Claire Field on learnings from COVID-19

If institutions are strategic in their actions they could come out of this crisis ahead of their competitors

COVID-19 (aka the coronavirus) is likely to have both short and long-term impacts on the Australian tertiary sector. Aside from any requests for government financial assistance it seems clear universities will move to reduce their dependence on students from China (with “diversification plans” given more attention).

In the longer term, I think it is likely we will see a renewed emphasis on online learning – and if institutions are strategic in their actions they could come out of this crisis ahead of their competitors.

The global EdTech sector is booming and it’s now about much more than MOOCs and micro-credentials – useful though they undoubtedly are. EdTech is starting on a significant transition which will change how we teach.

The use of big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence, as well as sophisticated learning platforms, is delivering measurable improvements in student learning over traditional face-to-face models.

Bringing educators and data scientists together is paying off for companies like:

Sana Labs:

* 1.8x increase in student proficiency (i.e. students learned more)

* 19 per cent increase in student retention rates, and

* 91 per cent accurate predictions of future performance of learners

Century Intelligent Learning:

* 30 per cent improvement in student learning

* learners from low SES backgrounds learning at the same pace as other learners

* reduction in teacher workload of six hours per week

I chose a VET focus for the EdTech conference I am hosting in Sydney next month, as I thought the higher education sector better understood the threats and opportunities EdTech offers.

It is ironic then, that the impact of the coronavirus on the VET sector is much less than the impact on higher education (with only 2,669 VET students with visas caught in China as a result of the travel ban compared with 97,968 higher education students).

Claire Field advises on VET, international education and private higher education


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