Teaching is my lifelong passion

This blog has been re-published with the permission of Trina Hoefling and The Smart Workplace.

Trina Hoefling is a longstanding organisation and team development expert and master teacher at the University of Denver graduate school. For over 30 years Trina has been helping organizations and people establish virtual presence, bridge virtual distance and build strong relationships that span time and space. Scheduled to visit Melbourne in April 2017, today Trina shares her journey into teaching.

In 4th grade I was partnered with Steve to be his coach. He was a cool kid getting poor grades. I was a quiet girl who got A’s. I can’t remember if his grades got better, but I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up – a teacher. I remember lining up my stuffed animals in rows on my bed, teaching what I studied in school.

I’m often teaching, whether I travel to the student, from a virtual classroom, or in a coaching conversation. Recently a grade school classmate asked me why I loved teaching and training so much. Another classmate answered for me so simply –

“Trina is driven to help people get to their goals. Teaching is the main way she does that.”

She was right; teaching people what they need to meet their goals IS what I do.

trina_photoI was a high school teacher in the early 80’s before computers and copy machines. My first teaching clothes were polyester double knit, that enduring fabric that absorbs chalk, mimeograph ink, and never ever wrinkled. I was a fashion icon with a mullet…

I’ve been a corporate trainer and coach for over three decades. My clothing choices improved and I was an early adopter of laptops. I’ve logged many frequent flyer miles getting to where my learners were. I started to burn out in the mid-90’s though I still loved my work. The travel was extreme. It wasn’t great for the clients either.

Learner follow-up was limited to one-off courses and little follow-up. Something had to change, so I became an advocate and early adopter of online learning. All of us then were learning as we went.
Soon I was training trainers at international online learning conferences, still logging frequent flyer miles but less often.

Today I’m an online educator, never far from my MacPro. I teach professionals already established who are improving themselves and their careers. I also teach one-on-one through mentoring and coaching – mostly by telephone. I am a Master Teacher in two graduate programs for the University of Denver, and co-founding faculty at Virtual Workplace University, an online learning destination for today’s professional.

I’m a learner, too. I seek out ways to engage with my peers, tapping wisdom and offering some. I live with a learning mindset. My profession helps me be passionate all the time, without effort and usually without fail.

I’m no longer burned out. When I log frequent flyer miles now, it’s a treat to physically be with fellow learners.

I lucked into a career in 4th grade, thanks to Steve, my first teaching assignment. How I teach and learn has changed, but my passion as a teacher hasn’t.

What we do matters.

Join Trina as she presents at EdVET 2017 on April 28th. Click here for more information.

Literacy and numeracy testing

Prashil Singh is the manager of Partnership and Stakeholders Relations at VETASSESS where he works with a team of assessors and online platform developers. His role involves connecting customers to a range of assessment services and solutions, and he is a firm believer of the value that assessment can play in quality performance monitoring and improvement.

As VETASSESS rolls out our latest assessment service, we would like to take the opportunity to talk about the importance of literacy and numeracy testing.

Literacy and numeracy are vital skills that can determine whether an individual succeeds in a particular area of training or industry.  Literacy and numeracy testing offers an effective and efficient way to assess these skills in applicants to determine whether they are sufficient to meet the demands of studying or working.

The VETASSESS Test

The VETASSESS Test is an online assessment tool aligned to the Australian Core Skills Framework, covering levels 1-4, as the registered standard for adult literacy and numeracy in Australia.  The test is already in use as the pre-entry test for the Diploma of Nursing by a number of course providers.

With reforms to the VET Student Loans 2017 scheme effective from 1 January 2017, literacy and numeracy testing has become compulsory for applicants seeking loan assistance for VET Diploma level courses and above.  The VETASSESS Test has been approved by the Australian Government as an external and independently verified assessment tool for RTOs, including providers needing to fulfil the entry requirement for the VET Student Loan 2017 scheme.

Can your Organisation Benefit from Literacy and Numeracy Testing?

While the VETASSESS Test was developed to support education providers, it can be beneficial for other VET courses, as well as business organisations for the purposes of recruitment and internal training.  Ensuring literacy and numeracy competency of your members whether they are from an English speaking background or a non-English speaking background can help maintain quality performance within your organisation and industry overall.

The VETASSESS Test provides the user with a report identifying areas requiring improvement as part of the assessment. It also provides reporting on group statistics across the particular cohort.  This information can help guide applicants on how to seek further training, and provide valuable insight for RTOs and employers on whether additional support systems may be needed for their new or existing members.

If you’re using an existing tool, before renewing talk to us about our quality and cost-effective solution. VETASSESS is currently conducting onsite demonstrations and can tailor test requirements for pre-course entry and selection.  For further information and consultation, contact Matthew Miller on +61 3 9655 4754 or email testenquiries@vetassess.com.au

Developing digital literacy in learners: a how-to guide for teachers

Allison MillerAllison Miller is a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog who is passionate about engaging learners, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the world of work. Here she considers digital literacy, what it does and doesn’t mean, and the important role of educators in enhancing these crucial skills.

What is digital literacy?

“Digital literacy involves finding, using and disseminating information in a digital world” (Deakin University, 2016). Digital literacy is also a transversal skill, which means that by having good digital literacy, a person’s ability to learn and improve other skills increases through the use of technology.

In the next 5-10 years, a number of routine jobs will be taken over by automation and artificial intelligence (AI) (ACS, 2016). This automation and AI will also be ingrained in workplaces, homes and everything we do, due to the increased productivity and lifestyle gains that these technologies provide. In order to remain current in the workplace, and to be able to fully function in society, the need for good digital literacy has never been greater.

While a number of government initiatives aim to address this need in the school sector, a large proportion of the Australian adult population  needs to further develop its digital literacy (ABS, 2013). Either that, or risk ‘dying’, figuratively speaking, in a digitally disrupted world. A common misconception is that young people are highly digitally literate, because they are so active online. While it is true that many adult Australians are engaged on social media, and many of these were born into an ‘online world’, research suggests  that this does not equate to them having good digital literacy. This means that adult educators not only need to be aware of this shortfall, they play a significant role in meeting this need.

Developing learners’ digital literacy

At a minimum, the use of technology needs to be embedded in the learning and assessment process.  This can be done through a blended approach which allows learners to access and submit part of their work online. This ensures that all learners engage with information online, but in a very safe and supported environment. This approach can also help to improve the quality of the learning and assessment environment.

Using technology as part of the learning and assessment process starts by using a simple and easy to use online learning environments such as learning management systems (LMS), ePortfolios, blogs, social media and online meeting rooms, with well-designed learning and assessment activities. It is important to offer an ‘orientation’ to the online learning environment, which can be done either through face to face or online workshops using Google Hangout, Skype or Zoom. Easily accessible orientation videos on YouTube or Vimeo can also provide good support, as well as providing more traditional text based ‘how to’ and ‘help’ support while the learners learn to navigate the online environment on their own.

Digital literacy development activities

If, in the first instance, learners have had limited exposure to computers and mobile devices prior to being asked to interact online, then working with foundation skills staff / consultants to help the learners develop some basic computing skills may be required. This training could be offered through relevant bridging units. Once orientated to the online learning environment, activities which build digital literacy should be adopted.  The following table includes some approaches you might like to consider:

Activity Description
Discussion forums or online groups Learners do online research or view online videos, and then post what they have found into a discussion forum or online group.  These learners should then be asked to review other learners’ posts and comment on them.
Instant messaging or ‘chat’ Learners connect with others in real time to organise a group activity or debate ideas and concepts solely through text.
Mobile devices Learners capture evidence of their learning, or tell a story or present information about their training, through video, audio, photos or mobile apps. This digital content is then uploaded or shared via the online learning environment.
Online calendars Learners schedule when their assessments and other commitments are due. Then the online calendar ‘reminds’ learners when things are due through the pre-set alerts.
Online journals Learners keep a written record of their progress, either on or off the job. These online journals can be either shared with others or solely with the educator.
Online meeting spaces Learners come together to discuss topics, plan group activities, brainstorm problems, conduct interviews and/or present their work to others.
Online questionnaires/surveys Learners either design questions as part of their research or they are required to undertake a survey to demonstrate their knowledge in an area.
Social media Learners follow and interact with key individuals or organisations to find out what current practice or issues are happening within their industry, or to benchmark their own work against these practices.
Wikis/Google docs/Mind mapping tools Learners work collaboratively online to solve a problem or come up with new ideas or designs, either in real time or over a period of time.

Helping learners stay safe online

Before starting any online activities, however, information and activities about the correct ‘netiquette’ when learning and working online should be introduced. This can be offered as generic information to be used across an organisation as part of a learner’s induction to their training, or embedded into the training program itself.

Learners will also need to be supported to manage the privacy of their own information, and that of others when working in groups. Helping learners understand the profile and privacy settings in third party online sites such as social media, as well as reading through and discussing the terms and conditions of these sites can be helpful. Information regarding how third party online sites manage and use learners’ information should also be provided, and discussions about what organisational online learning environments capture about a learner such as ‘activity logs’ should take place.

Ensuring learners work successfully online

Interaction with technology as part of learning and assessment will mean that learners create digital objects such as Word documents, video and audio files, and images. Enabling learners to develop good file management habits should therefore be supported.

Helping learners develop strategies for remembering their login details, and teaching them to have ‘strong’ passwords which contain letters, numbers and symbols is also crucial. A lack of skill in this area is said to be the number one killer of online activities as learners cannot access their work.

And finally, discussions and/or information about copyright and plagiarism are important. Learners need to understand that just because information, resources and digital objects are readily available online, doesn’t mean that they can use these resources as their own.  Teaching learners about quoting and referencing other people’s work is very important.

Sites such as search.creativecommons.org allow learners to filter their web searches so they are only presented with information, video, music and images and so on which have been licensed for open use, as long as they attribute the work. This practice will help the learner easily transition from using other people’s information and content for educational use to more public and online use, without breaching copyright and intellectual property laws.

Guide and let go

Developing digital literacy happens best when learners are supported and guided to learn and work online. Like any real learning, however, this is best done through a spirit of experimentation and risk taking, and an adult learning environment is a great place for this to happen.

Ensure you cover all of this by using this Developing digital literacy checklist.

Video: Competency based education in Moodle

John CollinsJohn Collins is passionate about cloud-based eLearning solutions which enable the delivery of online training anywhere and anytime. Part of his interesting job involves keeping up to date with the latest educational technology advancements.

This seven-minute video blog helps us to understand competency based education in Moodle version 3.1 including:

  • The relationship between the SMS, units of competency and Moodle courses
  • Linear and clustered relationships between units of competency and Moodle course
  • Directly linking assessment activities to specific units of competency.

More on Moodle competencies

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