Monday, September 24, 2018

Vocational education for the 21st century - Australian context

Here is an Australian report - Vocational Education for the 21st Century -, with much of if of relevance to NZ as we reform our vocational education system. The NZ reviews include the way formalised education is accreditated through the National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) and a review of the institutes of technology / polytechnics (ITPs). See blog for overview of these reviews.

The report is written by Anne Jones, Emeritus Professor at Victoria University / University of Melbourne. She was deputy Vice Chancellor and Director of TAFE at Victoria University from 2009 and was the Executive Director of Academic Affairs at Box Hill Tafe prior to appointment at Victoria. The paper is part of a collection commissioned through theLH Martin Institute, to contribute to the reform and debate on tertiary education in Australia.

The article begins with the observation that the Australian VET system is more that about funding, neo-liberalism's effects on the market and systems design. It should be more about fitness for the current times. So NZ may be on a better track by reviewing the feeder into VET – i.e. NCEA and also the providers of VET – ITPs.

The first part of the paper, sets up the Australian context with an overview of the various reforms since the 1970s. In short, lots of activity, but not much momentum or political will to effect change to the actual system. The major challenges have been not giving attention to core skills, the needs of 21st century capabilities, underdeveloped pedagogies due to poor staff development and minimal investment in the scholarship of vocational education learning and unpreparedness for disruptions in the world of work.

Recommends the need to strengthen the emphasis on core skills, bring qualifications into the 21st century, move into 21st century teaching and integration of the tertiary education sector. So, nothing too new in the recommendations. It will be interesting to see how much the Australians shift towards addressing some of the challenges highlighted in this report.

NZ has moved a bit more due to there being a smaller population and the present government's commitment to seeing that the country if prepared for the coming 'future of work', impacted on by technological advances. The NZ Qualifications framework has already moved towards a more 'core skills' focus with the shift to graduate profile outcomes. This shift allows for specialist occupational skills to be 'quantified' along with some of the occupational characteristics which epitomise practice, many of which are core and generalisable across occupations. 

The next step of aligning the school qualification to VET pathways and outcomes, is presently in progress. The consolidation of a large number of ITPs, many of whom are struggling financially, into larger hubs, will hopefully provide resourcing for broader access to staff development and perhaps funding for the scholarship of vocational learning. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

NCVER no frills and NZVET research forum - presentations and keynote videos

Video of the two keynotes and presentations from the recent joint NCVER 'no-frills' and NZ Vocational Research Forum, held in Sydney in August, are now available.

The link to Professor Lene Tanggaard's video provides for a good overview of her recent work on creativity in VET.

In addition to the summary of presentations on this blog for day 2 am, day 2 pm, day 3 am and day 3 pm (Day one was a series of workshops), here is a brief overview of a few presentations which clashed during the concurrent sessions.

Hugh Guthrie, with Berwyn Clayton presentation on Australian VET policy: processes, stakeholders and issues, summarises the long journey of Australian VET which have been accompanied by short term solutions, poor status of VET and piecemeal reform. Lessons for NZ as we undertake a review of the VET system here.

Michelle Circelli from the NCVER on 'from school toe VET: how do students transition and how can we help them? A complex process with many factors determining student choice and eventual success. Detailed the support factors which support entry, participant, retention and completion.

Another NCVER study by Cameron Forrest on 'measuring soft skills in young Australians'. Defines skills and how they are differentiated -hard / soft and how skills are different from traits. Discussed the various ways to 'measure' soft-skills and on-going work in this area.

Carolyn McIntosh, Yvonne Mosley Martin and Dr. Jean Patterson from Otago Polytechnic with 'video assessment of undergraduate midwifery students' practical skills'. Covered overview of the programme, challenges, recommendations.

Don McLaren and Ian Whitehouse - making a job versus getting a job, the future of work has changed. Good overview of what may occur in the future and a series of case studies which may provide some solutions going into the future.

related to the above presention, is Silvia Munoz from SkillsIQ - with Right skills, right time? The cost of overqualification affecting one in four Australian workers. Matching skills to needs is always going to be complex but even more important now as jobs change quickly. Training / education unable to keep up with the pace of change.

Adelaide Reid reports on a NZ study on Youth Guarantee pathways and profiles.  Detailed background, approach, findings - what were challenges and advantages.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Exploring the theory, pedagogy, and practice of networked learning – book overview

Published by Springer 2012 - so already somewhat dated, as technology enhanced learning and networked learning has shifted. However, the salient principles still apply. 

Introduction and conclusion with 5 other parts – developing understandings of networked learning; new landscapes and spaces for networked learning; dynamics of changing tools and infrastructure; understanding the social material of networked learning; and identity, cultural capital and networked learning through 17 chapters.

The introduction, by the editors, provides ‘a brief history and new trends’ in networked learning’.
Provides a summary of various initiatives from the 1980s to the present including the shifts in understanding and supporting learning. The emphasis of the overview is on various efforts to create platforms for collaborative work and learning. Sets out the pedagogical framework for networked learning as: openness in the education process; the affordances for self-determined learning; a requirement for a real purpose in the collaborative process; a supportive learning environment; collaborative approaches to assessment of learning; and assessment and evaluation of the ongoing learning process. Then provides a summary of the various sections and chapters.

Part 2 – developing understanding of networked learning continues the theme from the introduction with two chapters

C. Jones writes on ‘networked learning, stepping beyond the net generation and digital natives’. Begins by critiquing the premise of current students being different from previous due to their exposure to digital technologies. The study supporting the various recommendations in the chapter were completed almost 20 years ago, so the current advances in mobile technology, were not tested. However, the chapter recommends that an open mind is important in any future work. Depending on informal observations i.e. that digital natives exist, distracts from the important emphasis on learning.

An important chapter by T. Ryberg, L. Buus and M. Georgsen, discusses the ‘differences in understandings of networked learning theory: connectivity or collaboration?’ Discusses the many nuanced and individually constructed meanings of connectivism, collaboration, communities, negotiation of meaning, social practice, etc. Makes links between networked learning and connectivism. Networked learning is used more by European researchers and connectivism by North American, evidencing the roots of these two concepts. Clarifies what networked learning refers to. Networked learning is not only about elearning but about the connections made between people and between people and resources. Learning is a social endeavour, with knowledge and identity being constructed as interactions are undertaken through dialogue and interchange of ideas and perspectives. Networked learning is about the connections and interaction. There are many similarities between networked learning and connectivism. However, connectivism focuses much more on the individual and how they connect with the world outside of their own purview. Knowledge is related more to content than to connections and is seen to be outside of individuals’ minds but accessible when required. There is a good critique of both networked learning and connectivism.

Part 3 has 3 chapters around the theme of ‘new landscapes and spaces for networked learning’. This part provided examples and their empirical outcomes.

Chapter 4 by D.D. Suthers and K-H, Chu is on ‘mediators of socio-technical capital in a networked learning environment’. Example of using wikis and discussion forums, framed by concepts of using these to bridge socio-technical capital challenges.

Then a chapter on ‘collectivity, performance and self-representation: analysing cloudworks as a public space for networked learning and reflection by P. Alevizou, R. Galley and G. Conole. Cloudworks have been around for some time and is a LMS developed to support collaborative learning. The platform is anchored by core learning activities which support constructive and socio-cultural learning approaches. Instead of resources, there is emphasis on using ‘situations’. Students bring their collective experiences and learning to the courses and engage in ‘expansive learning’. The indicators of community are participation, cohesion, creative capability and community identity.

J. E. Raffaghelli and C. Richieri contribute the next chapter on ‘a classroom with a view: networked learning strategies to promote intercultural education’. This is another important chapter. It provides a case study of a programme, to introduce and support intercultural study across several countries. Envisages networked learning as a means for equal-but-diverse people to meet, connect, collaborate and complete projects. Used the concept of ‘a matrix of knowledge’ to frame the sense-making approach for building intercultural dialogue. The metaphor of the ‘networking platform’ as a window into and reflection of one’s own and others’ cultures was seen to be supportive of the process.

Part 4 is on ‘dynamics of changing tools and infrastructure’ with 2 chapters.

There is P. Arnold, J.D. Smith and B. Trayner on ‘the challenge of introducing “one more tool”: A community of practice perspective on networked learning’. Uses 2 case studies of the Workbench A- a community of practice in the Agricultural development field and Workbench b- community of distance learners in higher education as examples. Finds it is just not ‘changing a tool’ or ‘adding another tool’ but the many other parameters. These include how the tool changes whose voice is heard, whose voice can be legitimately brought forward, how competence is negotiated and overall, what matters in the community the tool is being used in. So, many agendas are impacted when a tool is changed as the change brings about a re-negotiation of what constitutes the community.

Then, T. Nyvang and A. Bygholm on ‘implementation of an infrastructure for networked learning’. Human centred informatics, which updates the work of Vygotsky to be relevant to contemporary practice, is used as a framework for implementing infrastructure to support networked learning. Dilemmas had to be unpacked depending on whether goals and technology were certain or uncertain.

Part 5 also has 2 chapters on the theme of ‘understanding the socio material in networked learning’.

T. L. Thompson contributes to the discussion with ‘who’s taming who? Tensions between people and technologies in cyberspace communities. Advocates for the use of Actor-Network theory (ANT) to help understand how aspects of materiality, impact on how people use, relate to and work with technology. Network effects may be unravelled through each of the four ANT concepts – passages, translation, socio-technical constructions and black boxes.

The second chapter in this section is from L. Creanor and S. Walker on ‘learning technology in context: a case for the sociotechnical interaction framework as an analytical lens for networked learning research. Argues for the use of sociotechnically in understanding how networked learning –pedagogy, technology and agency, may be constituted.

Part 6 has 6 chapters around ‘identity, cultural capital and networked learning.

Chapter 11 is by J. Ross on ‘just what is being reflected in on-line reflection? New literacies for new media learning practices. Uses blogging as the basis of study and argues for the need to ensure that new literacies and part of networked learning approaches. In part, due to the ways in which blogging is undertaken.

Then, L. Czerniewicz and C. Brown with ‘objectified cultural capital and the tale of two students’. Uses Bourdieu’s framework – field, habitus and capital – to explore and contrast two cases. The digital elite and the digital stranger.

The next chapter is on ‘how do small business owner-managers learning leadership through networked learning?’ by S.M Smith. An evaluation of the Leading Enterprise and Development (LEAD) integrated learning model for SMEs.

Chapter 14 is on ‘innovating design for learning in a networked society’ by K. T. Levinsen and J. Nielsen. Presents the re-working of Dorso’s model – modes of working across relational and complexity axis, to understanding innovative design for learning. Identified the sharing and uncertainty barriers of an approach (role-play scenario used as an example) and the challenges posed to roles / actors including tacit/qualified knowledge / rhetorics ‘sweet point’. Rationalised the choice of interactive design life cycle model – starting with identification of specifications and needs, design, physical design and test / evaluation.

Next chapter is with J. L. Nielsen and O. Danielsen on ‘problem-oriented project studies: the role of the teacher as supervisor for the study group in its learning process’. Identifies and discusses teacher roles – teacher as expert and instructive supervisor; process supervisor; and social mediator. Uses a case to unpack the nuances of each role.

Last chapter in this section is on ‘life behind the screen: taking the academic online’ with S. Boon and C. Sinclair’. Reports on the experiences of academics, shifting into the on-line environment. How language, identity, engagement and time shifts and how this aligns with the students’ perspectives of projection, performance, audience and content.

The last part, is the chapter concluding the book by the editors titled ‘the theory, practice and pedagogy of networked learning’. Focused on the ontology, epistemology and pedagogy of networked learning. Summarises the pedagogical values that underpin networked learning. Including implications for learning, teaching and the assessment process. There is a bringing together of the themes presented across the various chapters in the book.

Overall, the book provides background and rationale for networked learning. The various chapters, report on the ways networked learning is contextualised across different cultures (albeit, Western perspectives); school / tertiary institutions and workplaces; and technology approaches. The importance of the book is in setting up frameworks for networked learning, including defining the term and suggested models for practice.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Microcredentials - NZ perspective

As summarised earlier this year in this blog, there has been ongoing work on microcredential pilots in NZ. This work on microcredentials, began over a year ago, before the current government entered into office, and began a wide range of reviews of the NZ education system, including a review of institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs), the NZ vocational education system and the school leaving qualifications.

Here are several more recent articles, relevant to the adoption and implementation of microcredentials:

Education Central NZ reports on 'the rise of the micro-credential'. The article, summarises the three pilots undertaken and some of the rational in NZ adoption.

Then, in Education Review, there is an overview of one the pilots, the Edubits initiative led by Otago Polytechnic. Also included, is the move of some NZ universities into MOOCs. The advantages, rather than any challenges, are presented in this report.

Lastly, but probably more importantly, this article, also in the Education review. An Op Ed by Roger Smyth, on the funding implications represented by microcredentials and especially, the social implications of lifelong learning. There is also a good overview of the NZ tertiary systems' reforms from the late 1990s to date. Smyth agrees opening the NZQA framework to microcredentials is a good move. However, the hard part, how to and who should fund, will require careful thinking through. Especially given the needs imposed by the future of work, for all to be on a continual cycle of learning, retraining and transforming.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Adaptive learning - vocational education perspective

Adaptive learning is promoted as a form of personal learning, with opportunities to tailor learning to students’ understanding. It is perhaps most useful when students have to learn foundational principles or practice essential skills. Adaptive learning resources take a large amount of time to develop. The learning designer requires a good understanding and ability to unpack the tacit dimensions of learning. Adaptive learning is good for helping students learn the ‘canon’ required – especially foundational theory and discrete skill sets (e.g. basic maths) which have one ‘right answer or recommended way to solve. 

Adaptive learning has been around for some time, for example, 'programmed learning' 30 years ago was available mostly through text-based resources and I remember testing out very basic computerised versions. Basically, they were text books with small (usually multiple choice) quizzes and the results from these quizzes, directed you to another part of the text book. The approach was based on behaviourist theories which emphasised scaffolded learning.

Currently, adaptive learning is again and a response to standardised learning promoted in many countries - see previous blog for overview and return of adaptive learning to the list of currently recommended pedagogical approaches.  in the 'new' iteration, adaptive learning is defined as the ability of a learning resource to adapt to learners' performance. Edsurge reports advantages and particularly for online learning. Educause article also supports adaptive learning as a means to achieve successful learning. There is a good article by Kerr, P (2015) on the topic providing definitions for '‘individualization, differentiation, personalization’ with adaptive learning being the technology rather than the approach.

With the advent of AI, adaptive learning may be one approach to achieving economies of scale with blended / online learning. Education dive, lists many adaptive learning platforms, with many being publishers of text books and other forms of education resources. Forbes reports an upsurge in adaptive learning platforms with a more up to date list from tech advocate.

Commercial offerings include smartsparrow (free for up to 5 learners and up to 100 learners cost US$15 each); dreambox; knewton; and adaptemy. 

Open source platforms include a Harvard and Microsoft collaboration, alosilaps; grapple; and sagefy.

However, there are always other factors to consider. One being the lack of learner choice as the algorithm directs learners on pathways which the learner may not have envisaged going.

As proposed by Siemens, adaptivelearning may be constraining. Another approach is to perhaps offer learners sufficient support to understand the outputs of learning analytics and then for them to work out ways to address the data - see slideshare for 2015 presentation from Siemens, Gasevic and Baker.. The learner has to learn the skills to interpret and act on learning analytics, instead of being taken, without understanding why, down pre-programmed pathways laid out through adaptive learning platforms.

The other current challenge with regards to deploying adaptive learning with vocational education, is the prevalence and reliance on text based approaches. The advent of VR may provide an opportunity to move beyond adaptive learning based on text based responses but for the present, multiliteracies and multimodalities are not commonly included in algorithms for adaptive learning.

So, the main learning from undertaking the exercise of exploring adaptive learning, is caution. Adaptive learning offers advantages but can be constraining and may lead to learners being forced down the linear syllabi path via behavourist approaches. Balance needs to be sought, to provide learners with greater agency as to how learning pathways may be completed. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

NCVER no frills and NZ VET research forum day 3 afternoon

Four concurrent session themes today, apprentices and trainees, young people, policy and skills needs.

First up, I catch up with Kylie Taffard’s (BCITO) women in trades project. Project funded by Ako Aotearoa and came about due to high demand for trades people. Covered how women have succeeded in non traditional trades. Focused on the women supply scope and undertook to understand how women engage in trades. Presented rationale, background and the qualitative research process. Interviewed 34 women across industries and at all stages of training and work. Thematic and inductive analysis to identity themes. Characteristics of women entering the trades included range of ages, ethnicities, location but the main similarities were affinities to active and physical work and job satisfaction. Many fell into the trade, had to do their on research to find out about the work. Many experienced low pay or poverty and trades provided good income. Some followed a passion and male relatives were role models. Schools not always supportive of trades pathway. 
Need to make trades training more visible to young women. Pre trade programmes were useful as a start. Mixed programmes provided initial introduction to work in male dominated work environment. Work experience especially important to consolidate career paths. Finding work post pre trade programme was a challenge. On job support from employers and ITOs similar to other apprentices. 
Recommendations were shared. Developed persona to help characterise the women. 

After lunch. I present, with  Cheryl Stokes from Ara Institute of Canterbury, the guidelines from the eassessment project. In essence, summarised briefly the project rationale and underpinning framework of connecting graduate profiles to the aspect of becoming. Overviewed the importance of feedback in contributing to vocational education and the  affordances conferred by digital tools to assist with the process. The guidelines that are distilled from the project also presented. In particular, the need for digital fluency from both tutors and learners and to make learning overt in the learning activities.

Stayed  in the same room with Deniese Cox, Griffith University, on  pedagogically framing VET online. Started with personal background and presented on PhD study. Provided rationale including VET not having much research on online learning. Teaching online is different from teaching f2f. Defined teachers, online learning and pedagogy. Project investigated how online VET teachers teach and if knowledge of online pedagogy will support developing of improvement strategies. Pedagogical orientations are from teacher to student centred. Often pedagogical orientation may not align with their pedagogical practice. This gap may occur for many reasons including logistical, organisational and technological. Shared findings including participant demographics, personas developed to illustrate the pedagogical approaches and survey showing actual pedagogical practice. Used Berge’s model of instructor rules and Bain’s what the best college teachers do, as questions to establish participant pedagogy. Influences on matching pedagogical orientation to practice include class size, units of competency resources which are not developed for online and workload. Teaching seen to be sidelined to assessments. 

After afternoon tea, with Geoff Crittenden from Weld Australia, on the future of technical training focused on Augmented reality training for welding. Explained link between TAFE and Weld Australia and the importance of VET. Welding learning similar now as 100 years ago. Video of Boxford augmented reality welding simulator. Specifications for Soldamatic augmented reality training. With AR, learners can do 10 tries compared to 4 in a TAFE welding workshop. Gamification element in the exercises based on analytics from each run. Health and safety not an impediment. Learning from mistakes also less costly as no physical materials used. Peer learning possible as peer can watch process on the screen to provide feedback. Advantages are accelerated learning, savings with consumables and higher completion rate. 

Last presentation with Dr. Karen Vaughan from the NZCER and Andrew Kear from the Building and Construction ITO, on Analytics and insights: developing a tool to support building and construction apprentices’ completion. In conjunction with the BCITO, a tool is being developed to provide predictive analysis on apprentices’ completions. The presentation focuses on the identification of factors influencing non-completion and evaluative data from apprentices, employers and training advisors, used to improve each iteration of the tool. Karen provided context and information on NZCER and Andrew on the BCITO. Shared statistics on completions and withdrawals and non-completions. Large numbers of withdrawals are in the first year. The learner success project is to develop a health profile tool to focus on likelihood of completion. Needs to also allow for different ideas of success and provide advise for learner support. Project seeks to identify influences, collect data and refine and calibrate. Discussed challenges including methodology, ethics and data integrity. 

A busy but informative conference. Official sessions closed with award for best poster and handover to the 2019 hosts in Adelaide - July 10 - 12. 

NVCER no frills and NZ VET research forum - day 3 morning

Day 2 morning presentations and summary of evening

Dinner, welcome and presentation from Jon Black, TAFE NSW, extolled the merits of VET but provided dire stats on consideration of VEt by Australian school leavers as being only 10% for females and 16% for males (sigh).
Bruce Callaghan, Australian Council for Private Education and Training, introduced the need for VET systems to reform as learner needs are for just in time learning, completed in short bites. Exampled general practitioners in Asia, Gulf and Australia who supplement their formal medical training with micro learning. Called for greater response to these needs by working together across sectors, qualifications that make sense, responsive to future needs and relevant to learners. 
The night’s speaker is Kevin Sheedy, who is  an Australian football pLayer and AFLHall of  fame legend, apprenticeship ambassador and plumber. Shared his story and the importance of apprenticeship. 

A cool and sunny morning for a quick walk to the conference. The proceedings begins with ministerial address from the Honorable Karen Andrews, assistant minister for vocational education and skills. Reiterated the importance of VET to prepare people for the coming future. Australian VET well regarded internationally with the majority of graduates attaining employment. Employment shifting to high skills demands and also shifting to a replacement phase of baby boomers retiring. Recommended the use of JAROD to assist people in finding work which fits their attributes and for careers advise. Preparation for industry 4.0 a key for moving forward. Important to reestablish the status of VET as a key pathway for all to qualifications and employment. Launched an extended tuition fees protection to all students if provider falls over. Also an increase in the skilling Australia fund to increase apprenticeships and training in key industries. 

Keynote is with Dr. Andrew Charlton from AlphaBeta on moving from fear to action on the future of work. Summarised the current media on AI, robotics etc. and jobs being changed or lost. Some well-founded but there are opportunities as well. However, young people taking their first job are going to see many of these jobs disappear. Need to identify what will change and what will not. Shift of types of jobs being lost to Technology from agriculture to manufacturing to service sector. Need to reskill, upskill and learn new skills to deal with automation, globalisation, longer lives, urbanisation and changing job preferences. Currently Australian workers would have changed occupations 2.4 times. Workers not changing jobs are seeing a change in their job tasks. Lifelong learning is the norm, young Australian spend 3-4 hours a week learning to keep up with job demands. Need to understand what, when and how we learn.
What: Employers demanding more digital, creative problem solving and interaction skills. In general, knowledge, skills more readily automated when compared to attributes / characteristics.  Characteristics include empathy, creativity, leadership, originality, social orientation, cooperation, integrity etc. shift from firm specific skills and knowledge or human capital to generalised human capital.
When: lifelong learning will be the norm. Increase in just in time learning. Mid career learning needs will have to be met.
How: flexible, appropriately funding and relevant learning. 

Address from Ian Rowe, acting assistant deputy director sector services, Ako Aotearoa. Introduced the role of Ako Aotearoa in the NZ Tertiary sector. Provided an overview of the origin and objectives. New themes going forward are professional standards, networks and communities of practice and Maori and Pacifica learner success, organisational structure and business model, knowledge base and adult literacy and numeracy and cultural capability. Summarised the impact evaluation undertaken on all funded projects and shared examples of several VET projects. 

Morning tea is with poster presentations.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

NCVeR and NZ VET research forum 2018 - day 2 afternoon

After lunch, with Anne Alkema from the ITF on embedded research informing policy and practice in foundation level workplace training programmes. Presented on literacy and numeracy ,skills highway, and the evaluation of its efficacy. Funded by Tertiary Education Commission and Ako Aotearoa for provider and employer led strands. Funds 25 to 40 hours for around 7000 employees. Programmes are delivered in the workplace during work time. The evaluation assessed impact on individuals and workplaces, provide evidence base to inform ongoing policy development, explore links between literacy and numeracy skills and productive, and seek solutions to sustain workplace literacy programmes. Workplace L and N is not to fix, but to prepare people for future workforce needs and future jobs. Evidence collected includes LN results by assessment tools, changes to employees practices, changes in workplace behaviours and productivity and return on investment. So far have found funding reaching the right way, changes related to practice, better self efficacy, career progression and some impact in productivity. Use newsletter to share findings, success stories, summarise research topics, videos and resources. Literature review provides some examples from other countries. Need for digital literacies and developed a 4 level framework that describes practices in the workplace. Move into Hinatore, literacy as an empowerment tool, project co-funded  by Ako Aotearoa and Industry Training Federation. 

Following on with Dr. Helen Anderson from the NZ School of Tourism on graduate profile outcomes: ready to fly. An evaluation of graduate profiles developed for NZ qualifications, post NZQA targeted review. Began with her background and rationale for the study. Helen works as curriculum and programme developer for a range of qualifications. Detailed background to review, process and move to graduate profiles. Interest in how future focused graduate profiles should look. Barrie 2004 graduate is an integrated model of scholarship, global citizen and lifelong learner. Defined the purpose of vocational education including occupational capabilities,  credentialing and engagement with issues of ethics, social commitments etc. studied  706 qualifications and 4248 graduate profiles and characterised them and 45 % were on technical skills, 11 compliance, and 1% communication. Another study on recently re reviewed showed increase in more generalisable skills and have ability to be more future proofed. Check Nagarajan and Edwards 2014 is the graduate ready for work. 

After afternoon tea, Erica Smith, Professor Federation University on enterprise registered training organisations: training and learning practices. Began by defining what enterprise RTOs are and the benefits and challenges to companies when they register as a RTO. Summarised findings from first project on how qualifications delivered by eTrO contribute to improved skills. Second project is on VET teachers which included ErTo trainers. Both involved different enterprises and there is a significant churn in eRtos as they merge etc. contexts studied included bus driver training, rail infrastructure, road construction, and call centre skills. There was classroom study when the main perspective is that ERtos train in the workplace only. Most learners had prior skills but not all had assessments for these and did not have to undertake training again. Most learners were satisfied and most learners were doing initial training. For educators, Queensland framework with 5 indicators was selected. In general, ETRO trainers consistently placed less importance on each of the 5 factors and less confidence on how they were able to meet these indicators. Tended to be higher on demands of different contexts, communicating with learners and importance of feedback. More information on RAvE recent research website - researching adult and vocational education at Federation University. 

Last presentation of the day with Dr. Silin Yang from Institute of Adult Learning in Singapore on work, innovation and learning in small medium enterprises. Reports on a project in progress to understand the SME sector in Singapore. SMEs do not find returns from sending their employees for training. Provided overview of project and focus on the health care industry. Seeks to find out how SMEs develop innovation, what support do they need to further innovate. although incentives provided, only half of SMEs have accessed. Defined innovation learning culture. Used semi structured interviews, survey of employees, work shadowing,  company documents to provide case study data. Shared enablers for innovation including empowerment, recognition of employee contributions, tolerance for failure, alignment, community network and partners, knowledge flows, and nature of work needs to support innovation. 

The conference dinner rounds off a busy day. 

NCVER no frills and NZ VET research forum 2018

Day 2 morning

In Sydney for the combined conferences of the National Centre for Vocational Education and Training Research (NCVER) with the New Zealand VET research forum, convened by the Industry Training Federation

Welcome reception last night started off the conference, good to catch up with many familiar researchers in Vocational education.

Conference opens with welcome from Dr. Mette Creaser, interim Managing Director of NCVER and Michael Ross, Principal advisor for the NZ Industry Training Federation. Michael provided participants with overview of the NZ industry training context. Provided summaries of the three key reviews and supporting shifts in accompanying systems to meet the needs of the future. Check report from info metrics on megatrends in work and education.

Short address from Genevieve Knight, acting national manager research at NCVER on the Skills for the future report. A short presentation to summarise key points. Main employment in Australia and New Zealand now in services sectors, health, professional, scientific and technical, education and training and construction. Quick shift in Technology requires rapid and agile vocational training systems with continuous and lifelong learning delivery and support. VET systems required to play a key role in ensuring people attain, maintain and continue learning to keep up with the requirements for the need of future work.

First keynote from Lene Tanggaard, Professor at department of communication and psychology at Aalborg University in Denmark, on creativity in VET. Brought together crafts, vocational education and training and creativity. Extended on the premise of the epistemology of the hand and the need to recognise its contribution. Creativity argued as a key, difficult to replicate without human input, skill. Not only for artists, designers or academics but found high levels in VET apprentices. Need to treasure VET for how it contributes to a practical and pragmatic way of igniting and expressing creativity. Imagination is a foundation for creativity- see 2018 Tanggaard and Brinkmann. PISA test will now include creativity as a component. There is a correlation with personal growth, academic and job success (Long and Plucker, 2014). Creativity is essential for all (Csikszentmihalyi) but entails actual work (Vera John-Steiner, 1997) - a notebook of the mind. Creativity builds on the ability to see clearer and to rediscover what we know but seem to have forgotten. Creativity is about mastery, craft and recycling, not just brainstorming and post-it notes. It is more about business as usual than not. Creativity needs the ability to synthesis (combination of opportunities), analytical sense (what and why is this good?) and practical intelligence (ideas do not sell themselves! There is a need to tinker to make it work). The eyes of the skin and the thinking hand by Juhani Pallasmaa, a Finnish architect. The poet, the sculptor or architect worked with the entire body, not primarily through intellect, theory or acquired professional qualifications. In fact a lot of what we have learned must be unlearned to be useful. Summarised latest study on how inventiveness and innovation takes place. A model of creative learning in VET has three interconnected circles with resistance, immersion and experiments and ‘fooling around’. Therefore need to build expertise within a field and VET plays an important role in providing the skills base for creativity. 

Five streams in concurrent sessions running on themes of practitioner, employability and foundation skills, skills, International and rural and remote.

 Begin with Emma McLaughlin’s (Wellington Institute of Technology) presentation on ‘working around the words’ tutor strategies and the tutor voice in vocational education. This is an output from the Ako Aotearoa funded national project ‘the language of the trades’ which used linguistic Research methodology to explore the complexities of learning the skills, social mores and practice in the trades. Summarised purpose, findings and recommendations from the project. Purpose was to describe the language, texts and visual features in carpentry, Automotive , fabrication and electrical. Trade vocabulary was as challenging as academic. Embedding language is through tutor talk, diagrams were used extensively and learning was through doing. Interviews with tutors and learners in carpentry used in the presentation. Tutors use the language, use different synonyms, deliberately use the terms, elicited correct terms and learning was embedded in the work of building a house. Shared underpinning literature on situated learning and the complexities of trades language. In practice, tutors used strategies to assist including, modelling, eliciting, reinforcing, clarifying etc. recommended using a strengthens based approach - doing well, share and try. Introduced resources on Ako website, working around words and building a working vocabulary. Shared the model and the resources - teaching strategies, videos, glossaries, posters etc. 

Then with Louise King from Charles Darwin University, on factors influencing international teachers enactment of Australian VET curricula. Presented on a subset of her PhD study. What are the contextual factors that influence teachers enactment of the Australian curriculum. Used phenomenological approach and  3 in-depth interviews with 13 teachers. Experienced teachers in Australia but not as long overseas. Reported on themes around information (generally insufficient), resources (often insufficient to maintain curricula fidelity), materials (teaching materials not always available), institutional arrangements (generally inadequate) and student readiness (goals and interest, language proficiency, prior knowledge and abilities and learning styles and preferences). Dissonance experienced and no preparation provided to support them through the challenges posed.