Thursday, August 25, 2005

Rockhampton collaboration

The Rockhampton workshop involved 13 participants.

Participants were able to share ideas, resources and strategies and develop relationships for future collaboration.

Planned collaboration includes:
  • Sally James (CQIT) working with Mary McKenzie (CQIT) and Leonie Howe (CQIT) to develop online learning for Beauty Services
  • Sally is also planning to work with North Mackay School to develop a customised version of the Hairdressing Toolbox
  • Penny Skerman plans to work with local ETRF stakeholders (4 High Schools) in the areas of learning outcomes and students' needs
  • Nathan Wyer (Tooloola SHS) will be doing an individual project focused on building a web-based management system to enable him to track his cohort that includes disengaged youth
  • Wendy Thomas (Business Trainer, Smart City Vocational College) will explore the use of online tools to enhance her company's courses
  • Kaylene Grewar (Practice Firm Supervisor, CQIT) will assist Jennifer Ottaway (Toolooa SHS) and John Sefton (CQIT Teacher, Business Studies) to develop a Practice Firm for their courses
  • Gary Latcham (Youth Support Coordinator, Gladstone Area Group Apprentices) and Nathan Wyer (Pathways Coordinator, Toolooa School) have created the basis for local collaboration to assist disengaged 14-17 year olds.
  • Sally and Kaylene (CQIT) will collaborate to develop and orientation program for CQTAFE Online

Nathan Wyer also described a program funded by industry that involves the use of a farm in Gladstone to build the knowledge and skills of disengaged youth, students at risk, and indigenous youth. A number of people in the group offered to contribute to the project through competency development and online training where appropriate (and identified other resource people).

The group will conduct their October review via video-conferencing through linkages to the TAFE network in Biloela, Rockhampton, Mackay, Emerald, Gladstone and Canning.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Partnering for Professionalism - 19/8 Brisbane workshop group

The 19 participants at the network creation workshop in Brisbane on 19 August decided to collaborate in three groups focused on:

  1. online communication technologies
  2. self-directed evaluation of knowledge and skills in online learning
  3. mobile learning tools

Graham Baglin, Brisbane Institute of TAFE, has set up an online forum for the first group to enable them communicate online and share ideas, resources and experiences.

The second group will be using the Maturity Model currently being refined by Linda Schlanger as part of a LearnScope project.

The third group will create a blog on mobile learning tools to enable the whole PfP community to share knowledge and experiences in this area.

Collaboration on professional development - Brisbane 15/8 Workshop group

Nine people attended the network development workshop on 15 August in Brisbane.

Those present from TAFE Institutes, schools and private providers agreed to collaborate in their own professional development in the area of flexible learning and online/e-learning.

The group has decided to work their way through a range of e-learning technologies and will start with an online chat. In the meantime, Simon Brown from Brisbane North TAFE has introduced the group to ANTA's "resource generator":

The group also suggested that participants in the Partnering for Professionalism project could be encouraged to create specialised blogs in areas such as:
  • online career advice for school children
  • mobile learning
  • moodle
  • blogging

These blogs could then be opened up to the whole Partnering for Professionalism community (more than 150 people) for comment and/or original postings. In this way, we would have evolving resources that could be linked back to this project blog.

If you are interested in creating a specialised blog for use by the PfP community or want to contribute to a particular blog, please let me know.

Ron P.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Practical e-learning tools

Amanda Care (Director Training, Viva College) dug up the following article on new e-learning technologies that provides a range of practical entrees into the e-learning field:

The article by Michael Coghlan is one of the numerous resources available on the Best of Australian Flexible Learning Community 2001-2004 (reference in hot links to the right side of this blog).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Collaboration between schools and TAFE in Toowoomba

The network creation workshop took place in Toowoomba today in chilly 8 degrees weather (recorded at 1pm - sleet reported at Inglewood).

Despite the cold and the absence of a number of people through illness, the small group of participants were able to develop the basis for future collaboration. Representatives from the Lockyer District High School explained their needs and explored ways to resolve them in collaboration with the Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE (SQIT).

Areas for future collaboration included:
  • developing a business readiness program (incorporating online learning) for school students prior to undertaking industry placements
  • collaboration on professional development in the area of online teaching and learning, including exposure to toolboxes, Certificate IV in Workplace Training for school teachers (with relevant RPL and emphasis on online learning), and TAFE staff "work shadowing teachers" to upgrade their knowledge of the school system.
  • enhancement via online learning to the current school offerings in retail, childcare, aged care, Certificate IV in Business
There was also discussion around the benefits for Lockyer District High School (LDHS) of strengthening their inter-school networking with particular emphasis on the collaborative development of flexible learning/online learning. SQIT participants were able to identify potential collaborators for LDHS in the tertiary sector who were using flexible learning and online learning.

John Elich, Director SQIT, attended some of the discussions and reinforced the need to develop a deeper partnership between LDHS and SQIT. Vanessa Crothers, Deputy Principal, LDHS, agreed with the need to have an established partnership as a basis for ongoing collaboration.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Great collaboration on the Sunshine Coast

The network creation workshop was launched on the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday 10 August 2005. There were 13 participants on the day (two others will join later).

The network members introduced themselves and their focus in the area of flexible learning/online learning. The group discussed briefly what flexible learning could embrace and explored the project purpose and goals.

Mixed sector groups then discussed flexible learning from the learner's perspective. This generated considerable energy and exchange of issues, approaches, strategies and techniques.

I introduced the project planning workbook and identified ways that it could be used for the collaborative project.

Participants then formed new groups and developed a vision for their collaboration.

This session led to identification of collaborative endeavours that could be pursued over a five year timeframe.

The following were areas identified for collaborative activity:

  • engagement of disengaged 14-17 year olds
  • alignment of school and TAFE timetables to enable release of school students for attendance at TAFE on a half -day or full day basis.
  • creation of short "sampling courses" for school students at the TAFE Institute
  • collaborative development of generic skills courses
  • engagement of retired people and employers in knowledge and skill development for both school and TAFE students (reference the VISE scheme)
  • collaborative development of the online teaching/learning skills of the network group through exposure to blogging, moodle, teleconference via telebridges, on-line chat rooms/forums, etc. (this could involve IT Diploma students running training activities that could form part of their assessment)
  • lobbying for removal of barriers to the development of seamless pathways

Project teams were formed to identify the scope and boundary of their collaborative activity and these teams will report separately. One of the teams will create a team blog within this site for ongoing communication and collaboration.

Structural barriers identified during the workshop included:

  • "double dipping" provisions that effectively prevented schools from using
    under-utilised TAFE facilities
  • Bandwidth costs that prevented schools from using already developed online learning activities and courses (impacting on users of computer labs and hundreds of school based computers)

Network members reported considerable personal and business benefits from the workshop and will report on this separately.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Project planning workbook - a strategic approach to network development

Participants in the LearnScope Partnering for Professionalism Project have access to a workbook that will enable you to strategically plan your action learning project (s).

The workbook, titled Change Management Resources, was initially developed for the University of Queensland's action learning program and was used by 90 action learning teams from 1991-1999. *

The workbook has since been used throughout Australia and in the UK, Austria, Germany and South Africa to help executives and managers strategically plan their action learning projects. It is a proven tool for collaborative planning by an action learning project team.

This resource is intended to assist you to approach your project in a more effective way.

The first part of the workbook encourages you to use divergent thinking to explore the context of your project so that you consider a wide range of ideas, issues and people before you decide on the specifics of what you are going to do. This part covers issues such as project vision; analysis of stakeholders and your assumptions about them; determination of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in relation to the project; and identification of constraints and resources.

The second part of the workbook invloves convergent thinking to help you focus your energy and activities. This part covers project scope and goals, key result areas and action planning tools and techniques.

These activities can assist your project team as they provide an opportunity to achieve a common understanding of the project goals and to jointly decide on the most effective approach.

To obtain a copy of this workbook, just email me and request the workbook:

* Note: The nine year history of the University of Queensland Action Learning Program has been fully documented for posterity. A dedicated website provides details of the program design, brochures, processes, projects, tools and outcomes. The program was designed to develop innovation and leadership within the University through collaborative action learning projects involving teams that were composed of people drawn from different disciplines, faculties, campuses and staff categories. My role over the intitial six years was to mentor the program team in the design, conduct and evaluation of the program. If you want further information about the program or how you might use a similar process to develop flexible learning please contact me.

The history of the program is recorded at:

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Action learning - building collaboration and networks

Action learning in the context of network development involves learning through action and reflection on that action, while collaborating with others on personal and inter-organisational improvement.

It typically involves a learning group (often called a 'learning set') focused on a project or creative endeavour.

What is distinctive about action learning is that it involves learning through engagement with the dynamics of a real, ongoing situation. This means learning to deal with the politics, power, procedure, culture, systems and competition involved in collaborative activity between organisations.

It also entails dealing with who we are and how we define ourselves, our role and our capacities in the context of network development.

The power of action learning to transform a situation flows from this personal engagement with a real situation while supported by a form of interpersonal interaction that simultaneously builds personal and organisational capacity.

Action learning takes people outside their comfort zone, provides supportive challenge, builds relationships, raises personal and group awareness and builds confidence along with competence.

People involved in action learning are encouraged to extend themselves and explore unfamiliar terrain including their own learning edge, their feelings and their ways of interacting with others.

Action learning groups are designed to be a safe environment for self-exploration and experimentation with new behaviours. This is achieved by finding a balance between support and challenge.

Supportive challenge is at the heart of the action learning process. Participants working in an action learning group are supported by their colleagues who view them as 'comrades' in opportunity or fellow travellers on a learning journey. The challenge comes from fellow participants asking fresh questions designed to unearth fundamental assumptions about the nature of a problem or the way a participant interprets others' behaviour. This questioning provides a challenge to the way we view our role, our organisation and our competitors.

People in organizations often experience the separation of support and challenge. Support without challenge reinforces the 'status quo' , group-think, and perspectives that may have been developed when conditions were different to the prevailing conditions within and around an organisation. Challenge without support can be self-serving (building oneself up by diminishing the other) and damaging to self-esteem (by reinforcing feelings of inferiority).

Supportive challenge has as its object building the self-esteem of the other while helping them to recognise the limitations that their existing mindset imposes on their potential to realise their full capacity/capability. It is about helping the other person to be the best that they are capable of being.

This positive regard for other participants contributes to relationship building, facilitates sharing of information and resources, enhances collaboration and engenders commitment to common goals.

As our personal awareness grows through individual and group reflection on our actions, we are better able to learn individually and collectively. We become more conscious of the barriers to personal and inter-organisational learning and feel supported in experimenting with new behaviours.

Through the process of personal engagement with a situation, reflection on our actions and supportive challenge from other participants, we develop new competence and increased confidence to use our knowledge and skills.

Action learning is a flexible, eclectic process that is not tied to a single structure or form. Its essence lies in collaborative endeavour and learning, a focus on improvement and supportive challenge as an aid to personal reflection.

Source: adapted from Passfield, R. (2001), Action learning for personal and organisational transformation, in Sankaran, S., Dick, B., Passfield, R. and Swepson, P. (Eds) Effective Change Management through Action Learning and Action Research: Concepts, Frameworks, Processes and Applications, Southern Cross University Press, Lismore.


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