The biggest impact on the VET sector was the rapid shift to online learning. TAFEs across Australia deliver over 1,200 courses to over 770,000 students. With only 19 per cent of courses being delivered online, most courses needed a high level of adaptation to move to digital delivery. For one TAFE, none of their courses were online, meaning that the capacity had to be built from the ground up in a few weeks.
Not all elements of courses could be moved to digital delivery, especially where workshops and practical exercises and work placements were involved. For many courses, the theory components were brought forward to enable continued delivery, and other elements rescheduled for later in the year, which may adversely impact the optimal application of theory to practice.
For many TAFEs, redesigning courses for digital delivery was already part of their strategic plan. COVID-19 brought that priority forward and the necessity to support students at home forced the conversion in a few weeks for what was planned as a multi-year process.
In April 2020, ADAPT conducted an in-depth study with 217 Australian and New Zealand C-level executives to gauge COVID-19 responses. It found the most significant technology change had been the move to cloud – with half of respondents saying their organisation had increased cloud workloads by over 50 per cent to enable their remote workforce.
This is unsurprising as, by early March 2020, tertiary institutions alongside many businesses were faced with the need for most of their employees to work from home. The challenge was how to provide access to core operational systems and data securely and at a level of performance that would not affect productivity. Migration from on-premise systems to SaaS was a proven and ready-to-go solution.
Another major challenge for both sectors was maintaining a seamless student experience – especially with increased online learning requirements and remote support. For some institutions, existing services were inadequate to the task. Again, SaaS came to the rescue with phenomenal rates of migration of mission-critical workloads to both public and private cloud.