explaining theory and practice in their native language. This is an example of how problems related to access to in-service training and access to materials for teachers in remote areas, can be overcome using low-tech solutions and local expertise.

What you need to do

Here’s a list of questions to help countries identify issues and potential problems in implementing ICT-enabled learning.

Does the current policy framework for TVET allow for the introduction of ICT-enabled learning?

If not, how radical will policy changes need to be and within what timescale?

Which stakeholders need to be involved in developing new policy?

Can the introduction of ICT-enabled learning proceed in the interim?

Are the media and technology appropriate for the level and extent of ICT-enabled learning envisaged?

Are sufficient functional and up-to-date ICT and connectivity available in classrooms, training sites, or other places of learning?

Can ICT graduates be recruited into TVET?

What is the current shortfall in ICT-competent teacher numbers?

Do pre-service teacher training courses include ICT training and pedagogical approaches?

Is in-service training available for teachers on technology-related learning?

How well-suited are current teaching materials to being used online?

How can they be adapted?

Can a repository of online and multi-media resources be established?

Do the learning facilities and materials in TVET institutions match the quality and resources found in schools and tertiary institutions?

Is it possible to adapt available courseware to the local context?

How suitable is material copied from other contexts that are less resource-constrained?

Can partnerships be formed with industry or between providers to inform the development of new courses and to economize on their development?

Are current assessment methods and tools suitable for digital learning?

Can an assessment bank be established from which teachers and assessors can draw?

Do the assessment tools available measure to the standards required by new curricula and qualifications?

Can they be adapted?

What support is already available?

Does it need to be augmented?

Is training available for mentors?

What are the indications of a digital divide between genders?

What steps are being put in place to close that divide?

Is facilitating ICT-enabled learning included within teachers’ preservice training or made available as in-service training?

Have tools been developed or provisions made that do not rely on fast broadband, such as small-scale, solar installations or sharing resources using USB memory sticks?

What capacity building will be required for staff to identify suitable MOOCs and incorporate them within a coherent, industry-focused program of training?

Key Success Factors in Introducing Digital Learning in TVET

Successful introduction of digitalization is more likely if there is a holistic approach, so that technology in TVET institutions is an integral part of a wider digital strategy with compatible technology at all levels of education; use of public-private or public-public partnerships to create a vision and raise funds for the introduction of new technology; future-preparedness and adaptability of facilities and equipment to prevent them from becoming obsolete and to allow for the incorporation of new technology; blurring of the distinction between formal and informal learning, inclusion of technologies that do not require literacy (e.g., radio and videos), and local language content; and teacher and manager training to maximize the use of new technology and the adaptation of teaching materials for ICT-enabled delivery.

Many developing countries will prefer to make a gradual transition to ICT-enabled learning, using technology to ensure wider access, more competent teachers, and better labor market forecasting. Countries just beginning the digital journey may adopt low-cost measures, e.g., allowing access to open educational resources online, placing existing text and presentations online, or producing videos demonstrating technical and behavioral competences.

Those countries that are further along the path may implement high-cost measures, such as building smart infrastructure with data-gathering devices, supporting personalized learning, and producing online programs.

Whatever stage a country is in, it is important that its approach to digitalization of TVET is coherent across institutions, compatible with other parts of the education sector, and an integral part of a comprehensive human resources development policy.

(development.asia)


 

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