Instructure report reveals PHL vocational institutions’ current engagement with edtech, generative AI

Instructure’s study shows that vocational education institutions are turning to technology as a key tool to positively influence instructors, administrators, and students. Among the technologies adopted, LMS emerged as the most commonly used technology, followed by digital assessment solutions and video/audio conferencing.

Learning technology ecosystem Instructure Holdings, Inc. (Instructure) has recently commissioned Hanover Research to conduct a study highlighting the evolving focus of vocational education institutions in the Philippines on enhancing student employability. The State of Vocational Education in the Philippines survey, carried out last September and encompassing 115 institutions, indicates a significant shift towards integrating educational technology (edtech) solutions such as a Learning Management System (LMS) to broaden students’ career opportunities post-graduation.

According to the report, 89% of vocational education institutions place great importance on the employment rates of recent graduates, and 81% value their students’ practical application of knowledge and skills. When assessing their programs, 100% believe they effectively prepare students for the workplace. However, more than half of the institutions (53%) admit that they struggle with recent graduate employment rates.

In response to the increasingly competitive job market, vocational education institutions are turning to technology as a key tool to positively influence instructors, administrators, and students. A significant 97% of these institutions believe that their use of technology has played a crucial role in enhancing student success.

Among the technologies adopted, LMS emerged as the most commonly used technology, with 77% of institutions utilizing them. Digital assessment solutions (62%) and video/audio conferencing (59%) were also widely adopted. Further emphasizing the value of technology in education, 88% of institutions report that their students place great importance on integrating technological tools like LMS, recognizing their role in enriching the learning experience.

“The widespread adoption of LMS and other digital learning tools speaks to a deeper understanding that integrating technology is crucial for preparing vocational students for the complexities of the modern workforce,” said Harrison Kelly, managing director at Instructure Asia Pacific.

Addressing competition and challenges

Another key factor driving technology adoption in vocational education institutions is the heightened competition from universities. According to the report, 65% of institutions said they are seeing a high increase in competition from universities offering nontraditional courses for students, such as short courses or micro-credentials.

The current inflationary environment has also had a mixed impact on these institutions. While 88% of institutions have experienced increased enrollments, cost pressures related to home life (81%), household income (74%), and access to technology (74%) remain concerns.

Moreover, the institutions expressed the need for assistance complying with standards (45%) and increased funding (37%). These findings emphasize the sector’s need for additional support to equip students with the required workplace readiness.

The AI dilemma

With the rising integration of technology in education, the emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT has presented a complex mix of challenges and opportunities for vocational institutions in the Philippines, reshaping their approach to teaching and learning.

While 32% of vocational institutions have incorporated AI tools into their operations, 38% have opted to ban them entirely. Additionally, 23% are familiar with these tools but choose not to use them, and a small fraction (6%) lack knowledge about them.

According to the report, administrative staff are more likely to utilize AI tools (34%) compared to trainers (30%), and they are slightly less inclined to support bans on these tools (38% admins versus 39% trainers). Admins mainly use AI tools for research and writing (59%), lesson plan creation (49%), and administrative tasks like email drafting (46%). Meanwhile, students utilize AI for research and writing (76%), language translation (46%), and test preparation (45%).

The report also highlights that vocational institutions are less concerned with plagiarism (31%) and more concerned with issues such as the loss of creativity and critical thinking (52%), and data privacy (49%).

Despite some apprehensions and outright bans, most institutions (91%) have established guidelines for using generative AI, with 56% implementing light guidelines and 35% enforcing stricter ones.

To keep pace with the prevalence of AI tools, 75% of vocational education institutions in the Philippines actively offer AI training, showcasing their commitment to embracing and adapting to AI’s technological disruptions.

“It’s vital that institutions continue to provide strong support to students as they complete their courses and advance in their lifelong learning journey. This involves not only equipping them with the latest technological tools and skills but also overcoming inherent challenges in this rapidly changing educational landscape,” Mr. Kelly said.