Thursday, March 29, 2007

Keynote presentation at Industry Training Federation forum

Yesterday, I presented a keynote on the Impact of technology on future skill needs: Mobile phones and workplace assessment by the Industry Training Federation (ITF).
I have presented at most of the ITF’s vocational education research forums and it is a good yearly catch up with the NZ industry training area.

The ITF is a collaborative organisation that all the Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) in NZ belong to and support. It is staffed by a small number of staff who have the brief to bring the ITOs together in a synergistic way. The ITF has completed several research projects on industry training in NZ and represents the ITOs as a collective body to lobby the NZ government for ongoing support of industry based training.

This year, there was a range of interesting papers on encouraging young people into trades based careers, workplace literacy & numeracy issues, building capacity in industry training research, forecasting skill demand and labour market information and skills development. On the research front, the ITF have connections to the National Centre of Vocational Research (NCVER) in Australia.

My keynote was the first presentation & because my project was a mashup of mLearning, ePortfolios and Web 2.0, I spent some time introducing the audience to these concepts before presenting the findings of the various trials undertaken thus far with my mLearning project. The audience was very receptive to the use of mlearning in workplace learning. There were many questions from the floor at the end of my presentation & many people caught up with me between sessions to ask more questions & to learn more about the CPIT project.

The knowledge level in the audience on technology was mixed, with some having a good handle but the majority only using technology via email and PC based applications. There was a smattering of knowledge about web 2.0 but many were not users of or contributors to Web 2.0 applications. For instance, many people recognised the name wikipedia, but did not know how it was put in place & that they could also contribute to wikipedia or set up their own wikis.

There really seems to be a niche for good ‘technology stewards’ to help bring relevant technology into areas like industry training. Many industries are users of technology in a workplace setting but not for staff training. There are also many industries where mlearning and even just msupport would be a good way to connect with and engage workplace learners. It’s an area I will bring up with the ITF in the near future.

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