Embracing Tech in ELICOS Academic Management

Embracing Tech in ELICOS Academic Management

A NEAS Visit That Sparked Reflection

A few months ago, I was part of a NEAS visit, a familiar yet slightly stressful experience. The assessor complimented our adoption of technology and wondered aloud why some other ELICOS providers hadn’t followed suit. “It’s baffling,” he said, “how some places don’t fully utilise technology.” It felt like he was insinuating that these colleges were lagging due to their IT departments. However, I firmly believe that ‘it takes two to tango.’ Essentially, while IT departments lay down the technological foundation, it ultimately falls on academic management to identify, adopt, and maximise the use of available tech tools. Moreover, it’s their responsibility to ensure both the administrative and teaching staff buy into the idea of integrating these tools into their daily routines. There I was, quietly biting my tongue, not wanting to sound overly competitive or boastful, I resisted the urge to say out loud that these colleges might be falling behind because their academic managers might not fully understand how to leverage these technological resources effectively.

The Role of Leadership in Tech Adoption

The truth, as I’ve come to see it, depends on the attitude of the academic manager. Specifically, a manager that either embraces tech or one that avoids it. It’s about having an academic manager who’s not just open to technology but actively integrates it across all channels—communication, administration, teaching, and beyond. Without this attitude driving the change, using technology in the ELICOS sector remains something a provider needs to do and is going to do, but never actually gets around to doing. 

Embedding Technology from the Start

Embracing technology is more than just a mindset, it is about turning this mindset into action. Starting from teacher recruitment, it’s crucial to integrate technology into the very fabric of the ELICOS college being managed. Imagine a world where “We use Microsoft Teams for all internal company communication, not email, not WhatsApp or SMS,” becomes the norm from day one. It simplifies everything, cutting down on the resistance that typically accompanies change.

Navigating Change Management

Change management can be very challenging. Try introducing new tech to a team set in their paper-based ways, and you’ll know what I mean. It’s like pushing a boulder up a hill. But begin at the interview stage—why not conduct it online?—and you set a precedent. It’s efficient, it’s modern, and it introduces candidates to your tech-driven culture from the get-go.

Leveraging Tech for Efficiency and Engagement

The induction phase then builds on this foundation, reinforcing the message that technology is here to make life easier, more efficient, and let’s be honest, To conserve our mental energy for what truly matters, such as compliance, conflict resolution, and sometimes just keeping the ship afloat. Mundane admin tasks? Let’s dial them back with tech, freeing up brains for more creative and strategic pursuits.

Rethinking ELICOS Placement Tests

And let’s talk about placement tests for ELICOS students. The traditional insistence on on-campus placement testing seems archaic. Students might cheat if they do the test online, so why not have an honesty declaration at the top of different sections of the test? This could well be the simple yet effective tool we need to uphold integrity. Plus, leveraging technology for remote speaking tests (yes, web recording) not only saves time but also makes logistical sense. Why wait for day one when pre-enrolment testing can streamline the entire process?

Optimising Placement Testing

This brings me to the crux of the matter: placement tests. Stripping them down to essentials, and focusing on what truly matters for level placement, seem to be the way to go. Make it easy for students to complete the placement test. It’s about efficiency, accuracy, and, ultimately, placing students at the right level and into the right class before their first day on campus.

Overcoming Challenges with Vision and Collaboration

Reflecting on the NEAS assessor’s comments, I’m reminded that while the integration of technology in education might not be that easy, it’s not an insurmountable task either. It requires passion, curiosity, and a willingness to collaborate closely with IT teams. The hurdle isn’t in the tech itself but in the mindset of those at the academic management helm.

A Vision for the Future

To answer the NEAS assessor’s initial question—why haven’t all colleges harnessed the full power of technology? The answer is probably because of the technological proficiency and interest, or lack thereof, of the ELICOS academic managers at the helm. Not every Academic Manager is adept at or even interested in utilising technology to its fullest. Effective leadership in the ELCOS sector goes beyond mere academic management; it requires a keen interest in technology and a vision for integrating it seamlessly across all aspects of an ELICOS college. This isn’t just about streamlining operations; it’s about enriching the student learning experience, boosting efficiency for teachers and administrative staff, and indeed, enhancing revenue generation. Consider, for example, the marketing team’s need to swiftly generate an offer for a prospective VET student; dtermining the student’s English proficiency level ASAP is crucial. Here, technology serves as a catalyst, speeding up processes that once took a lot longer.

Conclusion

The process of integrating technology in the ELICOS and VET sectors is complex, demanding a blend of passion, vision, and leadership. But the rewards? They’re bountiful.