Friday, April 10, 2015

AVETRA 2015 day two

Day two begins with AVETRA awards. TDA AVETRA award or scholarship for innovation awarded to Peter Hurley who is working on how TAFE can support unemployed people to further their capabilities. Journal article of the year awarded to me! For article published last year in Vocations and Learning - Crafting an occupational identity: learning the precepts of craftsmanship through apprenticeship. The Berwyn Clayton award for contributions to the VET is Associate Professor Sarojini Choy from Griffith University.

First keynote is with Professor Terri Seddon from the Australian Catholic University. She presents on the topic of 'how can we ask new questions of VET? Reflection on marketisation, global transitions and educational work in contexts of uncertainty'. Tries to unpack why marketisation has caused a fall in TAFE market share - using statistics from Victoria as an example - from 100% in 1970s to 27% in the present. Discusses causes as illogical trajectory, cross border interruptions and repositioning of VET in the global national borderland. Call for adult ed. to assist with changes in social order and role of VET researchers / practitioners in contributing to improving status of VET and lives of students. Proposes adult education as a distinct discipline with ways of doing and thinking. Important to acknowledge adult ed. as intellectual- practice discipline as a social activity where learning occurs through contexts of socialistion, teachings (including self teaching) and schooling. Reviewed political reforms leading to and continuing market reforms in the education sector - with TAFE bearing the major implications. Links marketisation of VET to international movements since the 1980s. Lead to reconstruction of the VET landscape to re skilling of the TAFE workforce, shifting cost of education to individuals, rise of the digital environment but with little consultation with vET educators. Provided examples of how the digital environment changes the way we learn, access knowledge and assess. The move of corporates into the educational sector, increase in student debt etc. poorly understood by the educational sector, yet impact on how education is conducted. Need for Vet, on behalf of students, to ask the questions of why TAFE sector more affected that university and school sector. VET contributes to formation of occupational and citizen identities, hence has key role in creating the soft governance required to deal with the challenges of the new world. 

Next, a catch up on Karen O'Reilly Briggs work with 'the quality of metal engineering trade VET in Victoria: trade teacher perspectives. A part of her Ed.D work. Provided an overview on the study involving interviews, focus groups and a survey of metal engineering trade teachers who had at least 10 years teaching experience. Identified 13 main themes and reported on 5 themes in this presentation. Defined the concept of 'quality' through analysis of participants data which was different from standard govt. audit requirements. Hence a disconnect between what educators consider as quality and requirements by organisations. Pressures occurring diluting the quality of outcomes for students. Include increased paperwork, reduced apprenticeship, self paced  classes, tailored training plans, no requirements for tradespersons in workplace, pressures to pass student, ambiguous training packages, teachers instructed to reduce delivery time and reduced funding. 

After morning tea, attend the session with Nick Melchior, senior editor, education, Australia and New Zealand from Springer publishers on 'scholarly publication in an electronic age'. This is a longish but very useful session offering publishers' perspectives. Went through what epublishing means, present capabilities and future possibilities. Print was primary means until .pdf created in 1996. 2006 extended mark up language allowed greater usage and broader and open access of econtent. Encouraged establishing links via social media to your work. Remember, research is now a global game and articles are competing to be noticed. Print on demand increases opportunities for shorter formats like springer briefs which are 125 to 150 pages. Other formats include multimedia journals like video journal of education and pedagogy. Open access journals also growing. Warning on predatory open access, check if unsure! Constants include peer review and the technical aspects of publishing (copy edit, proof read etc.). 

After lunch, return to assessment teaching and learning stream with presentation by Stella Kwok from Vocational Training Council Hong Kong on 'investigating attitudes towards conducting practical social and industrial research (PSIR) among VET practitioners in Hong Kong: analysis and policy implications'. Provided overview of Hong Kong context, details of the study and findings. VTC large provider of VET in HK with foundation to degree across 250 programmes and 9 disciplines. Teachers not required to do research apart from staff studying for higher quals. Established a research support unit (RSU) to encourage staff to conduct applied research. PSIR increase industry links, enhance teaching and learning, raise capability and contribute to HK economics. Publishing not sole responsibility but also increase innovation, solve practical problems and apply to industry. Study presented is to assess teachers' interest and perspective to PSIR and inform strategic formulation for future. Positive attitudes to engaging with PSIR. Perceived barriers included lack of time, support from management, dissemination, equipment etc. actions from the study include funding of visiting researchers and seed funding to kick start projects, ethics structure, PSIR reporting framework, technology transfer process, website, events and newsletter  to promote projects and PD for research processes. Provided example of collaborative project across several disciplines, staff and students to develop smart schoolbag. Details of follow up also provided. 

Last presentation of the day in the apprenticeship stream with Rachel Cowling from AFL sports ready on 'trainee feedback: how we learn from our trainees'. Introduced service orientated research as a way to continually improve practice and contribute to a learning organisation. Used feedback methods through a app to run 'everyday' feedback, events like graduation etc. and satisfaction surveys. Surveys usually a month before completion on survey monkey with mix of closed and open questions. Covers the workplace training, formal training, support and overall experience. Quantitative data displayed as coloured bar graphs and qualitative data analysed thematically.  Closed the loop by allocating responsibility for the results by using ORID method. Using objective, reflective, interpretative and decisional questions to lead discussion. Identify actions and monitor through future surveys through joint analysis. 

Panel discussion with 3 keynotes, along with Sally Thompson CEO of Adult Learning Australia and Andy Smith, deputy chancellor at Federation University, chaired by Hugh Guthrie, closes a busy conference. Panel provided a provocation to respond to, based around the conference theme, of marketisation of VET,  effects, challenges and responses. 

Overall a good catch up via the three keynotes on how policy and the wider political, economical and social downstream effects on education. Good to see VET researchers meeting the challengers from a social conscience viewpoint, advocating for equitable access for all. 

AVETRA next year scheduled to be held in Sydney.

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