ICT IN VET LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
|Project Title||Teaching and Learning Through ICT in VET Learning Environments|
|Project Team||Dr Helen Bound, (SiMERR Tasmania), Annette Salter (Faculty of Education, UTAS), Graeme Kirkwood (Learning Development Manager, TAFE, Hobart)|
|Period||2006 – 2007|
|Funding Agency||SiMERR and University of Tasmania|
|Organisational Base||SiMERR Tasmania|
Traditionally, in Australian vocational education and training, trades have been taught through the use of workbooks that do not challenge or develop “learning to learn” skills. Workbooks mean a focus on content rather than learning and the learner. They do not meet the needs of flexible delivery to remote areas.
This project aimed to understand how trade teachers in the building and construction sector thought about learning and teaching approaches in order to design professional development that could help the teachers build their skills in designing flexible delivery.
After surveying teachers about their teaching, ICT skills, intent for using ICT and their understanding of flexible delivery an intervention strategy was designed for trade teachers — a workshop and follow-up support. The teachers were then assisted to design ICT resources which. Use of the material by apprentices was observed and the apprentices were also interviewed – feedback on the responses formed part of an evaluation session with the teachers.
In 2007 an IRGS grant from the University of Tasmania enabled the process to be repeated with staff from across Tasmania.
22 building and construction trade teachers from TAFE, Tasmania
We developed a comprehensive snapshot of teaching approaches, understandings, experiences and intentions of this group of trade teachers. It became clear that teachers were dealing with many tensions and trying in different ways to meet competing needs.
In designing the workshop we highlighted these competing tensions to initiate discussion and encourage creative solutions. An example of a tension is “flexible delivery assumes apprentices teach themselves” versus “apprentices have limited skills in self-directed learning.”
A number of pedagogical approaches were suggested that went beyond step-by-step teaching. Teachers were encouraged to come up with questions and activities to provoke apprentices to engage in critical thinking. As they designed activities to create dissonance in their students, they began to feel more comfortable with their own feelings of dissonance.
In designing ICT resources we found that it was important for teachers to have time to play with the technology first.
- Bound, H., & Salter, A. (2007). Using ICT resources in project-based learning within a vocational education and training environment. In J. Sigafoos & V. Green (Eds.), Technology and teaching (pp. 89-99). New York: Nova Science Publishers.
- Bound, H., & Salter, A. (2008a, April). Tensions in teacher professional development. Paper presented to the International Conference on Organisational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities, Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School and School of Education, Aarhus University.
- Bound, H., & Salter, A. (2008b, May). Changing teaching practices. Paper presented to the International Symposium Activity 2008 – Activity analysis for developing work, Helsinki, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
This project raised serious policy issues for TAFE Tasmania; how does resource development happen, how does the organization identify who should do it and how can they best be supported?
As a result, TAFE Tasmania has created a resource support unit made up of a manager and four regional resource developmental advisors as coaches to support teachers and teams in developing resources. This has proved to be a much better model; the team is responsive and valued. Key teachers have been given full-time time release over several weeks to focus on development of resources, rather than expected to try to create effective resources as part of normal or slightly reduced teaching loads.
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