Friday, April 05, 2013

AVETRA 2013 day 2 morning


An early start for many after a late finish.

Professor Stephen Billett’s keynote ‘ the future of VET and VET research in Australia: informing the business of vocational education’ sets the scene for the day. Began by reiterating the importance of vocational education to develop capacities required for work, assisting individuals to identify with selected occupations etc. However, VET still suffers from low status :( His presentation centred on standing of occupations and VET, consequences of original sentiments and impact of VET systems.
Decisions and conceptions of VET have evolved without the voice of those who practice, learn and assist other to learn those occupations.
These biases have led to low standing and limited requirements of many occupations have led to them being viewed as easy to learn (short term training, low level certs), reduced preparations, measurable outcomes, hierarchical qualifications and craft work being more worthwhile.
Hierachical frameworks do not always capture the demands and complexities of work; non routine work tasks require higher cognitive demands and massiveness and extent of knowledge - a product of situational factors - not given in occupational capacities.

Purpose of VET driven by need for skilled workers, to develop employable capacities of young people, engage young people with nation state. Led to VET as addressing state interests as ordered through centralized and bureaucratic means, with an emphasis on entry level training and consultation with industry / businesses on development of VET curriculum.

But does industry understand the business of education (Billett,2004)? Data from graduate destination surveys (1997) and student satisfaction survey of almost 5000 students (2004) indicate VET educators as having relevant industry content knowledge and that students feel that VET has prepared they for their current work.

Therefore, key objects of VET - occupations and vocations- need to be defined.
Occupations arise from history, culture and circumstances - they are societal facts and practices.
Vocations arise as personal experiences and to which individuals need to assent - they are personal facts and practices.

Worthwhile VET provision focuses on securing students' vocation; engages with and gives discretion to those participation, has curriculum models and processes accommodating local needs; teachers often best placed to make educational decisions. Acknowledge the 3 forms of curriculum (intended, enacted and experienced). Present emphasis on intended needs to be tempered and informed more by the enacted and experienced. Closed the presentation with proposed research questions relevant to the current Australian context, to challenge the current role of VET.

A more eclectic range of presentations today as I pick up on the ones of interest.
First up, Elli McGavin from Deakin University with 'identity on the edge: the impact of risk, compliance and performativity on VET practitioner identity. The study examined how the management of risk is achieved through individual scrutiny, audit and review and the impact these practices have on changing VET practitioner identity. Presented preliminary analysis of interviews using grounded theory to find the nature of risk management. Framed by Ulrich Beck (1992) Risk society and Goffman (1959) on symbolic interactionism. There is a symbiotic relationship between risk , compliance and performativity and how these three impact on individual identity. preliminary findings indicate changes in student/practitioner relationships due to increased emphasis on compliance; admin and compliance disconnected from student needs; changing compliance requirements; knowledge of teachers not valued; individual student learning plans over emphasized; and tension between compliance and best practice.

After morning tea, Dr. Steven Hodge, Deakin University presents on ‘standards and diversity, or what trainers do with competencies’. presents on the differences between the required competency standards (the intended curriculum) and how the standards are interpreted and delivered by trainers / VET practitioners (the enacted curriculum). The research question is 'how do VET practitioners understand and use units of competency'? derived from the 3 curriculums four possible accounts - practitioners deliver what is in competencies; any discrepancy between enacted and intended is due to misunderstanding; any discrepancy is deliberate; and discrepancy is unavoidable due to the complex interactions of the total learning situation. qualitative approach based on 30 interviews of practitioners. Findings include some using all components, many use one or two; a few speak to other people but most work alone; most have trouble understanding the language used in competencies and most never revisited competencies. 3 participants explained units as describing key functions or roles in a particular job function or occupation. The rest were based on personal abilities, guidance for training or a regulatory framework. Some said standards represented minimum levels and some that they represented ideals. Understanding of components (elements, performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, evidence guide etc.) was diverse. practitioners acknowledged a range of factors that impact on their ability to deliver competencies. The second and third possible accounts seem to be the ones that come through the data. - discrepancies due to misunderstanding or deliberate departure - with good reasons. 

Followed by another presentation with Llandis Barratt-Pugh on ‘ the emerging profile of Australian learning and development specialists’. presents a contemporary profile of learning and development professionals. Presented work completed with Steven Hodge and Erica Smith. how as learning development developed from 1992 - 2012. Case study used to build a profile for learning and development professionals, changes in organization, practice and esteem, moved from periphery to core, physical to cognitive and detached to integrated. 790 replies to survey. Key points are change and diversity - continual change leading to diverse approaches to fit into contexts. Need of L & D practitioners to be adaptable, add value, use technologies to keep in touch, partnership approaches and need for business acumen.

Professor Philipp Gonon (University of Zurich) provides the pre lunch keynote. He presents on ‘VET issues and futures: the German and Swiss dual system as a global role model? there is a apprenticeship paradox  as in whether apprenticeship is a 'role model' as per 'German)or a 'phase out' model (as traditional apprenticeship).  defined the dual model with sites of learning as an interaction between school and workplace with communication between the stakeholders. Apprenticeship refers to a fully workplace based learning approach - and can be a  mode of learning or as a specific way of education. In 2008, 80% of German students were in dual-track VET, the other 20% in the academic - baccalurate route into higher ed. Dual VET has both pro and cons. dual VET system often used as an answer to 'social question' to provide smooth transition from school to work, ensure youth engaged. In Germany, dual system is demand driven, broadly accepted and gives access to professional careers. Used Swiss system as a case study to explain concepts of VET systems to trace the emergence and evolution of a dual model VET system. specific cultural preferences and national conditions led to establishment of specific apprenticeship systems for each country. Export of the model to another country is therefore a challenge. Prospects of VET could be VET and apprenticeship are loosing its importance due to the knowledge economy; are dying due to idea of university; and as concept will disseminate and hybridize into another system. So movement of apprenticeship from traditional to 20th century start of formalization and in 21st century merging with general education system.
Lunch followed.