Monday, July 26, 2010

Ipad - ebooks and elit

The ipad launched in NZ last Friday. Although I have had the ipad for a couple of weeks, I have not had much time to really play with it. So far, I have been able to evaluate the ipod touch apps I want to keep and update any ipod touch apps which have ipad versions. Of note is Stanza which is my present ebook reader platform. The added capability which I love is being able to add files off my computer easily and transfer these on to the ipad. Stanza allows various ebooks I have purchased over the years which are .epub files to be read along with .pdf files. So I am now able to more easily access my rather large collection of study / research articles on the ipad. I have always been a fan of reading with a digital device and the ipad’s display really enhances the experience. As recommended on the Stanza FAQ, calibre can be used to convert various file formats into .epub or .pdf. which is user friendly and not only converts the books but also had a nifty ebook reader as well.

However, reading print books on an ipad is rather old hat although more ebooks are now sole through Amazon than hard cover books. So the next thing to work on is to evaluate the collection of elit and also here. This article features the multimodalities possible by bringing digital technologies into books. All require multimedia players and the ones which run on shockwave or flash will not run on an ipad (sigh). However, many of the examples are reminiscent of music videos, with audio of poems running with visual presentations, often with fast moving or scrolling images or using animations. Some have interactive sections or use text graphics to tell the story. Many are art forms rather than actual narratives but all tell a story of sorts. Here is an example which runs on a Mac. A guide to writing elit provides for some interesting approaches and ideas.

So it will be worthwhile looking into the future of textbooks and also children's literature which has been the natural home for interactive books for a while, exampled by one Kiwi company's approach to putting Kiwi classics on the ipad.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ako Aotearoa tertiary research in progress colloquium - day 2 afternoon

After lunch, the Carl Weiman(University of British Columbia) model of science education was then presented by Dr. Ben Kennedy from University of Canterbury. Carl Weiman measured science learning and attitudes and focused on science education reform. Project involves 6 classes, year 1 - year 3 from two universities. Four phases to the project. First phase of observation and measurement of lectures /teaching styles plus measure student engagement by attention through observation, just begun. Learning goals, concept tests etc to be developed followed by implementation and eventual evaluation to see if interventions are effective. Canadian Resources to refine and align goals & assessments (pre/post diagnostic) to allow for local limitations need to be undertaken.

Tatou tatou: success for all - improving Maori students success in health professional degree level programmes was presented by Dr. Elana Curtis with Dr. Mark Barrow & Dr. Arini from University of Auckland. This project builds on from 18 month qualitative study funded by TLRI on factors which assisted Maori students learning in university settings. Critical incident technique is used to study 40 students' narratives on how non-lecture based activities/settings help or hinder Maori student success. These include tutorials/seminars/workshops, labs, small group clinical teacihng, case studies/PBL, work based placement/internships. Critical incident (trigger, action, outcome) used - can you describe a time when teaching/learning practices helped (or hindered) your success in x? Emerging issues include the importance of MAPAS (Maori and Pacific Admission Scheme) support; MAPAs specific study space/resources; hints of experiences of stigma & racism hinders sucess; efficacy of 'Maori health week'; whakawhanuangatanga; Tuakana/teina - peer support.

Last session of the symposium on 'learning enviroments & student engagement with learning in tertiary settings from Dr. Nick Zepke & Dr. Linda Leach. A summary of a project studying student engagement with nine case studies undertaken at 2 universities, 4 ITPs, one Wananga, one PTE and one community organisation. Presentation also on why multiple case study chosen, key findings and major implications. Key findings include significant differences between institutions; engaging students is complex; teachers and teaching have important impact on student engagement; intrinsic motivation, particularly perceptions of competence, agency and relatedness, very important; and non-institutional influences only impact moderately. Key implications are the importance of teachers and teaching which requires development of teachers and reward good teaching. Teacher development should focus on developinb positive working relationships with learners; enhance student self belief; create challenging, enriching and extending educational experiences for students; and ensure institutional cultures are welcoming to students from diverse backgrounds.

Dr. Peter Coolbear then closed the symposium with a summary/wrap-up and reflection. The National Project fund - 2.1 million so far, needs to be a change fund. The correct type of research seem to be funded so how do we now build on what has be completed? Work is exciting, has a diverse portfolio, robust work (multiple methods, strong sampling, nature of evidence, Kaupapa Maori & Pacific frameworks) and with strong capability building elements. Emerging themes of colloquium include identity (learners, participants in a bicultural society, participants in a discipline, participants in a trade or profession - so identity as professional tertiary teachers? - perhaps accreditation ? Alison Holmes doing a lit review of professional teaching plus Ako Stocktake about to be launched); Building communites (ideas, practice, tertiary education researchers); meaninful, critical relationships; building coherent, accessible knowledge bases to inform practice; learner voice. Most important, how do we get research in front of decision makers?, dissemination is an important next step - peer reviewed publications are not enough, good practice guides / workshops etc. to try to influence at the organisation, system & policy level.

Overall the symposium was a great opportunity for me to connect with the NZ tertiary research landscape and to meet with other researchers, pondering similar challenges and working towards providing for research based information which will better learning opportunities for students/learners in NZ. I will be doing a report to the CED on the various projects, so that the team is informed about ongoing and completed work completed within the NZ context. Look forward to next year when many of the interesting projects will be reporting on their findings plus also what the next crop of projects will be working on.

Ako Aotearoa research in progress colloquium - day two morning

Day begins with Dr. Stephen Marshall from Victoria University presenting on 'elearning & higher education: Understanding & supporting organisational change in NZ'. Introduced the the elearning maturity model (eMM) which was used along with interviews and monitoring of institutional change to find out how technology impacts on the institution's activities. So introduced the concepts for quality enhancement which are knowing what to measure, knowing how to measure and knowing how to improve what has been measured as foundation to the project. Several findings shared comparing PTEs, ITPs, Universities and Wananga.

Second up, Kelby Smith-Han, an Ako Aotearoa Phd scholarship receipient, supervised by Dr. Chrysl Jaye at the University of Otago, presented on his investigation into the undergraduate medical students' discourses of general practice. Kelby went through background of the project, method used and some preliminary findings. Project came about due to increasingly small numbers of medical students moving into general practice. Medical students in their second and sixth/last year of medical school were interviewed to find out their perspectives on vocational choice in general practice as compared to surgery. Also supported with written documents (e.g. medical student magazines) and possible focus groups. Preliminary findings indicate lack of valuing of GP profession with both cohorts of students.

Then Haani Huata, from CPIT, presented the teacher/student view on Te Kawai Kumara - a pilot for the synchronous delivery of a common postgraduate programme in Te Reo Maori across multiple sites - AUT, Victoria University and CPIT. Paper written by Professor Tania Ka'ai from AUT. Haani began with a waiata/song. The programme is a taught Master of Arts using smart boards and video conferencing with 5 papers, Tikanga Rangahu (research), Tikanga (culture), Koreor Whaterei (Maori text), Tuhinga Totoko (creative writing/performance arts) & Te Whanaketanga o te Reo. The aim of the project is to build research capability and capacity of Maori scholars to advance their skills in teaching and learning through research in Maori language. Emerging issues were presented including institutional timelines, impact of weather on video conferencing, teachers/students using technology, breaking silos between teaching sites and limited number of staff available to mark thesis in Maori. Highlights include the nature of the programme which enables, financial benefits for students related to access and potential from understanding technology capabilities.

After morning tea, a presentation on 'maximising learning dialogue opportunities in professional field-based experiences, in the student teacher/counselling context, from Dr. Marion Sanders representing a team from the Bethlehem Tertiary Insititute and also working with NZ Tertiary College and Wintec. Workplace learning is enhanced if students & supervisors are encouraged to undertake learning talks which is intentionally cultivated. This study is an intervention study to find out how Four intentional strategies may enhance the interaction between students and supervisors. The strategies are partnership map (clear roles); belief inventory(shared beliefs); professional article (read article related and students asks questions based on article); and critical incident discussion. Four phases to be undertaken, with stage one, the pre-intervention phase just completed. Baseline data from students through questionnaire and repertory grid and from mentors through a questionnaire collected. Phase two is the interventions phase, followed by post intervention data collection & analysis and post intervention resource development.

Next up, Helen Hughes & Gordon Suddaby from Massey University presented on their project studying how to engage learners in 'the sciences' from the secondary to tertiary transition point of view. Lower levels of school students engaging with science subjects (sciences, technology, maths & engineering) at school led to this project. Key observations include student engagement being influenced by their teachers; there are different perceptions between students and university lecturers; content not so important as delivery; science students want to develop scientific methods skills; and student engagement is now lost during transition from school to university. Derived from questionnaires, interviews, focus groups with university students (1st year, college of science), lecturers, school students (year 12, taking more than 1 science subject) and teachers. Implications include institutional data already available but not used; science disciplines research-led not teaching focused; need to find better ways to manage and gather student expectations; communications need to be improved between schools and universities.

Dr Rhys Jones, representing a team from the University of Auckland, presented on assessing Hauora Maori (cultural competence) in medical students in clinical settings. Two phases, with the first phase involving collaborative work to develop two assessment tasks (modified case report and reflective commentary) completed end of 2009. Second phase, beginning this year, to pilot, implement and evaluate these as used in a clinical setting. Key findings indicate new assessments to be acceptable and students percieve they add value to their learning. Building capacity for clinical teachers to teach, learn and assess Hauroa Maori needs to be undertaken in order for sustainable continuance of this concept.

Ako Aotearoa Tertiary research in progress colloquium 2010 - day 1 afternoon

After lunch, I presented on the project 'belonging, becoming & being: first year apprentices' experiences of the workplace' supported by Charles Hayworth from the Boating ITO & Loretta Garrow from the Building & Construction ITO from 2 of the 7 ITOs participating. Good feedback from the audience with some questions contributing to enhancing the project.

Next up, 'Tertiary bridging tracks: holistic teaching & learning practices of Pacific PTEs' from Lindsay Huthnance and Tautalo Fiso from the NZ Institute of Sport. The project draws on existing literature to build on recommendations for using more holistic approaches of teaching and learning to engage Maori and Pasika people. Firstly to identity approaches which epitomise holistic approaches, then to evaluate how effective these are and to then recommend the approaches which work best. Project has just begun so an overview was presented.

Then Professor Mike Thomas & Barbara Kensington-Miller & Dr. Hannah Bartholomew of Auckland presented on a TLRI funded project -  'mathematics undergraduate teaching: perspectives & interactions' . The project studies lecturers and how they develop as teachers (Lecturer's component); interactions which assist with student learning in the lecturing environment lecturing interactions component); and approaches students take to engage with material presented during lectures (student perspective component). It uses Schoenfeld's Knowledge, Orientations & Goals (Schoenfeld's website), framework to analyse the decisions made by teachers. Mike provided an example of how to apply the KOG in discussions with lecturers on video of their lecture. Barbara provided method used to explore student perspectives and some interview transcripts, exploring students' identity and their relationships with maths. Also the ways in which lecturing can engage students, improve mathematical understanding and find out how questioning strategies may help student understanding of maths concepts.

Following was 'building kaupapa Maori in early childhood education' by Ngaroma Williams, Te Pari Puna Ora o Aotearoa & Mary-Liz Bradley from the Open Polytechnic. This project, which has just begun,  is to develop good practice models & frameworks for student & registered teacers / practitioners to learn and apply cultural competency within the NZ early childhood context. The project will be carried out using kuapapa Maori methodology for all aspects. Tikanga research team guidelines include, a call to find knowledge. In order to support this search, support required from all participants via mentorship and organisational support.

After afternoon tea, Professor John Bitchener from AUT & Dr. Martin East from the University of Auckland. Their presentation was on 'best practice in the types of feedback given to thesis students in NZ universities. There seems to be a gap in the literature on response/feedback on thesis drafts. Areas studied included strengths and weaknesses of students' writing; aims and priorities in providing feedback; nature/focus of the feedback and how feedback is provided; expectations and student experiences to feedback; feedback effectiveness; nature of supervisor training and recommendations to new supervisors. Similarities and differences within and across disciplines and between native and non-native writers also considered. An overview of findings, challenges of the project and recommendations for further research was presented.

Last presentation of the day from Mike Hay from Trade & Commerce Ltd. who presented on 'strength-based learner engagment'. Three PTEs involved with Tertiary Opportunities programmes (TOPs) in various areas including trades, computing, alternative ed., retail and automotive. Generally with students with no school qualifications and disengaged from school. Approach is a facilitated programme called 'My Voice' that builds on student abilities to help them discover, explore and understand their strengths. based on work undertaken in the Uk, USA and NZ on positive psychology. This project evaluates tools designed to faciliate strength-based education and involves student/tutor questionnaires and focus group discussions. Tutor provided with training on using the strengths based approach. Comparisons made between cohorts of students who had learning using strengths based approach & students not exposed to approach at all. In general cohort with embeded strengths based approach had more positive learning experiences.

Day closed with Justin Sampson promotion of Ako Aotearoa website and a short reflection fom Peter Coolbear on day 1 session before much anticipated time for drinks & nibbles and time to refresh over the evening for tomorrow's sessions.

A very full day!! Learnt just as much from the questions which came after each presentation, many of which added different perspectives to each project. A good range of projects with several projects exploring similar aspects of student learning including enhancing student engagement, feedback and need for continual teacher professional development albeit in different contexts and with different approaches/ lenses.

Ako Aotearoa Research in Progress Colloquium 2010 - day one morning

Was at the ako aotearoa research colloquium Thursday & Friday of last week. Pretty full on two days & this & the next three posts consolidate my notes from presentations on the various projects in tertiary education
 funded by both Ako Aotearoa and the Ministry of Education Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) Fund. The symposium provides an opportunity for researchers to share findings and work in progress plus to do the usual networking. I am especially interested in research methodology and approaches used by the many projects along with catching up with other researchers in the field.

The symposiusm was formally opened with a mihi whatatau from Ngahiwi Apanui, Kaihautu Maori for Ako Aotearoa and an introduction and warm welcome from Dr. Peter Coolbear, the director of Ako Aotearoa.

First up, Dorothy Spiller from University of Waikato and Stuart Terry from Otago Polytechnic present on 'Unlocking the impact of tertiary teachers' perceptions of student evaluations of teaching.' Project on 3 tertiary institutions - 2 universities and 1 ITP. Project seeks to find out if student evaluations influence teacher thinking and behaviour, does institutional use constrain teaching innovation, why teachers undertake evaluation and do teachers use student evaluation feedback to improve teaching, do they engage in dialogue with students about evaluation feedback and how can findings from the project be used to enhance the use of evaluations to improve teaching and learning. Progress to date includes literature review and collection of survey data. Lit review reveals gap between acceptance and use of evaluation to inform practice; could using multiple sources of evaluation help? teacher emotions and receiving student feedback important and are there relationships between teaching beliefs and using evaluations to inform teaching? PD/guidance required to support use of evaluations to inform teaching; institutional support & incentives help; perceptions of the ownership of the student evaluation process important. Online survey used with a 45% return rate from 2445 staff. Interviews to be conducted with 10 staff from each institution. Early data indicate new staff tend to use evaluations although established staff in two institutions use them too. Further data analysis to compare commonalities and differences between insitutions to be undertaken form next semester.
Then, 'Help or hindrance: A blended approach to learner engagement' from John Milne, Gordon Suddaby and Dr. Andrew Higgins from Auckland University of Technology presented by Dr. Lynne Jeffrey from Massey University. Based on Dewey's principles of learning through experience, engagement in activities of personal relevance and learning collaboratively and promise promoted by introducing and using technology to enhance learning. However despite heavy investment in technology infratructure within education, may students still tend to learn through informal, outside of school engagement with technology. Study of 8 2nd year business classes from 4 NZ tertiary institutions to find out what engagement strategies may work. These include interactive activities, matching student learning style influences with engagement strategies and collect student feedback on what works or does not. A toolkit is to be developed to help teachers select appropriate blended approaches. Toolkit includes, needs assessments (student, course, curriculum characteristics), development and delivery (design, engagement strategies, communication /inteactive activies, student support, diagnostic/formative activities and evaluation strategies) and evaluation and teacher reflection. Use of blended learning seen as one way to build student engagement with the institution and also the content of their study. Engagement requires a'grab attention phase involving using building on the curiosity of students and need for relevance; Removing both student and organisational barriers; and building social presence through integration of students to obviate feelings of alienation and isolation, helping cohorts/groups congregate /consolidate, personalisation and teacher presence (immediacy and attention).

After morning tea, an overview of the various TLRI tertiary projects was provided by Associate Professor Nick Zepke and Dr. Linda Leach from Massey University. The main objective is to provide information on the projects to date as TLRI has a focus for future projects to build on existing / completed research it has already funded. 18 post-school projects funded so far with 11 reports now available with several more about to come up on website. There are connections between Ako Aotearoa and TLRI projects which can be build on for instance learning dialogues in field- based education( Ako Aorearoa) and learning communities (TLRI). Both focus on teaching practice / building research capability and capacity, also on building relationships between students/ teachers / communities, assessments. Other emerging themes include competence (teachers and students), transition to independent learning, diversity of students, teaching is complex and challenging, impact of institutional and organisational cultures on teaching and learning. Need to network within the small tertiary education community in NZ and to look beyond own little project, to liaise and work on collaborative projects where possible.

Following the overview, a presentation on'Integrating information literacy and discovering voice in the NZ tertiary context', presented by Angela Feekery from Massey University who is an Ako Aotearoa PhD scholarship recipient in 2009. Angela's supervisor is Dr. Lisa Emerson. She reported on the participatory action research (PAR) research project focused on integrating / embedding the development of info. literacy (IL) skills and improving writing. Who provides students with IL debated but the collaborative model between library staff and academic staff most common. The main objective of study is to identify and implement ways students can appropriately work with a wide range of information and relate these to their assessment tasks within their discipline. To begin, semester one studied with a group of 'planning' students. This found many things related to IL which required working with. Last semester, interventions like draft submission/feedback, guided peer review, using i-maps, reading/learning log and evaluating sources. Now investigating key skills via interviews with programme staff and then develop model for IL for this discipline.

Then Dr. Willem Fourie, Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) and Beverly McClelland, Counties Manukau District Health Board DHB present on their project 'dedicated education unit: enhancing clinical teaching and learning. The project now completed so report on findings and recommendations undertaken at this presentation. Concept of Dedicated education unit (DEU) originated in Australia with DEUs established with CPIT/Canterbury District Health Board collaboration since 2007, MIT and Manukau DHB in 2008 and Middlemore in 2009. This study uses action research to identify best practice. In each cycle of the action research, commonalities and dis-similarities were identified. Findings include importance of orientation and planning for both staff and students, roles within DEU, teamwork expectations especially between clinical learning nurse and academic learning nurse, support required from peers, students learning at different levels/years and staff, student learning needs with relevant feedback and enhancing self-confidence for all concerned. Final recommendation is for a continuation with the DEU model. Other recommendations include structure for 3rd year students to support 1st year students, selection of CLN, work on feedback from both staff and students who participated in project, continuing collaborative approach, perhaps a DEU coordinator role to be established and engagement of a multi- disciplinary team across various DEUs, consult with Maori PHOs and to consider student rotation.

A full on morning with a convivial lunch to recover and ready for the afternoon.

Monday, July 12, 2010

iPad evaluation

I managed to pick up an iPad just before I left Perth, from the recently opened local Apple Store – a beautifully laid out and designed store with ultra friendly, knowledgeable & young staff. There has been a real demand for the iPads in Perth and I had been following a thread on the local discussion forum as to where there might be one about. So when I went into the Apple store last Wed. morning and had to leave my email to be advised of the next shipment, I was not holding out much hope of getting my hands on one there. It would have to be at least another month or more before the iPad gets to NZ. Anyway, a shipment did arrive & I was able to pick a 16G WIFI model up :) on Thursday evening. Too busy to do much with it until I got back home yesterday and then was able to upload apps, music, videos and photos from iTunes on to it.

Synching everything across went well but the photos were not ported across as my iPad was only 16G & the ipod touch I have been using has 32G. So had to delete several apps & tidy up music to allow for more space. All apps work well although being ipod touch apps, they do not make use of the whole of the iPad’s screen. Will need to explore iPad specific apps next and evaluate a few which may be useful in a voc. ed. context. So if I want to also access email etc. will have to be careful with the types of media the iPad will hold. So 16G may not be the best option if you have lots of media to access. Other option is to store things on itunes and only sync across media you intend to use, archiving others for access when required.

As with the ipod touch, user friendliness of the interface is a great plus factor. The one thing which is really impressive about the iPad is the screen display and this makes it a worthwhile piece of hardware to undertake work on introducing it as a mobile learning device. There have been several articles on how to use the iPad in education including pros & cons, with two Universities in the U S of A making it a compulsory piece of hardware for their students to bring to college.

The screen real estate makes the use of the iPad as a ebook reader & hence a text book a logical progression especially if the text book was much more interactive and there was WIFI available both within & without the classroom to allow students to explore topics in greater depth through featured website links, embedded interactive quizzes, links to relevant discussion forums etc. So lots of possibilities to explore.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

NCVER 2010 day two morning

A later start today, which allowed me to get into town to the local Apple store (beautiful layout) to try to get an ipad. Alas, none available, so put in my registration to be on the list. Not likely I will get one by the time I leave on Saturday. Will have a trawl around the other prospectives this evening if I can fit it in.

First keynote at 9.30am by Trevor Gale from the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Ed. at the University of South Australia who spoke on 'Has equity's time come for VET? How can we embed it into the system. He provided the guidelines between difference & similarity. These include the following myths, difference being innate, social difference is the result of hard work & commitment, difference is everything, difference, difference is about equality:treating everybody the same. Much has been changed but much still stays the same :( VET in Oz has not received the same attention from policy makers on equity issues as compared to schooling. In thi, there is perhaps a clear difference between NZ & Oz, where NZ has for a longer time, had policies to support Maori & Pacific peoples. He proposed 10 equity observations & principles. These 10 equity policies may form a foundation for the development of VET approaches to equity. A thought provoking presentation which covered key principles related to issues of equity.

Then three presentations this morning relating to VET teacher training or teaching. First up, Hugh Guthrie from NCVER on initial teacher training. Research undertaken in late eighties, early nineties and later half of the nineties. Since then, not much done, hence this piece of research. Currently, VET teachers need to have a qualification over & above the level at which they teach & the Cert IV qualification. Also, VET teachers need to also keep competency & currency in the their specialise area. Plus the need to build skills as a teacher. NCVER stats show large number completing Cert IV (26,000) but only small numbers go further (800!) & perhaps 400 complete HIgher Dip. in Voc Ed.There seems to be very few Higher Ed. institutions offering further Voc. Ed. qualifications (only 14). Advocates individual organisations should offer PD relevant towards upgrading VET teachers. Perhaps too many expectations placed on Cert IV & there may need to be recognition of alternative approaches. One reason being that Cert IV tends to replace a need for organisations to put in place their own PD programmes.

Next, Emma Curtin from the L.H. Martin Institute at University of Melbourne on the quality of VET teaching. Emma provided an overview of the project including the conceptual model used. Also provided the context, project phases & some themes. This research is to eventually makde recommendations on quality of VET teaching, VET teacher quals & continuing PD (CPD) & the impact this has on student teaching. Project one of 3 concurrent, the other two mapping existing VET teacher prep programmes (Hugh Guthrie in presentation just before this one) & exploring perceptions of recent Cert IV grads (Berwyn Clayton from yesterday's pecha kucha). Literature review available on ACE website. Data collection mainly completed, data analysis to continue with final report due end of 2010. Initial findings include Cert IV a starting point but needs to be extended further with mentoring / expert guidance for new tutors, CPD needs to be formalised with opportunities for maintaining industry currency, attaining pedagogical knowledge with quals. & CPD as being interdependent. Mixed responses to how quality in teaching can be quantified. there seems to be need from some to recognise VET teaching as a profession - pehaps registration or accreditation? Some thoughts raised by initial data - one size does not fit all, may need to rethink structure of profession, more research needed on VET pedagogy.

Last session before lunch, by Susanne Francisco from the Canberra Instititute of Technology on 'how novicel TAFE teachers learn how to teach' based on her proposed doctoral research. This is a very under-researched area which has implications on VET quality of delivery etc. There is demand for TAFE teachers to have an increasingly sophisticated pedagogical repertoire (Guthrie et al, 2006). Focus of project on finding out how novice teachers learning how to teach through their practice both within and outside of TAFE. Uses Schiatzki which proposes 'bundles of practices & material arrangements'. Practice is made up of 'actions & structures which consist of know how, rules, teleogical - affective structuring and understanding. Also uses Kemmis (2009)who premises practice as doings, sayings and relatings.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

NCVER 2010 day one afternoon

After lunch my paper on Perspectives of new trades tutor was presented to an interested audience.

The afternoon keynote from Linda Howard who is from Macmahon & Doorn-Djil Yoordaning. She presented on the key success factors to indigenous pre-employment training. She reports on the indigenous pre-employment & workplace training at the Macmahon Pilbara operation. Doorn-Djil Yoordaning is a subsidary of Macmahon focused on indigenous people based at Newman which is in the centre north/west of WA. No challenges teaching indigenous trainees how to drive dump trucks but dispositional & interpersonal communications capabilities plus also literacy/numeracy. Students, stakeholders, employers, community etc. consulted as to contents of the programme. Programme run through Pilbara TAFE Newman campus & concentrates not only on practical skills but also the enabling skills – self-esteem, conflict resolution, communication, goal setting, team work, money management, healthy lifestyle plus resume writing & interview skills. Success factors of this programme include the acknowledgement of the importance of relationships (including family, mentors etc.)

The attended paper on 'getting our hands dirty: Participation in a trades communities of practice' with Brett Hoggard (construction) & Tom Colley(plumbing) from Victoria University which has good connections to my paper. They detailed the COP established, through funding from Office of Training & Tertiary Education (OTTE), to assist with the development of better teaching strategies and to provide opportunities for tutors to network. They presented their experiences on how the COP was set up and the advantages agendered by participating in the COP. These include the ability to 'build bridges' between schools in faculties, creates a forum to discuss innovative ideas and opens up sharing of what others are doing.

Day ended with Pecha Kucha sessions - I attended the ones with a voc.ed. /literacy - numeracy focus. These include:

Berwyn Clayton on the Cert IV in Training & Assessment (TAA) - graduate perspectives - completed as an online survey from a range of RTOs. wanted to find out the perspectives of new teachers on the training afforded through the TAA. Did TAA prepare them for teaching? 6 months later, did a follow up (indepth interview) to find out what they used from their TAA course. 97% said after the course, they could deliver learning & 80% confident to conduct assessments. All wanted opportunity to practice new skills & how to motivate learners. novices tended to find the course more useful then people who had already experienced teaching practice.

Shi Sion Tang on 'narrowing the gam between engineering & practice' whereby a study on what engineering work actually involves is reported on. There is a need to go beyond the general perception that engineering is onlye involved with 'nuts & bolts' but needs to also include many 'soft skills'. These include coordinating, collaboration, communication, interacting, importance of teamwork, dealing with subordinates, superiors, customers etc.

Unfortunately, the sessions between the two rooms were not synchronised and by the time I got to the second room, they had finished the other two presentations! Ones I would have liked to find out more about wer Andrew Vodic on 'supprting the transition from practice to research - change management perspective' & Rachael McMahon on 'measuring the 'unmeasurable' benefits of literacy training. Also a session by Wendy Kennedy on the literacy & numeracy support needs of VET lecturers would have been to attend but this one clashed with the session on engineering practice

NCVER 2010 day one morning

At the annual NCVER 'no-frills' conference at Polytechnic West/ Central Insitute of Technology in Perth today & tomorrow. Perth weather has been nice & sunny with cold starts but pleasant afternoons. A great change from the rather gloomy weather we have been getting in Christchurch over the last two months.

Staying with my sister and being well looked after by my Mum & Dad. Took the train in this morning, clean, modern & not too crowded. Looking forward to several papers at this conference and to catching up with some of the researchers from Oz.

First up, A welcome from Mr. Wayne Collier, Polytechnic West and Reverend Seer with a welcome to the land, then the opening address by the Hon. Peter Collier, Minister of Energy; Training & workforce development who has contributed to bringing up the status of 'training' as no longer just a 'non-academic' option but as an important contribution towards building a skilled workforce. WA has just formed the Dept. of Training & Workforce Development (end of 2009) to provide structures for the long term development of work skills.

First keynote from inaugural CEO for the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in India, Dilip Chenoy. He spoke of the challenges through tapping into opportunities for collaboration & cooperation to skill 150 million people by 2022. He covered the skill challenge presented to developing countries, the Indian National skill development framework, the role of the NSDC and then the opportunities for collatboration & cooperation both nationally & internationally. An interesting presentation on a different perspective towards developing skills for large numbers of people in a developing country. Presented a concept on the 4 collar workforce, white, grey - knowledge workers, blue & rust - skilled workers in construction etc. Skills strategy needs to increase skill training /development eight fold from what is currently available. Currently, need to improve overall quality/outcomes, increase retention & ensure seamless integration between school & work - very similar challenges to developed countries. NSDC has a role to try to be a implementation partner to coordinate training from both the public & private sector towards meeting Indian skill development framework requirements. From TAFE point of view, expertise in'train the trainers' would be sought.

First paper of the concurrent sessions (5 in each stream) with Sandra Condon who manages 'disability services' at Polytechnic West on 'Breaking down the barriers for apprentices with learning disability (LD) '. She presented her research experience, the project & its 'after effects'. Her study investigated teaching & learning strategies that contribute to unit of competency completion rates for apprentices with a LD'. Review of literature revealed some correlation between students who left school early with low literacy / numeracy completion rates to completion rates of students diagnosed with LD - ie low completions. Therefore, important to identify students and also to provided relevant support to assist with completion of qualifications.

Then Sonia Davids from Dept. of Educationa and Training, Queensland. Leading change - vision to reality - a study of the PD strategy for the QLD VET sector.

Developed to assist with PD for VET to run 2007 to 2010 & this presentation on the review of this with proposals for improvement. Sonia provided a background on the QLD skills plan 2006 which led to the VET PD strategy and an overview of the strategy itself. Outcomes of the VET PD include the website, products/services, research,VET futures & VET PD pathways. Large numbers of VET teachers / trainers have engaged through this programme via access to the website, workshops, training opportunities etc. Good outcomes also include focussed PD plan for the sector, initiated & nurtured sector wide collaboration & involvement and provided key resources for RTOs to access & share. The 4 priorities will be interested to the NZ context.

Review undertaking using interviews, electronic survey & discussion forums/interviews with wide range of VET organisations. Results will be used to establish the VET PD strategy for 2011 to 2013. Review revealed the important categories within each of the 4 PD priorities so that the next strategy able to support the ongoing PD process.