Wednesday, April 23, 2014

AVETRA day 1 morning

At the annual Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA) conference today and tomorrow. A busy programme to fit into the two days as the conference is flanked by Easter and Anzac Day.

So an early start on the official day one for the 17th AVETRA conference organised around the theme of 'Informing changes in VET policy and practice: The central role of research'. Pre-conference workshops and and evening 'welcome reception' were held yesterday.

The day opens with a welcome from the conference chairperson, Professor Stephen Billett and an official welcome to country from Yugembeh descendent, Ted Williams. Conference officially opened by John Paul Edward, who is minister of education, training and employment for Queensland.

The first keynote is with Professor Thomas Bailey from Columbia University, providing an American view on Career and Technical Education (CETE) with emphasis on 'developments and anxieties and the completion agenda in American post-secondary education system’. Tom is the director of the community college research centre. Tom has a long history of research and scholarship in the American post-secondary education system. In America, higher education includes VET. American higher ed. tends to concentrate on generic /foundational skills before final ‘rounding off’ in occupational focused skills. Therefore, trades like plumbing, follow similar education structure to professionals (law, medical etc.). A good overview of the American structure and how some parts of it may usefully inform other systems. For instance, community colleges offer the first two years towards a four year Batcherlor degree. Some professions provide all parts of a four year qualification (e.g. nursing).

After morning tea, the first of the concurrent sessions across seven streams begin. My presentation 'learning a trade: Apprentices' perspectives on workplace learning' is in this concurrent session. I presented on last years' 'learning a trade' project. Summarising the report with an overview of the literature foundations, key findings and recommendations. The session generated a good range of questions and discussion for follow up.

In the second concurrent sessions, I attend Andrew Dolphin's presentation ' when art becomes food: an application of Bourdieu's distinction to hospitality pedagogy'. Baandsed on Andrew's Phd literature review arguing that food as art is a contentious concept. Bourdieu uses social capital as the ability to 'see art' which is a learnt skill more easily acquired by people already in possession of a level of social standing. Cultural pedigree asists as access to the learning actitivies associated with 'seeing art' are important. So,there will be a variance in aspiring hospitality workers' social capital. How can the required 'seeing food as art' ability be facilitated? Suggested market identification, behaviour can illuminate scial class and capabilities required by employers.

In session three, the session on safety training 'safety beyond classroom training to workplace learning for workers in perilous work environments' by Dr. Kristine Yap seems appropriate for my work with trades tutors training workers for the Christchurch rebuilt. Context includes a shift from training to learning; emphasis is on compliance and licencing; classroom learning is authentic with workplaces seen more to be a legitimate site for learning. Study undertaken in the petrochemical industry in Singapore, a company recognised for good safety record. Comprehensive data analysis process used to unpack what assisted workers to learn and practice safely. A combination of personal and organizational approaches essential to cope with diversity of workers' language and culture.

Session four is a change of topic with Hilary Timma on 'distance-based learners navigating between remote and real-time learning contexts'. A more interactive session. Presentation based on a small study with Cert. IV students who were completing the qualification via on-line courses. Sociality of learning between work and learning improved through authentic learning and assessment; workplace others; and learning facilitation process. Workplace colleagues, supervisors, others who had completed the course were key inter mediators between workplace experiences and newly learnt concepts. Mediators assisted learners to check on their learning progress, clarify confusion and make connections.

Off to lunch and will post on the afternoon's sessions this evening.

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