Thursday, April 24, 2014

AVETRA day 2 afternoon

After lunch, I attend a session with Drs. Daryl Dimock and Ray Smith on 'models of continuing education and training: VET practitioner perspectives'. A report back on one aspect of a 3 year study to identify and evaluate potential models for CET appropriate for Australian context. CET used to keep current, maintain employability and develop skills required for future production. interviews and short surveys with 137 workers and 60 managers. 4 'models' were identified to trigger discussion. These were wholly work based experiences; work based with direct guidance; work based with educational interventions; and wholly educational institution based. 62 VET professionals were asked about how applicable each of the 4 models were to their context. In general, CET in workplaces or authentic work activities considered important. interpretations of authentic work activities ranged from simulation (model 4) to full on job learning (model 1). All 4 models supported. Model 3 - work based with educational interventions - most favoured. most reservations about model 1 - wholly workplace based. To work well, work place needs to be responsible for developing a learning culture; provide access to learning pathways; plan and finance training as part of business plans; contribute to development of national training system; and engage more fully with VET professionals and RTOs. VET professionals need to take responsibility for developing practitioner skills; strengthen support and involvement in workplaces; and need both technical as well as industry specific knowledge and regulations. Workers also were responsible for being self-directed and value work as learning; be self motivated, confident and be commited and open to learning; develop capacities of active inquiry; contribute to others' learning; investigate practice outside of own immediate experience. Challenges occur with existing attitudes to work-based learning including strict adherence to regulatory framework with potential value of workplace learning still seen to be difficult to encompass within administrative and regulatory requirements.

Then a session on 'self-directed learning and apprenticeship: an emerging grounded study' with Damien Pearce. Presentation on PhD in progress. Semi structured interviews with 7 apprentices, 3 employers and 3 vocational teachers analysed using grounded theory approaches. Interested in the process of learning to support competency completion as self direction is important to deal with complexity. Presented part of the initial analysis on how apprentices find value in the process. How apprentices decide to engage include influence of family and friends; experiences with work through part-time work; and high self-efficacy.

Next with Stephen Kemmis and Ros Brennan Kemmis on 'VET practices and practice architecture'. Based on study from 2010 to 2012 on leading and learning: developing ecologies of educational practices. Places, sites and situations are used as framework to understand learning. Definition: A practice is a form of socially established cooperative human activity involving sayings, doings and relatings to form a project. Practice architecture are the preconditions that prefigure practices. There are cultural-discursive, material - economic, and socio-political arrangements. Used an example from a carpentry unit to illustrate the sayings, doings and relatings overarching the practice. For an apprentice - as per recent project on retention, there is the need to learn how practices occur in various settings (school, workplace, TAFE), each with their own perspectives and ways.

After afternoon tea, a panel discussion convenes with Thomas Bailey, Gog Soon Joo, Erica Smith, Stephen Billett and Michele Simons. The broad topic is how to disseminate research so it is relevant to the target audience.

Closing keynote is with Rod Camm, the new director of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) on 'research has a role. Does it?' Research needs to be relevant to policy makers and other VET stakeholders. Need to have a layered approach to dissemination. Short, concise and pithy for some, longer and academic for journals. So research needs to be easily digestible, timely and disseminated using synthesis pieces and convening round tables. Impact of NCVER's research finds out if research has made a difference in terms of knowledge production, capacity building, influencing policy and practice. Reviewed 2 projects that have contributed include apprenticeship / traineeship completions and where are STEM students heading. Ran through several important topics for Australian VET where research is required.

Overall, a busy conference with many relevant presentations to follow up on.

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