Think Tank series – Responding to industry needs


The VE Design team is continuing to host its series of think tanks to explore the future of VET and what today’s top designers are working on right now.

The third gathering in our series was held on 26 July and focused on the advantages and opportunities created by effective delivery of material online. The question we put forward was “What is the best way to structure our programs to meet the changing needs of students and industry?”

Three experts from various organisations joined us:

We began the session with this quote:


“Learning Design is a bit like teenage sex. Everybody says they’re doing it, but in reality few really are; and those who are doing it aren’t doing it very well.”

Mark Brown, Professor and Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning, Dublin City University


Laughter followed, as did some sad reflection on our own teenage years.

Damala raised these key points:

  • Change is now! Technology is driving rapid industry change and industry is driving rapid changes in technology
  • Real world skills- VET provides real skills for real jobs but is time and resource intensive
  • Micro masters/degrees/credentials – Smaller, stackable, portable qualifications
  • Digital limitations and potential – Flexibility, scalability, portability, accessibility, standardised delivery but they create challenges for authentic and valid assessment
  • Future design and assessment – Assessment focused training can provide learners with accelerated and personalised learning paths.

Peter’s key points included:

  • Online delivery works when it’s well designed and not just digitised content
  • Authenticity/applicability/context
  • Online (can be a blend or a flip)
  • Incorporate UX UI
  • Students and staff want an online set of learning resources and learning activities that are attractive, accessible and alive. A vibrant community of practice to assist their learning journey in their chosen subject
  • Modularisation of online classes wherever possible
  • Modularisation also reflects a larger trend in society e.g. downloading a song instead of buying an entire album.

Miriam raised the following key points

  • Online learning consists of: teacher led webinars, collaborative learning activities, practical placement tasks, simulated workplace tasks, knowledge assessments and self-paced online learning
  • Online learning has numerous benefits for students, including flexible study time and bite sized learning.

There were some consistent points of agreement from our experts:

  • Online learning provides tremendous advantages for VET.
  • Students and Industry are demanding smaller educational chunks rather than 3 or 4 year degrees.
  • You can’t just digitise your content for an effective online experience.