Thursday, September 15, 2005

Disengaged 14-17 year olds

The issue of disengaged youth came up in every one of the nine workshops I conducted as part of this project. Participants recognised that online learning/flexible learning could make a significant contribution to re-engaging youth in learning.

People in the PfP network are tackling the problem from different perspectives and employing a wide range of techniques and strategies.

Cairns Workshop

The primary focus of this workshop was indigenous learners and strategies to engage them in a sustainable way. This discussion is reported under the Cairns workshop posting on Monday 12 September. The discussion is particularly relevant to disengaged learners.

Sunshine Coast Workshop

Doug Elliott (Cooloola Sunshine Institute of TAFE, CSIT) has been active in the community and prepared submissions to raise the profile of this issue. Michael O'Neill from Gympie SHS is seeking solutions through enriching vocational guidance (including online resources) and by creating pathways for students. He is currently working with Graham Williams (ETRF Coordinator, CSIT) to develop short (1/2 day) TAFE sampling courses for students from his school. The focus on career advice and pathways for disengaged youth is shared by Janelle Brunes and Michele Le Franc (Maroochydore SHS) and Cathy Hazzard (CSIT).

Toowoomba Workshop

Vanessa Crothers (Lockyer District High School) is focusing on "employability skills" and is working with representatives of Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE (SQIT) to develop a course for year 11's to be implemented in the first term next year. Terese Morgan (SQIT) has developed a web-based, "bits and bytes" package that could serve as a "plug-in" for this course (package includes things like "how to write an assignment", critical literacy, etc).

Gold Coast Workshop

Ann-Marie Kelly (ETRF Project Officer, EQ) is addressing the issues of disengaged youth through literacy and numeracy development (students from refugee countries), VET online for indigenous students and school-industry links. Susanne Gunning (Gold Coast Institute of TAFE, GCIT) addresses the issue through her online Certificate of Spoken and Written English. Suzanne is also experimenting with Google Talk that could be a relevant technology for engaging 14-17 year olds as it provides free email, instant messaging (IM) and calls.

Rockhampton Workshop

This workshop unearthed three people who are very passionate about the issue of disengaged youth and are actively working in the area. Gary Latcham (Youth Support Co-ordinator, Biloela) spoke of the joint TAFE/Callide A Power Station initiative and the private-sector funded, Gladstone practice/learning farm (see posting re Rocky workshop). He also discussed his strong emphasis on creating a "work ethic" by developing a "work agreement" between teachers and students that embeds appropriate rules of behaviour.

Nathan Wyer (Pathways Coordinator, Toolooa SHS) stressed the importance of career advice and the role of the Senior Education Training Plans (SETP) in helping students to choose pathways. He explained his action learning approach -plan,act/do, reflect - in utilising this tool and spoke of the linkages with "Your Future Your Choice" (see also Cairns workshop posting). Nathan thought that private RTO's should be made more aware of these tools. Nathan's current challenge is to develop a management system to track the progress of students in their re-engagement with learning.

Penny Skerman, Central Queensland Institute of TAFE (CQIT), echoed the thoughts of representatives of the Lockyer District School when she emphasised the need to develop "employment/work readiness". Penny's focus is child care studies (see Rocky workshop posting for her "blog", jointly developed with Rosemary Shanks).

Townsville Workshop

Alistair McDonald (Barrier Reef Institute of TAFE) stressed the need for one-to-one support for disengaged youth, particularly where low literarcy levels were involved. He also mentioned that the Certificate 2 in Adult and General Education is to replaced with ACCESS 10 as an alternative to year 10.

Heidi Cianciullo (Ingham SHS) mentioned a "Building Bridges" course that her school has instituted for disengaged boys.

The discussion covered the need to utilise appropriate technologies for disengaged youth, e.g. mobile phones(text messaging), MSN Messenger and iPods. Jacqui Conway, Far North Institute of TAFE, Cairns, was identified as a key resource in the area of mobile texting.

Additional resource for Mobile Learning:

The Mlearning Network has been created to:
provide a community of practice aimed at furthering the ongoing knowledge and development of mlearning in Australia as well as a hub to foster mlearning connections internationally. Its fundamentals are based around the new and emerging mobile technologies including but not limited to mobile phones, Pocket PC’s, Palm PC’s, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s), tablet computers plus other mobile devices and to investigate their potentials for the flexible delivery of learning.

Its aim is to build a unique network of like-minded practitioners from private and public practice that will enable the sharing of innovative mlearning concepts, ideas and experiences, essentially a collective 'Think Tank' that provides the primary stage for best practice mlearning in Australia.

Brisbane 15 August Workshop

Brisbane North Institute of TAFE provides a range of flexible learning, Community Engagement Projects aimed at the disengaged 15-17 year olds:
. Literacy and Numeracy for Get Set for Work-Life Stuff
. Get Set for Work
. Back to Learning Program
. Literacy and the Learner's Permit
. Literacy Support for a CEAP (Community Employment Assistance Program)

The contact person for these programs is Anna Walters of Brisbane North Institute of TAFE. Anna can be contacted by email:

Anna can be contacted by phone on 3259 9014 or 0418 783 021

Brisbane 31 August Workshop

Curt Draheim (ETRF Project Officer, E.Q.- Bayside Education Office) suggested that ETRF could be used as a "messenger"/conduit to gain understanding of disengaged youth and stressed the importance of blended, flexible learning models.

Janelle Cameron (Brisbane School of Distance Education) is an English Teacher working with "at risk" students in partnership with Virtual Schooling and the Open Learning Institute (OLI). These students have learning/literacy difficulties and associated behaviour management issues. Janelle currently spends four hours per week delivering online to eight students - using print, telephone, Blackboard and Whiteboard.

Brisbane 19 August Workshop

Roxanne Lutzen, Louise Strode-Penny and Kathy Bannister of the Open Learning Institute (OLI) expressed interest in exploring mobile technologies for engaging disengaged youth.


At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Alistair McDonald said...

Hi Ron, I hope I didn't use the word "Alternative" in relation to CAGE, because the BRITAFE Literacy Unit encourages students under 18 to enrol directly in vocational courses, which receive additional Literacy & Numeracy support under the Integrated model. We are are here to assist adult students, and are NOT being marketed as an alternative to year 10 at school. However, the CAGE course is considered to be the equivalent in Maths & English ONLY and is accepted as such by Defence Force recruiting.

Alistair McDonald


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