Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NZ VET forum - day 2

Day 2 opens with a keynote from Dr. Neil Haigh from AUT on 'collaboration and project team: understanding and creating success'. Brought up the issue of room layout as one of the factors impinging on how teams collaborate. Firstly, need to begin collaboration from the beginning, all parties working on proposal and understanding objectives (institutional, researcher, individual project focus etc.) from the outset. Relationships require building well before beginning so perspectives from each other are understood. Structured plan for the actual collaborative process need to be drawn up. Collaboration implies 'working together to create and achieve the same thing'. But what are differences between collaboration vs coordination and cooperation?? Perhaps collaboration implies deeper interactions which are durable and mutually advantageous. Resources to support the process provided.

After morning tea, short concurrent sessions begin. First up, Dr. Liz Gordon, Sandra Grey, Charles Sedgwick and Katarina Edmonds from Pukeko Research with 'is the youth guarantee fees-free scheme and effective pathway for former NEETS'. Reports on a recent large TEC funded project involving students in 30 training organisations to see is policy implementation has succeeded in moving youth not in employment, education or training (NEETs) into more productive situations. Examined the factors contributing to achievement in the fees free YG programmes. A real need to have interventions as unemployment 15-19 now up to 25% with some the children of youth unemployed in the mid 1990's! Principles in NZ are social not economic with regards to instituting free-fees at lower level courses. Level 2 NCEA seen as minimum requirement for work. Issues are to do with keeping NEETs engaged and viability of courses. Profile of YG students and courses presented. Some TEOs have to resort to 'cherry picking' by keeping on students who are able to achieve due to say funding is utilised. Burden on tutors with heavy pastoral care.  

Second concurrent session with Jenny, Connnor from Service IQ, Dr. Nicky Murray from Career Force, Fiona Beardslee from Primary ITO and Matthew Vandy from Competenz presented on 'learning to learn for work: industry based foundation education'. Provided overview of how 4 ITOs have gone about supporting workplace based foundation learning at levels 1 and 2. These 4 ITOS have 85% of learners in foundation workplace based training. Each one has different learner profile. A model for foundation education in the workplace contrasted to the more school / post-school TEO delivered examples explained. Paper available on request.

The third session for the morning is with Malcolm Hardy from BoPP on 'from industry to institute: teacher in transition'. Shared his autobiography of working on site one day and then teaching at the polytechnic the next. Experiences of not enjoying school and how these meant he engaged students with project-based learning. Presented project on finding how to better help trades people become tutors. 20 tutors completing questions and interviews. Asked the questions - what was the biggest changes you had to make as a tradesperson as you transition into teaching? What support needed to make changes? what is the advice you would give to someone coming from industry to teaching? Advice to polytechnic? What keeps you going? In all, adjustment from trades to teaching needs time, support and provision of 'teaching tools', opportunities to observe other teachers. In particular, moving from teaching a few to a whole class and class management, working with your head/hands/emotions/heart not just hands as at trades work, dealing with educational jargon / organisational systems, how too motivate students, different ways of working, digital literacy requirements, learnt mainly from other staff, one on one mentor who cares - could be newbie as well. Align trade based tutors training to apprenticeship model.

After lunch longer concurrent sessions of 45 minutes. As I was presenting in the second session, I attended Angus Robertson's (Unitec) session with Sylila Monnteiro on 'assessment of prior learning: the recognition and endorsement of experiential learning'. Need for APL in carpentry due to licencing component to be a builder. APL finds a balance between the body of knowledge vs mastery of process and academic rigour vs capabilities of an occupation. A new type of structure required compared to normal institutional systems. APL evidence normally through journals and portfolios but a barrier for tradies with experience but poor literacy. Process to examine CV, interview, challenge test, design assessment to identify gaps in knowledge, observe, record evidence, seek validation from credible people, examine evidence collected by quality assessors and lastly examine student's compilation of evidence. Main challenge for assessor to ensure rigority and consistency. Recommendations to monitor assessors and moderate work, create guidelines for assessors, ensure students so have appropriate experience, when teaching, make evidence require overt. Current process has practical assessment (APL, portfolio etc.) and theory (fully online with 'branched'quizzes including revision content where required). Uses Google drive supported by Teacher Blackboard (NZ developed teaching platform).Assignments revolve around students completing powerpoint slides. Discussed advantages and disadvantages of the shift to blended / online platform. Presented future plans to improve.

Then my session on 'learning a trade' to share the literature, findings, recommendations and resources (poster and video) with participants. Feedback on the draft resources gathered to inform final version.

Last plenary / panel session on effective mentoring and peer support. With Anne Alkema on 'peer support for trainees in the health and community sector: building a sustainable learning model';
Sandra Johnson from Downer NZ on 'mentoring model for ITOs and employers'; and Dr. Lesley Petersen and Mike Styles and Marianne Farrell from the Primary ITO on 'evaluating a voluntary mentoring programme for trainees in the primary ITO. Each presented their experience / project and questions followed.

All in a varied programme with emphasis on support /pastoral care structures for learners in a range of learning contexts. Not as many people this year, an outcome of the continual restructures in the ITO sector, now mostly complete. As outcomes of TRoQ are worked through with new programmes of study, the VET sector is now perhaps now looking forward to a more settled few years, working through various challenges of assisting vocational learners.

Monday, October 20, 2014

NZ Vocational Education and Training Research Forum - Day 1

At the annual NZ Vocational Education and Training Research forum today and tomorrow. The forum is a held a little later this year then previous years. Good to catch up with various industry training organisation representatives.

The conference begins with a mihi and welcome from ITF CE Mark Oldenshaw. The first conference keynote is with Rosalie Staggard from Innovation and Business Skills in Australia. She presents on the topic 'identifying key capabilities for VET practitioners'. Framework for VET practitioners capability development developed 2013. Capability framework to support the efficient and strategic management of the workforce ensuring all human resource functions and activities are aligned and focused on what is important to organisational success. Provided rationale for developing a capability framework and the process of producing a national Australian VET practitioners framework. Framework has 3 levels, 4 domains and 6 skill areas. Framework is supported by a 'tools' resource. Levels related to educator skills and experience - level 1 are beginners (level 4 cert), level 2 (diploma level) more experienced and level 3 in leadership type roles. Current qualifications mapped to framework to find out if qualifications meet needs and if any gaps. For each domain and skill area, the levels are detailed. Note levels are not equated with experience but capability. Domains are teaching, assessment, industry and community collaboration and systems and compliance. Capabilities are identified for each domain. Eg. for teaching domain, learning theories, design etc.

After morning tea, the short 20 minute concurrent sessions begin. first up with Dr. Linda Bonne, from NZCER on 'the textbook is just the textbook: How builders, GP doctors and engineers are integrating theory and practice. Reports on the 'knowing practice' research team with Karen Vaughan, Jan Eyre & Sally Robertson. Broader approach taken in the project to widen the traditional association of practice -based learning with apprenticeships. Used model by Evans, Guile,, Harris & Allan (2010) putting knowledge to work: A new approach. Nurse Education Today 30(3), 245-251. Interviews with building apprentices, training advisors, trainers, BCITO reps.; GP teachers, registrars, medical educators; and Engineering cadets, mentors, team leaders, managers and IPENZ reps. Compared the contexts to distil commonalities and differences. Trying to understand how skills learning is mediated across the contexts with different approaches to training. Shared some of the evidence gathered by apprentices, GPs and engineers, recording their work learning. Used critical incident narratives - tell us how you integrate theory and practice learning? to engage and assist participants to explain their experiences. Themes were being able to see something bigger, taking on responsibilities and solving complex problems. Learning from experience is not automatic and requires learners to 'structure' and deliberately practice.

Second session with Terry Weblemoe form AUT University with 'teaching therapeutic skills online'.  Presented rationale for teaching the subject. A collaborative project between AUT and Youthline. Both have different perspectives and to provide learning on-line to a largely 'relational' and dispositional skill set challenging. Also move from didactic to interactive learning and collaboration.
Then Chantal Pillay, from Le Cordon Bleu School with 'students' reflections on work-integrated learning in the culinary arts'. Provided background of formation of Le Cordon Bleu and it's programme - Bachelor of Culinary Arts and Business - not to train chefs but graduates with strong culinary background focused on business management. Currently programme is into second year. Study focused on students expectations and perceptions of WIL and the effectiveness of WIL. Qualitative case study pre and post with semi-structured survey, student reflective reports and participant observations, analysed thematically using nVivo. Only 3 students between 18 - 28. Findings supported efficacy of WIL for students, revealed WIL challenges.

Final concurrent session this morning, Denis Keys from Bay of Plenty Poly. on 'choice but challenging: how carpentry students and tutors have responded to an ePortfolios project'. Presented using clips from their Ako Aotearoa project - reported in the form of a video - to report on the work undertaken using project-based focus. Provided background and rationale for the approach. The details on how assessments were developed to support the project-based focus. Provided example of a student's eportfolio.

After lunch, Dr. Nicky Murray and Joel Rewa-Morgan present on 'Connecting research and action: Pacifika voices at the heart of the matter'. Provided background of Careerforce and reasons for undertaken the study. Research undertaken with input from participants, a listening exercise. An 'ideal state' presented to participants and stakeholders after distilling the contributions into 'themes' and learning from literature. Ideal stated includes respectful relationships, pastoral support, cultural acknowledgement, community and family and celebrating success. review of where Careerforce is with 'present state'. Action then to 'bridge the divide' between ideal and present states. Be goal focussed, achieve easy wins, undertake change management and plan, monitor and evaluate.

Next up, 'achieving success in the Pasifika trades initiative at Weltec' with Tavita Filemoni , Dr, Lisa Wong and Dr. John Horrocks. Evaluative approach taken to find out what works and what does not. 27 interviews with students, Pasifika community, support and teaching staff plus results from ALNTs and programme results. One success factor was to find out what students aspired to becoming and then how to assist them to eventually become (citing findings from first year apprentices project on belonging and becoming). Contributions from the community also important to assist individual students who required support. Insitutional support around celebrating Pacific events and providing visibility to Pasifika through linking with other students, staff and a 'feel at home' environment. Weltec now has Pacific strategy and planning further expansion of the Pasifika centre. Whole institution support undertaken to raise Pasifika engagement, work readiness (assist students to obtain drivers licence), increase literacy and numeracy and help broker work at the end of programme.

Third round of concurrent sessions. I catch up with Dr. James McKay and Emma McLaughlin's work on the language of the trades project, an Ako Aotearoa National project. Reporting on progress to date, 6 months into a 3 year project. Presented rationale and some indication of initial data collected. Edwards, Minty & Miller, 2013) say vocational learning vocabulary as complex and not very much actually known. Interviews with students, tutors and industry. So far 23 trades tutors, class observations in automotive, carpentry, electrical and plumbing. Recordings of classroom conversations. Analysis of electrotech text - reveals 62% 1000 word list, 22% technical, 8% academic and 8% in 2000 list. Learners need to understand and use the words of their trade .Vocabulary, visual / oral communication and behaving all inter-connnected. Gee 1990 - ways of communicating, thinking, believing, valuing and behaving that identity you as part of a specific social group. Literacies related to written (job cards, builders' diary), visual /spatial (plans, representations of abstract concepts - electrical diagrams). Common problems for students with diagrams include interpretation of the elements, transferring ideas from 2 to 3 dimensions and relating circuit diagrams to actual. Shared future work.

Then, 'building foundation learners' literacy and numeracy: the role of formative assessment feedback with Dr. Linda Bonne from NZCER. Concentrated on how ALNET being used. Important to drill deeper into how the educator-learner ' feedback conversations are deployed. Socio-cultural view of learning used with learners as active participants in learning. Need to privilege the learner voice which is rarely represented in the literature. Online survey of youth guarantee learners and tutors with six providers. Trying to trace if effective learning conversations are being undertaken. interim results shared.

Afternoon session after tea are plenary sessions on culturally responsive practice with a series of three short presentations. First up, Tania Mullane and Kihi Tawhai from Waiariki on 'harnessing the potential of innovative curriculum, teaching and learning practice in foundation learning'. Evolution and revolution of programme design to meet needs of foundation learners. Selected a series of practical and theory units and embedded relevant literacy and numeracy standards, Situated learning in the marae. 16 weeks foundation followed by vocational skills for rest of the year through vocational pathways.Good outcomes achieved with new programme.

Secondly, Anne Greenhalg from Workforce Development Ltd. follows with the topic - 'Paunga te matapae oranga : Puanga, the instigation of vitality!'  presents on work taking place within the corrections department. Presented the realities of the context and challenges. Presented the support structures required to support educators

Last session today 'Lead-engage-innov8: Finding k(new) momentum for rangatahi in industry training' with Glenda Taihuna from Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

A networking session closes a busy day. At the session, launch of new ITF work on workplace learning anchors the session.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mimetic learning at work: book summary

Professor Stephen Billett’s latest book, summarises some of the work undertaken through his Australian Research Council Future Fellowship on practice-based learning. This book – Mimetic learning atwork: Learning in the circumstances of practice (2014) and published by Springer - provides a timely contemporary discussion on the main method humans use to learn practices i.e. observation, imitation and practice – aka mimetic learning.

The book is a concise 100 plus pages divided into 5 chapters. Each chapter has references and is written to be ‘stand alone’. There is a short index and preface providing background to the work.

Chapter 1 – ‘mimetic learning at work’ provides definitions for mimesis and mimetic learning to anchor the book’s argument. Mimesis is taken to be “the active process of engaging (e.g. observing), imitating and rehearsing required performances, which constitutes microgenetic development – the processes of moment-by-moment learning” (p 6). Mimetic learning is defined as “the inter- and intra—psychological processes that constitute order and contribute to mimesis” (p 6). Inter- psychological processes are socio-cultural contributions to learning (from peers, other workers, experts, teachers etc. etc.) and intra-psychological indicates processes used by individuals to learn. The conceptual premises for the book are also presented: these are
·        Learning and development as separate
·        Co-ocurrences of work and learning
·        Co-ocurrence of learning and remaking culture
·        Individuals as social
·        Social genesis of occupational knowledge
·        Limits of educational discourse and science

The first chapter also provides brief one paragraph summaries of each of the other chapters.
Chapter 2 summarises ‘learning through practice across human history’ utilising examples from Mesopotamian, Ancient Greek and Chinese historical sources. In sum, the chapter presents the long history of mimetic learning through human endeavour as compared to the very short history of ‘schooled’ learning. In particular, occupational competencies have primarily been learnt ‘by doing’ and in authentic work environments, not through schooling.

Chapter 3 provides the foundation for understanding why mimetic learning can be used to explain much of what takes place in work and lifelong learning. The rationale for recognition of mimetic learning as the main way humans have learnt and the need to understand how mimetic learning occurs across specialised occupations are discussed in this chapter.

Chapter 4 discusses ‘supporting mimetic learning: practice curriculum, pedagogies and epistemologies’. Here recommendations from the studies undertaken through the previous 3 chapters are used to extend Billett’s conceptualisations of the practice curriculum practice pedagogies and practice epistemologies. Practice curriculum explains the conduct, context and objectives of occupations, are laid out to meet the ways of doing of practice communities. Examples of various approaches taken by individual workplaces practicing the same occupation used to support the argument i.e hairdressing apprentices ‘curriculum’ in various types of salons. Practice pedagogies deployed to learn work practices defer from ‘teaching’ approaches in formal learning environments due to the nature of work. Personal epistemologies are proposed to be individualistic as each person comes into an occupation with idiosyncratic personal history, makes meaning from their work experiences in different ways and implements their practice to fit into socio-historic work environment.

The final chapter discusses the implications arising from the recommendations and conceptualisations argued for and presented in chapter 4. The goals for mimetic learning are refined and presented. Implications for workplace practices and educational programmes are presented and discussed. The chapter closes with discussion on how mimetic learning could support learning for and through work.
The recommendations for support of practice curriculum, practice pedagogies and personal epistemologies are provided. For the practice curriculum, recommendations are included to assist with the design and deployment of the intended curriculum (identify from the outset, what is to be learnt through practice-based experiences; helping students to align their experiences with the intended learning outcomes; aligning the extend and duration of work experience with educational intentions i.e. academic literacies, where do they fit with work? And use institutional learning time to assist students with consolidating and reflecting on what was learnt at work). For the enacted curriculum there is a need to account for students’ readiness and prepare students for work with the need to provide some students with additional or specific experiences; maximise available opportunities for work placement (i.e. for the present, to use the Christchurch rebuilt as a learning resource); and to ‘think outside of the square’ as to what constitutes work placement.  For the experienced curriculum, assist student to bring their ‘interest’ into alignment with future work potentialities; support students before, during and after placements; and especially support students to deal with challenging aspects of their chosen profession.For the pedagogical practices, a range of support structures to support mimetic learning are proposed prior to, during and after practice-based / workplace experiences.

In all, the book represents a concise but thorough representation of Billett’s scholarship on mimetic learning's contribution to human development. There has been a need for this book for some time as higher education is being continually pushed to rationalise graduate outcomes. One strategy has been to increase work-integrated learning to increase graduates’ integration of theory and practice. In turn, to improve work readiness on graduation. Learning at work has also needed a firmer foundation to understand how learning occurs. Mimetic learning provides common ground to understanding how work place learning is enacted across a variety of work environments.

Friday, October 03, 2014

NTLT 2014 - day 3

Wet day with strong, cold southerlies accompanied by hail and sleet and potential for snow! Last day of a busy conference with good opportunity to network with educators and staff educators / educational developers. The morning begins with a keynote from Donna Bowman, SIT hairdressing tutor awarded last year's hairdressing ITO tutor of the year award. Donna shares her teaching with 'keeping it real'. Couched her presentation around her story from leaving school to teaching hairdressing. Authentic learning formed basis for her own learning the hairdressing trade and her teaching practice. How to share and pass own passion for craft and trade to learners requires helping learners to develop empathy for clients. How learning from literacy and numeracy contributed to new learning about teaching and learning. Shared strategies used to assist reluctant learners to learn crucial trade skills involving literacy and numeracy and life skills required to cope with challenging work environments.

After morning tea, one round of parallel sessions and I catch Dr. Peter Coolbear's (director of Ako Aotearoa) session updating on the work in progress in developing the NZ Adult and Tertiary teacher education qualifications as outcome of the NZQA MRoQ (mandatory review of qualifications) process. A dual professional model frames the development of these qualifications. Landscape of qualifications in draft and in process of discussions with NZQA on process for development of the actual qualifications. Base qualification is a level 5 qualification Certificate in Adult and Tertiary teaching and on to level 6 for specialist qualifications. The new landscape reduces 84 qualifications and reduced to 24. Discussed trade-offs, constraints and opportunities provided by the new proposal. Level 4 Certificates 40 credits for trainers and community educators. Level 5 60 credits minimum teaching qualification for ITP tutors. Level 6 120 credits for leaders in tertiary teaching. Specialisations at level 6 are 60 credits in quality assurance, learning design, educational technology, pasifika teaching and assessment or educators taking on leadership roles in these areas.

Keynote from Peter follows. Peter covers 'making effective use of student feedback on innovative practice to improve educational outcomes'. How does finding out learner's progress fits into the increasingly complex policy environment. We are now into 3rd age of education. 1st age where education was only for the elite and the aristocracy. 2nd age from 1950s onwards marks the massificaion of educaiton. Presently, 3rd age is a transactional era - governments are unable to fund demand for higher / tertiary ed. and now requires evidence of 'outcomes' to substantiate public spending. Presented Ako Aotearoa work on evidence garnered so far and influences, impact and future prospects. Selection of measure is important - see publication - gathering evidence of learner benefit - and need to convert data to applicable intervention or relevant to substantiate submissions, reporting and proposals. Provided examples (good and not so good). Examples included using critical incident methodologies to find out factors enhancing success for Maori learners in the health sciences; excellence in tertiary teaching award examples; dedicated educational units nursing; good practice grants by Michael Mintrom and Caro McCaw.  Discussed challenges of process. Recommends 'unlocking the impact of tertiary teachers' perceptions of student evaluations of teaching' .

Conference closes just after noon. I join a few other tutors on a bus trip to Bluff before catching the plane home in the early evening.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

NTLT conference - day 2

Day two dawns much cooler than yesterday, with light rain. A breakfast meeting with other staff development teams begins a busy day.

The MC today is Mike Grumball, head of trades at SIT. First keynote of the day is with Dr. Ganesh Nana, chief economist at the business and economic reseach ltd. (BERL). Ganesh presents on the topic 'tertiary education, value and the 21st century economy'. Provided an overview of where the present world economies are -using examples from rising values in stock markets around the world but unemployment high in many countries (esp. in Europe) and disparities between the well off and the less so (i.e. inequality increasing). Challenges in the new world include climate change, access to energy / raw materials, water, food and skilled labour. Reviewed economics with respect to how 'value' may be defined. Economics is wide ranging including social / political sphere. Economics is about how we choose to use resources (wealth) to generate more valus - produce/deliver things we want, need desire, look after, maintain, or replenish resources and improve and or expand resources (i.e. a sustainable view). Value is difficult to define in dollars and cents but policy advisers require a measurement of value. Measures beyond GDP include UN human development (old) and OECD better life initiative and OECD well-being framework. In NZ, Treasury has recently developed the treasury living standards framework which includes - economic growth, sustainability for the future, increasing equity, social infrastructure and reducing risks (to generate through increases in financial/physical, natural, social and human capital). Education contribute to all aspects of the treasury living standards framework. NZ spending on education (also tertiary) slightly below OECD average. At present, inputs (maximum no. of students) and outputs (maximise no. of graduates) measured and now working on 'outcomes' - still difficult to measure and skewered to economic outcomes (employment, higher income, better access to skilled employees). Current funding incentives are on course completion, qualification completion, student retention and student progression (still outputs). However Tertiary strategies include delivering skills for industry, getting at risk young people into career, boost maori / pacifica completions etc. moving towards 'outcomes' but difficult to measure. Recommends gather data on post-graduate outcomes (beyond just the economic) and explore indicators of broader outcomes.

After morning tea, I attend session with Christine Dunn on 'embracing technologies to enhance nursing engagement and learning in summative assessment'. Christine had trialled ipads with communications courses as per CPIT use of video to support learning of therapeutic communications. Assessment of application of effective communication to therapeutic relationships. Students are provided with a scenario, sign into a youtube account, then participate in a 5-6 minute simulated interview with a'client'. Interview is videotaped and uploaded to youtube. Leaners review their interview, reflected on their performance and develop an improvement plan. Learning from project used to improve next iteration.

Next presentation is with Ruby Day from Wintec on 'pursuing authenticity in designing learning spaces to engage foundation students. Went through the principles underpinning re-design to make the learning more student centred, build life long learning skills and create a positive class culture. Provided background on course / student profiles etc. Applied project based learning with process of developing principles, change management focus, selection of modules to integrate, work with teaching team. Goal was to establish motivation and retain engagement. Projects included setting up students' personal profile, personal learning plan and a community (group) and an individual vocationally focused project. Projects were diverse with regards to topics, focusses and levels.

Then, I facilitate workshop on 'implementing active learning with tablets' as a follow up to yesterday's keynote. Mainly to establish if participant's projects were learner-focused and to work on how implementation may progress. The need to plan the course / programme with objectives, learning activities, opportunity to receive feedback / reflect and work on next learning objective.

After lunch, there is keynote with Professor Angus McFarlane from University of Canterbury on 'Mai I te ao tawhito ki te ao hou: cultural touchstones for higher education in today's world'. Presentation centred around the importance of touchstones with regards to democracy and diveity with the tertiary education. Consider continuums of 'cultural consciousness', the main dangers of 'Eurocentric hegemony' and present an argument to favour culturally connected discourses in research and teaching. Presented a set of 5 influences for culturally inclusive pedagogy and propose a process that has potential to build on existing scientific and cultural imperatives for a place in the new world. Challenged us to think about how we are being culturally competent. To prepare students to become culturally conscious, with educational direction coming from the traditional Eurocentric and Te Ao Maori. Need to have equity not just equality.

Workshops in 4 streams and I attend the presentation with Stephen Atkins, Chris Fraser and Lyn Blair with 'problem based learning at Otago Polytechnic: developing a research programme'. First year Business degree students enrol in the problem-based learning programme and complete the equivalent of 8 papers. Details of the structure and philosophies of the programme presented. Then workshop to move through 4 'stations' to experience problem-based learning. Wrap up of the session closes the session. PBL programme has 5 projects - business tool kit, business practices, giving back, environmental issues and business venture plus 'gap fill' finals. 50% individual and 50% group assessment reported as individual 8 paper results. PBL students have less lecture time but more time to work on projects. Project individual and group assessments mapped to all the learning outcomes from the 8 courses.

Afternoon keynote is with Manu Fasea-Semeatu who is national facilitor for CORE education presents on 'Le lalolagi fou:E tumau le fa'avae, ae fesuia'i faiga - understanding the diverse-cities of Pasifika'. An engaging presentation to introduce the work by CORE Pacifica team to support Pacifica education, learners and Pacifica educators PD for technology enhanced learning. Objective to implement Pacifica vision - all Pacifica learners participating, engaging and achieving in education, secure their identities and cultures. Need to remember, Pacifica has multiple cultures, some commonalities but each has specific wealth of culture. Shared strategies used as a teacher to engage Pacifica learners, challenging them to  succeed, achieve excellence and become leaders. Moved into theories / hypothesis towards conception of 'diverse-city' - iversity in Pacifica peoples' belonging and involvement with their Pacifica roots. Presented CORE education themes - personalised learning, new views of equity, diversity and inclusion, using curriculum knowledge, rethink the role of learners and teachers (ako), culture of continuous learning and new kinds of partnerships and relationships. Recommended to list 5 actions to take to become Pacifica responsive, identify what you need to do the achieve the actions and set an timeline. Big CORE ideas are diversity, connectedness (check CORE connected educator month october 2014). Reach before you teach :)

Conference dinner at Cabbage Tree restaurant closes a long but interesting day.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

National Tertiary Learning and Teaching Conference - 2014 day 1

At the annual National Tertiary Learning and Teaching Conference, at Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), Invercargill for the next 3 days. Looking forward to catching up with many NZ staff developers and gathering new ideas to share with CPIT colleagues.
Day one begins with traditional Maori Mihi whakatau, welcomes from conference MC, Sally Dobbs - Academic and Relationship leader (SIT) and SIT CE - Penny Simmonds, Invercargill mayor, Tim Shadbolt. First keynote from Dr. Kerry Reid-Searl - Professor of Nursing from Central Queensland University, with an extension on her keynote from last year. This year, 'Anywhere, anytime: a simulation teaching strategy preparing learners for real world practice beyond the classroom walls'. Challenged teachers to try different and innovative ways to engage students with learning. Introduced the classroom in a small suitcase - based on -simulation - to have a realistic programmes with fidelity and believable. Did a role-play similar to one last year with an elderly patient. Extended on simulation with pedagogical framework - how relationship to 'person' and hearing his journey helps students learn respect and see things from a different perspective. Many dispositional skills including need to learning how to listen and empathise. Mask Ed simulations introduces 9 characters who carry through the 3 years of the nursing programme. Learners build up relationships with the characters, learning by stealth (the hidden educator).

After lunch, attend Aidan Bigham, Trudy Harris and Jackie Messam on 'course design for student centred learning,'. Changed brought about by move into new facilities. Modified OTARA to OSCAR - objectives, success criteria, context, resources. Learning spaces fully flexible with a central 'street' to use whole space or divide into smaller spaces. Team teaching with project based / student based learning. Need to prepare for teaching in a different format, not just concentrate on content. Learning activities are more important to work through than content. Learning around a one semester project to solve engineering problem. Problems based on real-world scenarios or a design brief to be completed by a 'client'.

Then afternoon tea, followed by my keynote on CPIT's experiences with technology enhanced learning (TEL) post-earthquakes with emphasis on our 'project surface tablet' titled - 'flexible and mobile delivery @ CPIT post-2012: Shaken, stirred and poured'. Presentation stressed need to plan, identity learning objective, select pedagogical approach, prepare students and teachers and  evaluate and improve as project progresses.

After keynote, a series of 3 sessions. Firstly, Terry Kapua from Waiariki (Rotorua) with 'mobile device education: tino rangitiratanga for learners'. Introduced an iPhone app to learn Maori allowing for pronunciation to be checked. Correct pronunciation provided. Learner records their version and sent best one to learning management system to mark it. Trialing with 80 students and learning pitfalls and ways to help meet the challenges.

Next, John Hitchcock and Gerry Duignan from Weltec on 'growing 21st century tertiary teachers through a career pathway model'. Discussion groups identified professional development as beginning, intermediate ( 1 - 4 years) and 'experienced' (more than 5 years) teachers. Pattern of -how can I be a teacher, how can I understand learning and for more experiences, how can I understand learners and what can I do to help learners learn?? Discussion on what is 21st century learning. From discussion, introduced an academic staff career framework to try to capture and frame professional / capability development for polytechnic tutors.

Last up today, Cath Fraser and Ruth Petersen with 'getting connected: principles and theories that mean any time anywhere works for students'. Introduced the Goalpost resource produced as an Ako Aotearoa resource for tutors. A just in time resource for new tutors to get them up and running and a follow-up from the Signpost resource  which was a first stop resource for people starting out as tutors in the NZ polytechnic, wananga and private sector. Two resources are supported by Teaching tips 1 and teaching tips 2 workshops to provide interactive sessions.

Conference that headed to the SIT downtown campus for a'night market' set up by students to showcase their work.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Learning through readings on neuroscience and neuropsychology

As prefaced in a blog last year, I would be devoting most of this year to working towards a better understanding of how recent studies in neuroscience and neuropsychology may contribute to my work on studying trades-based learning.

I must say the readings have been slightly disorganised as I meandered from one topic area to another. My self-directed route through the discursive field of philosophy and empirical studies of neuroscience show how there is still much to learn about the brain, mind and soul. Each field pushes a ‘preferred’ way of looking at the world and there are only a few researchers who seem to push through the boundaries. Examples include the Churchland’s neurophilosophy.  The siloing of discipline areas is starting to dissolve as articles on sites like brain.org example. So we are still at the very early stages of understanding how the brain works and working out how what happens in the brain, contributes to what makes us who we are.

Books like Owen Flanagan’s "The problem of the soul"’ , Ramachandran's "Tell-tale brain", Precht's "Who am I and if so, how many" and Humphrey's "Soul dust", go some way to explaining to a lay audience, the contributions of science and the historical Western tradition of theology and humanism towards our present understanding of "how I am and who I am". 

So what have I gleaned from just over a year’s worth of reading?

·       - The brain is incredible, it is the foundation of who we are and provides the mechanisms to learn how to become who we are. Hence, guard it well. I now have a new swish-bang cycle helmet to replace my almost a decade old one, in a bid to ensure the brain box is accorded the protection it deserves.

·        - We still do not really know much about how the mechanics of the brain works. One needs to be careful about the hype around fMRI and similar towards explaining how we think.

·       - Some of what the brain does is innate or hardwired but much of what eventually ends up as ‘me’ has to be learnt. The brain’s biological construction is accomplished both through genetic evolutionary legacies  (nature) and through contributions from our social environment (nurture) (the birth of the mind)- Hence, there is great plasticity in the brain (see guitar zero).

·        Which leads to – we need to want to learn otherwise, things become challenging (Hatties science of how welearn). So intrinsic motivation always beats extrinsic.

·        - There are limitations to the brain (kluge) we need to be aware of and work through. Things like memory, decision making (see neuroeconomics), our propensity for addiction to substances offering pleasure etc. all need to be borne in mind.

·        - We learn better when we can relate new learning to pass experiences and things we already know (Hattie - visible learning for teachers)

·        - We ‘chunk’ concepts and remember things multi modally. The sounds, smells and visuals are retrieved when we bring up memories. The brain does not ‘record’ experiences like a video recorder but brings experiences in a multisensory / multi modal way into our existing neural networks. therefore, each person’s memory / perspectives of an occurrence are idiosyncratic.

·        - Narratives, analogies, metaphors are ways we use to make sense of unfamiliar ideas and incorporate into our repertoire.  However, this method of making sense of our world means narratives, analogies and metaphors are personalised to our ontological leanings. 

·        - The brain does not come with a ‘how to best use’ manual. Individually we need to work things out. So acquiring metacognition (Hattie - visible learning for teachers) is an one important approach to improving learning.

·        - Learning is hard work, takes time, dedication and resilience (expertise, deliberate practice); there is no quick fix.

·        - When we manage to learn something new, we find it motivates us to learn more. Learning is maybe something our brain craves (books on evolutionary psychology)

·        - Our brains have a propensity to learn from others. We are a social animal (Sterelny - evolved apprentice, Vygotsky). What we are and who we are is lodged in the grey stuff and white matter in our skull, there has not been any empirical evidence to date that there is a soul – the brain is the mind is the soul (Churchland, Flanagan).

·        - When we die, that’s it L, which seriously challenges my Christian belief system.
·        However, knowing that ourselves (or soul) cease to exist when our physical part dies means we need to contribute NOW. So carpe diem!!

·       - Humans are the only animal on earth that can think through a way to remedy the mess our species have made of the only known planet inhabited by sentient beings – see pale blue dot to be reminded about how insignificant we are in the really BIG picture.

·       -  Some other animals may also be sentient so beware of what you eat.

So, a few epiphanies plus confirmation of lots already known and applied. New learning and skills attained from wading through some interesting (and some not so interesting) books and articles including familiarity with the work of some of the leading researchers in neuroscience, neuropsychology and neurophilosophy.

Where to next? Well, next year will be focused on how to apply some of the above to vocational learning and a catch up on readings pertinent to the topic. I need to touch base again with some of the seminal works on apprenticeship learning and workplace learning to sieve through what is still pertinent and what is now already dated, in light of the learnings from this year's readings. So the journey continues.