Recap: VET Industry Drinks – Student Engagement & Compliance in Online Learning.

Amy Events, Flipped Learning, Vocational Education 0 Comments

Circulus Education, in partnership with RTO Intelligence, kicked off 2016 with the first Industry Drinks Event of the year – held on Thursday the 18th of February in Melbourne. We often get asked countless questions around improving the student experience in online learning, so we decided to answer all your questions – by revealing the secrets to Student Engagement & Compliance in Online Learning!


Upon receiving glowing feedback for our events in 2015, we were excited to launch the

GuruBarto our events – a fantastic opportunity to ask a panel of experts for advice over a glass of wine in a relaxed atmosphere.



Doors opened at 4:30pm and delegates started coming in, enjoying some quality time networking and catching up with their peers over delicious canapés and drinks. We have decided to cap the maximum attendance at 50, to ensure quality time with our experts, and to stay true to our format of a relaxed, open setting, allowing everyone to connect and share openly about their own experiences and challenges. Everyone especially loved that we transformed our classrooms on the ground floor into a comfortable, relaxed space, perfect for networking over drinks!  

IMG_0101Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 9.59.55 am THE CONTENT

Our Managing Director, Caroline Brock, shared her 12 years of experience in striking a balance between compliance, student outcomes, and business growth in online learning.

This is quite an interesting topic that has not been addressed thoroughly in the sector, it has to be said. We spend a lot of time with RTOs, advising them on how to stay agile, viable, and provide high quality education to their learners. In recent months, marketing compliance has become quite a pointed issue that training organisations often bring up.

In a 20 minute presentation, Caroline covered:

  • How to improve completion rates and engagement;
  • What will give us the competitive edge;
  • How to remain compliant whilst still making learning engaging.


To drive student engagement and retention successfully, organisations need to take a three pronged approach. We know that it takes time to change practices and we also have to work at the pace of the business and within tight budget, so below outlines 3 key areas where you will see quick wins in driving student engagement:

  1. Human2Human: Building learning community and social interactions is a critical component of online learning and increasing learner satisfaction. Organisations must focus on strategies that promote  instructor-to-student, and student-to-student (social presence) interactions.  It is a critical , and an important factor in learner satisfaction, which leads to learning effectiveness. According to research by Blignaut and Trollip ( Journal of Online Learning and Teaching) “Being silent [the instructor] in an online classroom is equivalent to being invisible” and “presence requires action”. 

To drive engagements and retention of student, the following aspects must be incorporated into the delivery of courses:

  • Personalized Instructor Feedback and Interactions with Online Students: Every assessment must have trainer feedback.
  • Responses to student support and questions must be within 24 hours Online instructors’
  • Participation in the online course discussion threads is essential. If an instructor is not participating in the threaded discussions, the course becomes a correspondence event rather than an online learning experience.
  • Use announcement forums or news board [within your lms] to communicate with students collectively throughout each week – this helps maintain the focus on learning objectives. 

    2. Learning Platform/LMS: Not all Learning Management Systems are built equally. The role of an LMS has shifted in the last couple of years from being a content repository and reporting system, to a system that controls the learning journey and experience. Therefore organisations are investing more and more into LMSs that have:


  • Social & collaboration learning features:  Social learning involves learning through social interaction with others. Social learning features to look out for are commenting features around the content, discussion forums embedded into the learning journey, content sharing, user generated content
  • Mobile compatible and mLearning: 81% of student use mobiles devices to study. Therefore being mobile is a must today. LMS systems must not just be responsive, but their user experience must be built for mobile use. This means they must be easy to use, free from unnecessary “noise” and clutter.  Just remember, you also need to design and build your course resources to be mobile compatible too.
  • Easy to use: This goes without saying. Today’s learners are digital natives – they understand what a great online user experience is and they have little tolerance or loyalty to technologies that do not focus on making them intuitive and easy to use.
  • Data analytics: Measuring student engagement in an online course becoming more important and modern LMS’s are developing features which provide trainers and organisation data on how the student is engaging in the course. This data has the potential to tell a story about a student’s engagement, even predict student success within a course
  1.  Content and Learning Journey: This is one of the most important areas to focus on when trying to drive student engagement and retention. Designing and developing courses must be carefully planned, well thought out and specific for the target audience. Below are some of the key features that drive student engagement and retention:
  • Bitesize content: The best results from online learning come when students engage for short periods of time with material that is interesting and engaging.
  • Focus on the “why” and help students recognise the need for the learning.
  • Ask questions: Questions invite someone to actively participate in learning rather than just passively absorb data. Ask questions that encourages people to think and reflect about what they’re learning
  • Use real life situations: Try to provide opportunities for learners to link their learning with the people, issues or activities in their lives. Examples and case studies of how others have used the knowledge or skills obtained in the course
  • “Using a problem – solution approach”: Adults are task (or problem) centered in their orientation to learning. This can be addressed by providing examples of workplace tasks and challenges, and how to work through them. You need to help them to discover their own solutions for issues, not tell them what to do. Encourage your learners to discuss, debate and share ideas and information.

By incorporating some the features into your online learning strategy you should be able to improve your engagement and retention of your online courses.



We have a small online survey (which only takes a few moments to complete) and would love to hear your thoughts on what we did well and what could be improved. Your feedback is completely anonymous and we really appreciate it!


Register for our next Masterclass on Instructional Design Principles to drive Student Engagement! Check out our other events here

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