Friday, August 17, 2018

NCVER no frills and NZ VET research forum day 3 afternoon

Four concurrent session themes today, apprentices and trainees, young people, policy and skills needs.

First up, I catch up with Kylie Taffard’s (BCITO) women in trades project. Project funded by Ako Aotearoa and came about due to high demand for trades people. Covered how women have succeeded in non traditional trades. Focused on the women supply scope and undertook to understand how women engage in trades. Presented rationale, background and the qualitative research process. Interviewed 34 women across industries and at all stages of training and work. Thematic and inductive analysis to identity themes. Characteristics of women entering the trades included range of ages, ethnicities, location but the main similarities were affinities to active and physical work and job satisfaction. Many fell into the trade, had to do their on research to find out about the work. Many experienced low pay or poverty and trades provided good income. Some followed a passion and male relatives were role models. Schools not always supportive of trades pathway. 
Need to make trades training more visible to young women. Pre trade programmes were useful as a start. Mixed programmes provided initial introduction to work in male dominated work environment. Work experience especially important to consolidate career paths. Finding work post pre trade programme was a challenge. On job support from employers and ITOs similar to other apprentices. 
Recommendations were shared. Developed persona to help characterise the women. 

After lunch. I present, with  Cheryl Stokes from Ara Institute of Canterbury, the guidelines from the eassessment project. In essence, summarised briefly the project rationale and underpinning framework of connecting graduate profiles to the aspect of becoming. Overviewed the importance of feedback in contributing to vocational education and the  affordances conferred by digital tools to assist with the process. The guidelines that are distilled from the project also presented. In particular, the need for digital fluency from both tutors and learners and to make learning overt in the learning activities.

Stayed  in the same room with Deniese Cox, Griffith University, on  pedagogically framing VET online. Started with personal background and presented on PhD study. Provided rationale including VET not having much research on online learning. Teaching online is different from teaching f2f. Defined teachers, online learning and pedagogy. Project investigated how online VET teachers teach and if knowledge of online pedagogy will support developing of improvement strategies. Pedagogical orientations are from teacher to student centred. Often pedagogical orientation may not align with their pedagogical practice. This gap may occur for many reasons including logistical, organisational and technological. Shared findings including participant demographics, personas developed to illustrate the pedagogical approaches and survey showing actual pedagogical practice. Used Berge’s model of instructor rules and Bain’s what the best college teachers do, as questions to establish participant pedagogy. Influences on matching pedagogical orientation to practice include class size, units of competency resources which are not developed for online and workload. Teaching seen to be sidelined to assessments. 

After afternoon tea, with Geoff Crittenden from Weld Australia, on the future of technical training focused on Augmented reality training for welding. Explained link between TAFE and Weld Australia and the importance of VET. Welding learning similar now as 100 years ago. Video of Boxford augmented reality welding simulator. Specifications for Soldamatic augmented reality training. With AR, learners can do 10 tries compared to 4 in a TAFE welding workshop. Gamification element in the exercises based on analytics from each run. Health and safety not an impediment. Learning from mistakes also less costly as no physical materials used. Peer learning possible as peer can watch process on the screen to provide feedback. Advantages are accelerated learning, savings with consumables and higher completion rate. 

Last presentation with Dr. Karen Vaughan from the NZCER and Andrew Kear from the Building and Construction ITO, on Analytics and insights: developing a tool to support building and construction apprentices’ completion. In conjunction with the BCITO, a tool is being developed to provide predictive analysis on apprentices’ completions. The presentation focuses on the identification of factors influencing non-completion and evaluative data from apprentices, employers and training advisors, used to improve each iteration of the tool. Karen provided context and information on NZCER and Andrew on the BCITO. Shared statistics on completions and withdrawals and non-completions. Large numbers of withdrawals are in the first year. The learner success project is to develop a health profile tool to focus on likelihood of completion. Needs to also allow for different ideas of success and provide advise for learner support. Project seeks to identify influences, collect data and refine and calibrate. Discussed challenges including methodology, ethics and data integrity. 

A busy but informative conference. Official sessions closed with award for best poster and handover to the 2019 hosts in Adelaide - July 10 - 12. 

NVCER no frills and NZ VET research forum - day 3 morning

Day 2 morning presentations and summary of evening

Dinner, welcome and presentation from Jon Black, TAFE NSW, extolled the merits of VET but provided dire stats on consideration of VEt by Australian school leavers as being only 10% for females and 16% for males (sigh).
Bruce Callaghan, Australian Council for Private Education and Training, introduced the need for VET systems to reform as learner needs are for just in time learning, completed in short bites. Exampled general practitioners in Asia, Gulf and Australia who supplement their formal medical training with micro learning. Called for greater response to these needs by working together across sectors, qualifications that make sense, responsive to future needs and relevant to learners. 
The night’s speaker is Kevin Sheedy, who is  an Australian football pLayer and AFLHall of  fame legend, apprenticeship ambassador and plumber. Shared his story and the importance of apprenticeship. 

A cool and sunny morning for a quick walk to the conference. The proceedings begins with ministerial address from the Honorable Karen Andrews, assistant minister for vocational education and skills. Reiterated the importance of VET to prepare people for the coming future. Australian VET well regarded internationally with the majority of graduates attaining employment. Employment shifting to high skills demands and also shifting to a replacement phase of baby boomers retiring. Recommended the use of JAROD to assist people in finding work which fits their attributes and for careers advise. Preparation for industry 4.0 a key for moving forward. Important to reestablish the status of VET as a key pathway for all to qualifications and employment. Launched an extended tuition fees protection to all students if provider falls over. Also an increase in the skilling Australia fund to increase apprenticeships and training in key industries. 

Keynote is with Dr. Andrew Charlton from AlphaBeta on moving from fear to action on the future of work. Summarised the current media on AI, robotics etc. and jobs being changed or lost. Some well-founded but there are opportunities as well. However, young people taking their first job are going to see many of these jobs disappear. Need to identify what will change and what will not. Shift of types of jobs being lost to Technology from agriculture to manufacturing to service sector. Need to reskill, upskill and learn new skills to deal with automation, globalisation, longer lives, urbanisation and changing job preferences. Currently Australian workers would have changed occupations 2.4 times. Workers not changing jobs are seeing a change in their job tasks. Lifelong learning is the norm, young Australian spend 3-4 hours a week learning to keep up with job demands. Need to understand what, when and how we learn.
What: Employers demanding more digital, creative problem solving and interaction skills. In general, knowledge, skills more readily automated when compared to attributes / characteristics.  Characteristics include empathy, creativity, leadership, originality, social orientation, cooperation, integrity etc. shift from firm specific skills and knowledge or human capital to generalised human capital.
When: lifelong learning will be the norm. Increase in just in time learning. Mid career learning needs will have to be met.
How: flexible, appropriately funding and relevant learning. 

Address from Ian Rowe, acting assistant deputy director sector services, Ako Aotearoa. Introduced the role of Ako Aotearoa in the NZ Tertiary sector. Provided an overview of the origin and objectives. New themes going forward are professional standards, networks and communities of practice and Maori and Pacifica learner success, organisational structure and business model, knowledge base and adult literacy and numeracy and cultural capability. Summarised the impact evaluation undertaken on all funded projects and shared examples of several VET projects. 

Morning tea is with poster presentations.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

NCVeR and NZ VET research forum 2018 - day 2 afternoon

After lunch, with Anne Alkema from the ITF on embedded research informing policy and practice in foundation level workplace training programmes. Presented on literacy and numeracy ,skills highway, and the evaluation of its efficacy. Funded by Tertiary Education Commission and Ako Aotearoa for provider and employer led strands. Funds 25 to 40 hours for around 7000 employees. Programmes are delivered in the workplace during work time. The evaluation assessed impact on individuals and workplaces, provide evidence base to inform ongoing policy development, explore links between literacy and numeracy skills and productive, and seek solutions to sustain workplace literacy programmes. Workplace L and N is not to fix, but to prepare people for future workforce needs and future jobs. Evidence collected includes LN results by assessment tools, changes to employees practices, changes in workplace behaviours and productivity and return on investment. So far have found funding reaching the right way, changes related to practice, better self efficacy, career progression and some impact in productivity. Use newsletter to share findings, success stories, summarise research topics, videos and resources. Literature review provides some examples from other countries. Need for digital literacies and developed a 4 level framework that describes practices in the workplace. Move into Hinatore, literacy as an empowerment tool, project co-funded  by Ako Aotearoa and Industry Training Federation. 

Following on with Dr. Helen Anderson from the NZ School of Tourism on graduate profile outcomes: ready to fly. An evaluation of graduate profiles developed for NZ qualifications, post NZQA targeted review. Began with her background and rationale for the study. Helen works as curriculum and programme developer for a range of qualifications. Detailed background to review, process and move to graduate profiles. Interest in how future focused graduate profiles should look. Barrie 2004 graduate is an integrated model of scholarship, global citizen and lifelong learner. Defined the purpose of vocational education including occupational capabilities,  credentialing and engagement with issues of ethics, social commitments etc. studied  706 qualifications and 4248 graduate profiles and characterised them and 45 % were on technical skills, 11 compliance, and 1% communication. Another study on recently re reviewed showed increase in more generalisable skills and have ability to be more future proofed. Check Nagarajan and Edwards 2014 is the graduate ready for work. 

After afternoon tea, Erica Smith, Professor Federation University on enterprise registered training organisations: training and learning practices. Began by defining what enterprise RTOs are and the benefits and challenges to companies when they register as a RTO. Summarised findings from first project on how qualifications delivered by eTrO contribute to improved skills. Second project is on VET teachers which included ErTo trainers. Both involved different enterprises and there is a significant churn in eRtos as they merge etc. contexts studied included bus driver training, rail infrastructure, road construction, and call centre skills. There was classroom study when the main perspective is that ERtos train in the workplace only. Most learners had prior skills but not all had assessments for these and did not have to undertake training again. Most learners were satisfied and most learners were doing initial training. For educators, Queensland framework with 5 indicators was selected. In general, ETRO trainers consistently placed less importance on each of the 5 factors and less confidence on how they were able to meet these indicators. Tended to be higher on demands of different contexts, communicating with learners and importance of feedback. More information on RAvE recent research website - researching adult and vocational education at Federation University. 

Last presentation of the day with Dr. Silin Yang from Institute of Adult Learning in Singapore on work, innovation and learning in small medium enterprises. Reports on a project in progress to understand the SME sector in Singapore. SMEs do not find returns from sending their employees for training. Provided overview of project and focus on the health care industry. Seeks to find out how SMEs develop innovation, what support do they need to further innovate. although incentives provided, only half of SMEs have accessed. Defined innovation learning culture. Used semi structured interviews, survey of employees, work shadowing,  company documents to provide case study data. Shared enablers for innovation including empowerment, recognition of employee contributions, tolerance for failure, alignment, community network and partners, knowledge flows, and nature of work needs to support innovation. 

The conference dinner rounds off a busy day. 

NCVER no frills and NZ VET research forum 2018

Day 2 morning

In Sydney for the combined conferences of the National Centre for Vocational Education and Training Research (NCVER) with the New Zealand VET research forum, convened by the Industry Training Federation

Welcome reception last night started off the conference, good to catch up with many familiar researchers in Vocational education.

Conference opens with welcome from Dr. Mette Creaser, interim Managing Director of NCVER and Michael Ross, Principal advisor for the NZ Industry Training Federation. Michael provided participants with overview of the NZ industry training context. Provided summaries of the three key reviews and supporting shifts in accompanying systems to meet the needs of the future. Check report from info metrics on megatrends in work and education.

Short address from Genevieve Knight, acting national manager research at NCVER on the Skills for the future report. A short presentation to summarise key points. Main employment in Australia and New Zealand now in services sectors, health, professional, scientific and technical, education and training and construction. Quick shift in Technology requires rapid and agile vocational training systems with continuous and lifelong learning delivery and support. VET systems required to play a key role in ensuring people attain, maintain and continue learning to keep up with the requirements for the need of future work.

First keynote from Lene Tanggaard, Professor at department of communication and psychology at Aalborg University in Denmark, on creativity in VET. Brought together crafts, vocational education and training and creativity. Extended on the premise of the epistemology of the hand and the need to recognise its contribution. Creativity argued as a key, difficult to replicate without human input, skill. Not only for artists, designers or academics but found high levels in VET apprentices. Need to treasure VET for how it contributes to a practical and pragmatic way of igniting and expressing creativity. Imagination is a foundation for creativity- see 2018 Tanggaard and Brinkmann. PISA test will now include creativity as a component. There is a correlation with personal growth, academic and job success (Long and Plucker, 2014). Creativity is essential for all (Csikszentmihalyi) but entails actual work (Vera John-Steiner, 1997) - a notebook of the mind. Creativity builds on the ability to see clearer and to rediscover what we know but seem to have forgotten. Creativity is about mastery, craft and recycling, not just brainstorming and post-it notes. It is more about business as usual than not. Creativity needs the ability to synthesis (combination of opportunities), analytical sense (what and why is this good?) and practical intelligence (ideas do not sell themselves! There is a need to tinker to make it work). The eyes of the skin and the thinking hand by Juhani Pallasmaa, a Finnish architect. The poet, the sculptor or architect worked with the entire body, not primarily through intellect, theory or acquired professional qualifications. In fact a lot of what we have learned must be unlearned to be useful. Summarised latest study on how inventiveness and innovation takes place. A model of creative learning in VET has three interconnected circles with resistance, immersion and experiments and ‘fooling around’. Therefore need to build expertise within a field and VET plays an important role in providing the skills base for creativity. 

Five streams in concurrent sessions running on themes of practitioner, employability and foundation skills, skills, International and rural and remote.

 Begin with Emma McLaughlin’s (Wellington Institute of Technology) presentation on ‘working around the words’ tutor strategies and the tutor voice in vocational education. This is an output from the Ako Aotearoa funded national project ‘the language of the trades’ which used linguistic Research methodology to explore the complexities of learning the skills, social mores and practice in the trades. Summarised purpose, findings and recommendations from the project. Purpose was to describe the language, texts and visual features in carpentry, Automotive , fabrication and electrical. Trade vocabulary was as challenging as academic. Embedding language is through tutor talk, diagrams were used extensively and learning was through doing. Interviews with tutors and learners in carpentry used in the presentation. Tutors use the language, use different synonyms, deliberately use the terms, elicited correct terms and learning was embedded in the work of building a house. Shared underpinning literature on situated learning and the complexities of trades language. In practice, tutors used strategies to assist including, modelling, eliciting, reinforcing, clarifying etc. recommended using a strengthens based approach - doing well, share and try. Introduced resources on Ako website, working around words and building a working vocabulary. Shared the model and the resources - teaching strategies, videos, glossaries, posters etc. 

Then with Louise King from Charles Darwin University, on factors influencing international teachers enactment of Australian VET curricula. Presented on a subset of her PhD study. What are the contextual factors that influence teachers enactment of the Australian curriculum. Used phenomenological approach and  3 in-depth interviews with 13 teachers. Experienced teachers in Australia but not as long overseas. Reported on themes around information (generally insufficient), resources (often insufficient to maintain curricula fidelity), materials (teaching materials not always available), institutional arrangements (generally inadequate) and student readiness (goals and interest, language proficiency, prior knowledge and abilities and learning styles and preferences). Dissonance experienced and no preparation provided to support them through the challenges posed. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Integration of vocational education and training experiences - book overview

Integration of Vocational Education and Training: Purposes, Practices and Principles, published 2018 by Springer, edited by Sarojni Choy, Gun-Britt Warvik and Viveca Lindberg.

Disclaimer: I am the lead author of one of the chapters in this book.

The overall premise of the book, is to bring a variety of perspectives on the integration of study /vocational educational programmes with work. Most of the chapters, focus on how to better help students, studying in dual systems, or completing full-time study with components of work integrated learning, bring the skills / knowledge and attitudes which demark each context, into a complementary whole. Of note is the need to address the 'space in between' as formal study is structured through both intended and enacted curriculum and workplace learning is driven by work processes and objectives. 

The book has 18 chapters in 2 parts. The first chapter sets the scene and provides an overview of the book's direction and contents. The last 2 chapters, provides a synthesis of the themes explored through various chapters and brings the commonalities and differences across the various contexts reported, into discussion.

Part 1: - 4 chapters on the provision and integration of work experiences within vocational education
The first introductory chapter – integration between school and work: developments, conceptions and applications – by the editors – provides an overview of the premises of the book. This first chapter sets the context for the following chapters in the book. The term ‘ integration’ is discussed and historical development described. Various approaches towards understanding integration are summarised. Including: three types of integration – low road integration to assimilate skills and automate practice through authentic work exposure; high road integration whereby reflection is engaged to integrate knowledge and skills via ‘accommodation’; and transformative integration, allowing for individuals’ perspectives to be changed as an outcome of WIL. Fuller and Unwin’s restricted vs expansive participation is also used as a framework for the affordances of learners to develop ‘integration’. The boundary crossing concept is also another. Pedagogies of for integration of WIL include the 7 dimension of purpose, context, nature of integration, curriculum issues, learning, partnerships and support to students. WIL also requires support for students’ learning before, during and after WIL.

As prefaced above, student’s agency is important to achieving WIL goal. Chapter 2 is by S. Billett on student readiness and the integration of experiences in practice and educational settings. The 8 dimension of readiness require addressing – conceptual, procedural and dispositional (i.e. knowledge, skills and attitudes). Recommendations for promoting student readiness before students engage with work placements and how to ensure students’ integrate their experiences after work placements, are detailed and discussed.

In the third chapter, D. Guile presents work experience and VET: insights from the connective typology and the recontexualisation model. This work is based on various models including bridge to work, experiential learning, a generic model, work process and the connective model. The article argues for a ‘continuous recontextualisation of knowledge and professional practice model. Learning for occupation / work is seen to be a continual process of adjusting to context, comingling of conceptual understanding and professional experience and further workplace recontextualisation as work evolves.

Chapter 4 by P. Grollman is on the topic of ‘varieties of duality: work-based learning and vocational education in international comparative research’. Calls for not only work to inform ‘school’ curriculum but for work to be also influence by school learning contributions. Describes various approaches across countries and unpacks the dualities in these systems.
Part 2, integrating work experiences within vocational education: empirical cases – presents a range of international examples and case studies.

Chapter 5 by S. Choy presents the Australian perspective with ‘integration of learning in educational institutions and workplaces. Based on a study on how VET students, teachers and managers/ coordinators conceptualise connectivity between what is learnt at educational institutions and workplaces. 4 conceptions are proposed. Experiences as preparation for learning in different sites represents a more sequential / linear progression from learning in education, and application to practice at work. A broader perspective includes the opportunity to de-construct / reflect on how learning and experiences from each (TAFE / workplace) inform or support each other. A third perspective is to encompass the learning from both sites. A fourth is the stimulation of higher-order thinking through the reflective cycle and the opportunity to select or negotiate ways forward.

The next chapter by R. Smith, discusses the role of ‘learner agency and the negotiation of practice’ is a summary of his PhD work. The main argument is the opportunity for workers to use their learning to contribute to the work process. There are many complex mechanisms in a workplace which can support or dis-engage a worker from participation. Worker agency is a key as to how, when and why workers engage. The negotiation of workers’ contributions is held to be a role of workers’ decisions (agency) and enablement through workplace practice. Each cannot occur without the other.

A Finnish example by L. Pylvas, H. Rintala and P. Nokelainen on the topic of ‘integration of holistic development of apprentices’ competences’. Reports on a study of apprentices to gauge their integration into the workplace. Found there was poor integration. Proposes the need to ensure integration occurs and to support apprentices beyond skills training. In particular to ensure they also are drawn into the culture of the workplace, develop social and meta competence and become part of a workplace.

Then, an example from Iceland. E. Eiriksdottir writes on ‘variations in implementing the dual VET systems: perspectives of students, teachers and trainers in the certified trades’. Discusses the impact of economic, socio/political, historical contributions to the length and sequencing of WIL periods across trades apprenticeship programmes.

Chapter 9 is from a team at Ara Institute of Canterbury in New Zealand. S. Chan, B. Beatty, D. Chilvers, L. Davis, A. Hollingworth and I. Jamieson summarise the difference approaches to work integrated learning with an emphasis on biculturalism. ‘WIL in Aotearoa/ New Zealand: Diversity, biculturalism and industry-led. This chapter uses case study of a range of WIL arrangements deployed by discipline specific programmes. Commonalities across the programmes include the importance of WIL to provide authentic learning, an emphasis on citizenship characteristics through preparation for the bi-cultural nature of NZ, and crucial support from stakeholders. The historical legacies from industry and discipline, contribute to how WIL is constituted. 

Chapter 10 with K. Vaughan, presents work-based learning in New Zealand with ‘even better than the real thing: practice-based learning and vocational thresholds at work. Discusses the important grounding focus, if a dispositional nature, of 3 disciplines. Carpenters with an emphasis on craft work and the values of craftsmanship; development of an expertise of uncertainty in general practitioner doctors; and development of a ‘social eye’ by engineering technicians. Each discipline, bringing to the development of their apprentices / trainees, a specific approach and perspective.
L. C. Lahn and H. Nore write on ‘ePortfolios as hybrid learning arenas in VET. Presents the work on using ePortfolios to be used as a device for liaising with apprentices, training offices, schools and companies.

T. Nyen and A. H. Tonder present a chapter on the Norwegian context with ‘Development of skills through integration of practice training periods in school-based vocational education’. Discusses the pros and cons of school-based and work-based learning. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
The next chapter is from Singapore, with H. Bound, A. Chia and W.C. Lee on ‘spaces and spaces ‘in-between’ – relations through pedagogical tools and learning. Chronicles the integration of learning across different spaces and intents. These affect the way curriculum is designed. Both work and out of work learning yield potential and understanding the interrelationships is a key. Therefore, the ‘place in-between’ work and off-work learning, is a context which is now not utilised. The current shift to preparing workers for the future of work, adds another dimension to the intersection and interrelationships between work and learning.

I. Anderson writes on ‘workplace learning for school-based apprenticeships: tripartite conversations as a boundary-crossing point’. Uses activity theory to unravel the interconnections between vocational teacher, workplace tutor and student. Boundary crossing is used to explain how plans and negotiations, impact on learning at school and at work. The workplace expects school to prepare students for work. However, a lack of congruence between skills / knowledge learnt at school and workplace expectations, make it always a challenge to meet the needs of both work and school learning.

Then G-B. Warvic and V. Lindberg present on ‘integration between school and work: changes and challenges in the Swedish VET 1970-2011. Another study using activity theory as a framework. Discusses the need to ensure teachers are provided with opportunities to stay conversant with the demands of the contemporary workplace. Teachers are then enabled to mediate between what is expected of students work readiness learning and how this may be actioned through school based learning.

A Swiss perspective is presented in chapter 16. V. Sappa, C. Aprea and B. Vogt write on ‘success factors in fostering the connection between learning in school and at the workplace’. Summarises the challenges for vocational schools to assist apprentices to bridge the worlds of school and work. The study reports on the many complex factors impinging on the integration of work based and school based learning. As with chapter 13 in the Singaporean context, a ‘third space’ which brings together work and school, is explored as a means to provide better integration between formalised school and ‘less structured’ work based learning.

Chapter 17 by S. Billett, G-B. Warvik and S. Choy discusses ‘concepts, purposes and practices of integration across National curriculum’. The chapter argues for the need to ensure there is integration, given the importance of each sector (school and work) towards preparing people for work. The importance of integration are reiterated. There is caution that the intended curriculum – what is planned for students to achieve, learn or attain, does not always transfer into the curriculum as experienced by learners. Learners’ outcomes, may not necessarily need to be constrained or universal, as the discipline, location and societal contexts will differ. Issues identified through the chapters in the book include the important role of individual learner’s agency; institutional barriers including the different objectives of ‘school’ and work; the need to identify and provide learnable or teachable moments as learners engage with work; and the length, sequencing and logistical issues of organising work integrated learning. To resolve, it is important to ensure readiness of students’ to learning beyond school; the issues of connectivity and re-contextualisation between contexts are important to address in assisting learners to understand and mediate between both; and the wider contextual institutional issues also require resolution – with the need to understand socio-politico-historical influences and to consider the means to resolve or tamper their effects, if so required.

The last chapter by the editors, bring the various themes, concepts and perspectives together with a challenge for the ‘consideration for the integration of students’ experiences’. Summarises the various themes presented through the book. In particular, the need for deliberate effort from school-based / curriculum design / school or qualification systems, to be cognisant of the challenges of integration. Proposes four imperatives: social-cultural arrangements, negotiated curriculum, roles of various stakeholders and learner preparedness. Considerations for improving the negotiated curriculum include maximising and rationally implementing the perspectives gathered from stakeholders for the enactment of integrations. Learner preparedness include ensuring learners understand occupational and pertinent requirements; recognising and navigating the passage through integration; and applying appropriate pedagogical strategies.

Overall, the book contributes to a better understanding of how to assist learners (and educators) to 'cross the boundaries' of the various contexts they learn within. How to find conscensus or resolve differences between 'school learning' and work requirements through reflective or assisted learning processes is the key to better work integrated learning.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Forget about preparing for the future, we need to create it - Kaila Colbin

Attended the launch of the BOMA Christchurch Launch at Ara this morning. BOMA is a 'next step' beyond understanding the various challenges impinging of our lives at present and into the future. It is not just technology, but also many other things.

Kaila Corbin presented on the rationale and future directions of BOMA. Much of what her presentation is detailed in today's Press article. Basically, there is a need to go back to 'first principles' and question - what is the purpose of corporations? What is the purpose of education? Is this the best way to organise society? How do we define success? instead of carrying on tweaking and adapting, it is time to transform and meet the future.

Launch reported in local papers on 27th July which provide details of the way forward on how BOMA seeks to provide facilitation for conversations and actions to continue.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The truth behind brain-based training provides a one stop shop for up to date research on the neuroscience. They provide a good resource to ensure the right information is available. The Brain Facts book is a good reference source for understanding the workings of the brain and neuroscience contribution to understanding how the brain learns.

A 20 minute video  by Jane Zadina, associate profession of neurology at Tulane University, updates on the latest understanding of brain-based learning. She begins the video with 10 questions, which participants need to respond as true or false:

1)      Students can learn something without actively paying attention to it
2)      We use only 10% of our brains
3)      Understanding a student’s learning style can help us teach them better
4)      Physical activities that cross the midline, such as brain gym, help studentsl learn better through integration of left and right brain
5)      Some people are more left-brained and some are more right-brained
6)      Drinking fewer that 6-8 glasses of water a day can cause the brain to shrink
7)      Male and female brains are different and we should adjust our teaching accordingly
8)      It is helpful to examine which of the multiple intelligences students have
9)      The more dendrites children grow, the better
10)   Education cannot address learning difficulties caused by developmental brain differences.

Then works through each of the above to discuss the contributions from current neurobiology research, in particular the use of brain imaging to confirm or dispel the prevalent brain-based educational approaches of the last two decades.

1)      Selective attention is important. Act of attention affects plasticity. Need to pay attention to focus. When told, after an study of hotel room maids that what they did daily equated to going to the gym, they started to lose weight!

2)      we use much more than 10% of the brain – cognitive load is important.
3)       Students do learn differently but neuroimaging does not support learning styles theory. Students may have preferences but how they learn should not be pigeonholed. Learners need to be able to access all aspects of learning – check multiple pathways model.
4)      Brain gym not evidenced as well. However, intense aerobic exercise helps learning and can raise achievement.
5)      Similar to learning styles, right / left brain not supported through neuroscience research. There are some parts of the brain which are used more for some skills but in general, the whole brain is involved.
6)      A myth.
7)      More similarities than differences – as per right/ left brain
8)      Again not supported by contemporary research. Preferences, skills and interests exist but not specific intelligences. Does not mean we ditch but use appropriately
9)      Brain goes through cycles of growth and depletion, new dendrites formed when we learn but requires much more.
10)   Brain plasticity is now recognised. We are able to learn more and become experts, given the relevant practice and reinforcement.

So as always, it is important to think through the implications of various findings made by scientists and to be vary of 'fads'. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Cork dork – book overview

This book, the Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker, came via GoodReads recommendation. There is a positive review from Decanter - wine industry magazine; overview from the NYTimes; and a less glowing report, here - which surmises the book encourages wine noobs to ignore the snobs, just drink cheap wine! 

I tracked the book down at the local library and read it over a wet weekend. One of the sub-projects from the recently completed e-assessment project, was to help cookery students learn how to taste. As tasting was deemed to be something ‘everyone is able to do’, the cookery teaching team did not place much emphasis on overtly teaching students how to taste. Learning how to taste like a chef, was therefore chiefly learnt through modelling from the chef tutors.

The chef tutors only realised that students were unable to articulate the sensory evaluation of dishes when students were required to reflect on the cooking process of dishes as part of the evidence gathering towards collating eportfolios. The researcher for this sub-project, is a food and beverage tutor, who had come from the tradition of being taught how to taste wine. Part of the project, was therefore to try to make overt and structured, the ways food tasting could be described. Mindmapping and notetaking apps were introduced to assist with learning the ‘language of tasting’. These apps were to facilitate the sharing of dish descriptions and evaluations to assist students to widen their sensory evaluation vocabulary.

Back to the book, which has 11 chapters, tracing the journey of the author, from novice / layperson to practicing sommelier. The author was able to make a head start using her contacts as a tech journalist and with the rationale of the book as a lever into the rarified world of professional wine tasters. Being a sommelier entailed not only being able to taste wine, but also to sell it, provide good service in fine dining restaurants and gain a foothold into a challenging but well-paid occupation (when compared to other hospitality work).

To begin, the author managed to gain an entry level job as a ‘cellar rat’, assisting with the storage and re-stocking of a wine cellar in a prestigious restaurant. She was able to make friends with several well-known sommeliers and join them for their tasting sessions. This led her to prepare for the first level of accreditation to become a sommelier through eligibility to take the Certification exams.
By the end of a hear, the author was working as a sommelier in a wine bar, had passed the first of a series of professional exams, and also established, through a fMRI scan, that her brain reaction to wine, was similar to experts. So the year of hard graft, tasting many wines and learning the esoteric knowledge components of wine making, had triggered a change in her brain structure.

The perceived method towards training the brain therefore, begins with training to smell. ‘Stocking the sense memory’ was essential to being able to connect the descriptive wine terminology, with tasting and identification of wine. The patterns of taste has to be organised, so the patterns connect with wine types, grape varieties, regions etc. Apart from learning how to taste wine, service of wine required skill training through repeated practice and an understanding of the psychology of people’s social relationships.  In short, sommeliers really have to work for their pay.

Overall, the book provides a good insight into how a novice, learns a complex set of skills, connects the sensory sensations to a large bank of knowledge, and utilises these in a demanding occupation. A sommelier, is the sum of all of these and each, brings into the job, their own personality and characteristics as well.

All in, a good read and a relaxed way to learn much about the world of wine.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Lightboards @ Ara

After several years of development, Ara is now able to make use of a lightboard for recording instructional videos for students. The team which constructed the lightboard, used a variety of resources to put together the lightboard. An example from here , here  and here on a one button lightboard studio.

Last week there a short presentation with Mark Kingston from engineering at trades, demonstrating how he used the lightboard to support his teaching.
The rationale was to engage trades engineering / fabricating students with trade calculations. These students are often very math phobic due to poor experiences at school. Using the lightboard provides a resource that can be used by learners to repeat contextualised maths to nut out the nuances of trades maths. He has now produced over 30 videos and they are posted on YouTube.

Reflections on the outcomes. Anytime learning and useful with students who are not keen to ask questions in class and it is difficult to work out if they have understood the concept. Moving away from unit standards allowed more time for competency to be built up. The videos allow for a contextualised resource to be built up quickly, sometimes to meet just in time learning needs that have come up during a f2f session. Challenges have mainly been with the software. Keeping the glass clean on the lightboard is crucial and requires some elbow grease.

The lightboard’s original intent is to allow videos to be recorded of the tutor’s board work as they explain a concept. It is particularly useful for disciplines which have a high visual / kinaesthetic focus exampled by maths, engineering and trades subjects. The app ‘explain everything’ is capable of similar but does not allow for the teacher / tutor, apart from their voice over, to also be included.
I am more interested in how the videos recorded with a lightboard will be useful for learners to record their learning as well. Using the Thayer method in a more learning focused fashion will likely provide dividends. The method requires learners to ‘teach’ a topic after they have learnt concepts presented to them in a lecture. Using ‘explain everything’ is the 21st version of using a chalkboard to write up equations. This approach, puts into practice, a concurrence of neuroeducation recommendations for learners to be able to 'teach' what they have learnt. See recently overviewed book on this blog, chapter on educating minds, for rationale.

For the current practice, tutors may record a ‘how to’ video using the lightboard. Learners use this resource to practice an attain fluency. Then they solve a slightly different problem and record their process on the app ‘explain everything’ (or similar). This provides a learning loop to be established, providing the tutor with evidence of students’ learning which may then also be archived in an eportfolio.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Matthew Crawford on satisfaction from trades work - ITF conference 2018

Last week, the annual Industry Training Federation (ITF) conference was held in Welllington. A range of invited speakers presented on a way ahead for NZ with regards to vocational education and workplace based training.

I was not able to get to the conference but the conference twitter feed provided photos and summaries of various presentations. The overall theme of the conference was 'Skills in a changing World'. Speakers concentrated on providing statistics on what the future might bring with regards to demographics in NZ, possible scenarios of work in the future, call for equity to ensure vocational education was availed to groups currently with high youth numbers (Maori and Pacifika) but poorly represented (women, range of ethnicities which have grown in numbers etc.)

One of the keynote speakers was Matthew Crawford, author of the book - Shop class as soul craft - see here for summary / overview on this blog. Matthew also summarised some of the concepts in the book on a Radio NZ interview. A short interview, giving more updated examples then in the book but reiterating the need to look beyond a degree for work preparation. Some 'white collar' work may not provide the job satisfaction or earning potential of trades work.

So although not able to be at the conference, the various social medii provided some opportunity to keep in touch with the overall tone of the conference. NZ has to address the need to ensure there is equity of access to all types of work for all its citizens. Otherwise, the replacement of the mainly pakeha (white) and male workforce in especially the vocational occupations, will be a continual challenge.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The secret life of the mind - book overview

An interesting read, picked up at the local library. The secret life of the mind - how the brain thinks, feels, and decides by Mariano Sigman. Published in 2015 and translated into English in 2017 by Little, Brown and Co. Sigman is an Argentinian physicist, see here for Ted Talk,  and here for youtube video, summarising some of the items in the book. 

A short introduction is followed by 6 chapters. 7 pages of references and comprehensive index.

 The book begins with ‘Origins of thought’ which summarises the developmental aspects of neurobiology. The sub-title of the chapter is how babies think and communicate and how can we understand them better?’ In short, we are wired to learn, some of the ways we conceptualise the world are innate, but social conditioning and experiences provide large contributions. Of note is the explanation of Piaget’s object permanence in 10 month old babies. They can see that an object has been shifted from under or behind a barrier, but still point to the original location. This is not because they have not conceptualised that the object has shifted, but because they are unable to override the stronger message they are getting from the brain, to indicate their true answer.

The fuzzy borders of identity – what defines our choices and allows us to trust other people and your own decisions? – An overview of the principles of neuro-economics. Basically, our decisions are governed by our unconscious which in turn is ‘trained’ by our personality and predilections. How we make decisions is often thought to be rational, but much of the decision making process is founded on our beliefs and biases. We tend to be more optimistic as it is a coping mechanism for us to get on with our lives. The brain has evolved mechanisms to ignore certain negative aspects of the future. The halo effect is pronounced in us, as it is based on the brain’s need to find structure and patterns. The various moral dilemmas are used as examples of how we go for irrational decisions, based on our emotions rather than our logic.

The machine that constructs reality – how does consciousness emerge in the brain and how are we governed by our unconscious. This chapter explores how the brain decodes patterns. The world of the ‘unconscious’ is also explored and explained. These concepts are important to understanding the next chapter. We are drawn to forming patterns as these help us make sense of the world. These patterns allow us to become experts in specialised areas. However, these patterns also trip us up when we come to make decisions as the pre-established preconceptions, blind us to alternatives.

Voyages of consciousness (or consciousness tripping) – what happens in the brain as we dream; is it possible for us to decipher, control and manipulate our dreams? This chapter discusses the differences between dreams and imagination. Dreams are generally not controllable but can be very realistic. Some people have lucid dreaming, which they are aware of. The contribution of pharmacology (e.g. cannabis, lysergics) to states of consciousness are introduced and pros and cons discussed.

The brain is constantly transforming – what makes our brains more or less predisposed to change? This chapter provides foundation for understanding how the brain learns. Humans are primed to learn and some forms of ‘understanding’ are innate. For example, children’s brains are wired to learn language. Experiences attained from life, provide scaffolds from which to build more learning. Therein lies the difference between novices and experts. Novices have less foundation to call on and need to attend to cues at each step of learning. Novices are also unable to work out what they need to focus on, therefore, their energies are drawn into all the aspects of the process as they are unable, as yet, to see the wood from the trees. In comparison, experts have attained an all-encompassing perspective on their specialist area and are able to draw on this to extend learning. The example provided is of chess masters playing multiple games whilst blindfolded. As these expert chess players have established patterns in their brains of chess boards and moves, they are able to associate the plays and make decisions without having to actually see the board. Attaining expert hood is assisted by the individual’s attributes and proclivities but still requires concerted input / effort / practice to polish and progress beyond the standardised.

Educated brains – how can we use what we have learned about the brain and human thought to improve education? Application of the concepts introduced are presented in this chapter. Advocates teaching should be centred around helping learners improve their metacognition. So learners need to be able to work out they know something and also that others know other things (theory of mind). It is important for learners to be able to work out if there is a difference between their own knowledge and that of others and then have the skills / tools to bridge the gap. Learning through teaching others (tutor learning), even for the very young, is recommended as a way to increase metacognition and extend learners’ theory of mind.

A very readable, short book of just over 200 pages. A two page appendix provides an overview of brain anatomy and 15 pages of bibliography are provided for follow up.

The book offers many examples, summaries of contemporary scholarly work and metaphors to assist with explaining the various concepts introduced and extended on through the book. It is a good resource for laypeople interested in understanding better, how the brain works.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Work and how different types of jobs are perceived

Happened on a Channel News Asia series over the weekend. It is about jobs in Singapore, which are considered to be 'low status'. The documentary, in 5 episodes, is titled "don't make us invisible" and follows the work routine of a petrol pump attendant, bus driver, cleaner and construction worker. All part of the Singapore government's efforts to shift the perception of the populace to consider that all jobs are important, not only the ones which require academic excellence. As it is, the majority of jobs deemed to be low status, are conducted by non-Singaporeans. With the rise in AI and robotics, some of these jobs will disappear, but there will still be  whole categories of work, requiring humans.

The status of jobs is not only an Asian challenge, this chapter 'beyond the vocational / academic divide: inclusion through craftwork and embodied learning', argues that all work, requires engagement and commitment. If we take on the view of learning as moving towards 'embodiment' of a set of manual skills, tacit knowledge and craftsman-like attitudes, then all learning, be it vocational or academic, are important towards contributing to social good.

Interestingly, there is also a volume of  recent literature, example summarised in this recent Stuff article, of how well respected jobs, can be boring and feel pointless. Over 80% of legal jobs, 70% plus project management, support functions, 60%plus in consulting / accounting, financial services / banking, engineering, sales / marketing and communications and over 50% IT type jobs are on the list! Another article summarises David Graeber's, one perspective of why these jobs lack satisfaction. The book 'Bullshit jobs'  categorises these jobs as "goons, flunkies, box tickers, task masters and duct tapers" with people responding that 'the jobs are so pointless that they are not able to justify their existence themselves'.

So although the above well-respected jobs require high academic achievement to enter, they do not, offer satisfaction and are just a means to earn a wage. So perhaps the entry of AI / robotics might not be such a bad thing after all! Some of the boring aspects of 'bullshit jobs' may be taken over. Whereas, the jobs requiring high levels of 'embodiment' providing greater job satisfaction, may continue due to their high levels of manual skill complexity and variety. What does that say of how we educate for the future? Something to think through and follow up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Emerge – Ara Institute of Technology ICT projects exhibition

The annual showcase for Bachelor of Information and Computer Technology (BICT) students runs across this week 11 – 15 June.

As part of the week, there was an evening event with two guest speakers, followed by presentations from students of their work.

Tony Grey, Ara CE provided the welcome and opening of the event. Dr. Bernard Otinpong, computing tutor/lecturer was the MC.

David Carter, Director of Stratos Technology Partners and the chairperson of Canterbury Tech presented on ‘the future of ICT’. Provided two examples of the acceleration in adoption of innovations requiring high IT infrastructure and resources. One is the use of AI bots by Google to  conduct conversations. The second is the development of self-driving cars. Social impacts are often under-stated and just these two technologies, will contribute to the world of the future. The challenge for NZ, a small country, is to ensure we understand what is coming or is already here, and to leverage of these. Provided an example of the smart use of technology to support dairy industry – monitoring of cows across a year provided sufficient data to predict time cows were ready for insemination and how the time of insemination would determine the gender of the offspring. Tech economy is low impact environmentally and Christchurch is well situated to contribute (being second to Wellington in number of IT companies and employees) . Need to ensure there are sufficient IT people to support the industry.

Teresa McCullum, Smart Cities project manager for the Christchurch City Council presented on ‘Smart cities and the internet of things’. Set up the context and rationale for the potentialities of IT careers in Christchurch. Shared the CCC vision for becoming a smart city. Defined smart city and internet of things (IoT). Updated on current work – open platform, open data and open information – to facilitate the interaction between the many ‘internet of things’ points and remove barriers to the adoption of innovative technologies. Exampled the way traffic flow is monitored and information is provided to motorists, rubbish bin sensors and earthquake response sensors. Check smart city Christchurch website.

An interesting session followed as students presented their work. Posters summarised their projects and students were available to answer questions. Almost all of the projects, were focused on the themes brought up by the speakers. Many projects also produced proof of concept type apps or systems for local companies, including this cycle safety app for school children to generate a safe route on bike to school.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst - book overview

I picked this book up from the local library and am glad I chanced upon it.

Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst by Robert M. Sapolsky, published 2017 by Penguin. 

Sapolsky presents excerpts from the book on a recent TedTalk

This book tries to and mostly succeeds in bringing together, the many threads of neurobiological, developmental, along with the evolutionary, and  social and cultural contributions to how we behave.
The book is pitched at interested lay people, but requires background in human biology to understand. 

The 3 appendices provided are therefore extremely useful overviews of neuroscience (i.e. how the brain works); endocrinology (i.e. the contribution of hormones and biochemical) and proteins (i.e. the genetics basis of life).

The book also has extensive notes for the keen to follow up (50 pages) and a thorough index.

There are 17 chapters with short introduction and epilogue bracketing the content.
The book begins with a behaviour, then proceeds to uncover, over time, layer by layer, the many influences that allow the said behaviour to occur.

The first 2 chapters focus on the neurobiology and biochemistry which drives behaviour. Appendix 1, covering the basics of neurobiology, is recommended as a prerequisite. The three chapters cover the brain areas relevant to understanding behaviour. The amygdala which is where reward, anticipation arise; the role of dopamine; and the frontal lobes contribution to regulation and restraint of behaviours.

Then follow 3 chapters which overlap between physical neurobiology and the biochemical interactions which contribute to behaviour. In particular, details on testetorone (on aggression), oxytoxin and vasopressin (on the mother-infant bond), adaptive female aggression through estrogen, progesterone and oxytoxine, the effects of sustained stress and the caveat that hormones do not determine, command or cause behaviours but make us more sensitive to triggers from emotionally charged behaviours. The effects of these hormones on memory and discussion on neuroplasticity are also included. Chapter 6 provides application of the precepts from the previous chapters by exploring and discussing the adolescent brain – ‘or dude, where is my frontal cortex?’

Then follow 3 chapters focusing on human development. Summarising the various behaviours’ development from birth and the genetic/ epigenetic causes of some of these behaviours. Also the contribution of mother’s behaviours while baby is in the womb and the wider social issues which cause behaviours which are distinct in various populations. Chapter 8 has a good overview of epigenetics and argues that genes are not autonomous. Instead, they are regulated by the wider environment. Epigenetics can allow environmental effects to be lifelong or even across generations. So it is now not so much important what your genetical heritage might be but the environment in which those genes find themselves and how many other environmental factors contribute to how genes manifest, or remain dormant.

Chapter 9 synthesises the biological with aspects of the social-cultural. For example, the role of culture in contributing to why there is a gender gap in mathemathics testing. There is overview of the salient foundations of social theories, including collectivist vs individualist cultures; pastoralism (e.g. what agriculture has contributed); stratified vs egalitarian cultures; the effects of population size, density and heteriogeneity; and origins of religion and war.

Evolution's contribution is then discussed in the next three chapters. The premise is that evolution can shape behaviour, but with caveats. The usual foundations of evolution are discussed, including why there is reciprocal altruism, as it does not favour genetical transfer of the altruistic individual. The nuances of selection are proposed and critiqued – as in individual, group, kin selection etc.  In short, brain neurobiology, genes, hormones, social contributions etc.  provide not so much causes as propensities, potentials, vulnerabilities, predispositions etc.

Chapter 11 provides a good overview of why we are ‘tribal’ and why it we are drawn to ‘us vs them’ reactions. Discussions follow on the contribution of this concept to a whole host of human responses. Chapter 12 follows with extension of chapter 11 with discussion on the social basis of hierarchy, obedience and resistance. Why we crave status, its roots in biology and the social and cultural bases that support and enhance status. This chapter covers much ground. Importantly, the ways we make decisions are founded in our biology (i.e. how we make decisions, our approaches to reflective thought and how we resolve cognitive dissonance). Our social systems have ameliorated some of the predisposition to just look after ourselves and those close to us. For instance, we invented democracy and social welfare. However, we are also conformists and this may lead us to follow pathways which disadvantage ‘the other’.

The implications on behaviour are then presented in a couple of chapters. Chapter 13 summarises morality and ethics and how they contribute. Chapter 14 is on empathy, why do we feel the pain of others? And especially, why are we neurobiologically primed to have empathy.

Chapter 15 follows up behaviours at the other end of the continuum from empathy. Why do we kill? How do we circumvent the inner biological and cultural reinforcements of disgust etc. to kill others?

Chapter 16 is an interesting chapter which discusses whether we have free will. The criminal justice system is used as the basis for examples. In particular, how snippets of neuroscience research have been used, without deeper study of the actual implications. Hence, neurolaw, as an emergent science has to counter misconceptions and provide more studied responses.

The penultimate chapter ‘war and peace’ brings the various themes together. It presents the behaviours which have improved (i.e. we have mellowed and are less likely to go to war); discusses how to move forward and improve our behaviours as a species further; and summarises the best of humanity’s contributions.

In short, things are complicated. We may understand some of the underlying biological basis for behaviour but there are many contributing factors beyond the biological. There is never one factor or cause, but a multitude of interactions, concurrent shifts, biological and social coevolution etc. Understanding this means we need to read the literature critically and not just take things at face value.

All in, a really good synthesis, written in readable prose. Best read if you are interested in the topic as there is a lot to take in (over 600 pages including the appendices).

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Peak: Secrets from the science of expertise - book overview

This is a layperson's book on deliberate practice. The book - Peak: Secrets from the new science of expertise is by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, published in 2017.

The more scholarly book - development of professional expertise - see summary on this blog here, makes for more thorough discussion and information.

However, for people wanting a quick overview of deliberate practice, and its application to daily life, the book Peak provides good introduction and overview. The book has 10 chapters, each building on the other.

The book begins with 3 chapters to introduce the concepts of deliberate practice. Then, follow two chapters on application (deliberate practice on the job and in everyday life). There is then a chapter on 'the road to extraordinary', summarising much of the work on understanding expertise and arguing that it is deliberate practice which is the key to expert performance. The next chapter then discusses the conundrum of 'natural talent', what is its role in feeding into expertise. The last chapter looks into 'where do we go from here', providing for suggestions for further research into the development of expertise. 

There are 30 pages of notes for those who are keen to follow up more on the topic.

A related article - how to make your kid good at everything - provides more overview of the book's contents. The summation in the article is 'it is not how much practice, but how you do it' which is the important message from the book.

As always, one concept, can only go so far to explain the complexities of human learning. Critique of the concept of deliberate practice was summarised on this blog a few years ago.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Review of NZ vocational education system and ITPs - summary to date

The newly elected NZ Government, a coalition of Labour, Greens and NZ First, had a wide range of items to address when they took up office at the end of last year. One was a review of the entire NZ education system from early childhood to tertiary and vocational education. The last six months has seen a flurry of papers and roadmaps of the various work streams to be completed over the next 6 months to a year.

Since I work and research in the sectors, the review of the NZ vocational education system and the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) are of interest.

The state of review for ITPs is as follows:
- The original 2017 report by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) spells out the challenges including lower enrolments across the sector brought about by lower school leaver numbers over the coming years and high employment across all sectors of the NZ economy. Then the TEC follows on with a roadmap of suggestions for a way forward.

The Minister's view is found in here. With usual hyped up commentary from the media on 'can polytechs be saved?'

-  The scope of the review of Vocational education is provided by Ministry of Education. The scope includes a strong network of provision for all regions; work-based learning that adapts to a variety of needs, a system that is effective for a diverse range of learning; a system that supports, and is supported by industry.

As with most reviews, there are opportunities to try to get things better. However, the challenges presented are large and will require systemic change, in particular, funding structures, to ensure public funding is used responsibly but ensuring NZers are provided access to opportunities for vocational education.