Wednesday, April 23, 2014

AVETRA day 1 afternoon

After lunch, Dr. Gog Soon Joo, Executive Director of Singapore's Institute for Adult Learning presents 'continuing education and training in Singapore: skills innovation and productivity'. The Singapore experience in building research capability for their Continuing Education and Training (CET) sector is shared. Presentation centred around economic development and the role of education; journey of CET research development and capability building; and informing change in CET policy and practice - lessons learnt from 3 projects. An overview of the history of Singapore and the critical role education plays in contributing to future economic development. CET only seen to be essential since 2000 with CET training system set up in 2003. Key challenges to keep CET system in step with economic restructuring and workers' demand. From 2009, with no research taking place in CET, research strategies set up to build capability starting with mentoring of young Singaporean researchers with overseas research fellows mentoring. Also, Master of CET set up to increase pool and create pipeline of promising local researchers. Role of CET research includes developing local research capacity; create the disposition and capability of the CET community to interpret and use research; and influence CET practice and policy through research. Important to help industry and policy makers understand CET research through relevant dissemination means. Impact focused system of research requires researchers who are aware of their biases (social origin, theoretical bias, critic without practical implementation of advice) and pedagogical disposition to help others to truly learn. Three studies include skills utilisation; contingent workers in Singapore (learning and identity); and sectoral learning and performance transformation. Future plans embedded in the 2013 - 2020 CET strategy plan also shared.

I assist with the chairing of the following 2 concurrent sessions. First up a presentation by Adeline Goh on 'an authentic approach to facilitate vocational and technical education students' transition from education to work' in the context of the Brunei TVET. Presented on the literature review leading to a project to improve learning for vocational students. Provided background on Brunei VET context; and a summary of the literature on VET learning and how authentic learning contributes to better VET learning. VET learning may occur at college or workplaces. The 7 VET institutions tend to take a traditional didactic approach but need to assist students to become critical thinkers, and self-directed and lifelong learners. Need for present VET curriculum to encourage links between workplace and college learning. Authentic learning seen to be one way to help bridge theory and practice gap. Learning is based on "real-world, complex problems, their solutions, using role playing exercises, problem-based activities, case studies and participation in virtual communities of practice (Lombardi, 2007)". Need to look up Berry (2011) on planning authentic learning activities using workplace pedagogies and De Bruijn and Leeman (2011) on powerful vocational learning environments. Authentic learning in the Brunei context needs to include key content, employability skills, authentic tasks (workplace practices) and authentic assessment in industry.The challenge is to increase pedagogical capability with VET teachers and combine learning at both college and workplace is considered to provide a basis for lifelong learning.

Second presentation from Associate Professor Philip Thomas on 'co-creating innovation through shared expertise: principles underpinning the epistomology and scholarly contribution of a portfolio-based professional doctorate'. Philip provides a workshop on the programme which is run to allow for a ''custom built space' to allow for a 'workplace based' scholarship with mutually shared knowledge to occur. Candidates are supported through academic, industry and professional sectors. Sensible intersections are created to bring university, workplace and profession to share expertise. Candidate is tasked with coming up with an 'innovation' in the form of product, project, new paradigm etc. Portfolio tracks the journey from taking a idea to contributing to change in the workplace. Workplace attributes to provide project environment for a candidate needs to have vision, climate of excellence, participative safety and norms of innovation. Requirements t form the candidature include instutional mechanisms are aligned; workplace commitment; sound project; candidate expertise; and academic support. The concepts from this presentation contributes to my work with designing post-graduate qualifications at my own institute.

After afternoon tea, two more concurrent sessions. First up, Dr. Colleen Young provides an update on NZ tertiary academies with 'students perceptions of their learning experiences in the first two years' a focus of her PhD thesis. Colleen provided the background, rationale and details of the development of tertiary high schools in NZ. The study explored the ways the tertiary high school impacted on students - who were identified as likely to fail. Students responded with improved attendance; move away from school rules and culture and into 'adult' and work expectations and responsibilities; wider choices for tertiary study; applied learning; a headstart into a qualification; exposure to work based learning to inform career choice; need to set goals and take responsibility for own learning. Programme included high levels of pastoral care; monitoring if required; requirement for student to use individual learning plan. Students reported improved achievement, engagement with learning and completed qualifications they would not have otherwise.

Last concurrent session of the day with Ingrid Berglund wigith provides a Swedish perspective on 'workplace based learning in the Swedish upper secondary apprenticeship education'. Firstly ran through the Swedish context for upper secondary VET and the various reforms undertaken to make the programmes more vocation-specific. The last three years of school used to undertake a start with apprenticeship through workplace attachment and school. Decisive differences in the new systems is to assign role of apprentice as student, not employee; education contract voluntary between school and workplace; workplaces receive money to keep apprentice; equal curriculum learning objectives as in school-based VET. However, as apprentices are viewed as trainees their legitimacy in the workplace as learners is affected. The study surveyed over 300 students in 9 locations from 21 schools. Found 3 industries (construction / electrical, business and administration, health and care) had different approaches both in the workplace and in the school based structure. The enacted curriculum was difficult to achieve within workplace conditions.  Finding workplaces to participate was difficult and VET teachers became responsible for organizing the education and time was now sufficient to complete assessments. Follow up and assessment feedback was not sufficient. More study required to come up with pragmatic recommendations.

The AGM for AVETRA is held in the early evening, followed by the conference dinner. All in a long but, as always, interesting day.

No comments: