Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ePortfolios Australia Conference 2010 ePortfolios Australia Conference 2010

The ePortfolios Australia Conference 2010 (Melbourne, 3 to 4 November 2010), has issued a call for papers on the use of electronic portfolios in the vocational education and training (VET), higher education (HE) and adult and community education (ACE) sectors. Abstracts for Full papers, Works in Progress reports, Case Studies and Posters are due 4 June 2010

ePortfolios Australia Conference 2010

Submission for proposals

The theme of the ePortfolios Australia Conference 2010 is Widening participation - engaging the learner (see: http://www.flexiblelearning.net.au/e-portfolios-australia).

Submission of proposal:

The ePortfolios Australia Conference 2010 Organising Committee invites the submission of proposals for:

  • Full papers or Works in progress reports (peer-reviewed); full papers or works in progress reports of research findings and progress;
  • Case studies (abstract only); discussions of key directions and findings of action research or current practice and ;
  • Posters (abstract only): highly visual media communicating information about an innovation, tool, process or development.

Session duration:

  • Paper presentations and Case studies: 25 minutes
  • Posters: Posters will be displayed for the duration of the conference. There will be an hour allocated in the programme when poster presenters will be available near their posters to interact with conference participants.

Proposal themes:

Papers, reports, case studies and posters should relate to one or more of the following sub-themes:

  • Key government educational initiatives:
    • Quality outcomes and standards;
    • Learner mobility and transitions between educational sectors; and
    • Supporting learners accessing the Compact for Young Australians and Retrenched Workers initiatives;
    • Learner study experiences, retention and course completions.
  • Responsive learning and assessment practices:
    • Learning outcomes and reflective skills;
    • Recognition of prior learning (RPL), workplace learning and assessment processes;
    • Assessing graduate attributes and employability skills;
    • Discipline-specific initiatives;
    • Work-integrated learning, fieldwork and practicum experiences.
  • Career pathways and lifelong learning:
    • Continuing professional development (CPD) leading to professional standards, reaccreditation and/or workforce development;
    • Gaining employment
    • Supporting non-traditional learners
    • Improved partnerships with industry;
  • Implementing e-portfolios - successes and sustainability:
    • E-portfolios in the Web 2.0 environment
    • Technical standards supporting e-portfolios
    • Challenges and opportunities in e-portfolio implementation
    • Accessibility and e-portfolios
    • Sustainability and e-portfolios
    • Communities of practice

Papers, reports, case studies and posters not falling under these sub-themes may also be submitted for consideration, but should justify how the proposal complements the 'Widening Participation' conference theme.

Guidelines for Proposals:

Full Papers and Work in Progress reports are proposed by submission of an abstract (up to 400 words), and the full text of the paper which must be no more than 4,000 words including, appendices and references. As a general guide, a full paper should include an introduction, literature review and methodology, results, discussion and conclusions. Full papers are subject to double blind peer-review as required by DEEWR. Authors of successful submissions will be able to make minor corrections to the paper before final submission.

Case Studies are proposed by submission of an abstract (up to 400 words). Abstracts are subject to review by the ePortfolios Australia Conference 2010 Organising Committee.

Poster Presentations are proposed through submission of an abstract (up to 400 words). Posters are subject to review by the ePortfolios Australia Conference 2010 Organising Committee. Display versions should be sized between A3 -minimum and AO - maximum. You are not required to submit your 'Display' version; simply bring it with you to the Conference. Presenters are required to be in attendance with their poster during the allocated formal presentation period, to explain, discuss and to answer viewers' questions. While every effort will be made to ensure the safe handling of posters, the conference committee takes no responsibility for loss or damage of posters.

Paper submission process:

Please submit papers and abstracts to studenteportfolio@qut.edu.au by the due date as detailed below.

Due dates:

Abstracts (for Full papers and Works in Progress reports, Case Studies and Posters) - 4 June 2010

Author notification of acceptance - 2 July 2010

Full papers (final version) due - 2 August 2010

Review feedback notification - 6 September 2010

Final submission - 4 October 2010

Paper submission enquiries:

Please forward all enquires about the submission process to: studenteportfolio@qut.edu.au

From: Call for Papers, for ePortfolios Australia Conference 2010

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

E-portfolios for Vocational Education

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework have announced some very small grants for E-portfolio Implementation Trials in 2010 ($25,000 in total for three trials). Also there are: VET E-portfolio Data Protection Assessment, Verification of Learner Information Investigation, and the VET E-portfolios Roadmap.

It should be noted that these are vocational training initiatives funded by a consortium of the federal and state governments for TAFEs and other Registeed Training Organisations (RTOs). There are also e-portfolio initiatives within the higher education sector, funded by the federal government. So university courses already make use of e-portfolios, such as the ANU Engineering Internship (ENGN3200), where this makes up 20% of the assesment.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Australian E-portfolio Plan

A "VET E-portfolio Roadmap: A strategic roadmap for e-portfolios to support lifelong learning" (640 kbytes PDF, 16 June 2009) has been released by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. This provides a useful 26 page overview of what electronic portfolios are, how they are useful in education and how they can be applied in Australia. Unfortunately AFLF published the plan as a difficult to read PDF document, rather than web format (excerpts appended).

AFLF is a state and federal funded body to support e-learning and has issued a call for participation in
a VET E-portfolios Showcase in October 2009. Unfortunately the VET and higher education sectors are not coordinating their e-learning initiatives in Australia, with the federal government funding the wasted duplicated effort resulting from this. This is mostly the fault of the universities, who have difficulty accepting that the TAFEs are more advanced in e-learning than the universities are. This is dispite some reports recommended cooperation, such as QUT's "AeP ePortfolio Project - Final Project Report" (August 2008) which said something similar from the university point of view. This creates problems for organisations, such as ACS, which are involved in both vocational and masters level postgraduate education.
Section 1: Introduction 1
What is an e-portfolio? 2
Why are e-portfolios important to VET learners? 2
What is an e-portfolio system? 3
Activities or processes for a VET e-portfolio system 4
A reference model for VET e-portfolio systems 4
Section 2: VET E-portfolio Roadmap goals 6
Section 3: VET E-portfolio Roadmap key outputs 8
3.1 National guidelines for VET managers of learner information 8
3.2 Functional specifi cations for e-portfolio system implementers and developers 9
3.3 Strategies for embedding e-portfolios into VET 9
Section 4: VET E-portfolio Roadmap implementation strategy 10
Roadmap implementation strategy 10
Section 5: Getting involved 14
The role of jurisdictions and RTOs 14
For more information 15
Appendix 1: Summary of the VET E-portfolio Roadmap 16
Appendix 2: Key national policy drivers 19
Appendix 3: Defi nition of e-portfolio system services 21 ...

Appendix 1: Summary of the VET E-portfolio Roadmap

Goal 1: Enable portable e-portfolios and associated content to effectively support learner transitions and lifelong learning.

Requirements: A learner should be able to access and develop their e-portfolio throughout their lifelong learning journey. This will require them to be able to move their e-portfolio between various e-portfolio systems.

Strategy: A technical method for associating competencies, employability skills and other relevant frameworks/classifi cations to e-portfolio content/evidence will be investigated and recommended for the VET sector.

Import/export functional requirements for e-portfolio systems will be recommended and agreed nationally.

The use of a VET person profi le to facilitate the portability of e-portfolios which is interoperable with specifi cations such as auEduPerson8 specifi cation will be investigated.

This roadmap was commissioned by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework’s national E-portfolio business activity1
in 2008 to assist in the development of work to suppsaining system.

Goal 2: Enable electronic verifi cation of educational qualifi cations, membership of professional associations or trade/occupational licensing information.

Requirements: The ability to electronically verify evidence will help to streamline applications for employment, course admissions and recognition of prior learning processes.

Strategy: Existing systems for validating claims including Qualsearch9, Purple Passport10 and Digitary11 will be evaluated for their potential suitability in an Australian VET context. The Australian Graduation Statement for Higher Education and European Diploma Supplement will also be considered as part of this investigation.

Goal 3: Ensure that personal data is protected and under the control of the e-portfolio owner.

Requirements: There are legal requirements for privacy which, along with agreements on ownership of content, need to be clearly articulated and addressed in e-portfolio implementations.

Strategy: Generic legal advice will be sought regarding privacy issues and the roles and responsibilities associated with the delivery of e-portfolio services.

Information and advice on privacy and ownership policies will be researched and guidelines for RTOs and developers of e-portfolio systems. This information will be based on best and emerging
practice in this area and use-cases illustrating common issues and scenarios will be provided.

Goal 4: Ensure key stakeholders, including e-portfolio owners (learners) and organisations hosting e-portfolios systems, understand their copyright and intellectual property (IP)

Requirements: Copyright and IP considerations can affect the access and usage rights for a range of different types of e-portfolio content.

Strategy: Guidelines concerning the management of copyright and IP in e-portfolio implementation will be developed for the VET sector. In particular:

• guidelines on licensing of materials and usage of third party materials
• guidelines on appropriae content.

The E-portfolio business activity will monitor relevant developments such as Creative Commons Australia, in particular ccLearn initiatives.12

Access control
Goal 5: Enable effective authentication methods for third parties seeking access to sensitive personal information.

Requirements: Effective digital security facilitates learners’ privacy rights under law, allowing only authorised access to protected content and services.

Strategy: A set of representative VET use-cases for identity, authentication and access control will be developed based on further stakeholder consultations. Although focused on e-portfolios, an identity framework for the VET sector will need to be broader in scope.

A trial of a user-centric identity framework approach such as OpenID or Information Cards will be undertaken.

The sector will also need to engage in related activities such as the higher education sector, auEduPerson and the work of the schools sector in developing a localised version of the SIF data model13 to form a common agreement on data attributes for students. (see actions under Portability above).

Guidance and support for RTOs implementing e-portfolio systems will be provided.

Goal 6: Advocate the availability of suffi cient web connectivity, appropriate access devices, and suffi cient digital infrastructure.
Requirements: Access to appropriate infrastructure is required to support widespread adoption of e-portfolios within the sector.

Strategy: Infrastructure requirements for learners, e-portfolios and e-portfolio systems to support lifelong learning will be communicated to RTOs, jurisdictions and federal government (including the Digital Education Revolution initiative) and other relevant stakeholders.

Goal 7: Establish a shared understanding of storage issues and requirements for e-portfolios in VET.

Requirements: Storage agreements need to take into account that some e-portfolio content will be stored in the e-portfolio system, whilst some content will be stored in other systems or on the

Strategy: Guidance on storage of digital content for e-portfolios will be developed and agreed upon. This guidance will be informed by a number of key resources including higher education
sector’s Australian E-portfolio Project’s e-portfolio toolkit14 and JISC e-portfolio15 resources. It will be aimed at balancing the needs of learners, RTOs and the requirement for longevity of

Guidelines on supporting the longevity requirements for e-portfolios will be developed.

Goal 8: Establish a strategic approach to developing effective e-portfolio practice.

Requirements: The uptake of e-portfolios as a teaching, learning and recognition tool needs to be accompanied through professional development, adequate business structures and support.

Strategy: The Framework’s E-portfolio business activity will play a central role in supporting the establishment and facilitation of communities of practice to provide assistance, dissemination of
information and a mentoring role for new users.

The business activity will also seek FLAG16 and AICTEC17 support to advocate the establishment of a cross sectoral working/reference group that focuses on issues such as policy, professional learning, standards and advocacy at national level to support a standards-based approach to e-portfolios across the sectors.

Goal 9: Promote e-portfolio good practice which supports learner transitions and key national policy drivers such as RPL (recognition of prior learning) and fast-tracking apprenticeships.

Requirements: E-portfolios provide a means for presenting a variety of evidence from formal and informal learning environments which have been acquired through workplace and life-wide experiences.

Strategy: Pilot projects within the VET sector will be encouraged to further develop an understanding of the technical and policy requirements of learner transitions.

The COAG RPL community will be engaged to ensure e-portfolios support RPL processes. ...

From: "VET E-portfolio Roadmap: A strategic roadmap for e-portfolios to support lifelong learning", Australian Flexible Learning Framework, 16 June 2009

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Friday, March 20, 2009

E-portfolios for Vocational Education in Australia

The government funded Australian Flexible Learning Framework have released a report on "E-portfolios for RPL Assessment". E-portfolios are a way for a student to document their experience systematically to have it recognised formally (the ACS uses e-portfolios as part of its Computer Professional Education Program). The media release accompanying the report ("E-portfolios support COAG initiative") had a little too much "spin", linking it to a supposed Council of Australian Governments initiative. Unfortunately I was unable to find any mention of the claimed initiative on the COAG web site, even after I fixed the broken link in the media release. However, any failing in the media release should not be allowed to detract from the well written report, or its useful recommendations.

Summary of recommendations
  1. The Framework should seek closer collaboration with the COAG (Council of Australian Governments) RPL initiative to ensure the benefits of e-portfolios for RPL are widely communicated and supported in the VET sector.
  2. Examples of the use of e-portfolios to support ‘live’ evidence generation in the RPL process which involves a variety of RTOs, RPL candidates and industry contexts should be trialled, documented and shared.
  3. The potential of an assessor’s or ‘group’ e-portfolio which integrates RPL, evidence validation and results recording should be investigated.
From "E-portfolios for RPL Assessment - Key findings on current engagement in the VET sector", by Wendy Perry for the Australian Flexible Learning Framework, March 2009

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Workforce Development Starter Tool

The NISC will be talking about their workforce development starter tool at the 2008 Industry e-learning forum in Sydney on Wednesday 26 November. They invited feedback on the initial version of the tool, so I had a look at it.

The first problem I had was discovering what the "
National Industry Skills Council" was. It was easy enough to find the tool itself, but there is no link from the tool home page to the organisation sponsoring it, nor is the name of the organisation in the text of the web page. It took several web searches to realise that I should be looking for the "National Industry Skills Committee", not "Council" (as listed on the e-learning forum program).

The next problem was working out what the tool did. The login page just says:
This web-based tool comprises a series of dynamic and interactive screens, which enable the user to enter basic information about their organisation to receive summary details about potential factors impacting on their workforce.
This could be a generic description of just about any computer program. What sort of information do you enter about your organisation? What factors impacting on the workforce are reported? There did not seem to be any way to find out without registering.

The registration screen required the usual information and required entering visually displayed security text. There was no audio alternative to the visual code for people who couldn't see it, which may breech Australian disability legislation. Apart from that the application looked as though it would be reasonably accessible (although I did not conduct formal tests). Graphics can be switched off to speed the application and it looks like it would work well on a smartphone.

I filled in the registration form and an activation email arrived a minute or so later. The system then provided a little more information about what it was for:

The NISC Online Workforce Development Starter Tool is intended to assist enterprises and employers in planning for the skills needs of their future workforce. ...
More useful for an overview of the application was the well designed menu:
My Organisation
What Things Affect My Workforce?

My Current Workforce

If I Change Nothing, Where am I Heading?
My Workforce Concerns
My Desired Future Workforce

My Potential Workforce Gaps
Good Practice Recommendations
Print My Workforce Report
My Profile
Links Page
However, it was still not clear to me why I should type information about my company into this system, if I could trust the people providing the system, or what I would get out of it. But as my company has only one employee (me) I felt I had little to be lost. ;-)

A My Organisation page then asks for some details about the organisation's employees. This is easy enough to fill in, except for the occupations, which are selected from an excessively long pull down menu. This would be very difficult to fill in for a large organisation. Saving the page takes a few seconds.

Then a What Things Affect My Workforce? page is displayed. This lists a series of issues which might be considered. You then check a box to remove the irrelevant ones. An example is:
Impacts of Globalisation on Skill Demand: The rise of the global economy has meant that companies are not only increasingly competing for customers the world over but are also competing for resources that may originate anywhere in the world, including skilled staff. Australia’s powerful skilled migration program is an example of this global competition. By 2006, the Federal Government had increased the number of skilled migration visa places available nine times consecutively over the period from 1998/99 to 2006/07. Department of Immigration and Citizenship Statistics ...
The "click to remove" interface was a little unnatural and I found myself click the items I wanted. The bottom of the screen offered to print a customised report (presumably of the selected items) or downloading an Australian Workforce Environment Report (whatever that is).

The next screen was "My Current Workforce ・Overview", which allowed the qualifications and current training opportunities of the staff to be entered. At this point I started to see what the application was for. It seems to be well designed for leading someone through the process of assessing the training needs of their staff. Also I noticed that the steps I was being taken through were the same and the same sequence as the menu, which is useful.

I decided to skip to the end and produced a "My Workforce Report". One problem is that the menu item is labelled "Print My Workforce Report", but I didn't want to print the report, just generate an electronic document. In any case that is what the menu option did: generating a reasonably formatted web page suitable for printing. The report could be improved by removing the excessive formatting so it could be copied and pasted into a word processor or a web based system. It looks a little odd with blog formatting, but is still readable:

Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd Ltd Workforce Development Report
04 Nov 2008
Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd Profile:
The following details were entered into the Workforce Development Starter Tool as characteristics of the Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd workforce.

Education Industry
Small business (less than 20 employees)
100% workforce in ACT
Key skill groups:
  • ICT Business Analyst
Factors Potentially Impacting on the Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd workforce:
An important step in considering your future workforce requirements is understanding the environment in which your organisation operates and the factors and issues which may impact on your organisation's future.
Given the information which you entered in the online Workforce Development Starter Tool, the following factors have been identified as potentially impacting on the Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd.
Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd may wish to consider how or if these factors are likely to affect the Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd future workforce.
Because of...You should consider...
Impacts of Globalisation on Skill Demand: The rise of the global economy has meant that companies are not only increasingly competing for customers the world over but are also competing for resources that may originate anywhere in the world, including skilled staff. Australia’s powerful skilled migration program is an example of this global competition. By 2006, the Federal Government had increased the number of skilled migration visa places available nine times consecutively over the period from 1998/99 to 2006/07.Department of Immigration and Citizenship Statistics
Future Employment Growth by Skill-Level: Employment is expected to grow more quickly in higher skilled occupations than in lower skilled occupations. High employment growth is forecast in high-skill occupations (managers and administrators, professionals and associate professionals). In advanced clerical and service and trades, a decline is forecast, although in the trades the decline is marginal. In all other occupations, the forecast is for relatively moderate growth. Consequently, the occupational profile is expected to shift towards high-skill occupations. By 2016, more Australians will be employed as associate professionals than tradespersons.National Training Reform Taskforce Report

Ageing Australian Workforce (2): The Workforce Tomorrow publication, produced by DEWR, provides projections on the impacts of population ageing for the Australian workforce by state/territory, industry, region and occupation, and can be found at the following link:

Workforce Tomorrow Report
Australian States & Territories - Labour Market Overview - The Australian Jobs 2007 publication, produced by the Department of Employment and Workforce Relations, provides comprehensive information about the Australian labour market for each state/territory: including employment trends over the past 5 years, projected employment growth by industry and workforce profile characteristics.Click on the link below to access this publication.Australian Jobs Report 2007
Impact of Skill Shortages on Business Innovation: A national survey of 492 CEO's in the manufacturing, services and construction sectors examines the extent to which skill shortages are restricting the capacity of Australian businesses to be innovative. The survey results also highlight the extent of skill shortages within industry sectors and by occupations. Click on the following link to access this report.AIG & Deloitte National CEO Survey (April 2008)

Broad Industry Growth Trends: On an industry basis, the same broad industries which accounted for most job growth over the past ten years (construction, business services, community and health services, and tourism, retail and recreation) are projected to do likewise for the next decade.

Access Economics Report

Key Workforce Trends: Over the coming years, demographic, socio-political, technological and economic changes will lead to a dramatic shift in the make-up of the workforce. Trends that will influence the way organisations recruit and retain key talent in the future include: A smaller pool of talent from which to recruit for key positions; an increasingly global market for new talent; an increasingly virtual workplace; a vastly diverse workforce – in terms of age, race and culture; and a workforce with independent access to information about their own and other organisations. Click on the following link to access the Hewitt report on Next-Generation Talent Management - Insights on How Workforce Trends are Changing the Face of Talent Management.

Hewitt Report

Education Industry Profile: The Education industry in Australia is significant in size. It accounts for 720,000 jobs and has experienced average jobs growth over the past five years (over 72,000 new jobs). Most of this growth has been concentrated in the schools sector although some has also occurred in the pre and post-schooling education sectors. Employment growth is anticipated to moderate over the next five years with about 33,200 expected to be created over that time period. The Education industry has an ageing workforce with almost half of its employees over the age of 45 years. This is a significant issue for this industry with a strong need for it to find workers to replace those retiring over the next two decades.

DEWR Report 2007

Education Workforce Trends: The Education industry and its workforce face major challenges in the coming years. Participation in post-compulsory education has been increasing for some time, placing greater demands on the existing workforce and generating the need for more educators across the country. Most States and Territories are known to be suffering form acute shortages of school teachers, particularly in regional areas where living conditions may not be considered as attractive as those on offer in metropolitan areas. The Australian Education Union has proposed a number of strategies to address these shortages in regional areas:

· Monetary incentives;

· Availability of adequate subsidised housing;

· Paid travel including the provision of vehicles;

· Additional leave entitlements for travel and training;

· Targeted professional development programs for country teachers;

· Promotion opportunities;

· Guaranteed return to metropolitan areas;

· Incentives to remain in rural and remote areas.

AEU A National Teacher Shortage

The top five occupations in the industry include:

Primary School Teachers 140,800 people
Secondary School Teachers 128,700 people
Teachers’ Aides 54,500 people
University Lecturers and Tutors 38,800 people
Music, Dance and Other Teachers 25,500 people

Monash University forecasts average per annum growth between 2007/08 and 2014/15 as follows:

Primary School Teachers 1.2%
Secondary School Teachers 2.2%
Teachers’ Aides n/a
University Lecturers and Tutors 1.9%

Music, Dance and Other Teachers 1.5%

Employment growth in the Education industry (11.1%) has been just below the national average of 12.8% over the past five years. The female share of employment in the industry (69%) is much higher than the average across all industries (45%) and has risen by 7% since 1987. The industry is highly qualified with 64.8% of workers holding a Bachelors degree (well above the national industry average of 24.2%). The industry workforce is older than the average across all industries with 49% of workers aged 45 years and or older compared to the national average of 37%, suggesting a strong replacement demand will emerge over the next two decades.

Australian Jobs 2007
Education Industry Trends: Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IPSA) has prepared an Environmental Scan (2008) of broad factors and trends impacting on skill and training needs across a range of industry sectors, including education. Click on the following link to access this reportIBSA Report
Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd Current Workforce
Based on the information you entered in the online tool, a profile of the current Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd workforce is presented below.
For planning to be successful, Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd must understand the workforce they have, in terms of quantitative and qualitative characteristics.
The following information was provided to the tool to describe the Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd Workforce.
Current Qualification Profile

Other VET Certificate Qualification 100%
Current Occupations Employed

ICT Business Analyst

If Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd change nothing where are they heading?
Based on the turnover and the recruitment details that you entered in the online tool, the following presents a broad indicative forecast of where your organisation could be heading over the next 1,3 and 5 years based on the scenario 'if I change nothing'.

● Your workforce is in Growth Mode

Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd Desired Future Workforce
There are no absolutes when considering what will happen ‘tomorrow’ – be it in one, three or five years time. However preparation is the key to maximising options and minimising risks. Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd has identified the following profile for its desired future workforce.
The Future View is determining the organisation’s needs considering the emerging trends and issues within the context of the organisation’s environment.

The following is how Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd views it’s future workforce – their preferred future.

Future Qualification Profile

Degree or Higher Qualified 0% Other VET Certificate Qualification 0%
Trade Qualified 0% Year 12 or Below 0%
Diploma Qualified 0% Other 0%

Future Special skills and level of capability within Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd will be:

Future Occupations Employed:

Future Demographic/Employment Profile




Employment Type






Age Range

25 and under




56 and over

Length of service range







21 and over


All Employees

Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd Future Workforce Gaps
A comparison of the Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd current workforce and its desired future workforce reveals that your preferred future includes the following key changes.

Workforce Profile Changes
● Decrease percentage "Other VET Certificate Quailfication" from 100% to 0%
Desired Change in Skills and Competencies

Good Practice Recommendations
Your Workforce Development efforts will count for little unless you invest time in determining appropriate actions to address the gaps identified.
Based on the workforce concerns or issues that Tomw Communcations Pty Ltd has identified, you may be interested in reviewing the following workforce strategies and practices being implemented by some organisations.
In the area of...You might consider...

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Industry e-learning forum

The federal/state funded Australian Flexible Learning Framework, is holding a free 2008 Industry e-learning forum in Sydney on Wednesday 26 November. Businesses and industries working with Registered Training Organisations (RTO) in the vocational education sector receive priority for attendance:
2008 Industry e-learning forum invitation
What is your industry sector doing to develop the skills of your workforce? (Wed 26 Nov 08, Sydney)

Join us at the 2008 Industry e-learning forum

8.00am - 8.30am: Registration
  • Welcome and overview – e-learning and workforce development
  • Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations – opening address
  • National Industry Skills Council – workforce development starter tool
  • Industry sectors – independent grocers and water industry
10.45am - 11.25am: Networking and refreshments
  • Skills Australia – business provider partnerships integral to vocational education and training
  • Industry sectors – stainless steel and medical technology
12.50 - 1.35pm: Networking and refreshments
  • Industry sectors – dairy farmers and manufacturers, fertilizer and aged care industries
  • Australian Flexible Learning Framework – opportunities in 2009
2.55pm - 3.20pm: Networking, refreshments and event close

Early online expression of interest is essential, as places are strictly limited for this free forum. Expressions of interest close Monday 10 November 2008, or until the forum fills. ...

From: 2008 Industry e-learning forum invitation,2008

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Documents for e-learning

Previously I mentioned the Australian Flexible Learning Framework provided an online introduction to Designing e-Learning. The first of their five steps ids "Get started in e-learning". This has three items, with links to five Microsoft Word format word processing documents, a total of 438 Kbytes (other modules have Powerpoint slides or an external e-Learning web site).

The Word documents are:
  1. Types of e-learning (Word doc 69KB)
  2. Which types are you? (Word doc 109KB)
  3. Gallery webquest quiz (Word doc 60KB)
  4. Building an online community (Word doc 112KB)
  5. Learning design webquest (Word doc 151KB)

Types of e-learning

Types of e-learning is a one page landscape format table listing six types of E-learning: E-training, Blended learning, Virtual classroom, Digital campus, Distance education and Web in class. For each E-learning type there is listed eight items: Description, Learning mode, Content, Delivery, Collaboration, Sector, Drivers and Main learning model. This is a complex table with 48 cells giving an overview of e-learning for corporate, VET and higher education sectors. As an electronic document the table is poorly formatted, not easily fitting on screen. There are footnotes on the document, which may not be good for such documents, but these are hypertext linked so the footnote appears when the cursor is placed over it in the text context.

The Types of e-learning and many of the other documents might be better done as web pages. This would make them easier to read on screen. It appears that these documents are designed to be printed out. While this is a useful option, it breaks the e-learning paradigm. One reason for using WP format might be that this was the simplest self contained format available to the designers. While web pages (HTML) would be more suited to the student, the LMS package used would have required the content to then be fixed in page, rather than as a simple add on module which could be shared between different courses. t is difficult to make a web page a standalone module, due to the need to have images, styles and other ancillary files.

Which types are you? is a one page portrait format word processing document. It is a worksheet with a table of seven tick box questions, with space to write explanations. There may be some form of macro on the document to make it interactive, but on my version of Open Office, the document was static, with no way to actually fill in the tick boxes (text could be written into the comments space).

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Designing e-learning

One of the resources the Australian Flexible Learning Framework provides is an online introduction to Designing e-Learning. This has a Gallery of strategies as well as information on Learning design and Learning materials. This is all a bit much to take in and it is best to start with the suggested five steps:
  1. Get started in e-learning
  2. Explore e-technologies
  3. Plan an e-learning initiative
  4. Design an e-learning course
  5. Develop an e-learning plan
I find the travel metaphor used confusing, with e-tours, travel packs, itineraries and stops along the way. It would be simpler to use the technical e-learning terminology, than have to work out what these are about. But apart from that, the material is very well structured and clearly written.

Each of the five steps has a short "Itinerary" with the equivalent of about one printed page of text. This has between three and eight (usually four) items ("Stops on this tour"). Each item has a few lines of text, with perhaps three to five bullet points, and a link to material from the "What you'll need from the travel pack". The travel pack materials are Word Processing documents, Power point slides and links to external e-Learning web sites.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Vocational training e-learning newsletter

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework provide a free newsletter "Flex e-News" about federally funded e-learning tools and training for vocational sector training. The August edition has items on E-standards, e-Portfolios, m-Learning and some podcasts. However, there are some catches with this: the newsletter is poorly formatted (which detracts from the message about e-Learning) and some activities are restricted to state registered training organisations (so you can't necessarily attend if your organisation is a national one, but registered in a different state).

Newsletter Formatting

The newsletter failed a W3C Markup Validation, with 463 Errors, the highest number I have seen for a web page. It also had problems with an automated accessibility test for the disabled:
Test summary outcome

AutomaticHuman review
Priority 10268
Priority 2245249
Priority 31977

From: Testing outcome: http://flexenews.flexiblelearning.net.au/, TAW 3.0 (8/25/08 4:56 AM) Validation conform to WAI guidelines, W3C Recommendation 5 May 1999
The newsletter format could be made bit simpler, as well as fixing the technical errors. One way would be to design it for a mobile phone. Not that anyone would read it on a mobile phone, but that would curb some of the web designers excesses. Another way would be to have an RSS feed which strips off the formatting and gives short, readable items.

State Based Administration of VET

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework is a national training e-learning strategy, but is administered by state governments. As a result, training organisations taking part have to be registered in a state and obtain funding and support via that state. This does not make a lot of sense for developing e-learning systems which are designed to be location independent.

This adds to the problem that e-learning initiatives for the vocational sector are separate to those for universities. As a result it will be very difficult to get cooperation on standards for e-learning and e-portfolios and much of the government funding will be wasted on duplicated and conflicting efforts.

The Federal Government is conducting a Review of Australian Higher Education. The Discussion Paper (June 2008) touches on the high cost of e-learning. One way to reduce those costs would be to merge university and vocational e-learning programs. Another would be to make the vocational programs national, with no distinction made for what state a training organisation happens to be physically located in. Courses, tools and standards could then be developed for educational use across Australia and across education sectors.

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e-learning and virtual classroom workshops

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework has a free (government funded) two-day intensive 'E-learning Explorers' workshop (Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 August) and 'Virtual Classrooms' e-tools workshop (Thursday 28 August), both in Canberra:
E-explorers for private providers - Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 August

Moir Holmes (2007 ACT LearnScope Facilitator) will facilitate this two-day workshop, which is designed for teachers who are beginners to e-learning. It will enable teachers to develop online resources and use them in an online environment, like Moodle (an open sourced learning management platform).

To register for this free E-explorers workshop on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 August at CIT Bruce Campus, email kerry.manikis@cit.act.edu.au ASAP.

For more information about other upcoming e-pd in the @CT events visit the ACT Framework webpage at http://flexiblelearning.net.au/act

Virtual Classrooms e-tools workshop - Thursday 28 August, 1pm - 3pm

This workshop will explore the following free virtual classrooms (each has different features and limitations):
  • VETVirtual (Framework's free virtual classroom)
  • dimdim (twenty for free webconferencing)
  • vRoom (three for free webconferencing).
e-tools workshops are free short and sharp hands-on afternoon workshops which enable practitioners to use e-learning tools and resources to create engaging learning content.

To register for this free virtual classrooms e-tools workshop on Thursday 28 August at CIT Reid Campus, email kerry.manikis@cit.act.edu.au by cob Wednesday 27 August.
For more information about other upcoming e-pd in the @CT events visit the ACT Framework webpage at http://flexiblelearning.net.au/act

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Review of Australian Higher Education

The Federal Government's Review of Australian Higher Education is due to report by October. The Discussion Paper (June 2008) touches on the high cost of e-learning:
Universities are also confronting the very major costs of moving to computer-mediated, electronic and flexible delivery modes, while at the same time attempting to sustain, as far as possible, their campus-based and face-to-face teaching approaches. While there may arguably be some downstream savings from increased use of ‘e-learning’, there are enormous transitional costs in creating digital libraries, converting existing courses and developing new ones, and establishing new electronic infrastructure. International evidence also suggests that these costs will recur frequently due to the rate of change in technology and student expectations for both e-learning and face-to-face teaching.
One way for universities and other tertiary institutions to lower the cost is to share infrastructure. Universities already do this for their Internet access via AARnet. The TAFEs are cooperating with e-learning content via the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. However, the TAFEs are tending to charge small amounts of money for other TAFEs to use their courseware. This is restricting the use of the content due to the need for accounting, without providing significant revenue. The federal government could change its rules to encourage tertiary institutions to develop free open access courseware. As an example some federal funding could require open access results as a condition of funding. The government could also offer the TAFEs a one off fee to make the existing courseware open access.

The distinction between vocational and the rest of the higher education sector for funding of the development of e-learning content, tools and training could also be removed. Te vocational education sector in Australia has a coordinated approach to e-learning development, with cooperation encouraged by federal government funding programs. In contrast the universities each have their own overlapping uncoordinated and competing programs. This is a waste of public money. The federal programs should be modified to encourage cooperation between universities and with the vocational sector (which has much to teach universities).

Vocational and university sectors have separate e-portfolio programs. These could also be usefully brought together.

In addition the universities could be encouraged to work with professional bodies. As an example the ACS is working on global standards for education of ICT professionals. This will likely include e-portfolios, as well as curriculum standards.

I am not sure that cooperation by universities with each other and with the vocational sector is the "big, bold idea" which Professor Bradley, review chair, is looking for, but it might help.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

E-portfolios for professional education in Australia

ACT CIT hosted an excellent free session this morning on e-Portfolios, as part of the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. The most important news is open source e-portfolio software "Mahara", from New Zealand, which interfaces to Moodle.
Thursday 14 August, 10.30am - 12.30pm - E-portfolios with guest presenter Allison Miller (E-portfolios business activity manager) hosted by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework.
To register > email Kerry Manikis before cob Monday 11 August
Further information > E-portfolios Network, RPL Online Network (RON), Leonard Low's E-portfolios slideshow and Mahara (open source e-portfolio tool)

From: Australian Flexible Learning Framework ACT, 2008
Before the session, I was sceptical as to if there were going to be standards and software for e-Portfolios and if vocational trainers and universities would cooperate to use compatible systems. I came away from the morning with most of my questions answered and ready to recommend the implementation of e-portfolios to my colleagues.

Electronic portfolios (e-portfolio or digital portfolios) are an electronic collection of samples of evidence of a person's experience and learning. They may be web based. There has been interest in E-portfolios from universities and the vocational education sector as a way to provide non-paper evidence of what students have done. This goes beyond the usual cryptic academic transcript. But the main interest from government is to have educational qualifications in a digital form which can be electronically verified.

There are business and technical overviews, software and standards available from the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. Also there is an e-Portfolio blog, with updates.

E-Portfolios are likely to come in different favours depending on the educational sector and discipline. The vocational (TAFE) sector and fine arts people at university are likely to use e-portfolios as a way for the student to show their work. Science disciplines at universities are more likely to see it as a way to provide an index to official transcripts and lists of publications.

The ACS already has a system it uses for recording qualifications and experience of its own members. With some open source software being available, it should not be too hard to offer an ePortfolio for each of the 13,000 members.

In its simplest form the ePortfolio could be an extra report generated from an existing database of membership information. The e-Portfolio could be presented on screen as a web page, in a printable format and electronic export formats. The printed and exported ePortfolio versions could have a web address in them which could be used to validate the information.

Technically the ePortfolio is not difficult to implement. What will be harder are the procedures and legal implications from providing the information.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

E-portfolios for vocational education

There will be a free event on E-portfolios for vocational education, at the CIT Reid Campus, 14 August. This will feature Allison Miller, Business Manager, E-portfolios - Managing Learner Information and CIT Children's Services e-learning innovations project, Lisa Beattie and Aaron Pont.
Thursday 14 August, 10.30am - 12.30pm - E-portfolios with guest presenter Allison Miller (E-portfolios business activity manager) hosted by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework.
To register > email Kerry Manikis before cob Monday 11 August
Further information > E-portfolios Network, RPL Online Network (RON), Leonard Low's E-portfolios slideshow and Mahara (open source e-portfolio tool)

From: Australian Flexible Learning Framework ACT, 2008
Electronic portfolios (e-portfolio or digital portfolios) are an electronic collection of samples of evidence of a person's experience and learning. Usually they are in the form of a web page. There has been interest in E-portfolios from universities and the vocational education sector as a way to provide non-paper evidence of what students have done. This goes beyond the usual cryptic academic transcript. But the main interest from government (and fundingr) is to have educational qualifications in a digital form which can be electronically verified.

QUT ran an Australian ePortfolio Symposium in February 2008. The US approach to ePortfolios is to have companies or consortia of educational institutions provide them. An example is Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium (CTDLC)'s ePortfolio. EIfEL (European Institute for E-Learning), has been working with HR-XML.

Australian Universities are working as the Australian ePortfolio Project, with government funding. AeP surveyed me about potential use of ePortfolios. I pointed out that ACS is working on international accreditation for ICT professionals this has recently received support from Microsoft. The ACS already has a system it uses for recording qualifications and experience of its own members. It is likely that something similar will be used internationally. The ACS exposes some of the information in its system to other members and more limited information to the public via a member's list and consultant's directory. I have suggested the ACS provide an ePortfolio, as an option for members, from the same data, using the standard format. The ACS just needs to format the data in the correct format for this.

Professional bodies have have to check the experience and qualifications of members and many now have schemes for members to report their ongoing education (such a s ACS's PCP program). It would seem a small extra step to make this information available in an a e-portfolio format.

In addition commercial web services, such as Linked-In, provide the information which members provide , marked up in a machine readable format.

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