Wednesday, September 30, 2015

National Tertiary Learning and Teaching conference - 2015 day 1afternoon

NTLT day one, afternoon (now updated with links)

After lunch, continue with the elearning track. First up, Debbie Hallam from BoPP percent n 'harnessing technology to map out a future: providing industry capability across NZ'. Shared journey from being in the construction industry to education. Skill shortage in surveying in NZ. Institute of Surveyors worked with BoPP to find solution to offer diploma qualification across NZ. Other associated ancillary areas also developed including quantity surveying and construction management. Abode Connect used a a tool to connect with learners with many completing the programme part time and working full time. Flexible enrolments possible. Staff development accelerated by colleague with high digital literacy contribution for a year. Student feedback listened to and course development increased considerably. Two dedicated suites now available for blended learning to occur. Now have 70% of cohort as online students scattered throughout NZ. 

Second up, 'critical challenges for managing summative assessment of student learning in online programmes' with Lynette Steele from BoPP. Two business programmes offered only through BoPP, diploma in conveyancing and graduate certificate in NZ immigration advice (offered internationally). Summarised the challenges related to final exams including those imposed by licensing authorities. Alternatives include open exam on students own computer at specific time for a set amount of time. Use software or supervisor to check ID and monitor student during exam, apply exam design techniques and submit exam immediately to institution for marking.  

Then, Kung Keat Teoh from Flinders university and Pek Fong Ng from University of South Australia with 'academics and next generation elearning systems: of roles and pedagogy '. Provided some ideas on the advancement of technologies and relevance to education. BYOD allows feedback in real time to lecturer while lectures continue. Mobile learning affordances for multi media resources etc. social networks can be leveraged. Moocs overview. Plusses and minuses discussed for each. Need for educators to keep abreast of potential future education technologies and adopt effectively. Future techs include image retrieval technology (match images to real world application); artificial intelligence to read images - see TED talk; smart lab systems to incorporate haptic simulations; learning agents or virtual personal tutors; adaptive learning (e.g. Knewton or AdeLE); emotion based learning; virtual reality environments. Discussion on role of teachers and need to keep up to date and strategies to achieve. 

Fourth, presentation of the afternoon with Lynette Winter and Nikki Hannan from CPIT on 'a model for blending a highly interactive face to face course'. Rationale and learning from providing teacher qualification - certificate and diploma - to blended. Programme offered to 7 polytechnics. Important objective was also to model flexible learning to tutors and have tutors experience online learning before they had to teach online. Re design completed in conjunction with other polytechnics. Used a workplace training context and OTARA as the learning design frame. Use f2f to warm up to online;  online activities encourage tutors to apply and report back on; integrate into the activities into assessments. 

Move across to an group assessment stream after afternoon tea. Presenting a timefirst are Nick Hearns and Jay Hays form Unitec on 'student teams: promises, problems nod paradoxes'. Presented, within business context, the reasons for learners to work in teams with assumption that team skills can be learnt and transferred. Challenges to placing students into teams include team outcomes are often only equal to one individual best efforts; student frustration with repeated use of teams and not actually learning team skills! Paradoxes are ineffective team assessments leads to disengagement. Therefore, need to prepare students to work In teams but student teams have inherent difficulties. These are short time span of teams duration, generic and low level expertise and undifferentiated experience. See Salas, 2015 for latest on on team building and types of team. Recommended a team learning pyramid to model elements of dialogue (elementary, improving, proficient, highly advanced and highly sophisticated), reflection and mindfulness. Assign roles like mover, opposer, bystander and follower as anchors to improve elements. 

Next up, Michelle Wright and Jane Dillon from Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology on 'facilitating group work online'. Covered facilitation skills for tutors requires social, instructional and social presence. Social presence requires building a community of inquiry with a social learning culture. Instructional presence require detailed instructions and coaxing through reminder. Cognitive presence makes us a conscious attempt to deepen student understanding and learning. Based on Salmon's 5 stage model. Build a communication plan for the course to ensure all bases covered and to organise busy course. Applied management programme used to provide an e ample of how to apply the facilitation skills. Self and peer evaluation rubric used to mark group work. Team presents findings but also assessed on individual reports and reflections. 

Last session for the day is on the 'collaboration conundrum: "but it's my mark l care about!' With Anne Bradley at BOPP. Challenges of inquiry based learning with student teams working towards attaining employment capability, research capability and management knowledge. How to counter a individualistic culture to allow for valuing of collaboration and collective knowledge. Fostering a community of learning is a key. Ran through several activities to anchor concepts presented. 

 Busy day, with several interesting sessions and good to catch up with other educational developers and trades tutors. Off to taste and nibbles session for the early evening. 

National Tertiary Learning and Teaching Conference 2015 - day 1 morning

As per usual, will tidy this post when I get back to office next week. Meanwhile, notes taken over the next few days posted. NOW tidied with appropriate links :)

This year the annual National Tertiary Learning and Teaching conference is hosted by Bay of Plenty Polytechnic (BoPP) in Tauranga. A busy 3 days of keynotes, workshops and various presentations.
Conference begins with a mihi whakatua (Maori welcome) and welcome from Dr. Alan Hampton BoPP CEO and cohost Professor Margaret Noble CEO of Waiariki. 

The first keynote is from Ngahiwi Apanui CE of Te Reo Maori, who speaks on 'Hei toko I Te Tukunga: enabling Maori tertiary learner success'. Reviewed the reasons for the need to ensure young Maori capability is raised as in 2050, 52% of population will be Maori, Pacifica or Asian, with many pakeha superannuated. Maori need to move from 'resistance' to 'leadership'. Used Miraka as a company case study of success. Provided current statistics relating to Maori learners and achievement. Urged reading of June 2015 report fro Ako Aotearoa on enhancing Maori tertiary learning success especially to use the resource developed to assist good practice for governance and management, teachers, support services. Process is to set up kaupapa (principle), whakamarana (explanation), tikanga (practice), taunaki (evidence), Te Puna (source) and nga hua (indicators). Encouraged participation in Ako Aotearoa workshops to engage with, understand and develop hei toko framework for own context. 

Then attended sessions in the stream on elearning. Beginning with session on 'satellite education: a ticket to opportunity ' with Rachel Gardiner and Heather Watt from Bay of Plenty Polytechnic. Provided overview of context and rationale for satellite or offsite and challenges and recommendations. Included how to select venues, types of programs, importance of community engagement and organisational commitment. Need to understand student background, previous educational experience and their goals. Student challenges are many, with need for understanding of specific needs. Check Ako Aotearoa project for upcoming report funded through regional hub projects fund. 

Next session was with Narissa Bayler and Jackie Brown from Waiariki Polytechnic on 'eportfolios and their use in tertiary context'. Presentation revolved around the exploration of a suitable eportfolio platform which will fit diverse learning and teaching needs of the institute. Reported on trials of Google Sites and Mahara. Google Sites requires some tech savviness as it is a web site platform. Templates are difficult to establish and analytics are not learning focused. Access into Mahara portfolio more straightforward and when the mechanics of how it works established, greater versatility and customisation possible. Integration to Moodle provides more seamless institutional application. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

A world without work??

Recently, an interesting article via a link on the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) news page caught my eye.

The article, discusses how technology is finally going to impact on work. The use of technology will see more work done by humans, be replaced by computers, robots and/or machines. Although the article discusses implications from a North American perspective, the various works quoted from economists are gleaned from beyond the US of A.

The article makes for some sobering but also uplifting reading. I suppose it depends on where you are at with regards to work. What sort of work are you currently engaged in? Is it enjoyable or a daily drudgery? Is it going to be affected by the imminent technological advances?

The three scenarios (consumption, communal creativity and contingency) of what the world without work may look like provide for some food for thought. Each and perhaps all the three scenarios are feasible. 

As always, it is how society accepts the future role of work that matters. If one is raised to be ‘work-focused’ and see work as a way to ‘provide for oneself and one’s family’ the cessation of work will be traumatic. Work identity is often the pre-eminent identity we have. When we meet someone, one of the first things we ask is ‘what do you do? Meaning what is your occupation.

What happens in a society where work becomes a subset of one’s life? For some, a balanced lifestyle will be within reach. For others, the life of a precariat may not be something they had planned for.

As vocational educators, we need to be always cognisant of what is going on in the world of work. Preparing learners for a world which is in a state of flux and where working life will involve a need to 'shift gears' as the need for certain occupations wax and wane. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Connectome - how brains wiring makes us who we are - book overview

While away for the INAP conference a fortnight ago, I took along the book 'Connectome - how brains wiring make us who we are' by Sebastian Seung borrowed from the local library following the watching (a month of so ago) of Professor Seung's Ted talk on the topic.

The introduction and part of chapter one of the book are available through Google books and this NY Times article provides a good summary of the rationale for the quest for understanding how the human brain works. Critiques can be found on the Guardian and Wall Street Journal.

I found the book to be very readable overview and introduction to the biological foundations of our brain. The book drills describes the difficult and ongoing challenge of unpacking how our brain works and trying to find 'where' our memories and experiences are actually stored in our brains. Professor Seung's work is based on computational neuroscience whereby computer software is used to unravel the structure of the brain through examination of electronic microscope images. Through using specialised 'tracing' software, the various pathways of neurons are colour coded. Providing a way to try to understand how our brain makes connections, how we access the brain's information and store new learning.

The underlying hypothesis is that pathways through neurons which become well used, become 'super highways' or state highways' through which our experiences are channeled. As some pathways become more used, they become well-worn tracks or connectomes. Finding these connectomes, provides a way to mentally trace individuals' experiences / memories. The challenge is to actually find these connectomes in the highly complex and intricate human brain, so studies are presently focused on animals with much smaller brains - like worms'. Ramping the tracing software up to cope with the intricacies presented by larger brains remains a major challenge.

The book is a good introduction to the micro-level information on how the brain works. The hunt for the connectomes is perhaps only able to supply part of the picture of how we do learn, remember and are what we are. Professor Seung's work adds to the growing understand we now have of how our brain works. However, much still needs to be done.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

INAP conference - Day 2 - 2nd September 2015

Day day begins with announcements for best conference paper awards and short presentation from AVETRA to garner more members. Four awards: best paper English speaking author and best paper non-English author, plus highly commended for each category as well. Best paper English to team of four (Kira Clarke, Malgorzata Klatt, Nicky Dulfer and Emlyn Cruikshank) from University of Melbourne on school based apprenticeships and traineeships for young Australians. I win the  award for highly commended English speaking authors' paper!! Best paper non English speaking to Ursel Hauschildt (University of Bremen) on governance and financing in the dual systems and highly commended to Magnus Fjellstrom and Per Kristmansson on learning as an apprentice.

Professor Stephen Billett provides the day's keynote on 'reconciling two distinct conceptions of apprenticeship: guidance and learning'. Need to remember the learning aspect of apprenticeship, not just as a system of education. Individual's learning the main key to human development. When we learn, we remake and transform practice. Learning arises through experiences but education is the provision of experiences. Overview of how apprenticeship became a model of education through importance in preparing young people for occupations. Listed current models and characteristics of apprenticeship as educational model. Dual in Germany, Austria; 3rd space in Switzerland; school based in Sweden etc; work based in Australia, NZ;  2 + 2 in Norway and ad hoc in UK and USA. However first model is across human history, with only a very small time in human history when learning is schooled. Learning occurred through mimesis, including imitative processes and active engagement. Root of apprenticeship is 'apprehending knowledge' and learning is 'stolen' (see Downey). used China as an example of long period of innovation whereby production moved from craft to mass production without formal learning for occupations. Much not capable of being captured through declarative knowledge. Learning is embodied, need to be attuned to haptic qualities and dispositional influences etc. apprenticeships models include curriculum where apprenticeship is a way of life, deliberate access to /structuring and ordering of experiences. Curriculum models include foe learning, pathways, parallel practice and as work conditions allow. Pedagogic practices include story telling, verbalisation, pedagogically rich activities, guided learning/proximal guidance, direct instruction, indirect / distal guidance, heuristics and mnemonics, partially worked examples etc. pedagogically rich activities examples include nurses' handover, doctors' on mortality and morbidity. Personal epistemological are important, how they view themselves and how to act in their own context. Finished with reconciliations and implications for school based and work based models. Important to view apprenticeship as primarily learning supported by educational processes. 

First concurrent session with Professor Bonnie Watt from University of Alberta with 'skilled trade worker to a teacher of high school youth: a little bit of luck and a lot of courage'. Provided overview of context. Each year people with trades qualifications embark on BEd to become school teachers in area of careers and technology Studies (CTS). Used Bourdeiu's habitus as grounding concept to understand the persistence, resilience and optimism required to complete.  Social, vocational (not the same as occupational) and occupational identities involved. Need for people from non-academic backgrounds to negotiate classed occupational and educational structures. 

After morning tea, at presentation by Nicholas Wyman and Joanne George from Skilling Australia Foundation on 'associations between adaptation of German style vocational education models and impact on apprenticeship pathways in regional American labour markets'. See book Jobs U for more details - need for apprenticeships in USA. Innovative a resource on apprenticeship from Dr. Bob Lerman. Currently a prime time to revive apprenticeships in USA. Compared the capabilities which are outcomes of German vocational education system and how USA needs to ramp up quality and spread of apprenticeships to stay competitive in high technical level manufacturing e.g. Cars, machinery etc. companies have had to work with schools and communities to train to the skill levels required. 

Another presentation on informal apprenticeship with Ansa Liebenberg from MerSETA presenting on 'a quest for social justice: exploring the possibility of expanding the South African apprenticeship system to allow for informal apprentices'. South African constitution and Bill of Rights 1996 set up values for transforming society to achieve social justice and social inclusion. 20 years hence still work in progress. Challenges include high unemployment (25%), poverty, rural migration, shrinking mining and manufacturing etc. the informal sector recognised as a job creator and represents opportunity but also difficulties in corralling. To bring things together, people, policy, planet ( sustainability), profit need to work towards sustainable social justice. Need to contextualise national systems to ensure social justice goals are reached.

After lunch, a plenary session on World Skills with apprenticeship ambassadors. The panel included Troy Bennett, Jyothi Forman, Ashlee Hodson and Patrick Janes facilitated by Mark Callaghan. The theme was 'beyond the classroom: promoting apprenticeships as viable career pathways to industry and society. All panellist were members of Australian Worldskills representatives ( the skillaroos) and Australian apprenticeship ambassadors. Each presented on their pathway into work, apprenticeship / traineeship experiences and future aspirations. Great to hear viewpoints from a personable group passionate about their work and keen to promote the advantages of apprenticeship. Worldskills standards now regarded as goals to aspire to for increasing standards world wide. 

Then two papers centred around COMET (see book) with presenters from MerSETA. First up, Patricia Jacobs on 'creating pathways to enhance college to work transition using COMET.' Linked needs for 21st century conceptual age work requirements with a way of assessing the competencies. cOMET allow a range of outcomes to be recorded on spider diagrams, allowing tracking of progress as outcomes are reached. A dynamic tracing is therefore possible providing trainers and learners with information on aspects to be worked on. Conceptual age workplaces require design not just function, stories, symphony, empathy, play and meaning (Pink, 2005). Offered a rework of the traditional COMET diagram to layer on the conceptual age approaches. 

Next, Helen Brown with 'competence measurement in South Africa : teachers reactions to feedback on COMET results'. Objective to assist TVET teachers to understand their status in moving from educational to vocational pedagogy. Focus groups with 14 teachers of over 800 students, across 5 occupations. Teachers also took the test. Teachers' and students' radar graphs were compared in each occupation revealing similarities between teachers and students. Themes were teachers could not identify their best student problem solvers, there was teaching to the test, practical mastery was diluted I favour of theory and vocational identity of VET teaching was identified. Teachers recommended teacher cooperation, sustained work integrated linkages, qualification with learning design, bridging programmes, practical mastery prioritised, professional development for teachers. 

Conference closes with plenary where there are brief report backs from topic rapporteurs providing overviews and themes emerging from of presentations. Dr. Mike Brown, Professor Thomas Dissinger, Dr. Annette Foley, Dr. Bob Lerman and professor Bonnie Watt present on their highlights and learning through the conference. 

INAP conference day 1 - 1st September 2015

Last week, was at Ballarat for the bi-annual innovative apprenticeship (INAP) 2015 conference. link to conference page. Some introductory activities on the Monday afternoon with opportunity to look through the trades facilities based at the Federation University SME campus. Several brand new facilities with modern equipment. Apprentices from almost to south Australia border and east to Gippsland supported with day release, block courses and some pre trade training. In the evening a welcome session with drinks, finger food and welcome speeches from University, city leaders and region's political representatives. 

Tuesday Morning (1st September) of the first day conference dawns fine and frosty as we are bussed out to the mount Helen campus where the rest of the conference is situated. Day begins with conference opening  and a poignant welcome to country introducing the Worrarong perspectives of sustainability and the need to take care of the land for our descendants.  Professor Phillip Gonon provides background of INAP and its role. professor Erica Smith who is conference chair starts off with general introduction to facilities and programme. 

First keynote is from Senator Simon Birmingham, assistant minister of education. Spoke of revival worldwide of support for apprenticeship systems and role required into the future. Apprenticeship completions, quality of outcomes, status of apprenticeship compared to higher education and support systems to be funded for mentoring. An apprenticeship reform panel to be formed to strengthen apprenticeship systems to maximise apprentice numbers and completions (sitting at 50% for many years). Area to explore include 'incentives' to apprentices and employers, pre-apprenticeship prospects - how can they be successful? and alternative models including greater flexibility for provision and support. 

The mornings second keynote is with Paul Comyn from the international labour organising (ILO) based in Geneva. The topic is 'can traditional apprenticeships in the informal economy of least developed countries be integrated as legitimate pathways in formal skills development systems?' Or 'quality apprenticeships: can the informal become formal? Covered global apprenticeship trends, quality apprenticeship design, informal apprentices and formalising apprenticeships with examples from South Asia. Recommends need to understand how the informal system functions and progressively link the informal and informal.

After morning tea, concurrent presentations begin. First up, select a session with Phil Loveder from NCVER Australia on 'why apprentices drop out in Australia and policy implications'. Presented on importance of continuing work on trying to understand the ongoing challenge of completions. Australian completions still static 52.4% with many completers also not working in the trade on completion. Lower level quals even lower! Main reasons were personal, redundancy, job mismatch, relationship issues at work and unhappy with training. Employers contributions still important. Most apprentices leave in first Year to second year. Recommends investigation of alternative models including RPL, split on job and off job half for each, accelerate time, reduce costs to employer, early sign off allowed etc. 

Second session with  group from  University of Melbourne with Dr. Gosia Klatt and others on 'working their way to school completion, school based apprenticeships and traineeships for young Australians'. Provided overview with 20,000 young people engaged and little longitudinal evidence to gauge effectiveness. Especially no evidence school based track effective in leading to employment for dis-advantaged kids. Challenges include usual suspects - low completions, school capabilities, student readiness, objectives unclear and lack of support system. Overview of research approach and findings presented. Strong correlation between low SES and low quality levels, segregation of gender and high uptake if supported by state incentivisation. 

After lunch, I present on some of the findings from out project surface tablets. 'Improving dynamics of feedback through deploying mobile technology enhanced learning during pre-apprenticeship'. Go through rationale, projects, findings and recommendations. Emphasis on use of videos and peer feedback and role in assisting accelerated learning, feedback loop and learning of judgment to provide peer feedback. Stressed need to have confidence in staff by supporting digital literacy attainment with staff. Students also need preparation with feed back skills and digital literacy. 

Stay in the same room to attend James Canaan's from Manukau Institute of Technology presentation on 'pre-apprenticeships towards apprenticeships using practice focused learning'. 
Overview of part of PhD study, focused on understate pedagogy of practice based learning principles and styles. Investigates benefits of practice focused learning for students, employers and industry. Predominantly to look at practice based learning before and during work and in work of practice focussed learning in institutions. Automotive and electrical students form ample and Initial findings presented. 

Then paper by Professors Thomas Deissinger and Phillip Gonon on 'stakeholders in the German and Swiss systems role in innovating apprenticeship'. Applies the 'justification' approach to VET to address various issues including revitalisation of VET. Begin with description of Swiss and German VET. Employers' and trade unions' roles as key stakeholders listed and discussed e.g. The conflicts and consensus between the two. Therefore compromise required for VET policy including hybridisation of qualifications. 

Afternoon tea followed with session with Magnus Fjellstrom and Per Kristmansson from Umea University in Sweden on 'learning as an apprentice,  comparative study on affordances for vocational learning in school and work life apprentice education'. Compares employed construction apprentices (12) with business admin students (15) in upper secondary school who spent part of time at work. Based on concepts of workplace curriculum (Billett, 2001). Similarities and differences identified. Apprentices could not identify curriculum goals as they related completion of time sheets as main goal. Students were able to as they were being assessed to goals in course syllabi.  

Day closes with keynote with Raymond Patel from MerSETA, South Africa. The presentation focused on 'developing T-shaped people to comply with needs of a 21st century education, training and workplace demands'. MerSETA is the sector education and training authority for manufacturing, engineering and related services. Discussed differences between skill and  skilfulness. Presented future challenges skills development will need to meet. Global warming and impacts on social structure brought about by water shortages, social inequalities etc. Means VET has to train for a 'greener' future. Skilfulness implies nimbleness and dexterity with the ability to apply knowledge across various contexts in a lively manner. Uses Worldskills as an approach with TVET whereby international curriculum can be developed to address challenges in a holistic manner. 
Conference dinner follows back in town, closing a longish but informative day. Good to meet up with familiar international friends and meet and discuss shared interests with other apprenticeship researchers.