Tuesday, June 08, 2021

British Educational Research Association (BERA) blog

 The British Educational Research Association - BERA - maitntains a blog with topical discussions related to a range of topics. The five journals supported by the Association, reflect the main topic streams - educational research, educational technology, review of education, the curriculum journal and European educational research.

One of the recent blogs refers to a series of three books, detailing the challenges faced by further education in the UK, with some comparisons of the Australian and Irish equivalent sectors. In summary, discussing the 'invisibility' of FE and VET and the political discourse which sees these educational sectors as only contributing to 'skills development'. Three books have been written sine 2010 with the last one recently published proposing some future directions. 

In addition, BERA also facilitates a range of special interest groups (SIGs) covering a host of topics including one on post-compulsory and lifelong learning. This SIG covers the further, adult, informal and lifelong leanring sectors. Otther SIGs of interest include the curriculum assessment and pedagogy

Monday, May 31, 2021

Hyflex learning #2

 As summarised in a previous post, hyflex learning whereby has seen an increased interest due to the need to move to remote/distance learning caused by the current pandemic.

Hyflex learning is challenging as it requires f2f learning to run as per normal, or as blended learning as is often now used in NZ VET along with a distance learning course. Students are provided the option of participating in either f2f/blended or fully distance. The most flexible version is to allow students to hop between the different delivery modes, meaning all the versions of the course, requires synchronisation. 

This resource provides a good discussion on the intricacies of setting up, teaching on and consolidating the various aspects of hyflex. Of note is the need to 'plan ahead' and to be familiar with all the technologies to be used in each aspect of the course. This is no mean feat as it requires lecturers to not only continue with their usual 'lectures' but also conduct sessions on zoom and have all resources etc. available in a distance learning course platform. The amount of work required to put all of these delivery modes into place will be high. The commitment to be fluent with the technologies required - lecture capture, zoom discussions, design and planning of the fully online equivalent, also require capability development. Therefore, unless well resourced and supported, good quality and effective hyflex will be a challenge.

Leveraging off the socio-cultural is one way to divide up the workload and commit to successful hyflex development. The article suggest the deployment ot teaching assistants to run some aspects of classes and to create peer support groups for students. This works well when there are large cohorts of students in university type contexts but less well in VET where smaller class sizes are the norm. However, with the move on the Te Pukenga, some economies of scale may see courses being shared across the network and student groups being merged for some discipline areas. Again, learning design is important to ensure students do not struggle with being expected to be part of large classes when they signed up for smaller, more teacher contact type courses. The use of peer groups, perhaps supported by 'teaching assistants' or senior students, may be one way to keep cohort groups engaged.

Therefore, hyflex is but one option and a challenging one at that! Students attending f2f/blended OR distance and keeping to one delivery mode is still a better way forward as each has different calls on pedagogy and learning patterns. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Horizon report 2021

 This year's Horizon report - teaching and learning edition - repeats much of last year's methodology by scanning the social, technological, economic, environmental and political impacts on technology and its implications on teaching and learning. The pandemic has coloured many of these with increases in 'remote' work/learning; widening of the digital divide and mental health issues being evidence social issues. There has been 'widespread' adoption of hybrid learning with increased use of learning technologies accompanied by online faculty development. 

The KEY technologies and practices are little changed. They include:

- Artificial Intelligence

- Blended and hybrid course models

- Learning analytics - their role

- Microcredentialling

- Open Educational resources (OER)

- Quality online learning - first mention, in a while, of this in Horizon reports.

Scenarios of growth, constraint, collapse and transformation are used to envision which of the above will have stronger impacts. Given the rise of digital learning due to the pandemic, growth is evident but transformation is still limited.

Case studies are offered across higher education (HE) and 'community colleges'. Countries include Australia, South Africa, Turkey, US community colleges and doctoral colleges. 

Overall, not much new with the addition of the implications wrought by pandemic issues. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Simplifying NZ qualifications and credentials - information webinar

 Attended an information webinar this morning organised by NZQA on the topic – simplifying NZ qualifications and other credentials as a precursor to the consultation process.

The proposals seek to:

·         ensure that vocational qualifications support learner mobility and consistent skills for employers, whilst retaining flexibility for regional needs

·         simplify the credentials landscape so that it is easier for learners and employers to navigate

·         enable Workforce Development Councils to develop micro-credentials for providers to deliver. 

A summary of the intentions are available from this link and the details on this link

Notes taken at the webinar are below:

The presenter in Frannie Aston, Chief advisor at NZQA. The presentation covered the reform of vocational education (RoVE); overviewed the proposals and then provided a Q & A session.

Justine Auton introduced the session and provided the welcome along with how the session would run.

RoVE came about due to skill shortages, difficulties in getting to employers and learners in the revgions, challenges at ITPs. etc.

Summarised the key concepts, vision, progress on transition into RoVE. 

NZQA programmes of work being done to align to RoVE structure and systems. NZQA undertaking the simplifying qualifications, supporting establishment of WDCs, revieqing quality assurance and internal NZQA systems. Plus also deoing the review of NZQF.

Summarised the need to undertake qualification design. Improved greater consistency and simply range and design of vocaitional education 'products.

Two options for ensuring VET meets students needs. NZ quals as currently oulined or programmes and training packages remove and removed with national curriculum. 

Option A details laid out with WDCs developing skills and quals; training packages and tertiary education programmes - as currently outlined in the education and training act 2020. 

Option B simplifies the process with WDC develop and maintain qualifications including 'naitonal curriculum' and lead the development of 'national curriculum'. Option requires changes to Education and Training Act 2020. Would apply to all qualifications on the NQF to level 7. 

Defined national curriculum - meet intent of 'training packages', include skills standards' specified in the qualification and collaboratively developed. Option B will remove traning packages but components of qualification will be the same.

Impact of Option B better for learners for transferability; employers and industry will achieve greater consistency with involvement in design and review. WDCs lead but would not develop training packages, teaching institutions able to provide pedagogical support.

Compared options A and B abd their key advantages and disadvantages.

Q & A included whether skills standards assessments are competency or achievement based - still unclear.

Some content will be included in the process.

Regional needs may be met through microcredentials or some credits allow for local context to tbe recognised. 

Providers still responsible for development of teaching and learning resources. National curriculum to include core content, teaching and learning objectives etc.

WDC will need ITP collaboration to inform pedagogy and content inclusion.

Covered proposals 2 and 3. In proposal 2 training schemes would be replaced by microcredentials. Provided rationale and details of how this may work.

Proposal 3 enabling microcredentials to be developed by WDC. Technical issue in the Educatin and Training Act 2020 required to allow this to occur. 

In general, anything under 40 is microcredit but above that, a stand alone qualification. There is difference between skill standard (micro credential) and unit standard. At some stage, all training schemes will become microcredentials.Microcredentials must meet industry needs, therefore there should not be a large number of microcredentials. A badging system may be possible.

Continued with the timeline for the 'simplifyinf qualifications' process.Consultation close 16/6, collated across August and proposed amendments to ACT in mid 2022. Implementation likely only from 2023.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Instructional design - need for critical direction

 For many years, I have disliked the term 'instructional design' with its connotations of teacher-led, behavourist based and non-collaborative learning slant. My current position of 'educational developer' is the combination of educational designer and 'staff'developer' roles. Again, not the best description of a role entailing much more than curriculum design and 'training' of teachers. My role is instead very much that of a changeagent and 'meddler in the middle'. I work at empowering teachers to develop curriculum which is true to their disciplinary grounding but also meeting the learning needs of their students along with meeting accreditation requirements. The teachers I work with 'own' their programme of learning. To do that, they need to be involved from the start as they are the ones who will do the work to make alive, their curriculum design. in many other juristrictions, curriculum is developed and imposed on teachers. This leads to content focus rather than pedagogical practice development. 

So my role is very much people focused. Technology is used as a tool to 'enhance learning' and when learning and teaching has to shift online, it is the learning and teaching that has to take precedence, not the digital components of the programme.

Instructional design (ID) itself has come a long way from its behavourist roots. Many people working in the ID field are avid constructivists. The current mode is for IDs to work as 'critical friends' to integrate 'student and learning centredness' into the design of courses, programmes and curriculum. However, the field is rife with books and websites focussed on the processes for enacting ID - i.e. ADDIE, backward design etc. The philosophical beliefs of 'instructional designer' on teaching and learning is not as visible, especially on digital resources. Therefore, it is refreshing to see a site (hybridpedagogy) discussing the need for instructional designers to adopt a critical stance to inform their work. In particular, to remember and act on 'critical pedagogy' (Freire), that is education is not just a process 'done' to students; but a co-constructed experience, allowing for both learners and teachers to reach their potential through learning.

I have started putting time into reading the literature on learning design and ID. As usual, there is very little in the field focused on vocational education. Almost all work assumes learning is undertaken either in the formal school or higher education sector. There is also strong priviledging of text-based learning. Therefore, there is much to be done on synergising the precepts of learning design and ID to meet the needs of practice-based learning. The technology is now available to offer simulations which are useful but these have to be used carefully as not all components of practice can be replicated within virtual environments. The most telling is the 'sociomaterial' aspects of learning skills, the interactions people have with tools, materials, machines, work environment etc. Thes important interactions people have with non-human entities, provide nuanced feedback required to be acted on. Through these interactions, the 'workmanship of risk' can be actioned. VR environments currently unable to provide all the sensory experiences which encompass the sociomaterial. So vocational education learning design is challenged by trying to replace the f2f and 'hands-on' aspects of practice. 




Monday, May 03, 2021

Principles of assessment and aromatawai - draft for consultation from nzqa

 NZQA has released draft principles for assessment and aromatawai for consultations. 

The consultation process closes at the end of May. The principles will cover all educational sectors / NZQA qualifications from school to tertiary. Consultation feedback will be used to develop the final guidance documents and develop contextualised resources.

Of note is the inclusion of aromatawai, the teaching, learning and assessment approaches based on Maori values, beliefs and aspirations. The six underpinning kaupapa are -  Rangatiratanga, Whanaungatanga, Manaakitanga, PÅ«kengatanga, Kaitiakitanga, Te Reo.

The five principles of assessment are that they are valid, reliable, informative (i.e. with an emphasis on the formative), equitable and authentic.

All in, good synergy between aromatawai and the usual assessment principles. Addition of equitable allows for more personalised assessments to be conducted. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Micro-credentials - a critique

 There has been much hype about microcredentials. For example the NZ Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has worked at recognising these. 

This paper  provides a critique of the emergence and adoption of micro-credentials in higher education. Many of the points made are also pertinent to VET and further education (FE).

The paper is available for download and should be compulsory reading for people who work in curriculum development, programme design etc. In particular, the application of micro-credentials to further 'vocationalise' HE is important to understand.