Technology & Innovation

TAFEs can reap the benefits of EdTech ecosystem innovation

The Australian education technology ecosystem around TAFE is growing fast.

 

Made up of over 600 companies in 2021 (and growing by 100% between 2014 and 2019), it’s an expanding sector employing about 13,000 people who are all working on solving problems in student administration and management, content management and learning management.

 

Although dominated by established players, there are many early and late-stage start-ups located mainly in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane that are on their way to becoming established companies whose technologies will have an impact on educators of all stripes in the years to come.

 

There are some in Victoria who would even like its ecosystem to become the new 'Silicon Valley' in Asia.

 

The new tools of the trade

 

This has repercussions for TAFE. On the one hand, it means that after all the online learning disruption and adaptation of Covid-19, more change is inevitable. TAFEs will continue to face the challenge of keeping current with a shifting technology environment to ensure they remain best practice providers in Aussie VET.

 

On the other hand, it means our TAFE system has a great opportunity to make use of the rapidly expanding menu of local technologies to solve problems across student management and learning. They will be well placed to create more efficient and effective operations while improving student outcomes.

 

HolonIQ’s Australia and New Zealand EdTech 50 is a good peek under the hood at what’s to come. It includes innovators across assessment and credentials, management, international education and language, online learning, workforce and skills, digital content, extended reality and STEAM.

 

Likewise, its student-lifecycle-oriented 2021 Global Learning Landscape shows the variety of education technologies being developed and deployed along the student lifecycle around the world, from knowledge and content and education management to workforce, skills and jobs.

 

ReadyTech’s own Esher House is one example of a useful tool already in the vocational education market. It allows educators to undertake a motivational assessment of students, to identify through AI and predictive analytics those that may need more support as well as how to support them.

 

Already used across the whole apprenticeships market as well as a large chunk of the employment services market, it has proven highly predictive and supportive of completion outcomes, through supporting learners with behavioural science-based resilience intervention workshops and nudges.

 

Plugging in to TAFE's potential

 

There’s a strong imperative for TAFEs to keep the door open to the technology ecosystem. As our Head of Technology Brett Dalton explains, we are entering an era where no one tech provider can do it all well, and integration readiness through cloud-first technology will be the key to the future.

 

ReadyTech already has a mini-ecosystem, from our student management system JR Plus to skills assessment and profiling application Ready Skills, which are in use in different Australian TAFEs. It includes our behavioural science platform Esher House as well as a Learning Management System.

 

As a combined student management proposition, they are greater than the sum of their parts.

 

But our approach to learning management is a case in point. While ReadyTech chose to bring leading global learning management system aNewSpring to Australia and integrate with it rather than build our own from scratch, we also integrate with other common LMS products in Australian education (like Canvas and Moodle).

 

In fact, JR Plus integrates with 70+ other systems across the vocational education market (including those we would have traditionally called ‘competitors’). These linkages facilitate everything from government reporting and finance management to innovations like digital credentials for VET skills.

 

In just one example, a key function of our technology is being able to ‘talk to’ State Training Authorities through integration with their systems. Our systems have long been integrated with all State Training Authorities in Australia, and with our footprint in VET, we’ve used that to process a large quantum of funding for our clients.

 

The number of integrations we have will only continue to grow because the advantages of an open approach are overwhelming. Linked together in the cloud through APIs, integrated systems will enable secure and seamless sharing and utilisation of data across applications to enhance technology's impact on the student journey.

 

Maximising return on connection

 

For TAFEs, leveraging the ecosystem strategically could mean the ability to remain agile as technologies and market realities change. It could mean being able to flexibility access new solutions to problems as they arise. It could mean achieving more value from technology investment through access to more powerful integrated systems and tools.

 

There are a lot of advantages. We set out five of them here. But there's two worth exploring for TAFE. 

 

  • Centralisation

 

Counter-intuitively, using an ecosystem-friendly student management system can help TAFEs consolidate their existing legacy systems within a single system in the cloud. This system can provide a unified experience and for students and staff, by allowing things like a single point of entry, but add the power of combining and utilise data and tools from multiple connected systems in a centralised way, helping TAFE institutions act more cohesively.

 

  • Differentiation

 

TAFE's that have a technology provider open to ecosystem integration will be able to tap the ecosystem flexibly over time to differentiate their proposition from other TAFEs as well as competitors in in the tertiary education market. By being able to weak their student experience locally, in line with the needs and expectations of their communities, TAFEs can maintain the unique character of their institutions, while being experimental in the face of future change.

 

 

The right technology partner

 

TAFEs will need to take advantage of new technologies and tools into the future as Australia’s leading channel for vocational education and training. To make the best possible experience for their students and their broader communities, they will need to perform a kind of innovation through integration as technology changes.

 

This means choosing a Student Management System partner that is purpose-built for TAFE and all in on ecosystem integration. At ReadyTech, we recognise connected technology ecosystems will deliver the best value through more efficiency and innovation over time. This will support TAFEs in being ready for the future of learning and work.