Monday, September 20, 2021

Oppo A94 5G

 My Samsung Galaxy S5, inherited from my son, became unstable a few weeks ago. Considering that it is well past its use by date, it provided reliable service across 7 years. I have been using it for 3 -4 years.

There are now a wide range of mid-range phones to select from. Going by a colleagues recommendation, I explored the Oppo range of phones and purchased the Oppo A94 5G a couple of weeks ago. Its a mid-range phone with a competitive price, 1/3 price of the latest iphones or mid-range Samsung phones. 

So far, I am happy with its performance as I am not a heavy phone user. Porting everything across from the Samsung, using the recommended 'phone clone' app was straightforward. All apps came across and have been accessible. All apps and mobile browsing have been performing as required.

Two apps have provided some learning: 

- The Adidas runtastic app was one of a list of 'fitness apps' recommended for Android phones. I have been using the free version (which is currently sufficient for my needs) to track my bike and tramping trips. So far, the app has been straight-forward to use. A comparison with the results from friends indicates some accuracy for distance travelled, although the 'ascend' in m for my weekend tramp up to Mount Grey was rather high. So will check this out again on my next tramp.

- inaturalist app worked well for about 5 entries before lack of coverage stymied further direct entry of botanical samples. The farm we were walking across is above Purau on Banks Peninsula and rural mobile coverage would have been challenging, especially in the two valleys we tranversed. I reverted to just taking photos and will upload these via PC later this week. 

Battery life of the phone, set on battery safer and low screen light has been very good. Even with the runtastic app and inaturalist app both running, along with photo/video taking and googling, the phone used up only about 1/2 its battery life across the day. Will continue testing across the month and see what happens :) 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Effortful educator - a resource for teachers to apply cognitive science to teaching

 I came across this blog while catching up on the work of Professor Paul Kirshner though this blog 'ask a researcher' . The blog Effortful Educator is a good resource as it collates many seminal resources informing teaching and learning. The main focus of the blog is to summarise learnings on cognitive psychology and connect them to the messy world of teaching and learning. 

A good place to start is the blog on 'five essential article for teachers'. It has been extended by several additions /contributions from others, but the five essential articles are very useful as a start to better understanding the precepts of cognitive science as they apply to learning. One of the links brings you to 'the retrieval practice library' which provides good resources for understanding these concepts.

The Effortful Educator blog series on 'ask a researcher' is also a good way to understand how contemporary researchers approach their work and has summaries and recommendations from each researcher.

As always, the context is formal education with clear lines to follow through into higher education. However, careful reading of articles and resources archived in the blog will provide good material for application to the vocational education context as well. 

Thursday, September 09, 2021

NZ Vocational Education Research Forum - Day 2


The second day begins with welcome from Josh William, Evangeleen and Ezekiel Raui of Skills Consulting Group.

The first address is from Penny Simmonds, National PartyTertiary Education spokesperson and was the CE of Southern Institute of Technology for 23 years. Shared her experience on the development and maturity of a research culture at SIT. Acknowledged the challenges, especially the initial beginnings to support and build research capability. There was important need to enable research including better teaching hours abatement, leadership support, networking collaborative research, the importance of sharing and peer support, and provision of opportunities for dissemination and publication. Direction for VET research could include building research into Bachelor and post-grad curriculum, encouraging joint tutor/student research, and problem-solving for industries and communities. VET research usefully deployed to help find solutions to local problems, can be longitudinal and attract local funding. Research then informs teaching, is discipline specific and can be used to improve teaching. Posits that VET research is about providing solutions, improving practice, grounded in real-life, and helps students, industries and communities.

The first keynote for the day is with Tania Winslade, DeputyCE for Learner Journeys and Experience at Te Pūkenga and Debbie and Kelly-Anne from Wintec. She provides details on ‘Te rito:ensuring learners are at the centre of our unified network’. Provided some background and guiding principles (the charter) for the work now being undertaken by Te Pūkenga. Partnerships with schools, wanangas, workforce development councils, iwi, community, industry etc. crucial in ensuring Te Pūkenga meet stakeholder needs. Introduced the Te Rito reports so far – learners and staff, Māori, Pacific and Disabled which identified insights and opportunities for them. Debbie Preston and Kelly-Anne Panapa summarised the reports. All were con-constructed with participants and the approach and process for gathering and analysing the data. All the data was analysed as a whole. Then data sets formed for Māori/pacific and disabled learners and re-analysed. Learner and staff personas were developed to inform Te Pūkenga’s work going forward. Shared example personas and their bumpy journeys. A good presentation. These findings inform the operating model (Te tauira whakahaere) developed as organisational touchpoints. Consultation on this will start in October. Affirmed that all of this research will be respected and these will be actioned into Te Pūkenga’s emerging operations.

Breakout rooms commence. I attend the session with Dr. LisaMaurice-Takerei from Auckland University of Technology and Helen Anderson (Unitec) on ‘the role of VET teachers in Aotearoa NZ’s economic future’. The overall focus of the presentation is based on the opinion that good teaching underpins quality VET. VET teachers are often invisible but doing complex work. There is often insufficient support for industry practitioners to become teachers. There are qualification pathways but often these are at too low a level. VET teaching as a whole is not seen to be a career pathway into professional/research aspects of VET. Current RoVE work has emphasis on industry and learners but the VET teachers are again not visible. An opportunity is presented especially in the new world in processes of standard settings, qualifications development, moderation, development of programmes and decision making in qualification and their delivery. VET teachers have high level of skills and knowledge in their discipline but often have to learn how to teach ‘on the job’. Pedagogical content knowledge and skill associated with teaching/training methods most suited to the discipline is a weak point. Important to ensure there are good induction and professional development processes to support teachers as they move into and continue as VET teachers. Qualifications to degree level required. Industry currency also important. More coordinated VET research will be useful. Vet teaching should be highly valued, high level VET teaching qualification available, research agenda, industry currency has precedence, allowing for a high quality VET provision.

I then present my take on ‘the knotty problem of learning how to ‘feel the wood’ when access to the lathe is not possible: Supporting distance/remote practice-based learning’. In this presentation, I review the processes underpinning practice-based learning with a focus on the sociomaterial aspects of practice. Sociomateriality is an intensely challenging but crucial aspect of practice-based learning. It is also difficult to help learners access the sociomaterial via digital technologies as so much is learnt by doing. Experts also find it difficult to describe sociomateriality of their work as it is embodied into their practice and has become tacit. The push-connect the dots-pull model is extended to help bring in aspects of practice-based learning to support the learning of the sociomaterial aspects of work.

A plenary session follows with Patrick McKibbin, Business and Employer liaison manager at the Ministry of Education with ‘the emergence of work integrated pathways'. His role brings him in contact and consultation with employers, schools and learners. Employer engagement is crucial. 66% of students had no exposure to employers, 45% no exposure to careers advisors. 57% heading to uni but only 6% to polytech and similar to apprenticeships. Summarised present programmes - gateway, trades academies, work experience whilst still at school, events to connect school communities and employers. As part o RoVE, 135 events run but covid has disrupted many more. Young people attending these feel more informed about their pathways beyond work. There is skills shortage in NZ and employers are desperate. There need to have schools and employers co-creating learning journeys for learners so that outcomes are more diverse. Provided example of Hastings Boys High School and Patton Engineering began to work together in 2018. HBHS is decile 2 with high numbers of Māori/Pacific students. Community funding support provided to upgrade workshops at the school to workplace standards and Pattons helped provide steel to the school. Outcomes have been good with 31 more employwers engaged and number of boys engaged in vocational learning increased. Massey High School and Kāinga Ora (building organisation) another example where 10 years ago, a Massey HS building academy was developed and now has 100 students participating. Again outcomes are good with attendance at 95% and 99% of students go into apprenticeship and employment. This model now being shared with other schools. Emerging networks include Fusion Network (software development) and Tamaki High School; Mainfreight & Hynds (transport); IBM Global Tech programme with two schools in South Auckland. Discussed how work integrated pathways are part of the new future for learners. MOE has resources to support the process of employer and school interrelationship. Shared work MOE is doing now and into the future to operationalise the intentions of the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE). 

The last keynote is with Wolfgang Steinle, Deputy Principle of Kerchensteinerschule in Stuttgard, Germany. He presents on ‘Co-ordination and co-operation: How vocational providers support work-based learning and apprenticeships in Germany'. Began with the background and details on the dual-system. Then description of the coordination and co-operation process between schools and business - especially in light of Covid. Stuttgard is in Baden-Wurttenberg state in Germany with 11 million population. Unemployment currently at 5.6% with 3.5% youth unemployment. There are 300 vocationsl schools in the dual system. Provided overview of the German education system, and where the vocational school and dual VET systems are situated. In the dual system, student are situated 30% at vocational school and 70% in workplace across 2 to 3 years. The governance system involves republic, federal state and rural/urban district jurisdiction. Detailed the processes for coordination and co-operation between the vocational school and employers. Vetting systems and regulations presented. Employers must have a qualified trainer. Final practical exams are conducted at the workplace. Responsibilities of each and their roles also presented. During Covid, online lessons from vocational school were carried out according to the normal timetable. Socially disadvantaged students required support for hardware. Tests were provided 2 times a week.  Students on the dual system did better than the full-time students. Good overview of the dual system. 

Josh and Evangeleen close with thanks for attending the forum, speaker, supporters, sponsors etc. The forum concludes with a poroporaki with Joe Te Rito.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

NZ vocational education and training (VET) research forum - 2021 DAY 1

 This year the research forum is held online again.

The forum opens with Joe Te Rito and Alexia Tuhi from Ako Aotearoa providing the welcome. Josh Williams than provides an overview of the conference and a welcome to all the participants, from may countries and across the educational sectors. and Garry Fissenden, CEO of Skills Consulting Group, follows and reiterates the welcome to everyone. Helen Lomax, Director/Tumuaki of Ako Aotearoa also provides a welcome to the forum.

The first keynote is with Brad Olsen, Principal Economistand Director of Infometrics who presents on ‘NZ economic recovery and the NZ education system’. Provides an update on how the pandemic has altered the global landscape. It is not going away and there is a need to keep up with what the implications of the pandemic are into the future. His presentation focuses on ‘building back better means taking a different approach’. Re visited the effects of the first lockdown in NZ last year, a significant shock but also a quick recovery. Employment is well up but still over 100,000 NZers looking for jobs. We have enough people but not at the right time, right place and with the right skills. Health jobs have increased significantly but retail, hospitality etc. have dropped. Retraining may be one option but not all people need long training programmes. Upskilling is important. Regions dependent on tourism (Otago) have been most badly impacted. Tourism might never be the same again

Highlighted the need to have a new way of working. As so many of us continue to work from home, groceries, home recreation and DIY – including increased spending in furniture etc. have increased. Internal tourism sees regions nearest main centres to be busiest. Accommodation and F & B have declined. Suburban centres outside of city centres also doing better with greater number of people moving out of the city to the outer suburbs. Commuting using public transport have also not revived.

Labour market is intensely tight. Instead of large numbers of NZers out of work, there is a labour shortage. Due partially to no access to skilled workers from overseas (from about 5000 a month to none – an unlikely to be as open post-pandemic). Unemployment may drop below 4% but unemployment still uneven across ethnicities. Māori and Pacific Peoples have double the rate. Young people and women also more affected. The work of Te Pūkenga is important and especially crucial to work with the Regional Leadership Groups (RSLGs).

Job advertisements well up with few people responding to these. Competition for workers therefore increased. For education, micro-credentials have become more important to fill gaps and to help people move horizontally across occupations. Integration  of the skill needs between employers and education important. Warned of inflation – soaring shipping costs filter to higher costs of consumables.

Breakout sessions then begin.

The first is with Tania Mullane (Whitereia and Weltec) on ‘tangata hourua framework’. The framework is an indigenous reciprocal research framework. It draws on Kaupapa Māori and Pacific methodologies and values. The framework upholds the rights of Māori to have their knowledge and culture embedded in research. It also reflects and represents those who self-identify as having multi-ethnicities which include Māori or Pacific Island. Important as a response to a gap in understanding and the need to address and give context to some of the tensions, conflicts, and challenges of multi-ethnic populations. As there are no existing theories, important to acknowledge and respond to the need of Generation ‘B’ - brown, brainy, beautiful, bicultural, bilingual, bold. The framework is useful when undertaking research with Māori and Pacific peoples. Important to develop indigenous methodologies and dispel the dominance of western methods and that they are the only valid /reliable ways.  The framework synthesises work on Kaupapa Māori theory (HIngangaroa Smith) and Pacific/pan-pacific approaches. Discussed the specific challenges in bringing these two important methodologies together and provided details on how the framework was build. Used both the whare and the waka as they are both shared in both cultures. Selected the double hulled canoe – as both deliberately bound together for the long sea journeys. As with a waka, tangata (people) with skills knowledge and expertise and that the waka can be upturned as a whare once the destination is reached. Provided detail of the framework including a spiral bringing together both cultures but with space to also stretch/move between the themes. Summarised ways to use the framework. Possible as a cultural ‘roadmap’ to allow for how participants may self-identify and to overlay collective group of Māori and Pacific people.

The next session is with Dr. Cherie Chu-Fuluifaga (Victoria) and Janice Ikiua-Pasi (Massey) presenting on ‘From good to great: 10 habits of phenomenal educators for Pacific learners’. Cherie introduced herself and the project. Janice then introduced herself. Shared the purpose of their project to try to turn theory into practice, develop real system change, listen to student experiences and focus on the strengths of phenomenal educators. Shared two stories of phenomenal educators. The pioneer educator and the reflective educator. Introduced ‘the Kato’ or presents - as the ’10 habits’ – summarised on Ako Aotearoa site

A panel session follows on exploring the Centres for Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) with Paul Hollings, General manager for the Foodand Fibre CoVE and Bharti Raniga, General Manager for the Construction andInfrastructure CoVE. Josh Williams introduces the panel session and provides the background and context of the creation of the CoVEs. Each GM introduces their CoVE, the purpose and direction. Bharti spoke of ConCoVE, with a Māori name forthcoming. Vision of ConCoVE is to assist the alignment of the industry and VET. Industry is not quite satisfied with current quality, type and access to training for the industry. Dialogue and co-construction (pun intended) required to increase productivity, increase diversity of current workforce, and contribute to NZ future workforce development. At present ConCoVE has been working with employers, industry, iwi, Te Pūkenga and now in the phase of focusing on the themes and recommendations arising from this consultation. Also learning much more about why and how people engage with work in the industry, when they make their career decisions, what are the learning pathways and what does technology and the future of work bring into the picture.

Paul summarised progress on Food/Fibre CoVE. Largely industry with some provider members and a board. Currently 5 staff. Reached out to their constituencies and find out what their needs. A knowledge base has been setup; a framework to evaluate how the CoVE is effective; and a literature review to find out what is going on in food/fibre education training excellence. Interest in microcredentials but important to work out how these are integrated into current qualifications framework. As with ConCoVE, working on equity issue, to bring in Māori/Pacific/women/immigrants into the industry. Also building a work-integrated learning model for the industries. Important to identify the opportunities for excellence and to leverage these. Due to the newness of the CoVEs, there were lots of questions.

The second keynote is with Olly Newton, Executive Director at Edge Foundation who presents on ‘Degree model apprenticeships’.  Provided an overview of the Edge FOundation which is working to inform educational systems to provide young people the knowledge skills and behaviours they need to flourish in their future life and work. Then provided the background on the apprenticeship reform in the UK including the work on shifting apprenticehship frameworks and standards towards apprentice endpoint assessments. An apprenticeship levy was also set up to fund work and support on apprenticeship and rationalisation and detail of this was presented. 
Shared the UK experiences with Degree Apprenticeships. Began with background as to how these are constituted - length, coverage, and delivery models. There were 13,400 starts in 2019/20 for degree apprenticeships with 55% mainly in business, administration and law. Proposed advantages and challenges. 
Summarised other examples of degree apprenticeships from Scotland (graduate apprenticeship), Norway (industry master programme), and Lithuania (create Lithuiania to attract study abroad students). 
Then covered the wider models for VET (not necessarily apprenticeship). Examples include Edge Hotel School (with University of Essex) which  is situated in a hotel and supplemented with WIL in other hotels; Wales National Software Academy (with Cardiff University) replicates a development business; Minerva University in San Francisco; and Quest University in Ontario

Monday, September 06, 2021

Learning /Instructional Design Books - Creative Commons

 Edtech books publihes ebooks wich are completely free. A good service for the educational community,.

As I am doing some intensive reading on 'instructional'/learning design, the book provide a good source of peer-reviewed material. The chapters in the books are drawn mainly from the American instructional design corpus but serve as good foundations for learning design.

Of note are three books -

- Foundations of learning and instructional design technology, edited by R. E. West. This volume collates a range of important readings. Many published in educational technology, educational psychology, instrustional design journals. There are over 50 chapters covering definitions and history, learning and instruction, design, technology and media, and becoming a learning/instructional design professional. The volume represents good introduction to the field.

- Design for learning - principles, processes and praxi, edited by J.K. McDonald and R.E. West. This volume is the 'how to' design learning resource. There are just over 30 chapters organised into sections on instructional design practice, instructional design knowledge, instructional design processes, destigning instructional activities, and design relationships.

- A practitioner's guide to instructional design in higher education, edited by J. E Stefaniak, S. Conklin, B. Oyarzun and R.M. Reese. This volume has 14 chapters covering a range of contemporary learning design approaches and topics. It is pitched at higher education academics and therefore the chapters are more generic. Topics include quality assurance, learning analytics, accessibility, data informed design etc. Therefore, perhaps not a book for beginner learning designers but one which informs academics as to the range and depth of learning design.

Overall, good coverage of the foundations and essentials informing the processes and challenges of learning design. Worth the effort to work through the over 100 chapters as each has useful information. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Moving down to Level 3 - the challenge with practice-based learning

 On Wednesday, most of Aotearoa moves down from the strict Level 4 lockdown, to Level 3. Auckland and Northland remain at Level 4 as almost all the cases (400 +) have been situated there. They will remain at Level 4 for at least 2 weeks, signalling that the rest of the country will remain at Level 3 for at least 2 weeks as well.

Level 3 has been described as Level 4 with takeaways but the business community, frustrated at the restrictions and implications for their businesses. Many businesses are able to open but without dine-in or any close contact activities (i.e. hairdressing, gyms etc.). In education, the majority will be through distance learning with some leeway for students requiring learning situated in labs. Ara interprets this to also mean workshops, training kitchens, studios etc. The challenge is the number of students allowed into the practice area. Last year, the maximum was 20 but with 2 metre spacing, the actual number was more like 10. This makes it a challenge as most practice-based programmes have class cohort sizes of around 18 to 20. Splitting the class into half has challenges of doubling the teacher ratio.

Our learning design recommendations the use of a flipped classroom concept. One 1/2 of the class prepares for their practice session and the other 1/2 has a practical session. Then, the groups change over, with one 1/2 doing the preparation/reflection and 1/2 back into the practical workshop. The 1/2 of the class doing the preparation/reflection undertakes this through online 'attendance' with a check-in zoom session. These online sessions could consist of several combined cohorts in the same year and be managed by one tutor (or academic manager) whilst the other 1/2 of the class learns in practical workshops. 

We will need to evaluate this approach when Level 3 ends, to see how effective it has been from the learners and tutors perspectives. 

Monday, August 23, 2021

Back to level 4 and distance learning this week

 With the discovery of one case of the Delta strain of Covid, Aotearoa went back into Level 4 at midnight last Tuesday. To date, there have been 71 cases, all are in Auckland with 6 cases in Wellington. The government will broadcast their decision as to what happens from this week as level 4 was only put in place for a week across NZ. The general consensus is that level 4 will continue for at least another week before a reassessment of risks (based on cases being identified). If there are no cases in the South Island and no evidence of the virus from waste water testing, then the South Island may move to Level 3. So fingers crossed that we do not have to remain at Level 4 for too long.

The move to Level 4 was swift, within 6 hours of the first case showing up. Derek Wenmouth recorded how the entire education sector was caught by surprise although at Ara, our CE was continually reminding our teaching departments to be ready.

At the beginning of this year, departments were tasked with reporting on readiness and learners were prepared with inductions to zoom and Moodle (our LMS). However, these were not repeated in semester two when a small cohort of new students begin their studies. In hindsight, we should have repeated the exercise from the beginning of the year, thereby assisting our teachers with one item to not have to worry about. That is, inducting students new to distance learning to the digital tools. We also had a cohort of new teachers starting at the beginning of the semester. Most of these teachers will have only been teaching for about a month, before having to shift to distance learning.

The thing to learn from all of this is that prepareness is an ever moving target. There is never an end point as there will be new students/teachers having to be introduced to distance learning tools and approaches. 

Thankfully, most of our resources have been updated since last year and my colleagues and I could draw on these to support our teachers. The second 1/2 of last week was busy with workshops to update and orientate our teachers to the shift back to distance learning. This week, mostly drop-in type sessions to triage those who need support. 

Hopefully, this time around, the distance learning and Level 4 will be short. We are likely to also be in distance teaching mode at Level 3 which may be more drawn out. We will need to work on how we move forward after this event as Covid will still around for the immediate future :(