Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

Mobilizing VET – Towards Paperless Assessment

December 16, 2010

Vocational Graduate Certificate in Master Trade Applications (Sustainability projects)

Six students met at Acacia Ridge today to present and critique project briefs assisted by Vikki, Peter and Rob. For me, it was a most useful exercise in clarifying my project, as well as gaining insight into how I might plan and evaluate my progress. I was able to compare my project with other students’ ideas which further assisted me to make connections and contrast my methods of research.

My project so far…


Mobilizing VET – Towards Paperless Assessment


Current assessment practice at SkillsTech Australia relies heavily on assessors visiting workplaces, and apprentices attending TAFE on-campus. Assessor vehicle trips to site are excessive, as are apprentice hours spent in TAFE classrooms and workshops. Students are frustrated at repeating practical tasks (normally carried out at work) in the TAFE workshop, and assessors waste time visiting distant work sites where apprentices are carrying out repetitive tasks using a narrow range of skills. Students face either a delay in getting to TAFE due to heavy bookings, or long periods between visits due to limited assessor availability.


Development of an institute-wide process whereby a transformation of the current paper-based assessment practice into a type of paperless assessment model takes place by students recording their activities on video, uploading the video files into a secure storage system, and then sharing the video files with an assessor. File sharing is followed by “competency conversations” in which the assessor engages the student and directs further video evidence gathering, until sufficient material is gathered for judgement to be made about the student’s level of competence. The video recording is carried out by the student under supervision in the workplace, presenting validity in an authentic workplace setting. Ideally, the workplace supervisor is qualified in Cert IV Training and Assessment.

Triple Bottom Line (Environment, Economy, Social)

The three TBL aspects of sustainability are addressed in this project:


Unnecessary vehicle use is reduced due to efficiencies in communications between assessor and student.


Assessor time is efficiently managed; Student time is efficiently managed


Student engagement in practical tasks is increased; Student satisfaction in the course is heightened; Student outcomes are strengthened

Current knowledge

  • The Mediasite server is used to store and stream Videolinq presentations for teaching and professional development – it is limited to teaching resources
  • The Web server at SkillsTech Australia (Acacia Ridge) has been identified as having sufficient space to host video files – there is insufficient management to guarantee security and data organisation
  • BlueDog Training provides onsite and online training for construction apprentices – there is no provision for video assessment

This project addresses elements of the SkillsTech Australia Strategic Plan 2008-11:

  • Leadership and positioning
  • Products and services
  • Our people
  • Our business systems
  • Our clients
  • Environmental sustainability


Using rich digital media to asses and train apprentices and RPOL candidates in a user owned and operated secure portfolio – engaging students and assessing their competency in a supervised, authentic work environment.

Comments and questions

  • TAFE attendance builds social skills- What is the impact of denying access to face-to-face training for students?
  • Recording and manipulation of digital media requires extant skills
  • The paper based system works – why change it?
  • Cost savings must be quantified
  • What is the likelihood of threats from more agile organizations who are likely to easily adapt to using this system for their own business activities?

SWOT analysis

S: Ease of use
W: Some training required
O: Scalability
T: Other similar projects in more agile organizations; Resistance to change


  • SkillsTech SET (Directors)
  • Streamfolio portfolio product developers
  • STA Electrotechnology team
  • STA Skills Recognition team
  • STA workplace assessors
  • STA teachers
  • STA Facilities vehicle management officer
  • The community


  • Learning about project management techniques
  • Learning about techniques used to evaluate a project:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Realistic
    • Time-bound

Vocational Graduate Certificate in Master Trade Applications ~Sustainability Projects

October 30, 2010

Expression of interest: 25th October 2010

What do I believe I will learn, and how will I benefit from this course?

This course will assist with improving my personal and professional skills in using digital media for workplace assessment. Achieving this goal is an important strategy in my aim to rise to the challenges of increased productivity and improved skill utilization, in a changing labour market, amidst emerging occupations and industries.

How will I apply my learning in a practical way, in my work environment?

Employers require a streamlined approach to training staff, and while they may recognize the value of training generally, they need off-site training to be minimized, lessening disruption to production whilst maximizing skills transfer.

The skills learnt during this course will assist me to provide an effective service to employers, apprentices and ‘recognition of prior learning’ candidates, leveraging employers’ productivity advantage (by using the workplace as a training place; by engaging the workforce in training partnership; and through skills training time-reduction and decreased off-site training), enhancing Vocational Education and Training skills acquisition in a cost-effective, sustainable best practice.

Why should I be selected to complete this qualification?

I have maintained an active interest in developing educational technologies to enhance my teaching practice since I began full-time TAFE teaching in 2000. This has been an ad hoc process of self-discovery, due to the very nature of new media trialled by me in response to opportunities arising in the training workshop. Completing this qualification will formalize the research process to which my curiosity has often aspired.

Virtual meetings

December 14, 2008

Virtual meetings

Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

Stone industry personnel have suggested regular meetings to discuss their training needs, as well as delivering training and carrying out skill assessments. However, the state-wide geographic spread of employers and apprentices means that it is impossible to get everyone in the same place at one time, and it is difficult for trainers to see every client face-to-face.

SkillsTech Australia has a commitment to sustainability, providing training in sustainable practices, as well as “…innovative, technology-driven, efficient and flexible training.” Travelling many miles to deliver training is no longer justifiable, given the institute’s position on climate change.

AQTF Standards.
The Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF) standards insist that:
2.1 The RTO continuously improves client services by collecting, analysing and acting on relevant data
2.3 Employers and other parties who contribute to each learner’s training and assessment are engaged in the development, delivery and monitoring of training and assessment.
2.4 Learners receive training, assessment and support services that meet their individual needs.
Hence, there exists a need for additional ways to communicate with employer, students and RPL applicants, supplementing workplace visits.

Employers’ contributions.
Employer feedback will be necessary during the future upgrade of our current training package from BCF00 Off-Site Construction to CPC08 Construction, Plumbing and Services Integrated Framework.

Training delivery.
Stonemasonry apprentice numbers have outpaced staffing and infrastructure resources available at SkillsTech Australia. A continued increase in student numbers means that some of the stonemasonry teaching delivery load must be undertaken in a flexible mode.

Virtual conferencing.
I believe that some of the communications issues could be addressed by using virtual conferencing tools (together with phone, fax, email, Web, etc.) to supplement face-to-face meetings with clients. In choosing a conferencing platform, there are several issues to be considered:
o Most employers have computers and Internet access
o Not every student has a computer, let alone Internet access
o Most employers and apprentices are busy working during the day
o It is important to track both employer and student interaction for audit purposes
o Recorded sessions should be available for replay by participants
o Conversations should be conducted using a service that is proven to be reliable
o Internet access is limited by bandwidth in regional areas
o Information gathered should be secure
o The conferencing platform (including meeting replays) must be accessible via the SkillsTech Australia student network

Researching virtual-meeting communications tools, two in particular look promising: Videolinq videoconferencing and Flashmeeting webconferencing.

Videolinq videoconferencing.
Videolinq is a TAFE Queensland service “…providing video conferencing, video streaming and learning technology services to support enhanced educational opportunities for off campus, distance and integrated educational delivery models.” I have been a videoconference teacher since 2004, actively participating in and contributing material to Videolinq videoconferences and media streams, archived under VeMentoring and Stonemasonry headings. Videolinq videoconferences are currently only accessible at TAFE institutes around Queensland, and as many stonemasonry apprentices do not have computers and Internet access, I believe that Videolinq will be a suitable platform for delivering training to stonemasonry students at their local TAFE institute.

I’ve been regularly using Flashmeeting as a virtual meeting tool since April 2008, connecting educators from Australia and New Zealand (as well as the UK and the US) via their computers. A link to each meeting is displayed on a wiki, and immediately after the meeting, the link automatically accesses the recorded video and text files. Flashmeeting uses webcam, voice and text chat communications, although participants may choose just text, or text and audio, or a combination of text, audio and webcam. Flashmeeting will be a useful tool to connect stone industry people in between face-to-face meetings.

Meeting times and dates.
I plan to facilitate two virtual sessions a month using Flashmeeting webconferencing with employers and Videolinq videoconferencing with students. This schedule can later be expanded to four sessions a month, if required. Alternating Flashmeeting webconferences with Videolinq videoconferences gives a choice of first and third, and second and fourth Monday evenings.

My experience with meetings informs me that 6pm is a good time for a one-hour session. Participants in a Videolinq videoconference require time to get from their workplace to their local TAFE institute, perhaps eating a small meal on the way. Flashmeeting participants can access the meeting from either their home computer or the workplace. Using either videoconferencing or webconferencing, 7pm is not too late a time to finish. Additionally, a 6-7pm time slot allows me time to prepare for a session after students leave TAFE classes at 3:30pm.

Monday evenings are a popular time for industry meetings, however there is a potential conflict with public holidays, when participants should not be expected to attend. Considering the ten Queensland public holidays in 2009, five occur on a Monday. Of these, one is on the first Monday of the month, two are on the second, and two are on the fourth. I believe that students should be given more opportunities than employers to access virtual meetings, hence, choosing every 2nd Monday of the month for Flashmeetings, and every 3rd Monday of the month for Videolinq videoconferences will give 10 student meetings and 9 employer meetings, with options to expand to a further 10 student meetings (totaling 22) and 9 employer meetings (totaling 19) during 2009.

Hence, the proposed dates for virtual meetings 6-9 pm on Mondays in 2009 are:

Videolinq (subject to room availability).
January 19th
February 16th
March 16th
April 20th
May 18th
June 15th
July 20th
August 17th
September 21st
October 19th
November 16th
December 21st

January 12th
February 9th
March 9th
May 11th
July 13th
August 10th
September 14th
October 12th
November 9th
December 14th

Agenda items.
When confirmed, meeting dates will be published at the stonemasonry wiki using an embedded Google calendar. The booking will also include meeting details such as meeting chair, agenda, access to previous meeting minutes, etc. This method will suffice until a dedicated my.TAFE course structure is developed.

Expected outcomes.
Gathering employer feedback about skills training, and providing training delivery to regional students are quality assurance requirements of the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF) standards for every Registered Training Organisation (RTO). Using virtual meeting platforms such as Videolinq and Flashmeeting provide sustainable ways to manage unnecessary travel. Regular meetings will also strengthen the established master-novice network, as well as managing the increasing training delivery workload.

Greening Vet.

October 14, 2008

The Greening VET – Skills for Sustainability (VET Connect) Forum on Friday 10th October in Brisbane was an opportunity to learn about sustainability initiatives in trade skills training. It was timely, considering the release of the SkillsTech Australia Strategic Plan 2008-2011, in particular, Outcome 6 – Environmental Sustainability. As the institute is working towards maintaining an ecological balance, my interest in attending the event was both personal and professional: improving my knowledge of Green Economics; and learning how to model the responsible use of resources, thus incorporating sustainability in training delivery.

 What’s Your Carbon Footprint?
Training people to work sustainably begins with the concept of a Carbon Footprint, which measures the environmental and ecological impact of human activities. Using a Personal Footprint Calculator is an engaging way to open discussion about this topic.

 Sustainability in Second Life.
I believe that Second Life is an eminently suitable virtual place to discuss sustainability issues, especially in the Building and Construction industry. Leigh Blackall investigates Sustainability Design with Second Life as a Modeling Tool. In his wiki, Blackall further explores Second Life as a vehicle to do this: Sustainability Considerations Relating To The Use Of Second Life For Education

 However, as Blackall notes, interacting virtually with avatars may actually increase energy consumption, despite cutting out physical travel.

 The United Nations Global Compact. 
The UN Global Compact is a framework for sustainability in a range of global and contexts. The UN Global Compact Ten Principles, grouped in four areas, drive excellence in business relations for the benefit of all.

 Triple Bottom Line (Plus One).
An example of Global Sustainability in action, RMIT’s Triple Bottom Line (Plus One) sets out ways to address Environmental, Economic, Social and Governance concerns.

 Brisbane’s greenfest.
Seeking practical ways to link Skills and Sustainability, as in this SkillsOne Video I visited greenfest at Southbank which coincided with the Greening VET Forum.

 At greenfest, I spoke with Daniel, proprietor of Daniel’s Kitchens about using recycled natural and reconstituted stone in benchtops. I found him to be a good source of ideas of how the stone industry can ethically contribute to the Green Economy by sensitively re-using materials and educating consumers about the benefits of doing so. Daniel uses ecospecifier to search for “eco-products”, that is, sustainable “Green Star” materials used in buildings and houses. Likewise, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) promotes GreenSmart  as its own brand of sustainable house building.

 Embedding Sustainability into Skills Training.
Anticipating the release of the CPC08 Construction Training Package and its new Sustainability Units, the resources linked in this update will help to embed sustainable practices in training delivery, in the same way as principles of Workplace Health and Safety; Quality; and Employability Skills.