Monday, May 23, 2022

Pedagogies for future orientated learning - a book overview

 This book edited by Helen Bound, Jennifer Pei-Ling Tan and Rebekah Lim Wei Ying, proposes some responses to the current challenges posed by the rapid changes wrought by the 4th Industrial revolution.

It brings together two topics within my research sphere – pedagogy and identities. It’s a relatively short book – not quite 200 pages – with 10 chapters.

The book begins with an Introduction: Flipping the lens from educator to learner, written by Helen Bound. This chapter, along with the following chapter, introduces the book’s focus on learners as being at the centre of learning, instead of educators or teachers. The rationale is that work constructs will shift but it is the individual who has to adjust to these changes. Providing agency and opportunities for learners’ continued professional development, equips them with the skill sets and attributes to make choices and continue with ongoing employment.

The second chapter by the book’s 3 editing authors, introduces the key constructs: conceptions of learners’ future-orientation, identities, contexts, and practices. These three are interconnected. Learners embark on a continuous journey to become and be, meaning their identities shift as contexts of their work and occupational practices shift with time and future orientations.  

The next four chapters make up the section on ‘framing the issues’.

First up is Anne Edwards with a chapter on ‘rethinking learning for a high-skills economy: what a cultural-historical approach can offer. Uses Vygotsky ‘social pathway of learning’ as a means to explain how people’s agency are in turn supported by the various ways their learning environment, socio-cultural relationships, and work tasks. It is important to try to understand the multiplicity of paths individuals may select from and how these are impinged upon by many other factors.

Secondly, Roger Säljö writes on ‘learning in a designed work: symbolic technologies and epistemic practices in the evolution of professional knowing. Proposes that humans have always created artefacts (tools, machines, books etc.) to support their work. Intellectual activities also depend on symbolic technologies and these are much more prevalent now due to the advances in digital technologies. It is important to understand how we integrate these into our work as they assist as to think, problem solve and becoming competent workers.

The third chapter in the section is by Henning Salling Olesen. His chapter is titled ‘researching lifelong learning policy: concepts and tools’. Calls for the recognition of practical perspectives into how we understand ‘formal learning’ and ‘lifelong learning’.

The fourth chapter by Arthur Chia is on ‘future of work, transitions, and future-orientated learning’. Utilises a social economy perspective on work and poses the need to ensure there is a more equitable future that allows the needs and interests of working people’s learning are prioritised. Proposes future orientated learning as a means to enhance ownership and control of their work, labour and skills. This is supported through the ‘six principles of learning design’ to engender workers’ and learners’ agency, mutual exchange and interaction, participation and engagement in work. 

The next section covers ‘flipping the lens in practice’ and has 4 chapters.

First up, Christine Owen writes on ‘enhancing learning in the workplace’. Applies psychological and socio-cultural perspectives to argue that workplace learning is a two way process – between worker agency and workplace affordances. This chapter adds to the corpus of work on better understanding the complex nature of workplace learning.

Then, Rebekah Lim Wei Ying’s chapter ‘towards expertise: operationalizing identity development and considerations for the Singapore work-study programme covers how the growth of agency in workplace learners, is connected relationally to a complex web of ‘others’. These include the signs and symbols mediated by how people use these; and the identity positions assumed by people which augment or downgrade who they are. Proposes that study of work should include perspectives of the learner, the learners’ reflection of their growth, and how others view the learner.

Next up, Helen Bound and Seng Chee Tan write on ‘dialogic inquiry: a pedagogy for foregrounding future-oriented learners and their learning’. Argues for a shift from exploring ‘educator and content’ towards the dialogic processes of teaching and learning. There needs to be a stronger focus on learners and learning. Uses two case studies to illustrate the richness of data from applying dialogic inquiry to better understand learning.

The last chapter is by BiXioafang on ‘adult learners’ sense-making in blended learning environments: Healthcare and workplace safety and health’. Brings in the ‘blended learning’ environment into the milieu. Explores the sense-making features of individuals in two blended courses; and the impact of sense-making contributors (context, design and delivery).

Overall, good chapters to provide food for thought on the changes in how we understand workplace learning. Although a complex environment, context, individuals’ agency, and workplace affordances are predominate players. Ensuring learner support to understand better, their own motivations and learning trajectories; promoting better workplace understanding and support; and the provision of government policies to support seen to be the way to go.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Pros and Cons of using data analysis digital tools

 The use of qualitative research software to assist the data analysis process is now common. However, for someone who began research analysis using non-digital methods, it is important to sieve out the potential pitfalls of relying on software to complete the task.

This article's abstract,  written for researchers in nursing, provides a good summary of the pros and cons of using data analysis software. The distraction from the real work of analysis and the need to ensure there is depth in the analysis are the most important factors. Too often, the software encourages a quick sort of the data, rather than the many readings/iterations required in the past, to undertake manual data analysis. Some of the nuances and riches of data are lost, in the shift towards quick thematic coding. Therefore, it is always important to ensure the methodology selected for data analysis, fits well within the capabilities and potential of the digital data analysis tool. For many researchers, the institution provided tool may be the only choice apart from open source software. It is always important to match the research objectives to the types of methodology and supporting tools used to ensure the integrity of the findings.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Micro-lectures and active learning - resource overview

Working on the structure of a 'earn while you learn' model a proposed programme. Half the courses require the learning of facts and the other half is practice-based. Supporting the practice-based courses will require capability building for our teachers teaching in the disciplinary as they are more used to f2f delivery. Learners will need be in employment and naturally-occuring evidence will need to be collected by learners as work is conducted. These courses will need to be supported as per 'managed apprenticeship' to guide the assessment of learning outcomes, completed at the workplace. There may be a short RCC/RPL process to cross-credit learning already achieved - perhaps 50 credits of learning.

The 'knowledge' courses will need to be run mostly through distance studies. So this resource from educause is useful as it provides the 'how to' from a logistical and pedagogical angle. We may need to support the 'microlectures' with fortnightly 'tutorials' to help learners with areas where they may have to surmount a 'threshold' concept'. Block courses and day-release type arrangements will be logistically difficult, given the learners will be shift workers.

Friday, April 29, 2022

AVETRA DAY 2 - afternoon

 After lunch, Keynote 5 is with Gerald Burke Adjunct Professor from Monash University and supported by Claire Field on the 'future of VET funding research'. Gerald began with a tribute to Peter Noonan. Summarised present and past VET funding - public mainly around delivery (7.0 billion) and private (spectaculative on Gerald's part) - mainly employers, fee for service, fees etc. Ran through a quick history of funding from 1970. One theme is the difference in funding levels across states.  

VET funding research needs to relate to goals - as to whether funding helps achieve political/social objectives. Explained the reliance on markets and competition and observed that there is limited research on markets within the context of education. Summarised the current objectives for VET. 

Proposed future studies on funding - revolving / integrated into studies of equity, employment outcomes, apprenticeships, online learning, markets and effective use of funds, comparative studies of higher education and schools and funding by and to employers. There are limited funds for VET research. Some universities closed VET teacher training due to Cert IV. Some contract research but specialised and often not published. Questioned why there is a VET equity research centre for higher education but none for VET where there are more challenges with equity!

Following on 4 sessions starting with a summary of the ‘enhancing the standing of vocational education as a post- school pathway’ from Griffith University (Professors Stephen Billett, Sarojni Choy and Steven Hodge). Stephen presents on the project. The focus of this presentation is on how young people make choices about post-school pathways as these contribute to their future outcomes. Societal sentiments about the low standing of VET and the occupations it services can unhelpfully distort the decision making. Provision of informed and impartial advise is therefore important.

The topic is off concern globally - with examples from the UK, Germany, Switzerland (where graduates find it difficult post degree and campaign to raise VET has had sucess), Korea (despite it being a high manufacturing economy), and Australia. Work based on Dewey (1916) to assist young people to identify the occupations they are interested in and prepare them for these. Advised of the need to avoid falling into 'uncongenial callings'. This  provides a difficult balance for educators and parent to manage expectations. Therefore attractiveness of tertiary education needs to also go in tandem with status of all aspects of post-school education.

Described the study's process. 3 phases starting with interviews and focus groups, then survey of parents, students and teachers and lastly workshops for teachers, career advisors etc. 

In the first phase, students reported influence from teachers and parents with some contribution from media/internet. Influence differ in being authoritative, level of influence and engagement. Undecided students generally went to university. VET specific occupations focuses are a barrier to the undecided. Students who are unable to get into university unable to then decide on VET due to its specificity.

The survey revealed key influences - parents, teachers, peers and school guidance. Both teachers and parents under-estimate the influence of each with both actually having strong influence. Schools can actually provide important support.

In phase 3, parents often not knowledgeable about VET. Guidance officers misunderstand their roles etc. Students do not use printed material and teachers became more conscious of how they refer to occupations. 

Findings suggest public education process, promoted by government effective, actions by schools to promote, inform and advise impartially about diverse post-school pathways; VET institutions offering attractive environments; a concerted effort to promote occupations from government and industry.

Specifically for schools - exposure to tertiary institutes and educational facilities; exposure to a range of work situations, provide more personalised career information about VET jobs. The SET process needs to be considered. information and guidance provided before the meeting; provide opportunities to draw on students' work experiences to discuss occupation choice. Closed by reiterating the rationale and importance for supporting students on post-school choices.

The Dr. Deniese Cox on ‘do we need to be seen to be believed? The impact of video feed format on learning. Applied project on perceptions of on-line learners across several disciplines. Asked participants to comment on 3 video themes - #1 visible presenter framed by content; #2 voice over only, #3 visible presenter separate/adjacent to the content. Carried out a poll with majority voting for #1 and the opportunity for seeing the presenter being of importance. 

Detailed the objectives of her study - to find out how to hook the learner in how the content/sessions is introduced, nature of the content, visual formats and the duration of the video. Visual formats were important. 30 students maintained a digital diary (on screencast matic) to capture their learning and appending a brief description. In the next stage, 3 visual formats and diverse sets of consistent slides and scripts were used. Student attention rates were gauged through observation. Assimilation was tested through participation in discussion. Retention through a quiz, beliefs captured and engagement rhrough learning analytics. Connection with the educator through eye contact was important. Connection of educator to content through body language also enhanced engagement. The view of the torso important as a talking head does not provide sufficient body language. Small number of students liked captions. Video embedded in presentation should be full screen. If only talking head, the content and the educator is separated and requires more cognitive energy to attend to. Having the torso tends to reduce the size of the educator. Just a voiceover was not seen to be engaging. Closed with the logistical resources required to set up #1 option. Provided guidelines for the process. 

After ‘afternoon tea’, I present an update on the Aotearoa NZ VET system with ‘ Te Pūkenga: Progress on meeting the ambitions and scope of its charter. I detail the rationale and outcomes of the Aotearoa NZ Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE). Then provide background on the formation, charter and implications on Te Pūkenga including description and critique of the 'service concepts' and the 'operational plan'. 

 Last presentation of the day with Eileen MacMahon from Box Hill TAFE on ‘expert advisory groups assisting a TAFE in maintaining industry currency for educators teaching the accredited family violence training'. Began by providing a background and the Victorian context for provision of training in this area. This unit is available to all universal service workers (i.e. hairdressers, teachers, child care workers etc.). Covers - identify and provide initial response to family violence risk. Detailed challenges. Not a professional development workshop but an accreditated course with assessment requirements. Summarised aims of the research project. Detailed the self study reflective research method with analysis in terms of MARAM framework and best practice education model for primary prevention and family violence training. Shared the rationale for the study. Benefits of having the panel summarised - mostly to ensure teacher currency and enhance industry engagement.

Steven Hodge closes the conference with the announcement of AVETRA awards and a short plenary supported by Professor Llandis Barratt-Pugh, Linda Simon, Dr. Elizabeth Knight and Kira Clarke. Each provided their reflections on the various presentations/papers across the 2 days of the conference. 

AVETRA - DAY 2 - morning


Kira Clarke opens the day with a welcome, acknowledgement of country, and a review of day 1.

I present the fourth keynote of the conference on the topic ‘the future of trades training: Industry 4.0 and the need for on-going professional development and career planning’.I begin with a brief overview of how occupation identity is an outcome of engagement with worthwhile work. Then summarise the challenges posed by Industry 4.0. Solutions based around the intended and enacted curriculum are then proposed for discussion.

Sessions are then presented in 3 streams – research, partnership and collaboration and equity.

I begin with Professor Rob Strathdee’s (Victoria University) presentation on ‘reform of school-based vocational education and pathways to work in the state of Victoria. Presented on what is wrong with VCAL - in relationship to social mobility and are the reforms able to achiee 'localisation. 

Began with the background, rationale and evolution of VCAL with current status of perhaps being abolished and merged into a broadened VCE (Victoria Certificate of Education). Summarised the two theorectical lens used to study the subject - critical sociology and field theory (social, human and cultural capital). Three provocations proposed: from faith to doubt and the continuing significance of manual work; vocational VCE; and the embedded labour markets and the role of networks. Proposed, manual skills / work here to stay and in many occupations; vocational VCE may not increase the status of vocational education and occupations; labour markets are more complex than just the production of skills, trades training takes place in relatively small workplaces and recruitment is based on personal networks. 

Then a presentation by Elizabeth Hutton from Swinburne University on a part of her PhD -  ‘the apprentice wellbeing project: exploring the mental health of Australian building and construction apprentices’. The aims of the project were to explore issue; coping measures and strategies for seeking help. Summarised the study design which is a qualitative study. Overviewed the problem with 25% of construction workers reporting a mental condition. There are high suicide, alcohol/drug use in the industry and this impacts on work production. Discussed the research questions and presented preliminary findings. Participans included apprentices (n=19 range of years, disciplines), VET teachers (2,) mental health professionals (4) and industry employers (7). Detailed methods with a shift to video conferencing due to pandemic, seen as an advantage. Data analysis through reflexive thematic analysis. 

Findings include: a lack of understanding of what mental health - what it was, how it impacted on life' etc.; Issues impacting the mental health of Australian building and construction apprentices include personal, workplace and industry factors. Coping strategies include avoidant, approach  (social support) and not coping! Help seeking behaviours associated with lack of psychological safety at work, lack of general knowledge about support available, and psychological safety with family and friends. Closed with research implications and outcomes. This is an important piece of work given the poor outcomes for many apprentices in some industries.. 

Following from a short break is a presentation from Llandis Barratt- Pugh on the topic ‘an analysis of 23 years of AVETRA conference papers. Began with context and genesis of the paper. Arose due to fire Llandis had in his home!! AVETRA conference papers survived and provided impetus for the paper. Compared 24 years ago with present - society, AVETRA, wider VET in Australia. Three questions across AVETRA histor: demographic patterns of papers, conference contributors and academic domains. 

Conferences mainly in NSW and VIC, mostly in hotels (but started in TAFE/Uni) and now virtual/hybrid. Usually 4 keynotes, workshops before actual conference, mix of symposia and workshops, and always posters. Teaching and learning and management/governance of VET main themes. Industry and apprenticeships also feature. Mostly single authors. Progression of refereeing of papers was strong but has dropped off since. International presenters/papers have increased across the years. over 1/2 papers come from university-based authors and then TAFE. Small research centre presence until recently. Generally people present at 1 conference with a few presenting at 10 conferences (but who have been prolific!). Top 30 produced over 500 papers!! Not just about skill/workplace learning VET, but also broader education, research, human resource, social systems etc. Proposed ways to maintain and grow - universities provide more than 1/2 of delegates, therefore database of university graduate schools, research centres plus selling the diversity of papers/presentations; TAFE has strong presence; support for newcomers and post-grad students and important to provide new researchers with a voice; bringing in keynote speakers and online options for delegates expands conference options; most papers presented to small core of delegates and this need to be maintained. 

Always important to treasure 'institutional memory and wisdom' :) 

Next up, Karen 0’Reilly Briggs from Box Hill TAFE presents on ‘professionals vs para-professionals: investigating the value of initial teacher education qualified VET teachers in secondary schools along with Drs. Rochelle Fogelgarn and Jacolyn Weller from La Trobe. Teachers in this study are in initial teacher education (ITE). In 2020, the only undergraduate ITE programme to upskill tradespeople to become VET or school teachers closed! Poor timing as the government ramped up apprenticeships and there was already a shortage of skilled VETiS teachers. Most used teachers from other subjects with little VET work experience. This study undertaken to try to find out what enabled tradespeople to transition into teaching. 73 responses (including 10 pre-service). 85% were trade qualified and entered teaching for various personal and career reasons. 

Without suitable VET teachers at school, some schools stop offering VET options. In Victoria, there is a 'permission to teach) as a special authority to teach tech at school. However, these teachers are not able to access the pay scale and other PD which qualified teachers have. The Victoria government announced a new 2023 VCE major but will offer study to attract VET trainers. This does not respect trades expertise!

 Provided details of the study. Shared early findings. There is a VET in school shortage; School teacher perceptions of VET teachers as being of inferior status; complacency regarding health and safety; and the importance of industry experience for this teaching role. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

AVETRA - day one afternoon

 After lunch, there is a symposium chaired by Kira Clarke featuring 3 papers on projects conducted by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence. The theme is ‘strengthening the role of vocational training by young people'. Kira provided an overview was provided of the work undertaken including a definition of how to achieve systemic change; the methodology using four practice components to try to meet the challenge of supporting young disadvantaged people into work. The story of the project, beginning in 2019 was summarised including the impact of the pandemic on the project. The pandemic created the highest level of youth unemployment in Australia and prevention of 'scarring' of these young people became very important. In 2020, the project applied short term enabling change to bring young people through short run training into work. Localised labour market through co-design strengthened trust in the training organisation and provided sustained change going into the future. Challenges of silos, diverse and complex barriers, sporadic funding and career access and mobility were addressed. Evaluation also undertaken last year. In 2021, work began on developing better systems around funding, participation from young people, better work on the role of employer and the workplace, and training programmes. A adaptive evidence making agenda was developed to try to solve 4 major challenges. Previewed two streams of work in progress. Dr. David Longley and Dr. Madeleine Morey continue with details of each of these. 

David provided the overview on the research agenda which is being driven by stakeholder needs. Began with the rationale for the approach. Government funding based on volume as a metric of success with a large rise in apprenticeship commencements. However, the systemic challenges around apprenticeship have not been addressed and large volume of commencement is not a measurement of success. The project looks at who is coming into commencement - not reflected of the diversity of population, inadequate alignment to regional needs, completions so far have been low, 12.3% of those who complete unable to find employment, 2 out of 10 are in retail/hospitality, and mobility across current pathways is not good. Proposed new approach to try to address the many challenges and currently testing these - in the AgFutures foundational capabilities pathway. 

Madeleine presented on a policy conceptual framework to cut through the debate on employability skills for young people. Overviewed the policies and frameworks in Australia, which inform employability skills and the various definitions and components of these. Skills mismatch still a real challenge. Transversal capability are the  'magic clue' which connects and reinforce foundational skills of numeracy/ digital literacies. These include communication, teamwork, problem solving, planning, self-management etc. Critique these skills - conflation of these skills and a lack of differentiation of skills development, lack of accountability on how and where these are developed, assumption employability will eventuate. Suggest technical, industry specific and generic skills. for example problem solving can be a technical skill developed in a specific context/occupation and therefore a responsibility of industry. Therefore a complementary technical and specialised training framework useful. Now testing this through a partnership with industry to test this way of framing employability.

A good presentation of a approach that is proactive. 

The next presentation is on the 'Victorian employer perspectives on skill, recruitment and employment’ with Hiba Molaeb. Summarised results and sought feedback on future directions. The survey collects data on business climate, skills shortage and recruitment challenges, quality of training, employment of apprentices and trainees and value of developing specific skill sets and micro credentials. Began with overview of the history and methodology of the survey. Response rate for this survey was 20.9% across 70,000 businesses. Summarised findings and them provided more detail. Shared suggestions for future directions for the survey, how to make it more useful, current and relevant. 

A second panel session features ‘building the reality of a partnership between TAFE institution and co-operative research centre (CRC) with Dr. Ali Rahidi from Monash University and Dr. Ross Digby from Holmsglen Institute). Presentation covered the overview, targets and role of Holmsglen in the CRC and then the future building initiative at Monash University. First project based on AR/VR then shared.

Ross covered the rationale of the role of construction but how productivity and innovation not progressing. The project was to utilise technology to help transform the sector. Has ambitious transformative platform and shared future direction and potentials. Summarised benefits to support efficiencies and targets including better buildings and increased human capabilities. Holmsglen's involvement overviewed - why, how and what the desired outcomes are. Staff and students involved across many trades. 

Ali provided the details of the future building initiative. He represents a large research team. Three pillars of the initiative are industralisation, sustainability and digitalisation. The project is inter--disciplinary from IT, engineering, architecture, law and business with several projects involved. 

Ross then shared the VR/AR education project which also involves Master Builders of Victoria. Ali provided details of the project development.

 Keynote 3 is with Craig Robertson CEO of the Victoria Skills Authority on 'Creating VET research community in VET not of VET - some reflections'. Proposed a new research framework - movement across VET and HE toward localism and collaboration which needs a new clinical (epistemological) approach to vocational education. Many countries engaged in reviewing / reforming VET, with many catering to local needs and equity issues. UK (post-Brexit) and Canada mentioned. Covered the Victorian Skills Authority (VSA) model; collective impact; limits of uni-directionalism, the Bernstein perspective, and impact on research. VSA model established in response to a review by Jenny Macklin. Works across skills supply-chain to provide skills demand and advise, professional development, local solutions, skills development and innovation and performance. Call to work collaboratively across all levels of education, industry, unions and government. The market meant to be based on choice and innovation but it is imposing a one-product solution with strict controls on delivery! Evaluated the Bernstein perspective as one way to help describe outcomes of VET. Suggested the concept of skills labs - bringing together education and training providers. employers, unions and communities to co-design new approaches to skills development. Research needs to beyond competency, across occupations, on new pedagogy and cut across national training arrangements. Should be about future skills, exploring the forefront of industry, look at new learning models and new accreditation and regulation models.

The AVETRA AGM closes the day.

AVETRA 2022 - Day one - morning

 The AVETRA conference this year moves into hybrid mode. On the first day, some conference attendees are able to meet f2f in Melbourne with others zooming into the sessions. Day two is a fully online event.

Day one starts with welcome from Steven Hodge and acknowledgement of country with Elder Tony Garvey from Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation. Steven continued with a tribute to Peter Noonan, an introduction to the theme of the conference. Welcomed the large range of VET connected people who are part of AVETRA.

Keynote one is with Professor Ly Tran from Deakin University who presents on ‘Connecting policy and practices: Australian strategy for international education 2021 – 2030 and the internationalisation of VET’. The presentation started with details on the Australian Strategy for international education; the offshore delivery approach through International Skills training; internationalisation of VET; and key questions going forward. International students are important in many countries economies. Shared the diversity of student cohorts of Australia, US of A, UK and Canada – across all sectors. Delivery offerings have diversified – especially with digital technologies shifting to more online and blended education; transnational education increased both in home an abroad leading to increased affordability.

Outlined the Australian approach including setting up VET micro-credentials (1.3 million$$) and supporting the delivery of critical skills in partner countries (1.4 million$$+). There is a shift of policy into practice at government level and across VET sector. Includes the sharing of good practice in developing initiatives and frameworks to design and deliver online/blended programmes; transnational education and internationalisation at home.

International  Skills Training courses approved for delivery by RTOs; learners who complete a course are awarded certificate carrying Australian government crest; priority courses in cybersecurity, engineering, transport and logistics, tourism/hospitality, retail/wholesale and health. Countries include Asian and South American countries.

Challenges include the need to contextualise content to target countries, translation required, training packages often too complex, expensive and sometimes impossible to adapt for off-shore delivery. Described the case study with Vietnam with the ‘online international students at home’ graduating with internationally recognised qualifications.

Shared the learning / model built from a ARC discovery project – interviews with 150 international students, teachers and leaders from 25 TAFEs and a ARC DECRA project – interviews with 102 VET staff. Both established better understanding of international education in VET. Implications for internationalising VET also detailed – to accommodate, be empathetic, to integrate and de-westernise the content, to connect, reciprocate and build relationships. Provided examples. Introduced her 2013 book - teaching international students in VET - as a resource. Wrapped up with key questions to consider going forward. 

 Next up a panel discussion on the topic of Equity is then convened by Linda Simon. The panel is made up of Annie Carney (emphasis on UDL), Shuyan Huo (Victoria University) and Jane Newton. Linda provided an introduction and details of WAVE. Each panelist will speak on each of these questions: Why is equity important in VET? What does it mean for teachers, researchers, leaders in VET? and what strategies are possible to address equity. Each provided good summaries and overviews with reference to their own work / recent projects, context, state and institute. In general, students from lower SES, aboriginal and disabled students have increased in numbers in VET but outcomes have not improved. 

After a short break, two sessions follow. 

First up Professor Erica Smith from Federation University on ‘researching VET in the pandemic’. Covers how the pandemic changed how and what was researched March 2020 to 2022. How the pandemic affected research and going forward. All stages of research affected and there was psychological stress for all, including researchers. Although existing projects delayed due to many logistical challenges, new opportunities for research presented. Summarised the projects completed related to the pandemic - learning to be safer project - on how people learnt about the things to do to keep safe during the pandemic. Shared projects conducted by colleagues. Literature to inform studies came up early, especially the science-based papers. Discussed challenges. Data collection went online. Impact of carrying out research within a 'specialised' context - will it generalise? and how contemporary will it be in 5 years time? Shared observations of how pandemic changed the patterns of dissemination - papers read/cited; journal review challenges; and despite being able to present/participate in more conferences but still not have much have contact with other researchers. 

Second presentation with Professor Don Zoellner from Charles Darwin University on ‘disadvantage, ontological politics and VET research: governing the groups that live on the margin’. Presented work on why we continue research on disadvantage in VET when not much seems to have changed! Surmised that the continuing perspective is of a 'wage earners welfare state'. Individual responsibility placed on obtaining employment. Marginalised the 'unable/unwilling to be employed'. Therefore, access provided but personal responsibility still on individual to participate and perform. Dividing practices are used to try to engage them, research used to try to increase outcomes and continual checking used to ensure they participate. Premise that education would 'fix' disadvantage, be able to create better choice/economic outcomes etc. 

Encouraged the use of discourse analysis to try to untangle the complexities. Introduced the concept of ontological politics and how researching the disadvantaged is 'productive' work. Good overview and a paper will be available soon on VOCEd. 

 Keynote two is with Professor Michael Brennan who presents on ‘contemporary challenges for VET research’. He presents from his perspective as chair of the Australian Productive Commission. Begun with the observation that since 1820, and despite an massive increase in human population to 7 billion, only 10% of the present world's population is living in abject poverty. Summarised how focus on skills has led to the associated increase in productivity. Example in 1901, average worker has to work 20 minutes to buy a bar or soap, but now, only 5 minutes. This applies to many consumables. Productivity growth also aligns with rise in living standards. The dividend is also that working less, provides more which also includes more downtime. In general, we can afford what was considered good value in 1980 in 70% of a working life. However, most people do not get off the thread mill due to societal pressure. 

Progress with productivity is uneven and may accelerate due to new technologies, processes etc. research helps to track the ups and downs as economies grow/decline/stagnate etc. Explained cycles of productivity growth. The future of work is about change in job tasks rather than a change in the actual occupation. Human skills of building relationships, problem solving, critical thinking etc. now more important as these are difficult to replace. Human tasks shift focus from routine tasks to more personal interactions. Greater need for social skills with high levels of adaptiveness. Higher education prepares all for the flexibility needed to continually learn as jobs continually evolve. 60% of Australian workers engage in continual professional development. Most do this to keep up with requirements of their work. Many of this PD is not provided by the VET system or by RTOs, private bespoke programmes fill this need. Micro-credentials may not be the right way to respond and investigation of other means to accredit continual learning is required. VET system does many things well as graduates obtain work and often earn more than other graduates at the outset. However, does not contribute to the continual development beyond initial qualification. Also VET tends to be occupation specific and re-skilling can be time consuming and costly. The greatest challenge is in retaining wisdom in current population. Challenge for VET to stay current and also be relevant into the future. 


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Horizon report on teaching and learning 2022

 This year's Horizon report on teaching and learning is now out. The layout is similar to last year's with acknowledgement of the social, technological, economic, environmental and political influences on how each of the threads may percolate through the educational communities and eventually become mainstream. The summary provides a good overview.

The key technologies and practices remain very much the same. The pandemic has amplified the shift to hybrid/remote teaching and professional development to maintain the skills required to provide for this form of learning have been solidified.

AI for learning analytics and AI for learning tools feature as the top two trends. 

Implications for the above are provided from Australia, Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and the US of A community colleges, research institutions and corporate perspectives.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Future of work - evolution of the employee

 Prepping up for a keynote on 'the future of trades work'. The diagram in this blog on the evolution of the employee provides for some parameters to analyse. As with most 'popular' writing on the issue of the future of work, the blog has a focus on corporate/white collar work. 

Based on the parameters used, work in the trades, may have for decades, already shifted to the future of work! Most trades work is not 9am to 5 pm; the work especially for the service trades (plumbers, electricians etc.) is not anchored in one place but shifts around depending on the current project; and work is usually focused on outputs (job cards, service orders etc.) However, the need to continually learn, as with all work, is present in trades work. There has been little emphasis or study into how formalised post-apprenticeship workplace learning is. Many trades people move on to sub-contracting, setting up their own business etc. but these skills are rarely completed as a formal part of the apprenticeship. 

So, some food for thought here. What makes trades work already a form of 'future work' and how can trades work be 'future proofed'?