Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 124

EMERGING FUTURES Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Mitchell | Clayton | Hedberg | Paine

Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

John Mitchell John Mitchell & Associates

with assistance from Berwyn Clayton, John Hedberg & Nigel Paine

Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

A report on current practice for the project Innovation in Teaching and Learning
in the vocational education and training sector
Prepared by John Mitchell John Mitchell & Associates
with assistance from Berwyn Clayton, John Hedberg & Nigel Paine
June 2003

Australian National Training Authority

This work has been produced with the assistance of funding provided by the
Commonwealth Government through the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA).
Copyright for this document vests with ANTA. ANTA will allow free use of the material so
long as ANTAs interest is acknowledged and the use is not for profit.
First published June 2003
Author/Contributor: Mitchell, J; Clayton, B; Hedberg, J; Paine, N
National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in publication data
Title: Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET
Publisher: ANTA, Reframing the Future and Office of Training and Tertiary Education, VIC
ISBN 0-9750606-3-5
The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and those
consulted and do not necessarily reflect the views of ANTA. ANTA does not give any
warranty or accept any liability in relation to the content of the work.
Further information:
Australian National Training Authority
Level 5 321 Exhibition Street
GPO Box 5347BB
Melbourne VIC 3001
Telephone: 03 9630 9800
Fax: 03 9630 9888
ANTA website: www.anta.gov.au
Additional copies available from http://reframingthefuture.net
Designed and printed by Peter Dyson, P.A.G.E. Pty Ltd 613 9645 6088

Table of Contents

Executive Summary 1

Introduction 5

1 Why is innovation in VET teaching and learning an issue? 13

Vignette 1.1

VET in Schools program delivered in the workplace

Manufacturing Learning Centres in South Australia


Vignette 1.2

Assessment and training customised to meet the clients strategic goals

TAFE NSW North Coast Institute and Centrelink 20

Case Study 1

Learner-focused, continually-improved programs for 1518 year old youths at risk

Holmesglen Institute of TAFE, VIC 25

2 What is innovation in VET teaching and learning? 29

Vignette 2.1

Simulation for assessment in trade areas

Brisbane and North Point Institute of TAFE, QLD

Vignette 2.2

An integrated approach to supporting and motivating distance students

TAFE NSW Open Training and Education Network (OTEN) 38

Case Study 2

Re-engineering the teaching of textiles

Institute of TAFE Tasmania 43


3 How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning? 49

Vignette 3.1

Multi-faceted innovation in teaching heavy vehicle mechanics in regional

Western Australia
Caterpillar Institute (WA) Pty Ltd 53

Vignette 3.2

Use of workplace mentors for training delivery across a region

East Gippsland Institute of TAFE, VIC 59

Case Study 3

International benchmarking underpinning the assessment of key competencies

in electrotechnology
Torrens Valley Institute of TAFE, SA 64

4 What fosters or impedes innovation in VET teaching and learning? 69

Vignette 4.1

Managing innovation in teaching in response to photography students

and industrys needs
Photography Studies College, VIC 71

Vignette 4.2

Simultaneously fostering multiple innovations

TAFE NSW Hunter Institute 74

Case Study 4

Embedding innovation across the organisation

Open Learning Institute, QLD 79

5 Who gains from innovation in VET teaching and learning? 85

Vignette 5.1

Innovation in teaching remote Indigenous students about mining operations

Alcan, Yirrkala Business Enterprises and Government, NT 87

Vignette 5.2

Best practice delivery led by a national enterprise

TNT Express 89

Case Study 5

Innovative teaching and assessment for learners with a disability

Goodwill Industries and West Coast College of TAFE, WA 94

6 What can be done to further support innovation in VET teaching? 99

Appendices 105
1 Members of the consulting team and steering committee 106
2 The project brief 107
3 Research methods 108
4 Names of interviewees 109
5 Focus group participants 111
6 Contacts for the case studies and vignettes 115
7 References 116

Executive Summary

This report on Innovation in Teaching and Learning in the vocational education and training (VET) sector
demonstrates that pressures for change are flowing with increasing force into teaching and learning practice
within VET. As a consequence of this ongoing change, wider, deeper and more frequent innovation is now needed
in VET teaching and learning practices.
However, this report shows that there are good grounds for optimism about the quality and scope of current
innovation in teaching and learning practices in VET. The particular and local instances of practitioner innovation
found in the research for this project serve as a reminder of the many different ways in which VET practitioners
are knowledgeable and innovative. Positive futures for VET are emerging, as a result of this practitioner innovation.
A literature review, interviews, focus groups and case study research inform the key findings set out below.

More innovation in VET teaching and learning is needed in the national training system
Innovation in VET teaching practice is of great significance as a response to the learner-centred agenda contained
within the national training system. VET practitioners need to build their practice, increase their knowledge base
and skills and adapt VET pedagogy in order to realise and maintain the critical roles that teachers and trainers
play between learner aspirations and learner achievements.
The industry-led national training system is focused on skills needed in the workplace at a time when industry
change and skill development are key elements in the makeup of the economic and social context of work in a
postmodern world. Beckett and Hager (2002, p.11) explain that a postmodern perspective acknowledges that
adults have considerable potential to learn in diverse settings. Hence, our contemporary world produces a variety
of narratives about adult learning and teaching, as reflected in this report.
As a result of the need for skills in the workplace, there is a strong demand for more differentiated and flexible
workplace training and assessment. Other broader demand forces are also shifting and changing VET, though
often at very uneven rates and at local and regional levels. In total, major shifts in demand are continuing to place
new pressures on VET and to set out new conditions that are driving searches for more flexible or relevant
approaches to formal and informal learning.
Another result of the industry-led national training system is that detailed and customised workplace training
demands on VET are potentially as varied as there are enterprises in Australia. This is bringing about new and
intensified professional, technical and educational roles for VET practitioners especially at the frontline and
particularly for teachers, workplace trainers and assessors, workplace mentors and supervisors.
Executive summary

These conditions suggest almost limitless scope for innovation in teaching and learning functions at individual,
group and organisational levels in VET. Additional possibilities for innovation are created by new relationships
between VET practitioners, industry representatives and the wider community.
The case studies and vignettes in this report indicate that VET practitioners remain able to imagine and realise
the opportunities that these changing conditions are presenting.

Innovation in VET teaching and learning is needed to meet the many needs of
different learners
Briefly, innovation is defined as the implementation of new and improved knowledge, ideas, methods, processes,
tools, equipment and machinery, which leads to new and better products, services and processes (Williams 1999,
p.17). Innovation in teaching is often about turning an invention such as an idea, technology or technique into
a product, process or service that is successful because it meets the needs of learners.
Innovation is therefore about individuals and groups taking or responding to some form of novel or creative
action to bring about an intended change in their work context that, in the process, also changes their practice
and in varying degrees changes their roles, functions or even their sense of identity as VET practitioners. These
individuals and groups become innovators and often help position and interact with organisational innovation.
The report finds that innovation in teaching and learning in VET is ideally non-linear, customised, inclusive and
transferable. Innovative teaching takes account of individual learners differences, responding to the
contemporary push for all organisations including educational ones to be customer-centred. Innovative teaching
fosters lifelong learning, moving VET away from the content model of education based on a teacher-designed
curriculum and to more fluid and interactive learning processes which move both student and staff members into
a new and different experience of VET.
Innovative teaching can be shown to assist students to develop not just technical skills and a common core of
generic skills, but to support a wider range of capabilities which can assist the individual in the wider world
of work and the community. As one example, the report finds that innovation in assessment, particularly in the
workplace, is emerging as a strong new trend in VET and is driven by client demand for customised assessment.

Innovation in VET teaching and learning results from practitioners skills and actions
Based on the empirical findings from fifteen case studies and vignettes and other consultations, the report finds
that innovation is assisted when VET practitioners consciously adopt new roles such as those of learning manager,
facilitator, mediator, broker or strategist.
The research also shows that innovative practice is assisted when practitioners draw on some or all of four areas
of their professional expertise, such as their vocational skills, for example in tourism or engineering; their adult
learning and teaching skills such as how to support problem-based learning; their VET sector specific skills about
how to assess in the workplace; and their generic personal skills such as managing their own personal and
professional growth.
Innovation can occur when practitioners use a variety of teaching and learning strategies: for instance, when they
skew teacher-centred methods towards student control; when they support self-directed learning; when
they facilitate activity-based and problem-based learning; and when they enable students to develop futureoriented capabilities.

Innovation in teaching and learning in VET can be fostered or impeded by many factors
Within RTOs, a strategic response by the organisations senior management to internal or external pressures can
foster innovation in VET teaching and learning. The RTOs management can also foster innovation by forming
external networks and alliances. Innovation in teaching can also be fostered by an individual teacher or a small
group of practitioners or units within an organisation.
RTOs organisational strategies that can directly foster innovation in teaching include developing a corporate
culture that is agile and flexible and encourages diverse thinking, individual initiative and the development of
new ideas. Tapping into the social capital of colleagues stimulates innovation in teaching, as does encouraging
knowledge management that is based on practitioner knowledge.
The reports highlights the complexities of innovation, often affected by multiple drivers, requiring a range of preconditions and needing a mix of skills by a number of contributors. Hence, innovation in teaching and learning
can be impeded by countless factors, such as managers ignoring client pressures for innovative delivery or

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

overlooking the social capital of staff or discounting the value of the staff knowledge of industry and staff
networking with members of the industry. Other factors impeding innovation include a lack of resources, staff
resistance, student opposition and an inability to convert creative ideas into innovative services that can
be implemented.
VET system factors can both foster and impede innovation, depending on the context and the perspectives
of those involved. For example, in some situations the audit and compliance aspects of VET are seen to be
dampening innovation, but in other situations staff and their RTOs are innovative in response to
such constraints.

Many parties gain from innovation in teaching and learning in VET

The reports findings show that to gather the necessary momentum to become a significant VET innovation,
an initiative from wherever it originates needs to generate benefits for all participating parties. Otherwise, the
change will not be sustainable and its value as an innovation in VET teaching and learning becomes doubtful
and contestable.
The beneficiaries play key roles in sustaining the innovation and enable its iteration and elaboration. These
beneficiaries include the practitioners themselves since the innovation needs their ability to create or translate
and apply it as well as the relevant VET learners and clients, and the RTO and its partners.
The benefits often cascade. Many of the case studies and shorter vignettes in this report show that an individual
VET learner gaining recognition for competencies can positively impact on the learners future, community
attitudes, enterprise growth and regional development.
An innovation in teaching in one part of a VET providers teaching and learning operation can often influence
another part, providing wider benefits for the RTO who supports the initial investment of effort.
While local innovation can be very positive and illuminating, there is a problem that knowledge of the
innovation may be hidden away in the level of local and regional practice and perhaps behind the curtain of
competitive advantage sought by RTOs in the VET sector. Unless innovative practice can be used to inform
practice elsewhere, the party least likely to benefit from innovation in practice is the wider VET sector and its
reputation and standing may not then benefit from its efforts. To overcome these issues of knowledge being
hidden and the VET sector not benefiting, a recommended mechanism for dissemination of good practice is
discussed below.

Much can be done to further support innovation in teaching and learning in VET
The challenge for VET is to work with and manage its practitioners in such a way that innovation can be
supported to ensure new or improved outcomes for VETs constituents, including VET organisations themselves.
The findings from this report provide the basis for a conceptual framework for understanding and supporting
innovation in VET teaching and learning. The framework shows that innovation in teaching cannot be reduced
to a formula of step-by-step actions, as innovation in VET teaching and learning is too complex to reduce to
simplicities. The framework demonstrates that extensive professional judgment, improvisation, experience and
wisdom are needed by practitioners contributing to innovation in VET teaching and learning.
The research for this project finds that, given the importance of innovation to VET, there is a case for a dedicated
mechanism to support practitioners in VET. By mechanism is meant a nationally-sponsored arrangement that
can assist grassroots teachers and trainers in conjunction with other stakeholders such as educational managers
to better inform themselves about useful ideas and practices about innovation in teaching that offer improved
personal outcomes as well as better results and outcomes for VET students and clients.
The purpose of this proposed national mechanism is to support the dissemination of useful and practical
knowledge, techniques and ideas for application about innovation in teaching and learning elsewhere in VET.
The mechanism is intended to facilitate action and provide better results for VET clients, VET practitioners and
VET organisations.

The report acknowledges the central role in innovation of professional judgement, often exercised in conjunction
with other stakeholders. While the narrative provided in this report emphasises that the conditions and drivers
behind specific innovation are highly contextual, the interpretation of possibilities and solutions rely heavily on
the professional judgment of the VET practitioners involved.
Executive summary

A key feature of good practice captured in this report is that practitioners have good knowledge of professional
developments and behaviour in their area of operations and how VET practice is being redeveloped. This is not
to suggest that VET practitioners simply imitate others, but rather that they use knowledge of other practice as a
way of informing their own judgement and professional imagination, and that this helps to open up the
possibilities that exist for innovation in their own arena of practice.
A migrating frontier of professional practice is required to both lead and follow changing conditions in VET. This
suggests that, to keep up with changing practice at and around the frontline of innovation in VET, practitioners
would benefit from arrangements that give them better sources of information, knowledge and understanding of
changing teaching and learning practice across the sector.
The VET sector needs highly informed practitioners who know about successful practice elsewhere in the sector
and can match this with appropriate innovations of their own. Identifying good practice is a key to fostering
innovation as it gives credit and recognition for VET achievement where it is due, and also encourages the
creation of collaborative mechanisms to further explore good practice and set realistic standards for success.
Making practitioner information more readily available can support VET professionals to position their own
thinking and practice closer to contemporary changes in VET professional practice. This can help to ensure that
innovation, in whatever form it then takes, will continue to contribute positively to the development of teaching
and learning outcomes across the sector.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET


This section introduces the consultants, the Steering Committee, the brief, the methodology, definitions, ways to
read the report and abbreviations of key terms.

Consultants and Steering Committee

The research and writing was undertaken from August 2002 to April 2003 by principal consultant John Mitchell
from John Mitchell & Associates.
Advice was provided by Berwyn Clayton from Canberra Institute of Technology, Professor John Hedberg from
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and Nigel Paine from the BBC in London, as set out in Appendix 1.
The project was managed by Ian Gribble from the Office of Training and Tertiary Education (OTTE), Victoria.
The Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) funded the project and support was provided by a national
Steering Committee, set out in Appendix 1.

This project aims to provide two avenues for helping to integrate a clearer knowledge and understanding
of practices, new ideas and new approaches to teaching, learning and related assessment relationships in VET:

Firstly, by providing a national review of good practice that is drawn from current provider activity and
achievements. This aspect is addressed by this report.

Secondly, by investigating the development of a suitable national mechanism for ongoing information and
support for the dissemination of teaching and learning practice and to strengthen and broaden innovation
in the future. This is the subject of a second report.

The brief for this project is set out in Appendix 2.

The major research methods used in this project are listed in Appendix 3. They included the preparation of two
literature reviews and two initial discussion papers. Seven focus groups were conducted to respond to the
discussion papers and a further two focus groups were held at the conclusion of the project to discuss key aspects

of the findings. Overall, sixty-seven interviews were conducted (see Appendix 4) and around one hundred and
thirty VET personnel participated in the nine focus groups (see Appendix 5).
In the final stages of the project, five case studies and ten vignettes, representative of the range of VET providers
and activities, were identified for reporting (for the relevant contact persons see Appendix 6).

Definition of teacher
The focus of this report is innovation in the professional practice of VET staff who have direct responsibility for
teaching and learning functions in VET organisations. Learners in VET and innovation in the ways those learners
go about their learning are discussed throughout the report, but are not the major focus.
For brevity in the report, teacher is used to describe all forms of teachers and trainers in VET.
The empirical research for this study, particularly the preparation of five case studies and ten vignettes, revealed
that the solo teacher is rarely the only influence on a students learning. Increasingly, other VET personnel and
stakeholders in addition to teachers influence student learning. These personnel could vary from educational
managers, to human resource staff, workplace supervisors, learning materials developers, educational technology
staff and student services officers. For shorthand, the word teacher is used throughout this report, but the
contribution of other personnel to teaching and learning is frequently noted, particularly in the case studies and
vignettes. Innovation in VET teaching is so often a team effort.
In the report, the term practice is used as a broad descriptor to cover the activities of VET personnel who may
describe themselves as teachers or trainers and workplace trainers and mentors. Teaching practice extends well
beyond the conventional classroom-based instruction model. It includes a widening range of activities
undertaken by teachers that influence learning, such as preparing resource-based learning materials, assessing in
workplaces and using technology in the delivery of education. For many teachers in VET, teaching now involves
working in a team, and often in collaboration with industry, and these new roles for teachers are recognised in
the report.

Types of innovation
The following table sets out the different types of innovation described in the fifteen case studies and vignettes
in the report.
Table 1: Description of innovation




Vignette No.1.1

Manufacturing Learning Centres, SA

VET in Schools program delivered in the workplace

Vignette No.1.2

Centrelink Call Centre, Coffs Harbour

and TAFE NSW North Coast Institute,

Assessment and training customised to meet the clients

strategic goals

Case Study No.1

Holmesglen Institute of TAFE, VIC

Learner-focused, continually-improved programs for

1518 year old youths at risk

Vignette No.2.1

Brisbane and North Point Institute


Simulation for assessment in trade areas

Vignette No.2.2

TAFE NSW Open Training and Education

Network (OTEN), NSW

An integrated approach to supporting and motivating

distance students

Case Study No.2

Institute of TAFE Tasmania, TAS

Re-engineering the teaching of textiles

Vignette No.3.1

Caterpillar Institute (WA)

Multi-faceted innovation in teaching heavy vehicle

mechanics in regional Western Australia

Vignette No.3.2

East Gippsland Institute of TAFE, VIC

Use of workplace-based mentors for training delivery of

across a region

Case Study No.3

Torrens Valley Institute of TAFE, SA

International benchmarking underpinning the

assessment of key competencies in electrotechnology

Vignette No.4.1

Photography Studies College, VIC

Managing innovation in teaching in response to

photography students and industrys needs

Vignette No.4.2

TAFE NSW Hunter Institute, NSW

Simultaneously fostering multiple innovations

Case Study No.4

Open Learning Institute of TAFE, QLD

Embedding innovation across the organisation

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Table 1: Description of innovation (contd)




Vignette No.5.1

Alcan, Yirrkala Business Enterprises and

Government East Arnhem Land, NT

Innovation in teaching remote Indigenous students about

mining operations

Vignette No.5.2

TNT Express, TDT Australia and six

providers, national

Best practice delivery led by a national enterprise

Case Study No.5

Goodwill Industries WA in
conjunction with West Coast College

Innovative training solutions in the metals area for

trainees with cerebral palsy

Definition of innovation
There are numerous definitions of innovation in the literature and some of these are discussed in Chapter 3 of
this report. A scan of the literature, as reported in Chapter 3, did not provide a satisfactory definition of
innovation in teaching and learning for VET and so we adapted a working model based on Williams (1999) and
West (in King & Anderson 2002). Some key ideas about innovation that guided this study are summarised below.

Improved as well as new ideas

Williams (1999) defines innovation as
the implementation of new and improved knowledge, ideas, methods, processes, tools, equipment and
machinery, which leads to new and better products, services, and processes (p.17; italics added).

Williams (1999) points out that the word innovation is derived from the Latin innovatio (renewal or renovation),
based on novus (new) as in novelty. Note that innovation is about the implementation of not just new ideas and
knowledge, but also of improved ideas and knowledge. Hence, many of the case studies and vignettes in this
report are about the renewal or renovation or improvement of an existing educational service.

Sequenced activities
Williams (1999) model below shows that discovery and invention, as outcomes of creativity, lead to the process
of innovation and the implementation of the innovation. This study attempts, where possible, to describe this
sequence of activities in each of the case studies and vignettes.
Diagram 1: Creativity leading to innovation and implementation (Williams 1999, p.13)

Process of



Because of this sequence that starts with creativity, an innovation may take some time to be implemented. Many
of the innovations described in this report took some years to unfold.
In adapting this model and in framing this report, the view was taken that innovation in teaching and learning
needs to lead to improved outcomes. So the implementation of the innovation in the case studies and vignettes
has included evidence of the reported benefits in each.

To better match the way innovations in VET often occur over a number of years and how new dimensions are
added in each iteration, the above diagram ideally needs to be represented as a single spiral, with the process of
creativity to implementation repeated a number of times, spiralling upwards.
Given earlier comments about innovation involving improved as well as new ideas, Williamss diagram could also
be re-drawn to include an oval labelled re-invention, to accompany the existing oval for invention.

Types of innovation
Williams (1999) identifies different types of innovation: for example, product innovation; new and improved
services; new and improved work operations, processes and methods; new and improved machine design,
engineering and layout; new markets and marketing methods; synthesis; and replication. The case studies and
vignettes in this report are primarily of the following four types, or combinations of two or more of these types:

new and improved services;

new and improved work operations, processes and methods;

synthesis when existing ideas, products, services or processes are combined in some new way so that an
improved idea, product, service or process results;

replication copying or duplicating or learning from others or applying someone elses idea or invention in
a new situation.

While developing a new service is more original and often more visible than improving an existing service or
copying someone elses, each type of innovation is of value.

Distinguishing features of innovation in action

The work of West and others (in King & Anderson 2002) provides further valuable assistance in the recognition
of innovation and its distinction from organisational change in general. These authors characterise organisational
innovation as follows:

an innovation is a tangible product, process or procedure within an organisation;

an innovation must be new to the social setting within which it is introduced, although not necessarily new
to the individual(s) introducing it;

an innovation must be intentional not accidental;

an innovation must not be a routine change;

an innovation must be aimed at producing a benefit;

an innovation must be public in its effects (King & Anderson 2002, pp.2-3).

Taken together, the above work provided this project with a basis for recognising innovation in VET and for
making a selection of 15 case studies and vignettes from a much larger candidate field. In order to be as inclusive
as possible of VET achievement, the final selection reflects a breadth of examples rather than focusing on where
the weight of innovation is currently occurring.

Different ways to read this report

This report was prepared in the expectation that you would not read it from start to finish, but would selectively
seek out those parts of the report that are most relevant to your needs. One approach might be to read first those
chapters whose titles catch your interest.
Table 1 above described the types of innovations in the case studies and vignettes. To assist a selective reading,
two tables are provided below, highlighting different aspects of the report. Table 2 below summarises the main
features of the major RTOs and students involved in each of the case studies and vignettes.
Table 2: Features of RTO and students involved in the innovation



RTO location

RTO Ownership

Key student features

Vignette No.1.1

Manufacturing Learning
Centres, SA


Public & Private

VET in School students

Vignette No.1.2

Centrelink Call Centre, Coffs

Harbour and TAFE NSW North
Coast Institute, NSW/ACT



Call Centre staff

Case Study No.1

Holmesglen Institute of



Youths at risk

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Table 2: Features of RTO and students involved in the innovation (contd)



RTO location

RTO Ownership

Key student features

Vignette No.2.1

Brisbane and North Point

Institute of TAFE, QLD



Manufacturing industry

Vignette No.2.2

TAFE NSW Open Training

and Education Network



Accounting students
by distance education

Case Study No.2

Institute of TAFE
Tasmania, TAS



Textile Clothing and

Footwear students

Vignette No.3.1

Caterpillar Institute (WA)



Automotive mechanics

Vignette No.3.2

East Gippsland Institute




Community Services

Case Study No.3

Torrens Valley Institute





Vignette No.4.1

Photography Studies
College, VIC



Photography students

Vignette No.4.2

TAFE NSW Hunter Institute,




Variety of regional

Case Study No.4

Open Learning Institute of




Leadership students

Vignette No.5.1

Alcan, Yirrkala Business

Enterprises and Government
East Arnhem Land, NT



Unemployed Indigenous

Vignette No.5.2

TNT Express, TDT Australia

and six providers, national

and regional

Public & Private

Road transport drivers

Case Study No.5

Goodwill Industries WA in
conjunction with West Coast
College of TAFE, WA



People with
cerebral palsy

Please note that, for brevity, many of the names of the RTOs are abbreviated in the body of the report.
Table 3 summarises the main qualifications or programs described in the vignettes and case studies.

Table 3: Qualifications profiled in each case study or vignette



Accredited qualification or program

Vignette No.1.1

Manufacturing Learning Centres, SA

Certificate I Engineering (CAD);

Certificate I Process Manufacturing (Plastics Injection
Moulding Operations);
Certificate I Automotive Manufacturing;
Certificate I Automotive Retail Service and Repair;
Certificate I Hospitality (Kitchen Operations);
Certificate II Business (Office Administration).

Vignette No.1.2

Centrelink Virtual College ACT, Centrelink

Call Centre, Coffs Harbour and TAFE
NSW North Coast Institute, NSW

Certificate IV Telecommunications;

Case Study No.1

Holmesglen Institute of TAFE, VIC

Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL)

Vignette No.2.1

Brisbane and North Point Institute


Metals and Engineering Training Package

Vignette No.2.2

TAFE NSW Open Training and

Education Network (OTEN), NSW

Business Services (Accounting) Training Package

Case Study No.2

Institute of TAFE Tasmania, TAS

Textile Clothing and Footwear Training Package

Certificate IV Business (Frontline Management);

Certificate IV Assessment & Workplace Training


Table 3: Qualifications profiled in each case study or vignette (contd)



Accredited qualification or program

Vignette No.3.1

Caterpillar Institute (WA) Pty Ltd

Certificate II Automotive (Mechanical Vehicle

Certificate III Automotive (Mechanical - Heavy
Certificate IV Assessment & Workplace Training;
Certificate IV Business (Frontline Management)

Vignette No.3.2

East Gippsland Institute of TAFE, VIC

Community Services Training Package (child studies,

aged care, nursing and community services)

Case Study No.3

Torrens Valley Institute of TAFE, SA

Electrotechnology Training Package

Vignette No.4.1

Photography Studies College, VIC

Advanced Diploma of Photography

Vignette No.4.2

TAFE NSW Hunter Institute, NSW

Workplace English Language and Literacy Program

Case Study No.4

Open Learning Institute of TAFE, QLD

Certificate II, III, IV and Diploma of Government;

Certificate IV Assessment & Workplace Training

Vignette No.5.1

Alcan, Yirrkala Business Enterprises and

Government East Arnhem Land, NT

Certificate II Metalliferous Mining Operations

(Open Cut);

Vignette No.5.2

TNT Express, TDT Australia and six

providers, national

Certificate III Transport & Distribution

(Road Transport)

Case Study No.5

Goodwill Industries WA in
conjunction with West Coast
College of TAFE, WA

Certificate I, Metals and Engineering

Training Package;

Certificate I, II & III Workplace Education.

Workplace English Language and Literacy

Certificate IV Assessment & Workplace Training

Definitions of abbreviations and technical terms

Definitions are provided below of abbreviations and terms used throughout this report. Most of the definitions
are taken from the website of the Australian National Training Authority, www.anta.gov.au



The Australian National Training Authority


The Australian Quality Training Framework is a set of nationally agreed arrangements to ensure
the quality of vocational education and training services throughout Australia.


An industry training advisory body (or ITAB), also called industry training advisory board, is an
organisation, usually an incorporated association or company, recognised as representing a
particular industry and providing advice to government on the vocational education and training
needs of its particular industry. There are both national and State and Territory industry training
advisory bodies.


An industry training council (or ITC) is a body established by an industry or business sector to
address training issues.


National Training Framework (NTF) is the system of vocational education and training that
applies nationally. It is made up of the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF) and
nationally endorsed Training Packages.


A Registered Training Organisation (RTO) is an organisation registered by a State or Territory

recognition authority to deliver training and/or conduct assessments and issue nationally
recognised qualifications in accordance with the Australian Quality Training Framework.
Registered Training Organisations include TAFE colleges and institutes, adult and
community education providers, private providers, community organisations, schools,
higher education institutions, commercial and enterprise training providers, industry bodies
and other organisations meeting the registration requirements.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET


A Training Package is an integrated set of nationally endorsed standards, guidelines and

qualifications for training, assessing and recognising peoples skills, developed by industry to meet
the training needs of an industry or group of industries. Training packages consist of core
endorsed components of competency standards, assessment guidelines and qualifications, and
optional non-endorsed components of support materials such as learning strategies, assessment
resources and professional development materials.


The vocational education and training sector provides post-compulsory education and training,
excluding degree and higher level programs delivered by higher education institutions. VET
provides people with occupational or work-related knowledge and skills. VET also includes
programs which provide the basis for subsequent vocational programs.




Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Why is innovation in VET teaching and learning an issue? 1

This chapter sets out reasons why innovation in teaching and learning is a dynamic issue for VET.

Key points
Key points raised in the chapter include the following:

Change in VET teaching is being driven by multiple drivers such as global economics, industry restructures
and VET policy responses, such as the policy-led encouragement for more delivery and assessment in the

In particular, the world of work for VET learners keeps changing, requiring continual adaptations in VET teaching.

Workplace training demands on VET are as diverse as there are enterprises, creating new and additional
roles for VET teachers.

Innovation in teaching is needed when the global context changes

The context for teaching and learning in VET is changing, impacted upon by broad factors such as the availability
of global telecommunications, the emergence of the knowledge economy, changes to the world of work and the
new emphasis on customising and personalising services encouraging a demand-driven, and learner or
customer-centric approach to education.
Researchers (Waterhouse et al. 1999; Marginson 2000; Robinson 2000; Mitchell & Young 2001) argue that VET
providers cannot stand still and watch while other enterprises respond to globalisation and other forces:
Diversity and creativity is increasingly required of VET in meeting the requirement of organisations to nurture
employees with a high appetite for new learning and making a contribution within empowered teams working
in a flexible environment - individual and collective competence is sought. VET providers are faced with
similar challenges, in respect of their staff, as applies to the individuals and organisations they serve (Waterhouse
et al. 1999).

Two of the responses by VET to the above needs are to promote self-directed learning and lifelong learning. Case
study 2 in this report illustrates how self-directed learning in the textile arena can prepare the student for making
decisions in the workplace. Case study 3 provides an example of the promotion of lifelong learning
to electrotechnology students, through innovative ways of assessing the development of key competencies.
1 Why is innovation in VET teaching and learning an issue?


Innovation in teaching is a response to multiple change drivers

The drivers of innovation in teaching and learning in VET are numerous. They are also profound in their
cumulative impact and implications. They also interact and make their presence felt in uneven ways. These
drivers include:


Rising complexity/uncertainty. There is a growing recognition that postmodern society is based on much
higher levels of complexity and uncertainty due to such factors as global, national, regional and local social
and political diversity and pluralism; competing paradigms or world views; conflicting priorities:
fundamental challenges to established authority, values, and power; divergent ways of conceptualising and
thinking about business, society and economic and social capital; population trends; and changing markets,
finance and investment conditions.

Changing structures of work. These changes include the growth of part time and casual or contingent or
shadow workforces and the decline of the standard employment model based on fixed hours, long tenure
and prescribed benefits and social contracts about mutuality and ethics. The changes also include the endless
scarcity and mobility of work and new and more liquid forms of devolved and decentralised work organisation.

The changing structures of industry and employment. The changes include the growth and movement
in new and older industries and the industry base; the need for continuing modernisation of traditional
industries; the central importance of small to medium sized employment and self-employment; and the
increasing focus on competitive alignments between markets, work organisation, skills and professional
standards for high performance workforces. In this quickening scenario, training, retraining and
replacement training are all critical in their own way and for both organisations and individuals.

The dynamic knowledge imperative. There is a growth in the economic and commercial value of
knowledge and skills, and especially know-how; that is, the ability of people to apply new knowledge, and to
do this more efficiently at work, often in teams and with higher levels of personal initiative and responsibility.

The aggressive spread of the value proposition. Although most obvious in business, the proposition
that we must be able to demonstrate the value of our contribution and effort to throughputs and outcomes
is now a commonplace requirement for profit and not-for-profit organisation alike. Examples of this
conviction at the level of organisational identity include: If you dont add value to a throughput you are
unlikely to survive as an organisation and Organisational outcomes must always determine throughput
processes (Mant 2002).

Public policy. All Western governments continue to redevelop their positions on society and economy and
within the constraints of their limited revenue and tax base. This takes many forms that provoke the need
for innovative practice. For example, the National Training Framework (NTF) is an innovative construct for
recognising the multiple ways in which workers can acquire skills and for this recognition to be transferable
from one context to another.

New technology. The spread of digital communications is increasing the need for information technology
(IT) literacy and fluency across many workforces and challenging the VET system and its staff to integrate,
model and lead this type of learning, and where and when it is relevant. Changes in technology alter the
way in which occupations carry out their normal work tasks and often require new learning by staff both in
industry and VET providers. For instance, clerical tasks in the past might have included running a filing
system, whereas today the system will be driven by a database. Knowing how databases are structured and
accessed and how questions can be asked of them requires a knowledge and skill level different from those
required in previous times.

Shrinking time horizons. The time to market delay between changing productive processes and
delivering products and services is a key indicator of organisational responsiveness. These time horizons are
beyond the control of the production processes, whether they are in industry, government or VET. They
reflect, on the one hand, the impact of competition in the marketplace or client place and, on the other,
the fundamentally different scale of demand and expectations for increasingly customised and Just In Time
goods and services by consumers and suppliers. Time, as a scarce resource, has never been more important.
Individuals, organisations and government are all increasingly time poor. Options such as e-learning
potentially provide some solutions for the time poor worker who is keen to stay abreast of the
developments in their field.

From mass production to market segmentation. The need for agility in delivering goods and services
that match the particular preferences, wants and needs of different clusters and market segments, is a
continually rising discipline. Client demand is becoming highly differentiated away from standardised
forms of demand that once permitted simpler mass production and the standardised work and delivery
systems behind them.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

As a result of the above change drivers, much more of what has been taken for granted in the recent past is being
contested; and this has important psychological and attitudinal ramifications for people and society, including
the people and cultures in the VET workforces.
Assisting young people to start developing competencies in this increasingly turbulent context is more of a
challenge now than before. Case Study 1 below shows how one VET provider, Holmesglen Institute of TAFE,
continually improves its teaching of youths who have not found a comfortable fit with high school structures.
Despite all the turbulence, the Holmesglen approach creates the possibility of a successful future for youths at
risk by effectively linking them with pathways for study, jobs and community life.
A number of the points highlighted above are now discussed in more depth, including the impact of policy,
changes to work and the importance of workplace training.

Innovation in teaching is needed when policy changes

Within the VET sector, teaching and learning is significantly affected by the progressive implementation of the
national training system with its focus on Training Packages and competency-based training, often delivered and
assessed in the workplace. The national training system is an industry-led approach, with industry determining
its training needs and the required standards and competencies. Policy initiatives at both Commonwealth and
State/Territory levels that support the implementation of the national training system provide a spur to
innovation in VET teaching.

Vignette 1.2, on Centrelink and North Coast Institute of TAFE and set out later in this chapter, provides an
example of how competency-based training and assessment can be customised to suit a clients specific needs in
a call centre environment: a model of client-responsiveness that satisfies the direction of VET policy. Vignette 5.2
in Chapter 5 describes how TNT Express, a national transport company, guided six providers to align their
delivery and assessment strategies to suit the needs of the national enterprise: a model of enterprise client
leadership. In both vignettes, employees undertaking training benefited from achieving nationally recognised
and portable qualifications important policy goals of the national system.
The increasing focus on e-learning driven by policy and by government funding sources has challenged
previous teaching and learning methodologies that were based around teacher delivery in a classroom.
Simultaneously with the rise of e-learning, e-business has created more opportunities for VET providers to provide
additional services for students (Mitchell 2003). Vignette 2.2 in the next chapter describes how a distance
education provider, the Open Training and Education Network in NSW, has incorporated into its delivery model
both e-learning options and over-arching e-business strategies.
The pace is quickening and new pressures are now coming increasingly to the fore across, and within, many more
areas of VET delivery. Put simply, the quality and frequency of innovative activity in teaching and learning must
respond and adjust to the external environment and policy directions.

Innovation in VET teaching is needed when the world of work changes

Innovation is needed in VET teaching so that students can quickly and effectively acquire skills to meet the pace
of industrial, organisational and personal change. For example, innovation in VET teaching needs to reflect the
following requirements in the workplace:

continuous skilling to meet new and emerging industry needs;

re-skilling of some staff following the disappearance of many entry-level jobs;

re-skilling of older employees;

recognising the current skills of the existing workforce;

attracting new entrants to industry who have a positive attitude to skill development.

Vignette 1.1 below focuses on the last of these points attracting new entrants to industry. It relates how a VET
in Schools program is largely conducted in industry workplaces, so that school students could learn in the
workplace, preparing them for the range of options available in an industry many view as conservative the
manufacturing industry.
Innovation in teaching is needed so that VET students can adjust to the changes in the world of work: for
example, the increase in self-employed workers, the growing casualisation of the Australian workforce and the
emergence of portfolio workers holding a cluster of part-time positions. Vignette 4.2 later in this report profiles
the changing world of the photography industry and how one VET provider continually adjusts its learning
programs to ensure its graduates are prepared to work in an industry where self-employed freelancers and not
permanent, lifetime employees are now the norm.
1 Why is innovation in VET teaching and learning an issue?


The implications for VET teaching of changes in the workplace are summarised in the following table.
Table 1.1: Workplace changes and implications for education and training (Burns 2002, p.24)

Workplace: yesterday

Workplace: future

Implications for teachers

Mechanical systems

Micro-electronic systems

Conceptual learning

Labour intensive

Knowledge-capital intensive

More value added by people

Apprenticeship training on
time basis

Competency standards to
specified objectives

Modular training

Training in more physical skills

Learning of systems, social skills

Less manual learning; self-directed and

self-initiated learning; involvement in
decision-making process

Established equipment

Prototypes and development

Experts are trainers

Individual tasks fragmented

Team work; holistic view of

production; barriers between
workforce levels break down

More social skills training in

communication and relationships

Reactive and passive; routine

Proactive and flexible; initiating

and anticipative; monitoring
and diagnosing

Learning how to be responsible, make

decisions and be involved

Vignette 3.1 in Chapter 3 of this report, on the Caterpillar Institute (WA), provides examples of trainers modelling
the approach identified by Burns (2002). Changes to Caterpillar technology will never stop, so the Caterpillar
trainers approach the task of assisting trainees to acquire skills in heavy vehicle mechanics as a knowledgeintensive exercise, where trainees need to develop skills so that they can continue to learn on-the-job, as the
technology changes.
Burns (2002, p.22) suggests that we are moving into a world that is complex and unpredictable; network-based
and horizontally integrated; information rich; and, uncomfortably, largely beyond our personal control. For work
organisations and work-focused societies, one solution to this portrayal of modern life as a swamp or move to
chaos is to assist people to capitalise on their learning capabilities in order to learn more rapidly and to apply
that learning:
The new economic paradigm requires flexibility, quality, innovation and knowledge at all levels. Success now
depends on how quickly and well employees can transform ideas into better products and services. In the new
economy, employees capable of rapid learning and willing to undertake retraining in complex tasks/skills are
critical (Burns 2002, p.22).

In order to help employees to become capable of rapid learning in the field of community services, Vignette 3.2
describes teaching staff at the East Gippsland Institute of TAFE using a range of flexible methodologies, such as
the use of on-the-job mentoring, weekly telephone link-ups, individual home study packages, mentoring with
industry based staff with specialist expertise, one-on-one tutor support and an increasing use of online
assessment, assignment submission and tutorials.

Vignette 1.1

VET in Schools program delivered in the workplace Manufacturing

Learning Centres in South Australia
The provision of new pathways for school students to VET and jobs is a critical issue for the VET
sector, if industry is to benefit from the injection of young people. However, providing pathways
for students for jobs and study programs in the manufacturing industry and developing relevant
support programs is challenging, especially in manufacturing.
The manufacturing industry has a generally conservative image for school students and
structural changes in the last decade have given it the appearance of being in decline as an
employment sector of choice.
Offsetting this negative view, the following vignette describes the provision of new VET
pathways and opportunities for students. This initiative involves the establishment of new
learning centres within enterprises in South Australia as government strategy there seeks to
reverse a decline in their regional manufacturing sector.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

The Manufacturing Learning Centres (MLC) vignette focuses on VET in School students
developing competencies in the workplaces of different-sized manufacturers, ranging from the
large Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited, to medium sized suppliers of Mitsubishi and other
local manufacturers. In these different organisations, skill is required by teachers and workplace
mentors to ensure the benefits of each workplace are accessible to students.

The Australian manufacturing industry is the largest employer of full-time workers. But with
increasing overseas competition the industry needs to invest in new technology, new skills and
quality systems and to attract young people into the workforce (Blight and Dymock 2002).

industry and
education need to
know more about
each other

Manufacturing in South Australia is feeling this pressure very strongly. Although the State is a
particularly important regional producer of white goods and automobiles, its whole
manufacturing base is now subject to strong pressures from cheap imports. To remain
competitive, South Australian manufacturers are adopting world class production standards. In
turn, this means they face the need to reskill and upskill their company workforces.

Jillian Blight, until recently the long-standing manager of the Manufacturing Learning Centres,
and researcher Darryl Dymock believe that industry and education need to develop a clear
understanding of their respective positions if manufacturing training is to be more effective in
South Australia. As they see it:
Not all companies are familiar with the finer points of the national training system. They do not
always understand Training Packages, on-the-job assessment and how to combine career
pathways and options for young people with school, work and study. It is also true to say that
not all education workers understand the skills and qualities industry needs in its current and
future employees (Blight and Dymock 2002).

Description of the innovation

Manufacturing Learning Centres (MLCs) grew out of a collaborative project that commenced
in 1991 between Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd (MMAL) and six local schools. Originally, there
was one MLC, sited at Mitsubishi Motors in Adelaides southern suburbs.


The objective of this joint project was to raise the profile of manufacturing and manufacturing
employment in the community. It offered school students the chance to undertake complete
on-the-job learning programs.
The initiative moved through a number of stages. In particular, as described below, a major
change occurred in 2003. As a result, there is now a network of MLCs in a range of enterprises
linked to the administrative hub at Mitsubishi.
An unchanged core aspect of all the MLCs is that student participants develop on-the-job and
industry-specific competencies and generic work skills. These cover communication, teamwork,
problem solving, and planning and organising. At the same time, student participants
contribute to production in their host organisation.
The learning programs are very extensive. For example, they include engineering,
information technology, polymer technology, automotive manufacture (engine parts
machining, engine and car assembly), automotive retail service and repair (tyre fitting, wheel
aligning, detailing, general servicing), business services and hospitality. There are plans for
new career streams in general manufacturing (metals), warehousing, logistics and electronics
(Blight and Dymock 2002).

image problem

There were a range of interests behind the establishment of these Manufacturing Learning
Centres. For example, local industry wants to attract young people to choose employment in
manufacturing; local secondary schools want more employment and vocational opportunities
for their students; and the Onkaparinga Institute of TAFE, a partner in the MLCs, wants to
provide on-going training opportunities for school leavers and local employees in
manufacturing enterprises.
1 Why is innovation in VET teaching and learning an issue?


All of the stakeholders were agreed from the outset that the manufacturing sector needed to
improve its image for school leavers. The MLCs always intended to provide an opportunity for
the stakeholders to construct a collaborative approach to this image problem.

Developing the innovation

The distinction of the project of 1991 which developed into the MLC was that it introduced an
on-the-job learning program for secondary school students that built bridges between school
and workplace learning in the manufacturing workforce. It then added to this foundation. For
instance, in 1998 five new program streams were added to the program: business, trades,
engineering (CAD), automotive manufacturing and information systems. In 1999, with the
introduction of Training Packages and with the change from teaching modules to assessing
competencies, MLCs introduced Certificate-level courses. In the business services stream alone,
this resulted in approximately twenty companies becoming involved and approximately 50
students per year completing a Certificate II, on-the-job.


In 2000-2001 the partnership was expanded to include Training Packages relevant to new
companies in the MLCs network. New companies included Schefenacker Vision Systems an
auto supplier of Mitsubishi and Seeley International, a maker of air conditioners. Other
prominent companies include Sola Optical, Electrolux, Hills and Coroma. At this point in its
development, the MLCs concept expanded significantly beyond its original Mitsubishi base.
Overall, about 200 students in 2002 completed either partly or fully a Certificate I and II, in
approximately 30 companies. The number of schools involved had expanded to 22.
A change occurred in 2003 when Commonwealth Government funding ended for the MLCs
manager position. A training coordinator funded by nine schools and Onkaparinga Institute of
TAFE is maintaining the existing program offerings, with new developments currently on hold.
The 2003 program (see http://www.manufacturinglearningcentres.org) has refocused on the
core business of providing learning experiences for the VET in Schools program, together with
some opportunities for students from the TAFE Institute. However, Margie John from
Onkaparinga Institute of TAFE describes the revised arrangements as not changing the character
of the program, as it is still very much industry-led.
Onkaparinga Institute is the RTO for programs in Business, IT, Engineering and Hospitality. In
other career streams, training is provided under the auspices of other RTOs including Mitsubishi
Motors and Quality Automotive Training.
Program delivery occurs in a variety of modes. By way of example, Graham Hargreaves, the
training coordinator of the MLCs, explains:
For the Business Services stream, all but one of the competencies are delivered on the job. In the
Hospitality, Engineering and Information Systems streams, some competencies are delivered on
the job and some at school. The canteen at Mitsubishi Motors is the site for delivery of parts of
the Hospitality Certificate I program, building on underpinning competencies developed
previously at schools.

Teaching dimensions of the innovation

The Manufacturing Learning Centres partnership model is built not just on networking
principles, but on innovative teaching and human resource (HR) practices, including the use of
action learning and the cultivation of a culture of learning in the workplace.
cultivation of a
learning culture in
the workplace

Much of the teaching available in the workplace is provided by the staff of the manufacturing
companies who act as mentors. Jillian Blight explains:
The mentors involved in the MLC commonly use action learning methodology, which assists in
understanding the difference in learning between the sectors of education and the work provider,
and which develops learning solutions for students which include discovery and problem solving.

The concept of an enterprise being used as a learning centre is still highly innovative and each
MLC has a different contribution to make. Jillian Blight explains that a range of the companies
involved in the program are manufacturing learning centres:
Each one identifies one or more career pathways or streams for students to follow. There are
multiple career pathway offerings in some companies. Students need to appreciate a broad range
of opportunities which many manufacturing companies provide.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Blight and Dymock (2002) believe that this learning centres model also fits with the increasing
focus on the workplace as a site for learning and the development of a culture of learning (see
for example Boud and Garrick 1999; Hager 1998). The enterprises which are MLCs benefit from
their staff being involved as mentors to external students, assisting the development of a
learning culture. A learning culture is one where the conditions for workplace learning are part
of a work groups experience and history; where learning opportunities are valued to the extent
that they are actively discovered, invented and developed; and, are structured into the
organisations functioning so that opportunities for new learning could continue (Owen and
Williamson 1994, 76).
Given these features of a learning culture, the learning centre approach not only benefits the
students, but it also benefits the enterprise. Jillian Blight finds that, based on experience over
the last decade, the learning culture of each manufacturing enterprise improves as a result of
being involved in the MLC program.

Outcomes for students, providers and industry

The MLC model provides positive outcomes for students, schools, the TAFE Institute and

sharing between
workplace mentors
and VET in schools

Blight & Dymock (2002) explain that at the end of the placement, students communication
and presentation skills are demonstrated and assessed in an oral presentation to other students,
industry mentors and managers, parents, school and TAFE staff. In their presentations, students
describe their workplace experiences, learning and reflections.
These presentation sessions provide the workplace mentors and the teachers involved in the
VET in Schools program with an opportunity to share their learning strategies and assessment
activities and to reflect on and review their own practices. The process provides these teachers
with an understanding of what learning and experiences occur in the enterprise and helps them
to see how students benefit from being involved (Blight & Dymock 2002).
Blight and Dymock (2002) believe that the learning opportunities promoted through MLCs to
young people in schools and TAFE result in the four main areas of benefit:
(a) having access to labour market and course information, (b) gaining greater understanding
and access to the pathways from school to traineeships and employment either directly into the
companies or through labour hire arrangements, (c) acquiring job seeking skills relevant to the
labour market of the 21st Century, and (d) seeing the relevance of lifelong workplace learning
within a training and career pathway.

Enterprises involved in the MLC network benefit not just from attracting new recruits but also
from the development of a learning culture, discussed above.

Transferability and sustainability

depends on
ongoing support

Since the beginning of 2003, the viability of this innovation depends upon the continuing
support of 30 local enterprises, the nine partner secondary schools, other schools that purchase
services on a fee for service basis and Onkaparinga Institute.
As an innovative partnership and teaching model it has attracted the interest of groups from
Japan, China, Indonesia and Germany and from other States in Australia.

The MLC vignette provides a number of messages regarding innovation in teaching and

As the organisation of work influences learning, and situated learning can lead to high-level
learning (Billett 2001), innovation in teaching is required to optimise the influences of the
workplace on learning.

There are many benefits in students learning in the workplace, as learning changes both
learners and their environments (Hager 2001), increasing the need for innovative teaching
in the workplace.
1 Why is innovation in VET teaching and learning an issue?


As informal and incidental learning occur in the workplace, innovation in teaching is

required to ensure that these forms of learning are valued and supported through
mechanisms such as coaching and mentoring and a learning culture (Boud and Garrick
1999). Innovation in teaching is needed to enhance a major shift in VET towards learning
in the workplace

Despite the above exemplar from the manufacturing sector in South Australia, one of the
continuing challenges to teaching in VET since the introduction of the national training
system is to hasten the shift away from teaching in provider classrooms to teaching and
assessing in the workplace.

Innovation in teaching

Despite policy-level support, the concept of workplace learning for VET students has not found universal
acceptance. Billet (2001) examines learning that occurs in the workplace and finds that it struggles to achieve the
recognition it often deserves. He notes that teachers are interested in their students engaging in workplace
experiences to assist the transfer of learning from classrooms, but concern still exists about the legitimacy of
workplace or on-the-job learning experiences (pp.34). This concern exists despite the availability of research that
shows that learning in educational organisations is often fragile and not easily transferable to other settings such
as workplaces (p.4).
Learning in the workplace features strongly in many of the vignettes and case studies presented in this report.
The positive embrace of learning in the workplace underpins innovations such as the following one from Coffs
Harbour in NSW.

Vignette 1.2

Assessment and training customised to meet the clients strategic goals

TAFE NSW North Coast Institute and Centrelink
Large organisations such as Centrelink with national and regional networks across Australia can
have complex training needs that require high levels of collaboration with local training providers.
This case study describes the making of a new collaborative regional training arrangement
which can help shape Centrelinks future relationships with regional VET providers in other parts
of Australia. The approach also has potential for being taken up by other large enterprises in
regional Australia.
This innovative approach includes TAFE teachers being prepared to develop programs for
supervisors as well as students. In addition, this approach includes teachers willingness for their
performance to be measured in terms of their contribution to the achievement of the clients
strategic goals.

Converging needs and drivers

The Commonwealth Governments Centrelink system has staff in over 360 offices around
Australia, including a major call centre at Coffs Harbour.
This case study is about the innovations that arose out of Centrelinks new relationship with
TAFE NSW North Coast Institute. This Institute provides training services from Taree up to the
Queensland border.
assisting a major
new regional
industry call

Whilst the North Coast Institute aims to excel in the provision of regional training it also sees a much
broader regional development role for itself, particularly in stimulating regional economic growth.
With a limited number of specialist teaching staff spread over a thinly populated and large
geographical area, the Institutes ongoing challenge is to expand and maintain customised
training services to a wide variety of regionally based clients.
In this context, North Coast Institute faced the challenge of providing training services to
Centrelinks call centre at Coffs Harbour.
Centrelink is one of Australias largest national government agencies, second only to the
Department of Defence. With 24,000 staff, Centrelink aims to be a world leader in
the speed, quality and consistency of its work, in fields such as call centres and customer
service centres.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Centrelink has its own RTO, the Centrelink Virtual College located in Canberra. This provides
some direct training. However, the scale and regional dispersal of training demand across
its national and regional operations means that external trainers and assessors are also
commonly engaged.
The Centrelink Virtual College has developed print-based, self-paced learning materials and
assessment tasks for telecommunications training for its call centre staff at most locations
including Coffs Harbour. However, additional local training services, particularly assessment, are
needed to assist the learning process.
Centrelink is committed to nationally accredited training and to rewarding the achievement of
nationally recognised training qualifications by using progressive pay systems.
For example, staff at Centrelink call centres receive additional pay if they obtain a Certificate IV
in Telecommunications. Jo Wisely, Training Manager at Centrelinks Coff Harbour call centre,
explains that, starting in 2001, Centrelink set out to quickly assist over one hundred of its Coffs
Harbour staff to gain national qualifications:
The immediate driver for Centrelink included the need to quickly enable nearly one hundred staff
to gain qualifications to underpin the quality of the call centre services.

To achieve this Centrelink turned for assistance to North Coast Institute.

Developing the innovation

The planning for this began in 2001 and involved personnel from Centrelink and the North
Coast Institute of TAFE. Centrelink was represented in the planning by managers, HR managers,
trainers and the Centrelink Virtual College. In turn, North Coast Institute was represented by
its business manager, internal business consultant and teaching staff.
In collaboration with Centrelinks Coffs Harbour call centre training manager Jo Wisely,
the two Institute teachers who made the innovation work, were Sandra Bannerman
(Head Teacher, Administrative Services), and Carolyn Fletcher, the teacher who provided the
on-site services.

training mapped
against Training

Initial discussions and planning between the two organisations identified a whole suite
of training needs. Peter Newman, the Institutes business manager, describes how the
innovation evolved:
The key people from the two organisations got together and built a relationship. Together we
looked at Centrelinks unusual needs, we found a common goal and we came up with a totally
flexible approach to training and assessing. We kept on talking till we worked it out. Each valued
the other.

Frederick Millard, the Institutes business consultant, described the next level of the planning
We went to Centrelink to talk about traineeships and ended up talking about a duality of
certification: Centrelinks and ours. We mapped Centrelinks learning modules against the
Training Package competencies. The teacher, Carolyn Fletcher, then worked with Centrelinks Jo
Wisely, to develop appropriate assessment processes. Jo was Centrelinks only trainer in Coffs
Harbour, so they needed our help.

The training needs identified in the discussions included recognition of current competence
services and prevocational courses for New Entrant Traineeships and Existing Worker Traineeships
in Telecommunications. In addition, further discussions showed that the Institute could usefully
deliver the Certificate IV in Workplace Assessment and Training to enable the sole Centrelink
training staff member Jo Wisely to provide ongoing training and assessment in the workplace.
North Coast Institutes Peter Newman, believes there are a number of reasons why the new
collaborative model was effective:
We took a partnership approach to meet client needs; we provided a customer-focused
personalised service; and our services were flexible, particularly the on-the-job assessment service.
We also saw this as a long-term relationship and sought solutions that would be outcomesfocused in terms of the Centrelink staff.

Other factors that Peter Newman and Jo Wisely believe contributed to the successful
implementation of the innovative model included involving Centrelink staff and facilities in the
1 Why is innovation in VET teaching and learning an issue?


program delivery. The Institutes provision of articulation pathways to other VET qualifications
for Centrelink staff was also important.
However, everyone involved in the collaboration agreed that the key to the success of the
implementation of this innovation was the approach of Carolyn Fletcher, the TAFE teacher who
actually provided the onsite training and assessment services to the call centre.

Teaching and assessment dimensions of the innovation

Within this innovative relationship between these two organisations, the teaching and
assessment services provided by the Institute and the support of Centrelink were the two critical
components for success. Jo Wisely from Centrelink explains:
We needed a very flexible approach to assessment by TAFE, as it is very hard for us to take any of
our call centre staff off their phones, for any length of time or in groups. The TAFE assessor,
Carolyn Fletcher, did the bulk of the recognition of current competencies, by sitting and working
with each of our individual call centre operators. She came into our workplace on a regular basis,
got to know the staff and customised her approach to suit us.

Head Teacher Sandra Bannerman adds:

It is an excellent arrangement. We provided the flexibility that Centrelink sought. Centrelink was
very happy that Carolyn, the teacher, was able to work with Centrelink call centre staff in their
workplace, providing a flexible but quality assessment service.

deliberate actions
taken by the

The Institutes Peter Newman added that coaching and mentoring by Carolyn also underpinned
the relationship between the TAFE and the client.
The teacher Carolyn Fletcher believes that her effectiveness was the result of a number of
deliberate actions she took. Firstly, she took some time getting to know the staff as individuals
and the work they did. As Carolyn explains:

creating local

I would work closely with the call centre operators and really learn how they worked. I also kept
up with the new equipment installed in the call centre and made sure I knew how to use it.

Secondly, she places a strong focus on the recognition process with the existing staff:
Many of the staff had been with Centrelink for some time, so I put a lot of time into developing
a tool for mapping their previous training and duties against the Training Package competencies.
I worked with each individual in carefully identifying their current competencies. I found that if
they got recognition, it was an incentive for them to continue.

Thirdly, Carolyn was flexible about her availability, saying:

I was available to the staff at their workplace when it suited them. They could make an
appointment and if my proposed times didnt suit them, I would fit in with them.

Fourthly, even though Carolyn assessed over one hundred staff, she made sure she gave
sufficient time to each staff member:
Each of the staff put in a lot of effort, so I put a lot of time into reading their written work and
giving them feedback, both in writing and verbally. I also gave the team leaders positive feedback
about each person, so they could pass it on.

Fifthly, Carolyn made a point of working closely with the team leaders from Centrelink, so that
her work was integrated with Centrelinks internal staff development.
Frederick Millard, the Institutes business consultant, explained that the teaching methodology
used to deliver the Frontline Management program was predominantly based around
workplace projects.
Similarly, the Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training involved staff members
undertaking numerous practical case studies taken from Centrelinks workplace. Frederick
added: We even used the training of new Centrelink staff in the Telecommunications Certificate
IV as part of the program.

Outcomes for Centrelink staff, the community and TAFE

The student achievements in the first year of the relationship were significant for a regional
town. Ninety-one Centrelink staff in Coffs Harbour completed the Telecommunications

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Certificate IV as New Entrant Traineeships. Eight Centrelink staff also completed the Certificate
IV in Assessment and Workplace Training, a further nine have nearly completed the
Certificate IV in Frontline Management and three completed the Business Certificate IV.
Frederick Millard is proud that many of the staff at Centrelinks Coffs Harbour call centre now
have a national qualification.
Jo Wisely is clear about the benefits of the collaborative partnership for her staff:
The staff gain a certificate which enables them to move to a new pay point. They received
national recognition for their skills, so they can go to any other call centre and provide accredited
evidence of their skills and knowledge The Certificate IV makes them very employable. It costs an
individual a lot on their own to undertake a certificate, so they welcomed this opportunity to
study under the New Apprenticeship system as either a New Entrant or Existing employee. It is
an opportunity they wouldnt normally have.

Another benefit for Centrelink is its future growth. Jo Wisely explained: Centrelink bids for new
business, so it is essential that we have highly-skilled and publicly qualified staff.
Peter Newman and Jo Wisely agree on the importance of the model for regional development.
Benefits include creating local employment opportunities, attracting new people to the region
and encouraging people to stay in the region.

As a result of the initial training, Centrelink and North Coast identified an opportunity to
provide training for people in the local community who might want to apply for work at a call
centre such as Centrelink.
Another unexpected outcome of the partnership is that a number of the staff at Centrelink who
were assisted by North Coast Institute in gaining their Certificate IV in Assessment and
Workplace Training now teach in the TAFE Telecommunications program. Frederick Millard
reflected on the role reversal that occurred as a result of the partnership with Centrelink:
As a result of the work with Centrelink, and after looking at the growth in the call centre industry
in the region, we realised that the Telecommunications program needed to be offered locally, so
we now offer both the Certificate level II and III. And who do we get to teach it? Four of the
Centrelink staff whom we trained have now taught for us. They have been instrumental in
changing the way TAFE equips its call centre training operation. This is a true role reversal.

Jo Wisely added:
Part of Centrelinks role is to assist people toward employment. With this collaboration with the
Institute we are helping to skill up people in the region, so they can get jobs.

North Coast Institute staff also benefited from the Centrelink relationship. The Institutes
Frederick Millard commented:
We diversified our approach to the way we assessed in the workplace. We also gained from
developing the concept of a duality approach with the client: a duality in the sense that both
parties benefit.

Transferability and sustainability

taking the
model beyond
call centres

The innovative partnership developed in Coffs Harbour in 2001 was repeated with Centrelinks
Kingscliff call centre in Tweed Heads, NSW, in the same year. Here eighty one Centrelink staff
gained the Telecommunications Certificate IV as New Entrant Traineeships and five completed
the Business Certificate IV. The model is now also used at Centrelinks Port Macquarie Call
Centre, NSW, and with the Telstra Grafton Customer Service Centre, NSW.
In late 2001, after the success of the pilot activity, Anthony Tyrrel from the Centrelink Virtual
College and Robin Shreeve from TAFE NSW arranged for Peter Newman, Frederick Millard and
Jo Wisely to make a presentation to the business managers from the other ten TAFE Institutes in
NSW and to the managers and learning and development coordinators from Centrelinks other
NSW Area Offices. Their presentation suggested that other Institutes and Centrelink offices
could replicate the model and take it beyond call centres to Centrelinks numerous Customer
Service Centres.
As a result of this relationship, Peter Newman also sees new opportunities for teachers from
North Coast Institute in providing consultancy services including skills audits and designing
training plans outside call centre environments.
1 Why is innovation in VET teaching and learning an issue?


Based on the above vignette, innovation in teaching and learning in VET is needed for reasons
which include the following.

Regional development is stimulated through the attraction of large, publicly-funded

enterprises such as call centres; and these call centres require qualified staff who will enable
the call centre to meet national and international benchmarks for quality service.

Large enterprises require the development of new partnerships between the provider and
the enterprise, so that the teaching by the external provider is congruent with the training
provided by in-house trainers, and aligned with the enterprises strategic objectives.

Large enterprises often benchmark themselves against the best in the world and this
inevitably leads to the need not just for initial training but also for employees to develop
skills for acquiring new competencies.

Large enterprises with a national network of branches value teaching that will enable
employees to acquire nationally consistent and portable qualifications.

Large enterprises need to collaborate with responsive, flexible providers who will help the
enterprise meet its complex needs in human resource development.

In response to the question posed in the title of this chapter Why is innovation in VET teaching and learning
an issue? the discussion showed that the contexts for teaching and learning in VET are changing continuously,
encouraging the development of innovative practice. For example, the world of work and policy keep changing
and global change drivers are increasing and compounding. Innovation can be seen as part of the creative
response that is helping to shape the future for VET.
If Australia is to continue to prosper in the world economy, more workplace learning is required and this is
another force driving innovation in teaching. Workplace training demands on VET are as diverse as there are
enterprises and the roles for VET teachers in providing workplace training are manifold.
As long as conditions and creativity permit, there is a limitless scope for innovation in teaching and learning in
VET. Importantly, this requires the agency of excellent and knowledgeable people who know how to actually
bring about change in VETs provision and especially at the frontline of industry and organisations.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Case Study 1

Learner-focused, continually-improved programs for 1518 year old

youths at risk Holmesglen Institute of TAFE, VIC
The VET system faces the ongoing challenge of providing a range of pathways from secondary
school into VET to suit different types of students.
In 1982 Holmesglen Institute of TAFE in suburban Melbourne commenced offering what was to
become a successful introductory trade course for 1518 year old students from local secondary
This Trade Technical Orientation Program (TTOP) was innovative in the 1980s. It provided a
pathway into VET and then into jobs for students who did not fit in with routine secondary
schools. Holmesglen TAFE has continually improved the program since then.
As a result, the program remains innovative. Staff continue to improve the model to suit each
new intake of students and ongoing changes in the job market.
We now look in more detail at why and how it is possible that such a long-established VET
program can still demonstrate innovation in teaching and learning.

Boys at risk
Each year about sixty students, mostly from secondary schools in the neighbouring suburbs,
undertake the Trade Technical Orientation Program (TTOP) at Holmesglen Institute of TAFE.
The sixty students are arranged into five groups of twelve. About 20% of the original intake
each year drops out in the first six months but are replaced by later entrants.
The course is advertised through the local secondary schools, supported by schools career
officers. Parents are also provided with information and encouraged to attend the annual
information evening. Around one hundred people about equal numbers of parents and
students normally attend.

the individual
student needs to
step up

The course students are all 15 to 18 years of age and predominantly male. Only one female
enrolled out of a student cohort of sixty in 2002, so the TTOP Coordinator approached a range
of local girls schools to promote the program to them, but was unsuccessful in gaining any
female entrants for 2003.
Almost all of the boys in the TTOP program have problems fitting in with the restrictions
of secondary schools. Trevor Perry, the manager of the Plumbing and Construction
Finishing Department at Holmesglen, who oversees the program, describes the students
The reasons for the students problems at school, and the reason they drop out of school, are in
their home life or social life. Holmesglen Institute can assist but the individual student needs to
step up. We have helped place kids in new homes due to their parents marriage break-up. This
year we assisted with a drug rehabilitation situation. If we have a discipline problem, I handle it
together with the Co-ordinator and in conjunction with Student Services. We usually send the
student to counselling, where the consequences of his actions are clarified and the student is
required to sign a contract with us.

Trevor Perry finds that sometimes students need extra support at the start of their program:
Three kids were unsuccessful in their entrance examination recently, but they won a place in the
program based on their interviews. Then they were assessed for their Plumbing Certificate I and
struggled, so we gave them more help.

Skilled staff
you need to be
a special breed
to deal with
the students

A key to the success of TTOP, according to Trevor Perry, is that staff are specially selected and
are expected to continue to improve themselves through professional development activities.
Trevor Perry believes that his TTOP staff need a range of skills to effectively assist the students:
You need to be a special breed to deal with the students. You must be very, very flexible and
give them options. If you back them then you have to give them room to move. Often there is
no current male adult at home to provide them with a role model. Fifty percent of the students
have a difficult home life. Some others have low IQs or a physical disability or low self-esteem.
1 Why is innovation in VET teaching and learning an issue?


Trevor Perry describes the current Co-ordinator of the program, Michael Shankie, as having the
ideal background and skills. It is twenty years since Michael left school and since then he has
had a range of valuable experiences that enable him to provide a quality service to the students:
In working with the boys, Michael draws well on his life experiences and tries to win the students
over. He worked for a long time as a painter and first came into Holmesglen in the painting
and decorating area, teaching pre-apprenticeship students. He gained his Certificate IV in
Assessment and Workplace Training and last year completed his Dip Ed. Michael also has a Level
1 Certificate in Coaching and has represented his State and country in hockey. His skills as a coach
and the self-discipline he has learnt in high-level sport are invaluable in his work with young people.

Program overview
The Trade Technical Orientation Program (TTOP) is designed to provide orientation studies in a
range of different trade and technical areas, including building studies, bricklaying, plumbing
and sheet-metal, metal fabrication and welding, electricity/electronics, furniture manufacturing,
horticulture, glass and glazing, painting and decorating and fitness and recreation. Students
also undertake academic studies in mathematics, science and English. The course is particularly
relevant for students considering an apprenticeship.

job placement
often leads to a
job offer

Students spend four days a week at Holmesglen and one day in a placement, learning on-thejob. A normal week for a student is: Monday and Thursday, studying two different trades;
Tuesday and Wednesday, academic work; Friday, job placement.
In their job placements, the students negotiate their remuneration with their employers and in
the two decades the program has been offered, Trevor Perry has never received a complaint
from a student about their pay. It is not difficult for the students to be placed, as local employers
support the TTOP and appreciate that the students have basic training in occupational health
and safety before they commence work. They are not useless in the first three months, explains
TTOP Co-ordinator Michael Shankie. And the job placement often leads to a job offer, adds
his manager Trevor Perry.

Student outcomes
The information session and other publicity about the program focus on the long-term as well
as short-term outcomes for students. Trevor Perry, explains:

job prospects are


We focus on outcomes, like getting jobs and keeping your job. Lots of kids dont have a clue
about what they want to do. We believe that they will spend a long time in the workforce and a
career change may not be on for most of them. So we expose them to ten different trades: for
five weeks at a time they spend two days a week on two different trades.

Students are actively encouraged to progress from the TTOP course to undertake certificatelevel courses, such as the Certificate II in Carpentry and Joinery or the Certificate I in
Engineering, Electrical or Plumbing:
Job prospects are excellent after students complete a Certificate I. Everyone in the last five years
who has done a Plumbing or Painting & Decorating Certificate I or Engineering Certificate I has
got a job. Students who do the Certificate II in Bricklaying are guaranteed a job.

The TTOP staff measure their success in terms of the low student attrition rate, the numbers of
students enrolling for certificate courses, and the numbers of students who gain employment.

Drivers of innovation

we make changes
to the program
each year

Modifications and improvements of the program are the result of three different forces:
feedback from students, feedback from industry and ideas from staff. For instance, on Mondays,
all the TTOP students regularly gather together with the staff to discuss the students views and
concerns. Changes to the program can follow these exchanges. Also, representatives from
industry are often invited to address the groups.
Trevor Perry describes how innovation is part of the normal way the program is managed:
We make changes to the program each year. For instance, if a trade is not satisfying the kids, we
change it. But we always try to make sure there are job opportunities at the end of the program.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

In 2000 we made changes to the academic content of our program: the course wasnt defined
well enough, in terms of the students, so we altered the curriculum to suit the students.
For example, we changed the science curriculum in order to fit with trades the students were
learning about.

A modification was made to the program in 2002 in response to student feedback. TTOP
Co-ordinator Michael Shankie explains:
In 2002 all the students who did horticulture said it wasnt relevant to them. So I went over to
the horticulture section with Trevor Perry and saw that the students were learning
about machinery like brush cutters. The kids are not into machinery but, from TV, know all
about backyard blitzes. So the students were asked to design a garden makeover in
their graphics class. They then took their drawings to the horticulture class, where
their plans were discussed and improved. Then the students implemented the plans.

Other improvements in 2002

Trevor Perry cites a range of other changes and improvements in the program in 2002:
In 2002, after industry and student feedback, we dropped welding and picked up engineering.
The graphics program was changed to make it more relevant and to align it with all the
trades. We also engaged a Holmesglen youth liaison officer, who tracks students with problems
and constantly talks to the students. Also in 2002, the mathematics and science teachers
visited the trade teachers and talked about aligning maths and science with the students
trade studies.

their self-esteem
went up

A specific innovation in the painting field was introduced in 2002 by the Co-ordinator Michael
Shankie, who saw an opportunity to involve the students in work experience that directly
assisted the Institute:
We changed our painting and decorating course in 2002. Holmesglen took over the Moorabbin
campus and I saw an opportunity to put in place a real work experience for the students at
Moorabbin. Sections of the campus buildings needed repairing and painting. So I convinced
the Institute management that the students could do some of the painting. We painted
the staircase in Building C: a two story concrete staircase. First we looked at the safety issues,
then we set up a scaffold so we could work safely. We had to work above new carpet. Then
we prepared the surfaces to a suitable quality standard and following that we painted.

Besides job outcomes and gaining qualifications, Michael Shankie stresses that the TTOP staff
are focused on the individual students personal and social growth:
It was good that the students had to work in a public space. They had to watch their language;
they had to behave themselves. The students established good rapport with Holmesglen staff
and students and their self-esteem went up.

Model transferable
it could be
transferred to
any RTO

In 2002 the staff spent time planning for the integration of TTOP with the new qualification,
the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL). Despite the name change to TTOP/VCAL
the underlying approach from Holmesglen staff will continue to be responsive to
changing student and industry needs. Trevor Perry believes that, for students, the close
linking of skill development within TTOP with national competencies will add further value
to the program.
While he is proud that Holmesglen developed the innovative TTOP program, Trevor Perry
also believes that with the integration with VCAL, it could be transferred to any other RTO.

The Holmesglen TAFE case study is a reminder that different approaches and a different focus
for innovation in teaching are needed for different and specific cohorts of students.
For instance, the youths in the Holmesglen TAFE case study have different needs and attitudes
from the staff in Centrelinks call centre in Coffs Harbour; and needs and attitudes affect
learning. The differences between the innovations include the different ways in which the
teaching is selected and flexed to suit the specific contexts for learning.
1 Why is innovation in VET teaching and learning an issue?


On the other hand, there are similarities in the innovation in teaching and learning in the
Centrelink and Holmesglen TAFE stories, in that teachers in both settings cater for individual
learning styles by personalising the services as much as possible.
And in both cases, the teachers are supported by educational managers who ensure that
sympathetic planning responds to, precedes and tracks the teaching activities.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

What is innovation in VET teaching and learning? 2

This chapter describes different types of innovation in teaching and learning currently practised in VET.

Key points
Key points raised in the chapter include the following:

The realisation of positive student outcomes is a key criterion for judging the worth of innovation in

Innovative teaching addresses technical and generic skills, as well as fostering lifelong learning.

Innovative teaching caters for individual learners differences.

Innovation in assessment is emerging as a strong, new trend in VET.

There are boundless opportunities to be innovative in catering for flexible learning, for example by taking
an e-business approach to delivering a suite of online services.

Innovation in teaching can involve providing a new or improved service that

customers want
There are many definitions in the literature of the concept of innovation. Most definitions are in the business
management literature, related to discussions about developing innovative strategies or products or building an
innovative culture. There is much less literature on definitions of innovation in teaching and learning. However,
some of the literature on innovation in business is very relevant to education, as education is an industry and
educational organisations are increasingly driven by corporate goals such as satisfying customer needs.
In relation to the definition of innovation in business, three broad trends are noticeable over recent years. The
first trend has been to define innovation in terms of the products developed; the second to define innovation in
terms of the way staff are innovative; and thirdly and most recently, to define innovation in terms of providing
value for customers.
Reflecting the transition from the first to the second trend, Lin (2001) suggests that in the recent past, the
focus of innovation was to produce better products, faster. Now the focus in business is on changing the method
of thinking by staff in order to create better and faster ideas. Lin identifies the traditional pattern for
developing new ideas:
2 What is innovation in VET teaching and learning?


During the innovation process, an enquiring, curious and imaginative mind gathers new information, creates
new knowledge and develops new perspectives that lead to new ideas (2001, pp.910).

The arrival of the electronically networked world is changing the way ideas are generated by innovative staff. For
Lin, in the networked world symbolised by global telecommunications including the Internet, there are four new
foundations for innovation, viz: new information, new knowledge networks, new mental perspectives and new
futures mindsets (pp.1011). These new foundations lead to the even faster creation of new ideas by staff.
Moving beyond how new ideas are generated by staff, the current trend in business is to define innovation mostly
in terms of the value the innovation provides to customers. Adding value for the customer is the basis of Ellyards
distinction between invention and innovation:
Invention is imagining a good idea or concept and turning this concept into a reality. Innovation is turning an
invention into a product or service which is successful in the market because it fulfils a need or desire of the
market (Ellyard 2001, p.158).

Ellyard emphasises the need for organisations to understand the innovations that future customers will want and
providing them first and best. Drucker (1999) continues the same theme:
The test of an innovation as also the test of quality is not: Do we like it? It is: Do customers want it and
will they pay for it? (p.86)

Case study 2, based on the Institute of TAFE Tasmania, and set out later in this chapter, is an example of a VET
provider asking whether customers will want an innovation. In the case of the Institute of TAFE Tasmania, the
staff conducted market research of attitudes to training within their industry and, as a result, re-engineered their
teaching to provide industry with graduates who have the skills that industry want.
Even the term flexible learning is affected by the new definition of innovation. Reflecting contemporary
definitions of innovation in business, Mitchell et al. (2001a) suggest that while flexible learning has provided
much of the focus for innovation in VET, the definition of flexible learning has changed in recent years in VET
so that flexible learning now means providing extra value for customers:
research for this project shows that flexible learning is ultimately contributing to a customer-centric approach
to the provision of VET. Flexibility in flexible learning is primarily about providing extra value to students and
other customers (Mitchell et al. 2001a, p.9).

The TAFE NSW Open Training and Education (OTEN) vignette in this chapter is an example of a RTO bundling
online learning together with other electronic services, to provide an enhanced educational offering to its students.
This is a good example of a VET organisation modelling this new understanding of innovation in flexible learning.

Innovation in teaching can produce better outcomes for learners

Pressures for change are flowing with increasing force into teaching and learning practice within VET. Historically,
VET has been the most sensitive sector of education to shifts in community and industry needs. Indeed, its
identity has been built by the flexibility of its educational content and provision.
So it is not just change in the world of work discussed in the previous chapter that is the challenge for VET.
Rather it is the scale, magnitude and diversity of ongoing change that is now apparent in an increasingly
uncertain and globalised environment. These multiple pressures differentially applied in localities and regions
are striking local and regional VET providers, their people and the business of VET provision.
As a consequence of this ongoing change, wider, deeper and more frequent innovation is now needed in VET
teaching and learning practices. In particular, the sharper focus is on learning that leads to better outcomes and
performance for learners, including:


Ensuring relevance. VET clients and customers increasingly want knowledge and skills that are marketable
or relevant, either for organisations and their staffing demands, or for individuals to secure greater
employability and choice in paid or unpaid work and lifestyle.

Ensuring personal service. VET clients also want skills to meet the growing demands for customising and
personalising services.

Providing just for me training. Increasingly, VET clients and customers want to develop these skills at
times, in ways and at locations that suit them, not the VET provider.

Supporting learning in context. Industry and enterprise clients want training designed in ways that suit
their settings and needs.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Supporting performance support systems. With the use of technology and the speed of change, often
formal training is deemed too slow or expensive. Semi-structured and informal workplace learning can and
does fill much of this void. For example, large companies can design online systems to support the learning
and performance when required, by providing step-by-step online help or support or redesigning the task to
make formal training and learning redundant.

All of the vignettes and case studies in this report identify positive outcomes of their innovations for students.
For instance, in Case Study 2 from the Institute of TAFE Tasmania, the outcomes for students of the re-configured
textile teaching program include an increase in motivation and capability.

The lifelong learning model provides teachers with a rationale to be innovative

Burns (2002) promotes the benefits of students becoming lifelong learners. Burns suggests that adult education
needs to move away from the content model of education based on a teacher-designed curriculum. The message,
difficult for many to hear, is that doing so will better serve the imperatives of lifelong learning and coping
strategies for the twenty-first century (pp. 262263). The significance of this is that Burns believes that lifelong
learning is likely to become an expectation or an entitlement, with the right to continue learning as important
as the right to work (p.263).

Burns proposes that the educational model for adult and lifelong learning should be:

Self-directed self-chosen, self-set goals and learning methods, self-paced and flexible

Portable moves with person

Interruptible provides option to stop and start study

Non-linear no fixed sequence

Transferable moves across educational and national boundaries

Timely provided when needed

Customised designed for special needs

Adaptable modifiable as circumstances change

Flexible allowing for a variety of modes/styles of learning

Inclusive permitting enlarging of educational opportunity

Collaborative linking people in their learning (p.264).

He believes that this model would produce lifelong learners who have:

The capacity to set realistic and personal goals

The ability to apply knowledge and skills effectively

The ability to evaluate their own learning

The ability to locate information from different sources

The capacity to use different learning strategies to best effect in different situations

A positive self-concept and an increased sense of responsibility towards self and others (p.264).

Burns description of learners and lifelong learning provides a rationale for teachers to break permanently with
the content model of education and be innovative. A focus on helping students to develop lifelong skills is an
aim of the East Gippsland Institute of TAFE Social Sciences team, as set out in Vignette 3.2 in the next chapter.
Burns focus on lifelong learning and the implied focus on generic skills such as learning to learn and problemsolving, as opposed to just teaching about industry-specific skills, is aligned with the new OECD-inspired focus
on generic skills in VET. There are positive signs in current VET discussions that the development of generic skills
will now be encouraged more. This will require additional skills and innovation by teachers and high-level
teaching expertise.
In the next chapter of this report, Case Study 3 on assessing key competencies in electrotechnology illustrates the
effective delivery and assessment of generic skills.
In the future, teachers may be asked to assist students to develop not just technical skills and a common core of
generic skills, but unique personal skills and attributes that can provide the individual through lifelong learning
with a renewable competence to address the future of work. Individuals could also use their advantage to initiate
2 What is innovation in VET teaching and learning?


or respond to personal and social change in more innovative ways. Case Study 2 on textile teaching in Tasmania
provides an example of teaching directed at this mix of technical and generic skills and personal attributes. One
result is that the students now have a much stronger sense of community.

Innovative teaching caters for learners individual differences

Catering for individual learners differences is becoming an increasingly common goal of teachers, not least
because of the contemporary push for all organisations, including educational ones, to be customer-centric.
For a variety of reasons, education has been increasingly obliged to recognise and respond to adult learners on a
scale and diversity not previously seen in the sector. Practitioner responses multiply as the more knowledgeable
and perceptive adjust their behaviour to suit changing circumstances and as a result gather and give greater
personal, social and professional benefit.
However, there are many different ways to interpret the differences between students. For instance, Stephanie
Burns (2000, pp. 4378) suggests that four different schema can be used to analyse students individual differences:

theories that relate to the study of personality traits and the effects of personality on behaviour, e.g. theories
about introverts and extroverts;

theories related to values and preferences, e.g. a student used to teacher-dominant classroom settings may
resist self-directed learning opportunities;

theories related to styles of thinking, e.g. Sternbergs theories about legislative, executive and judicial styles
of thinking;

experiences, e.g. theories about the effect of memories on goal achievement.

Also widely used by adult educators are the Learning Style Inventory developed by Kolb, with its categories of
accommodating, diverging, assimilating and converging; and the more refined Learning Styles Questionnaire of
Peter Honey and Alan Mumford, with its categories of activist, theorist, pragmatist and reflector. Debate continues
about the validity of these and other theories, and Kolb himself cautions about the over-use of such categorisation:
Tracking of students in education by whatever criteria is generally a bad idea, as it tends to stigmatise and
stereotype learners, preventing them from developing their full potential. It is more effective to design
curriculum so that there is some way for learners of every learning style to engage with the topic, so that every
type of learner has an initial way to connect with the material, and then begin to stretch his or her learning capability in
other learning modes (Training, May 2002, p.31; italics added).

Vignette 4.1 in Chapter 4 describes how the Photography Studies College provided all staff with a range of
practical tools for recognising and addressing different student learning styles.
Catering for individual differences in the VET arena is a significant undertaking. It means that teaching and
training staff need to move beyond their own habitual or acquired personal and professional learning styles to
satisfy the diversity of student cohorts. These cohorts can range from 1519 year olds, to Indigenous students, to
mature-aged students, to busy professionals with limited time, to parents returning to study after raising a family.
Despite the promotion of self-directed learning, Smith (2000b) shows that it is not suitable for all learners. For
instance, apprentices are thought to generally prefer learning in structured environments that provide
opportunity for direct social interaction with their fellow learners and with their instructors. These learners may
exhibit lower preferences for learning what is presented through verbal means such as reading or listening. Here
the strong preference of the apprentices, as non-verbal learners, is for learning through hands-on experience,
demonstrations and practice (Smith, in Mitchell et al. 2001, p.87).
The teachers profiled in Vignette 5.1 understand that some learners are non-verbal learners. Helping Indigenous
students to use large mine equipment, teachers find that the students respond well to driving during their training
the same machines they might be operating in their future jobs. Similarly, the automotive mechanic trainees in
the Caterpillar Institute (WA) vignette in the next chapter appreciate being able to access the same Caterpillar
equipment they will be working on in their jobs and appreciate being able to learn from hands-on activities.

Innovative teaching values and fosters informal learning

Informal learning, which happens outside of classrooms or structured environments, is becoming acknowledged
as critical to learning. Informal learning can happen anywhere:
Informal learning can take many forms, such as when employees talk to one another, search in a knowledge
base, share opinions, use job aids, observe colleagues, chat over coffee, compare their efforts, and give and


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

receive feedback. It happens at the computer, over lunch, in the lounge, and through email (Rossett & Sheldon
2001, p.210)

The skilled teacher can actively encourage students to value and pursue informal learning:
While informal learning typically happens outside classrooms and training programs, it can and should be
jump-started, encouraged, systematised, and enhanced by training and development professionals (Rossett &
Sheldon 2001, p.210).

Techniques to encourage informal learning include teaming, say, an experienced worker with an inexperienced
one; appointing a staff member to observe what other effective staff members do; joining an online community;
and mentoring (Rossett & Sheldon 2001, pp. 211212). Some structured examples of informal learning include
peer tutoring, virtual communities that use the online medium and communities of practice. Regarding the latter,
numerous examples of effective communities of practice and virtual communities have emerged in the VET sector
in recent years (Mitchell 2002a).
Vignette 5.2 describes how the six providers working with TNT Express formed a community of practice with the
enterprise and TDT Australia to collaboratively address assessment and training issues. Participants found that the
informal learning that resulted from participation in the community of practice provided the break-through for
sharing ideas with each other.

Innovative approaches to assessment complement the focus on quality and

consistency in assessment
The focus of attention in the literature in relation to the assessment of competency based training in VET is less
on innovative methods than on achieving quality and consistency. Clayton et al. (2001) note that the quality and
consistency of assessment is a critical issue and there is no agreement about solutions:
For the process of mutual recognition under the Australian Recognition Framework (ARF) to work effectively,
there needs to be confidence in assessment decisions made by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). The
issues of quality and consistency in assessment have become central to the development of the VET system in
Australia. However, there are a range of views and strategies regarding how this consistency, confidence and
quality can be achieved.

Clayton et al. note that assessment against competency standards within Training Packages involves collecting
evidence and making judgements on whether or not the competency has been achieved. The making of
judgements can be influenced by different factors:
Various factors including the experience and skills of assessors and the clarity of competency standards
themselves can influence the quality of judgements made. The potential variability in factors affecting
assessment and the need to maintain flexibility and focus on the learners means there will always be potential
for variation in assessment decisions.

Jones (2001) provides several telling case studies that illuminate the potential for variation in assessment
decisions alluded to by Clayton et al. (2001). Jones (2001) argues that learners and teachers will benefit if teachers
are nurtured to increase their professional expertise and judgement in assessment. Such nurturing will enable
teachers to regain some of the autonomy they felt they lost with the introduction of a national training scheme
based on what they perceived to be a prescriptive approach to assessment.
This report balances the literature that emphasises the issues of quality and consistency, by profiling a range of
VET practitioners who use innovative assessment strategies. For instance, Vignette 2.1 immediately below
describes trade-based teachers at Brisbane and North Point Institute of TAFE developing new assessment strategies
and tools to use in a simulated work environment. Innovative approaches to assessment are also described in
many other pieces in this report, including Case Study 2 on assessing textile trainees undertaking work-related
projects; Vignette 3.2 on assessing community services personnel in their workplaces; Case Study 3 on assessing
key competencies in a simulated environment; and Case Study 5 on assessing students with a disability.
This report also provides a counter to the tendency in some VET literature or practice to treat assessment as a
separate act from learning. A clear message from many of the case studies and vignettes is the acceptance by
practitioners that assessment is integral to the learning process and not just an activity that occurs at the end of
a period of learning. The re-integration of assessment with learning allows practitioners to better support the
learning of individuals. Hence, these practitioners have developed highly flexible approaches in order to better
meet the specific needs of learners, their learning contexts or environments together with the needs of
participating organisations, such as enterprises or other partners. Vignette 2.1 below shows how integral
assessment is to the learning of VET students.
2 What is innovation in VET teaching and learning?


Vignette 2.1

Simulation for assessment in trade areas Brisbane and North Point

Institute of TAFE, QLD
It is not always possible to conduct assessments in the workplace: for instance, the workplace
might not have a suitable or safe area for a trainer to conduct an assessment; or noise and
physical conditions in the workplace may impinge on the validity and reliability as well as
fairness of the assessment.
One response to this issue is the development of simulated workplaces or simulated activities
within Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), such as conducting assessments in a
commercial office fitted out to replicate an actual office. The most common instances of
simulation in VET are replicas of offices for practice firms in business areas such as accounting
or administration. Following is an innovative development of simulations for the conducting of
assessment in trade-related areas of VET training.

Championing simulation in the trade areas

Competencies can be learned and assessed in the context of real problems within actual or
closely simulated workplace environments (ANTA 2001).
In 2002, Sandra Lawrence and Bill Martin from Brisbane and Northpoint Institute of TAFEs
Gateway Campus set out to develop, evaluate and implement a valid process for assessment
under simulated workplace conditions in trade areas. They did this with a team of ten teachers
and five managers from their Institute.
Sandra Lawrence defines simulation as constructing a model to test behaviour; or establishing
a routine for one process to make it function as nearly as possible like another; or the
representation of systems and processes (Lawrence 2002b).
Sandra Lawrence supports the use of simulated workplaces, as she often finds that much of the
assessment that occurs on employers premises is off-the-job anyway:

simulation for
trade areas

I think assessment in simulated workplaces can debunk the myth that it is best to always locate
assessment physically, or geographically, in the workplace, in the enterprises premises. Often
assessment occurs in enterprises training rooms and this is called workplace assessment
(Lawrence 2002a).

Sandra Lawrence explains her teams unique focus on simulation in trade areas:
Though some work had been done in workplace simulation in a number of interstate TAFE
Institutes, it was confined to areas such as hospitality, child care and business. Gateway Campus
is primarily a trade campus, so the project intended to formulate a process for VET teachers in
traditional trade areas such as engineering and construction. (Lawrence 2002a)

The Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services ITAB (MERS ITAB) was consulted about
this innovation and offered its support. Executive Officer Bob Paton supported the initiative,
with one proviso:
MERS ITAB considers that the use of simulation of workplace conditions for both learning and
assessment purposes is quite valid providing the simulation does not lose sight of the real world
of work.
An overriding aspect is that assessment of workplace competency for apprentices and trainees
must include some evidence from the workplace. This may only be in the form of supervisor
reports but what it does mean is that no matter how good the simulation is, there needs to be
that final link made (Paton 2003).

Overcoming resistance to the innovation

a need to go
back to basics


Training Packages are intended to encourage learning in a work environment either on-thejob, work experience, work placement, work simulation or by a combination of methods,
leading to verifiable, assessable workplace outcomes (ANTA 2001). Despite the legitimacy
of simulating workplace conditions, Sandra Lawrence was well aware that simulation was not
the preferred option for many teachers. But she also believed that the assessment of students
in a work simulation had a valuable place in VET and set about convincing her colleagues.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Sandra Lawrence says that some resistance to this initiative quickly arose, from both institutionbased teachers and workplace trainers:
I found a certain initial lack of enthusiasm for simulation from two directions. Firstly, some of the
institution-based teachers didnt identify with the problem. They felt that industry would not have
any problem with the continuation of the old approach of institution-based teaching, given
teachers all had a sound industry background. Secondly, some of the workplace trainers in the
team couldnt understand why I had any problems with validation of some assessment in the
workplace. I dont get it and Whats this woman on about? were the responses from some
members of both groups. Initially, they were a bit puzzled about why I was making an issue of it
(interview 2003).

The aim of the Institute team was to develop effective assessment processes for simulated
workplaces, initially for trade areas of metals and manufacturing. A collaborative approach was
used and team members were encouraged to develop and share assessment resources:
Team meetings were initially held to generate a unified and shared philosophy of workplace
simulation. From this, benefits, limitations, principles and characteristics for workplace simulation
assessment were generated (Lawrence 2000a).

Once the theoretical understanding had been shared, a process for workplace simulation was
developed and templates designed to accompany each process step. Templates were
understood to be guides rather than straightjackets. Team members were then asked to
populate the templates with assessment for competencies from their own vocational areas.
Industry was involved through ongoing discussions with ITAB representatives and the Australian
Industry Group (Lawrence 2000a).

It became evident to Sandra Lawrence and Bill Martin in the initial workshops that there was a
need to go back to basics and revisit underlying assessment principles, before moving on to
focus specifically on simulation. It was now becoming clear that the desired innovation involved
a high-order understanding of assessment. Sandra Lawrence described the range of topics
covered by the team:
As well as developing an approach and tools for assessment under workplace simulation, the
team also revisited the principles of assessment generally, including the AQTF; national
assessment principles; key competencies; components of competency; assessment guidelines;
range of variables; and evidence guides (Lawrence 2002a).

Over a number of months in 2002, the resistance to workplace simulation subsided, knowledge
and understanding increased, and team members developed assessment strategies and tools
based on the templates designed during the project. The strategies and tools were then
implemented and trials encouraged in delivery teams.

While improving the quality of assessment processes is the driving principle behind the
innovation, students are expected to be the major beneficiaries of the initiative, offering them
more choice about how and where assessments are conducted.
where simulation
is valid

The use of simulation can be fairer for students. For instance, MERS ITABs Bob Paton notes a
number of situations where simulation is valid:
Opportunity for valid assessment may not be available in the workplace, where the required
activity only occurs infrequently or sometimes never, such as a fault or breakdown in a machine
or process.
Opportunity for valid assessment may not be available in the workplace, where the required
activity never occurs in the candidates workplace but is a requirement of the competency. It
could be only one element or performance criterion or particular application whilst the balance
of the competency unit requirements can be met. (Paton 2003)

Making better and newer uses of conventional VET institutions is another driver of the
innovation for the Institute. Sandra Lawrence believes that making better use of the Institutes
facilities will advantage those students who sometimes find it more convenient to be assessed
off-the-job. Sandra Lawrence is professionally committed to the valid use of RTOs facilities:
I think assessment in simulated workplaces can re-affirm the integrity of institutionbased education.
2 What is innovation in VET teaching and learning?


Benefits for students, staff and organisational

The benefits of appropriately using simulations extend to students, staff and the RTO. Sandra
Lawrence believes that there is enormous potential for constructing high-quality simulated
workplace learning and assessment in many teaching areas throughout conventional VET
institutions, which will benefit students. The benefits are not just about convenience for the
student, but reliability of the evidence collected:
Many competencies that are currently assessed by members of the Institutes Workplace Learning
Centre on-the-job have challenging quality issues associated with the assessment, depending on
workplaces and training culture. Simulation enables teachers to gather valid and reliable evidence
on campus for assessment judgments. Of course, it is not the only valid assessment approach, but
it is one that deserves recognition as a viable and reliable option (interview, 2003).

students benefit
from reliable

Sandra Lawrence found specific benefits from the initiative for the Institutes teachers. For
There is a greater understanding of the fundamental principles of assessment and characteristics
of quality in relation to design, implementation and moderation.

Professional discussions have occurred with colleagues beyond the participants own delivery
teams, leading to surer and more shared understanding (Lawrence 2002a).

The Institute also benefited, particularly as industry relationships were strengthened through
the involvement in the innovation of the Manufacturing Engineering and Related Services
Industry Training Board (MERSITAB).
Sandra Lawrence envisages that more competencies will be assessed in simulated situations as
a greater and wider understanding spreads through the Institute:
This directly contributes to the Institutes delivery strategies and business outcomes as well as to
the quality of assessment (Lawrence 2002a).

Sustainability and transferability

Sandra Lawrence and Bill Martin are confident that the innovation will be sustained because
more templates will be populated for more competencies across wider vocational areas. Sandra
reports that project team members have gone back to their own teaching teams to disseminate
the methodology:
Although the project was based at the Gateway campus, the outcomes are being migrated to
other Brisbane and North Point Institute campuses through the Studies Directors meetings.
Where partnerships exist with enterprises and other training providers, they are also being shared
there. Other TAFE institutes have already expressed an interest in adopting the process and tools,
and they will be made available to them (Lawrence 2002a).

tools are just the

starting point

The Institute team considers that the development of the initial strategies and tools are just the
starting point. Planned implementation and review are essential for the methodology to
become cemented in Institute practice across delivery teams.
A range of activities have been undertaken to disseminate further the information about the
innovation: briefing of faculty staff and management committees; and meetings with the
Business Systems Support Unit. Briefings have also been conducted for educational managers
from other institutes, including Southern Queensland Institute TAFE and Central Queensland
Institute TAFE. Managers from other public providers have already expressed an interest in the
In 2003 Sandra Lawrence was selected as a National Training Change Agent, funded by
Reframing the Future, to promote simulated workplaces across her State and the sector,
particularly for trade areas.

The messages from this vignette include the following:


While in the past the primary attention of many VET practitioners may have been on
the delivery of education, increasing innovation is needed in the provision of quality
assessment services.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

The national training system has positioned assessment as a critical and frequent activity,
requiring innovation in the way assessment strategies and tools are designed and

There is considerable scope for innovation in assessment in VET, not only in the workplace
but also in valid, simulated situations.

Innovative VET practitioners develop a strong sense of confidence in their own ability and
judgement to provide valid and cost effective assessment services to their clients. They
identify the need to do things differently in order to meet client expectations, but at the
same time they give careful consideration to ensuring the quality of assessment processes
and assessment decision-making.

Innovative teaching can incorporate flexible learning, e-learning and

online learning
Flexible learning was broadly adopted by the VET sector in the 1990s as a desirable approach. The definition of
the peak VET committee in this field stresses the client-focus goal of flexible learning:

Flexible learning expresses the aspiration for education and training which is responsive to client needs and frees
up the where, when and how of delivery; it may or may not use electronic technologies to do so (FLAG 2001).

E-learning, which is a sub-set of flexible learning, is defined as:

a wide set of applications and processes which use all available electronic media to deliver vocational education
and training. It includes computer-based learning, web-based learning, virtual classrooms and digital
collaboration and uses (FLAG 2001).

Given the above definition of e-learning, online learning is a sub-set of e-learning.

Australia has also imported the term blended learning used by commentators in the USA around
20002001 to describe an approach to learning, where e-learning is supplemented by other learning methods
(Mitchell 2003).
Flexible learning, e-learning, online learning and blended learning provide new opportunities for innovation
within the VET sector.
Flexible learning is an explicit or implicit goal of a number of the RTOs profiled in this report. For instance,
Vignette 4.2 describes the extensive and ongoing initiatives of Hunter Institute in using the online medium for
delivery; and Vignette 3.2 provides a range of different ways East Gippsland Institute staff are flexible in servicing
the needs of students distributed around their region.
The online medium has only been available to most VET providers since the late 1990s, so VET is only at
the beginning of the process of identifying opportunities for this versatile platform (Mitchell et al. 2001,
pp. 78). Case Study 4 on the Open Learning Institute in Queensland describes the continuing research and
development being undertaken by this organisation, for using the online medium to provide new and
improved services.
Flexible learning presents unending numbers of choices for teachers designing learning programs. Many studies
show that no single technology is inherently superior in all situations and that some learning situations call for
multiple technologies:
The critical questions to ask are: what forms of learning and which students are best served by which technology
and do the learners have appropriate access, training and capacity to utilise the technologies? (Latchem & Hanna
2001, p.24)

Caution is needed in assuming all learners will find online learning appealing. For instance online
learning relies heavily on the verbal or written presentation of material. Smiths (2001a) research with
technology learners in vocational training programs found they had a clear preference for collaborative
learning, for learning that is structured and controlled by an instructor, and a low preference for verbal
presentation of learning material (Mitchell et al. 2001a, p.87). Online learning would be inappropriate for
such a group.
Vignette 4.2 on Hunter Institute describes this organisations wide-ranging research and development in
providing different forms of online learning for different programs, taking into account learners preferences for
how they learn.
2 What is innovation in VET teaching and learning?


Vignette 2.2

An integrated approach to supporting and motivating distance students

TAFE NSW Open Training and Education Network (OTEN)
One of the emerging roles of the VET teacher is to create and nurture placebound and online
environments that continuously support and develop students (Rossett & Sheldon 2001, p.12).
The following example from TAFE NSW illustrates this new role.
The vignette also shows how an educational provider can be innovative by providing a range
of electronic services to students, in addition to online learning.

Connecting with isolated students

Students studying by distance modes of delivery face a number of challenges including isolation
from their teachers and other students. It is known that a lack of interaction with teachers and

other students impacts negatively on their motivation. TAFE NSWs Open Training and
lack of

Education Network (OTEN) is a major distance education provider with 35,000 distance
education students enrolled in 800 modules. OTEN has developed a comprehensive set of
strategies to meet the challenges faced by its students.
OTEN has deliberately embraced new and emerging technologies in the design and delivery of
learning materials. Similarly it has been innovative in the provision of administrative support
and information to prospective and enrolled students.
In 2000, an OTEN online steering committee was formed, comprising senior staff responsible
for resource design and development, educational delivery and information technologies. The
initial aim was to increase online offerings of some courses and modules. But now this has
expanded to a much fuller commitment to offering online components in all courses using the
OTEN Learning Support site (OLS).
To support OTENs strategic approach to the innovative use of technologies, a comprehensive
range of professional development activities were conducted from 20012003 for OTEN staff.
These activities ranged from short workshops to a 36-week online course for teachers moving
into the online delivery environment.

Motivational emails
The transformation and reform of its student support system was informed by research and a
number of innovative projects including a pilot in 2001 to investigate the impact of facultyinitiated motivational messages sent via email. The aim was to reduce the students sense of
isolation and improve their motivation to complete their studies. The Property Services (Real
Estate) faculty was the chosen centre for the pilot project in the use of email, because it was
known that it has a high percentage of students with access to email.
prompted to

Ninety seven students became actively involved in the email support program and their progress was
compared with a control group consisting of a further 110 students that did not receive the emails.
Louise Turnbull, e-Learning Manager at OTEN, reports on the positive findings:
The pilot found that those students who agreed to receive the motivational emails were more
likely to complete and submit assessment events than those in the control group. The differences
between the two groups were quite significant, with more students commencing work in the
motivational email group.
The survey of the students showed that all of them appreciated the email messages, with 61%
indicating that the email message had motivated or prompted them to submit assignments and
93% were in favour of the email support program being continued with new students.

OTEN is now investigating this student support strategy for a larger range of courses and the
associated scalability issues.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Innovation in online student support

The OTEN online student support innovation is designed to provide strong student support, for
both prospective and enrolled students. This support system assists the teachers role and
learning outcomes.
Prospective students can make a course enquiry via either the TAFE-corporate or OTEN website.
Comprehensive course information is available on the OTEN website and prospective students
can enrol online from the OTEN site or request an enrolment pack via email. These enquiries
are recorded on OTENs Course and Recognition Enquiry (CARE) module of the Student
Administration and Management system (SAM). Daily reports are run from SAM to allow staff
to prepare individualised enrolment packs for each prospective student.
Students are enrolled on SAM and their learning materials dispatched to them through
the Dispatch module on SAM. Or if studying online, students are provided with access to
their online learningware. Students are also entered on to the State-wide student
administration system.

gateway to a
range of services

SAM allows for an integrated approach to the management of prospective and enrolled
students. Staff have access to information about every student and the status of their
enrolment application (for prospective students) or their progress in their studies (for enrolled
students). SAM also allows for the recording of specific information about students.
For example, a student may ask to only be contacted by OTEN at home rather than at work.
The system also allows for reporting back to the teaching section as to how many
enrolment packs may be in circulation awaiting return. This reporting can be helpful
in determining when to close enrolments for a particular course or section.

To access other learner support services, all students have access to the OLS. This is integrated
with SAM. OLS provides a gateway to a range of services and resources, including:

information, resources and support that resides on the site;

detailed information about progress with their studies, using data from SAM;

a link to their online learningware if they have selected to study online;

online assessment events;

information provided through TAFE NSW initiatives Internet Services and Products (IS&P)
and Student e-Services (SeS).

SAM captures student details and progress from course enquiry through to course completion.
As OTEN offers flexible and continuous enrolments, the system allows for management of
individual students working in a self-paced way or in cohorts of students, if required.
Louise Turnbull comments on the seamlessness of the system. For example she says that from
the student perspective:
The integration of SAM and OLS means students have 24 hour by 7 day access to online
support, information and resources. The integration of SAM and OLS also allows students to
link directly to any online modules and courses they are enrolled in via OLS using a
single login, even though the online learningware platform sits on a different server.

Innovation applied to the accounting program

student self-help

The OTEN Accounting program offers eight distance education courses and has approximately
2,500 students at any one time. These students are assisted by twelve teachers based
at OTENs facility in Strathfield (Sydney) and twenty teachers who work off-site,
predominantly commenting on and marking assignments.
The OTEN student support strategy has enabled the Accounting program within OTEN to
develop a new suite of services for its students. For example, accounting staff have access to
OTENs computerised student administration and management system (SAM). This access
allows the recording of course enquiries and enables any staff member to request dispatch of
an enrolment pack. This immediate response ensures quicker customer service than was
possible before the implementation of SAM.
2 What is innovation in VET teaching and learning?


The Accounting section of OTEN has created a helpdesk to handle prospective and enrolled
student enquiries, using SAM and OLS. As student enquiries about accounting are answered by
accounting staff, OTEN is able to provide a more accurate and consistent response to student
enquiries than it could previously.
Students are encouraged by the Accounting staff to go to the OLS to access information,
including information coming from SAM showing what date their assignment was received at
OTEN. The OLS provides module-specific frequently asked questions (FAQs) and discussion
boards, encouraging student self-help.

Benefits for students and staff

Grant Prowse, OTENs Head Teacher of Accounting, finds that the OLS has enabled us to keep
students up-to-date even where there have been changes in the subject content or prescribed
textbook for a subject.

Grant also finds that we are getting much fewer admin calls as student now have access to the
OLS. Calls tend to be more content-related subject questions or one-off matters. Consequently,
there has been an increase in student satisfaction:
We are also finding that because all staff now have access to the same student support
information, students are receiving consistent responses to their queries.


Grant believes that one benefit of the new system is that staff have more information about
each student, enabling the staff member to provide a personalised service:
By being able to identify exactly which edition of learning material a student has from SAM, and
being able to quickly locate assignment solution, FAQs, corrections to material, subject managers
name etc from Staffroom on the OLS, we can quickly and accurately answer the students question.

Louise Turnbull, the e-Learning Manager, explains the benefits of the Accounting helpdesk
approach for both students and staff:
The online service OLS has led to a great reduction in the number of calls coming into the
Accounting centre. It has also led to a change in the type of calls coming in rather than mainly
administrative calls the section now gets more subject specific questions. Teachers are being freed
up to teach and support students.

The new approach to supporting students also enables OTEN to meet its aims of addressing the
isolation and motivational challenges faced by distance education students. A survey of students
accessing OLS conducted in August 2002 elicited these types comments:
The website makes communication with our teachers easy and quick.
Its a really useful site for mothers like me who can access information with ease at home without
running around.
Very helpful as you can achieve immediate information.

Sustainability and transferability

Louise Turnbull explains the holistic principles that underpin this whole-of-organisation student
support innovation at OTEN, that will ensure that the innovation is sustained:


Innovative and integrated approaches to the use of e-technologies have been possible
at OTEN because of the whole of organisation approach adopted. This has ensured that
solutions are effective, affordable, scaleable and sustainable. OTENs e-business strategy in
2003 encompasses all functional areas of the organisation including resource development,
delivery, human resources, finance and administration.

Louise Turnbull also notes that the integration of SAM and OLS and links to the online
learningware have facilitated the development of a blended approach to delivery:
For example, a trial currently in progress involves students being provided with learning materials
in the form of a textbook and associated learners guide and assessment guide, and teachers using
the group tools in the learningware platform including email and a discussion board for
interactive/shared activities.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

The use of same technologies to provide both blended learning delivery and online student
services indicates that the online student services innovation can be transferred to many other
distance education programs, both at OTEN and elsewhere.

Summary messages from this vignette regarding innovation include the following:

There is considerable scope for innovation in the design and use of information
and communication technologies to provide extensive and customised services for
distance students.

Innovation in flexible learning can cover the provision of a wider range of student support
service as well as the delivery of learning materials and activities.

Other examples of current practice

Complementing the two vignettes and case studies in this chapter, the following table provides brief descriptions
of other illustrations of how VET teaching is modified to suit learners and their contexts, with the goal of
providing positive outcomes for students.

Table 2.1: A sample of current practices in VET teaching and learning


Current practice

Adult and Community Education (ACE),

Lismore, NSW

Blended learning, involving a mix of strategies, provided in

information and communications (ICT) training in a regional area

Bellingen ACE, NSW

Uses digital story-telling in adult and community education courses

Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT),

Community Development, ACT

Uses workbased delivery for juvenile justice and drug and alcohol

Elan Learning Options, TAS

Uses knowledge bases and their application in online learning for

veterinary nursing

Institute of TAFE Tasmania, TAS

Drysdale's 'Tourism Industry Training Solutions' uses a shopfront in

Hobarts CBD, where the tourism industry can engage the help of
Tourism diploma students on real, 'live' projects

Kangan Batman Institute, VIC

Uses self-paced learning in the provision of automotive training

Manufacturing Learning Australia, VIC

Plastics Pioneers is a network of over twenty assessors who were

near retirement or made redundant, who work with companies over
23 years to show them that training is an investment.

TAFE NSW Southern Sydney Institute,

Bankstown College,Tourism School

Uses a simulated tourist bureau for tourism training

TAFE NSW Sydney Institute of Technology

Uses Swaggies a simulated business resource, built by Business

Technology Programs, Business & Public Administration Division of

The Open Learning Institute of TAFE, QLD

Built Oliver Trading a virtual business environment and developed

recognition of prior learning self-assessment kits for the Business
Services Training Package

TAFE NSW Western Sydney Institute and P&O

Cold Logistics, Woolworths Warehouse, NSW

Customised training provided for Woolworths staff who work in cool

rooms in temperatures as low as minus 28 degrees

Wodonga Institute of TAFE, VIC

Within a formal network of companies around Albury-Wodonga,

Northern and North Eastern Victoria and Southern NSW delivers
Training Packages in petroleum, plastics, cement and laboratory
operations, as well as linking with VET in Schools.

Yorta Yorta Nation, VIC

Created an integrated teaching and learning environment for

Indigenous people and includes enterprise, community and
government input.

The table above provides a snapshot of teaching strategies, processes and approaches that are designed to enhance
learning. The next chapter will delve further into such strategies and approaches.
2 What is innovation in VET teaching and learning?


In response to the question that provides the title for this chapter What is innovation in teaching and learning
in VET? the discussion emphasised that innovation in teaching provides positive outcomes for students. The
discussion also showed that it is innovative to assist VET students to develop lifelong learning skills; that it is
innovative to cater for learners individual differences; it is innovative to foster informal learning; it is innovative
to design assessment for new contexts; and it is innovative to use flexible learning approaches where they
are appropriate.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Case Study 2

Re-engineering the teaching of textiles Institute of TAFE Tasmania

Since the 1980s the Australian textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry has been under
threat from cheap imports. However opportunities for efficient and customer-driven TCF
businesses still exist in niche, domestic markets.
The local TCF market in Tasmania is small and widely dispersed, and faces penalties such as high
internal transport costs to larger mainland markets. It is therefore critical for the TCF industry in
Tasmania to become agile and to develop staff to work effectively in well-trained teams.
Individuals and teams in the TCF industry also need to be able to show high levels of initiative
and adaptability.
TAFE in Tasmania was able to respond to this set of demanding training requirements. But, as
described below, to do so the Institute of TAFE had to first completely overhaul the way its TCF
program was offered, as described below.

Amalgamation hurdles overcome

The Institute of TAFE Tasmania, established in 1998, was an amalgamation of three regional
TAFE colleges that were formerly competitors.

According to Gaye Oakes, one of the two TCF team leaders at the new Institute, there was
minimal training provided in the TCF workplace prior to this amalgamation. Workplace training
occurred only in clothing and footwear production, despite the involvement of some TAFE staff
in innovative experiments in workplace training in the early 1990s.
At the time of the amalgamation, cooperation between TCF staff in TAFE Tasmania was limited:
There was little communication, coordination or collaboration between the clothing and textiles
departments in the regions of Tasmania and an understandable lack of trust. Staff had been
working for three years with poorly written syllabuses that did not meet local industry needs.
Each region had developed or not as the case may be their own resources and processes
(Oakes 2003).

staff fearful of

Gaye Oakes found that TAFE teachers were not happy with the TCF curriculum, and it was
almost impossible for a student to transfer between regions because of the different programs
being offered:
Staff lacked information about the National and State vision for the training sector and wanted
change, but were fearful about changing. The average age of staff was about 51 years and some
were very comfortable with their positions and had created their own little empires (Oakes 2003).

The amalgamation resulted in the creation of new team leader positions and the abolition of
some positions following redundancies. In August 1998 two new team leaders, Alyssa Drew and
Gaye Oakes, took up positions; in the north and south respectively. Gaye believes that between
them they had youth and maturity, innovative ideas, experience, project management skills
and people management skills (Oakes 2003).

New principles developed for delivery and assessment

At the same time that the Institute was coming to grips with its amalgamation, a new national
TCF Training Package was under development. Gaye found that there was little effective
consultation with staff about the concept and content of the Training Package.

focus on need to
know skills

So, professional development for Training Package implementation was put into place in 1999
and a Training Package implementation plan developed between June and September 2000.
This covered the new tasks, processes, strategies and timelines required for implementation of
this Training Package, both in workplaces and on campus. Gaye explains that it was planned as
a targeted change management process.
The implementation plan focussed firstly on assessment. The assessment strategy was
developed around several broad principles, including holistic assessment and training covering
groups of units and assessment tasks reflecting industry practices and job tasks. In particular,
processes were now seen to be as important as final products, whereas previously in TAFE
training the end products were usually the focus of assessment. All elements of competency had
to be demonstrated at least three times and in a variety of contexts.
2 What is innovation in VET teaching and learning?


The delivery strategy for campus-based programs is also now firmly based around a set of
additional and more specific principles. These include ensuring that delivery reflects assessment
activities and is workshop-based; that delivery is project-based rather than based on a
subject/topic or competency unit; and that students will work in a self-directed way and in
teams on a series of projects increasing in complexity. The importance of the last principle is
that it better matches local new industry production processes.
The focus is now on TAFE staff and TCF students understanding processes and procedures,
problem solving and developing the ability to transfer knowledge and skills to new situations
or projects:
Skill sessions will focus on the need to know skills and knowledge to perform a job, not the nice
to know. This is probably fundamentally different to previous teachings, as TAFE traditionally
tried to teach students everything (Oakes 2003)!

At the end of 2000 one of the teams was audited. This experience alerted the TAFE teaching
staff to what was needed to meet the new quality standards and many processes and resources
were adapted or developed.

Particular attention is now given to information to students and their feedback. In this process,
Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF) compliance is a useful support for teaching and
learning reform:
When the AQTF was introduced it was found that with some minor adjustment we were fully
compliant. Self assessment became a simple process as did assessment validation, as we had well
documented tools and processes (Oakes 2003).

Planning and implementing the model

Positioning the Institute for the delivery of the new program in early 2001 was based on early
and comprehensive planning, staff development and some critical resource development.
Most staff had their vocational and assessor and workplace training qualifications a year before
implementation. For those that did not, an agreed process was put in place to undertake
projects and to gather the necessary evidence of their competencies.
Delivery of the Institute-based training for the new Training Package commenced in February
2001 and was not without problems. As Gaye acknowledges:
constructed in
each campus

The first year was quite a challenge as at times teachers were not sure if it was going to work, the
resource development was slower than anticipated, and the funding ran out for any additional
work (Oakes 2003).

Nevertheless, in the first year nine learning resource products were successfully developed and
produced. This involved some considerable effort and ongoing development:
These products have been modified and added to over the two years. We follow quality industry
practices in the documentation and standards. To prepare for this production was an enormous
task especially to get consistency in the regions (Oakes 2003).

Features of the Institutes TCF innovation

The innovation in teaching and learning evident within the TAFE TCF program has a number of
features including the following.
Firstly, training facilities at the three Institute locations have been designed with separate
workrooms for up to six people each:
training in new

Effectively the TAFE training room was converted into a garment manufacturing workplace,
where students come to study and work simultaneously. Just as a workplace has pressures e.g.
time constraints and productivity targets so too does the TAFE workplace (Oakes 2003).

These simulated workplaces in each of the campuses gave students a sense of ownership:
Small factory and retail outlets were established in each region. This was to replicate industry and
also to give the students a sense of ownership for the work space and encourage more
responsible behaviour (Oakes 2003).


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Secondly, workplace training is now provided in the workplaces of many industries and
businesses not previously serviced: for example, dry cleaning operation, laundry operations,
footwear repair textile fabrication and leather goods production.
Thirdly, TAFEs project-based delivery now meets the industry demand for self-reliant employees
with generic skills who can communicate, use their initiative, solve problems, plan and organise
themselves and, most importantly, work effectively in a team.
Fourthly, electronic learning resources (including patterns) have been developed and made
available on CDROM; and consistency in course format and application in the three regional
facilities has been established, constantly developed, reviewed and amended. In addition,
version control and republishing now occurs every six months; and, where possible, documents
are now in an industry style, that is, they use a workplace template. In addition, students now
develop resources which contribute to the State-wide pattern library.
Fifthly, staff decision-making and resource development are shared and coordinated through
occasional face-to-face meetings, regular videoconferences and more rigorous communication.
For example, when any changes are identified they are now discussed and worked on by
teaching staff, tasks are allocated and monitored, and appropriate policy quickly developed.
This coordinated approach is supported by constant communication by phone and email,
within an agreed framework. Gaye points out that the benefit of this is that individual teaching
staff take on high levels of personal responsibility and do work as a team even when separated
by hundreds of kilometres.

Challenges for teachers

The roles of staff have to change with this new approach to delivery and assessment:

passing control
to the student

In Certificate II the teacher/trainer will have three roles: trainer, production manager and assessor.
The focus with techniques will be on speed, quality and repetition rather than covering
all possible component techniques superficially. In Certificate IV and Diploma levels the
teachers role will be a process facilitator to encourage students to access information from
various sources and apply it in new and different contexts. Staff will at times adopt roles of
production manager, head designer or patternmaker to enable the students to consult and seek
advice (Oakes 2003).

As evidence of this Gaye Oakes cites the major challenges for TAFE staff over the last three years
in the Institutes TCF program. Conditions are changing and:

staff need to step back and pass control to the student team;

staff need to learn to accept uncertainty and ambiguity;

staff need to learn how best to train and assess in the workplace;

staff often need to manage students who are very individualistic and have great difficulty
working in teams;

staff need to be consultative regarding resource development;

staff need new computer skills.

This does not occur without some consequences. For example,

Occasional disputes arise within teams in which we sometimes have to intervene and bring in
counselling assistance. Some staff could not cope and some retired (Oakes 2003).

Other challenges for the managers of the TCF program included:

working above and beyond the normal workload after the extra development funding
ran out;

marketing new apprenticeships to industry in new areas where little or no training had
been happening;

educating employers on the new apprenticeship arrangements;

coping with the lack of innovative models to consider for adoption (Oakes 2003).
2 What is innovation in VET teaching and learning?


Drivers of innovation
There is little doubt that the need for TAFEs innovation in teaching and learning has been has
been driven by the changed circumstances of the TCF industry.
For example, a 1999 commissioned research project by the Institute clarified that the
TCF industrys requirements of graduates had become much more demanding. The report
pointed out that TAFE was not meeting these changing industry needs, as was evidenced in
declining relations with TAFE. At the same time, there was a new need to take the initiative
and implement the TCF Training Package and the New Apprenticeship system and also
encourage workplace training and assessment.

Nevertheless, the quality of the response of management in the newly amalgamated Institute
was also critical to ensuring that innovation in teaching and learning did occur. How was
this done? Well, the management of the new Institute appointed new and creative team
leaders and allowed them the freedom and flexibility to develop their ideas and energies. But
critical to this was the Institutes commitment to developing and applying generic policies and
procedures that gave each team a framework to work within.
Some other local factors also contributed in smaller but useful ways to innovation in teaching
and learning in the TCF program. These included:

availability of email across the Institute;

access to computers and increased computing skills;

the desire by team leaders to fully embrace new apprenticeships and the TCF Training
Packages concepts;

the need to meet the challenges of new technology;

the availability of skills in project planning;

a commitment to consult with all staff on all matters (Oakes 2003).

Student outcomes
As a result of the new program, students are more committed because they are respected and
valued, and treated as adults:

work with
industry on real

Students appear to be far more motivated and capable. Their work ethic has improved
dramatically due to peer pressure from workplace teammates, as they all rely on each other to
meet productivity, quality and timelines (Oakes 2003).

Like staff, the students now have a much stronger sense of community and enjoy the adult
environment constructed at the Institute. Gaye Oakes finds that more suitable students are
enrolling as they have clear expectations of the industry, workplace and training environment.
Students appreciate that the training is focused on local industry needs especially at certificate
II and IV levels and projects are based on the type of products manufactured in Tasmania.
Other benefits to students from the Institutes TCF teaching and learning reforms are extensive
and they include:
experience working with industry on real projects;
a learning experience that helps students develop confidence and initiative and skills in risktaking, communication and team work;
more flexible programs for individuals or small groups;
training and peer tutoring in the latest software for pattern making, grading and design Adobe
generic software which has enabled students to produce very professional workplace
documents (Oakes 2003).

Benefits for staff

For team leaders Gaye Oakes and Alyssa Drew, some of the main benefits for staff of the new
approach to TCF training are cultural. For example:


strong sense of community. We have broken down the barriers and hierarchy. All staff opinions

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

and skills are valued. People are more honest and work closely as a team. We are more open
and able to ask for help. People have accepted that they are not expected to be perfect.

a culture of

Enthusiasm and energy a younger, more dynamic team.

We have learned to value and encourage positive and negative feedback.

Seeing students embrace the new system, committed, focused and working with greater

A culture where we have accepted the need for constant change and are regularly reviewing
our practices, tools, processes and resources.

A culture where we experiment with new ideas in the classroom.

A culture where experimentation and risk-taking is fostered and encouraged (Oakes 2003).

Teachers positive attitudes and skill development are other benefits of the new approach to
TCF training:
Teachers, technical and clerical staff have embraced their new roles and have developed new skills
and cooperative ways of working. Teachers now have the ability to offer flexible programs to
individuals or small groups. Teachers and trainers have made enormous leaps in their computer
skills (Oakes 2003).

Teachers can also contribute to and access a set of 360 resources which are version-controlled,
updated and issued on CDROM every 6 months.

Benefits for employers

The benefits for employers are significant:
The program produces graduates with a realistic view of their industry and who are ready and
able to apply their skills efficiently.

ready to apply
their skills

Employers can access new apprentices in a wide range of industry/occupational areas in the TCF
area and in a partnership within TAFE for automotive motor trimming.
Employers can participate more effectively in the training and assessment of their employees
(Oakes 2003).

Sustaining and transferring the model

Collaboration between teachers underpins and sustains the innovation:

a community of

Regular meetings are conducted where the teachers reflect on what we do and why we do it,
with documented actions, responsibilities and timeframes. Peer and self tutoring occur within and
between regions especially in the latest software for patternmaking, grading and design (Adobe
generic software) and general computer skills (Oakes 2003).

At the meetings, the team leaders articulate their clear vision of the outcomes wanted and
encourage the sense of being part of a community of highly motivated educators.
The model is now being extended to all aspects of the TCF program and to furniture and
automotive motor trimming.

Messages in the above case study regarding innovation in teaching and learning include the

Innovation in teaching and learning that is based on identified industry needs can have
many dimensions, including the use of project-based learning, where the projects replicate
authentic work tasks; the delivery and assessment of learning in the workplace; and the use
of simulated workplaces inside conventional educational institutions, to imitate the layout,
pace and tone of the workplace.

Innovation in teaching and learning for the one industry and across a whole State can
benefit from the use of a database of electronic learning resources that are easily stored and
retrieved, and at times that suit the learner.
2 What is innovation in VET teaching and learning?


Provided a range of factors are in place including market research, long-term planning and
staff commitment teams of VET teachers and managers can construct and deliver
innovative teaching and assessment services when an industry has demanded a shift from
the conventional classroom-based, teacher-dominant, curriculum-focused training.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning? 3

This chapter examines how innovation in teaching and learning occurs in VET and foregrounds the importance
of teachers skills, intuition and judgement as well as their collaborative planning with their colleagues and other

Key points
Key points raised in the chapter include the following:

Innovation in teaching can occur when teachers perform new roles such as those of learning brokers and
learning strategists.

Innovation in teaching can be underpinned by planning undertaken by a teacher in conjunction with

a work team or organisational unit and with educational managers.

Innovation in teaching can occur when VET practitioners use a variety of strategies that increase learners
control over their learning.

Innovation in teaching can occur when teachers perform new roles

Rossett & Sheldon (2001) identify the expanding roles of what they call the training professional. The
conventional roles of the training professional are designer, developer, deliverer, demonstrator and coordinator.
But the new and future roles of the teacher are expanding to include those of learning manager, knowledge
systems expert, learning broker and learning strategist. The new roles are focused on achieving learner and
organisational outcomes and providing improved customer value.
Table 3.1: Expanding roles of training professionals (Rossett & Sheldon 2001, p.12)


Now and, increasingly, into the future

Developer of individual brainpower

Manager of organisational brainpower

Designer and developer

Developer and purchaser from outsources

Deliverer or coordinator of classes

Less delivery, more focus on organisational readiness and

management of knowledge resources
3 How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning?


Table 3.1: Expanding roles of training professionals (Rossett & Sheldon 2001, p.12) (contd)


Now and, increasingly, into the future

Develops and produces events and products

Creates and nurtures place-bound and online environments that

continuously support and develop

Coordinator of short-term events

and interactions

Broker of systems that start before classes and continue afterwards

Concern about high-quality experience

for participants

Focus on the systems that encourage and support performance,

learning, and strategic results

Meeting needs by delivering from inventory

Performance analysis to customise and tailor

Developer of content knowledge

Developer of individual learning power, of the ability to establish

associations, find relevant materials, and make meaning

Sharing skills and knowledge

Managing knowledge resources

Demonstrating skills in training analysis,

design, development, and delivery

Doing what is needed, working in teams, configuring groups that

transcend conventional boundaries, ensuring quality

Focusing on students

Developing programs for supervisors as well as students

Measured by butts on seats and hits

on websites

Measured by contributions to strategic goals and results

Solves problems when they emerge

Anticipates and mitigates

The Rossett & Sheldon (2001) model puts the emphasis on satisfying the customer. Where training is provided
for enterprise clients, the training also needs to satisfy the organisation.
To varying degrees, all of the vignettes and case studies show the variety of ways that teachers are now performing
new roles, with the resultant innovation satisfying the customer and the organisation. For instance, in this
chapter, Vignette 3.1 on retraining mechanics in Western Australia describes new roles performed by trainers
at the Caterpillar Institute which have led to the effective delivery of training and assessment, jobs for students
and skilled employees for Caterpillar distributors.

Innovation occurs when institution-based teachers review their roles and develop
new skills
The Rossett & Sheldon model is an attempt to make the best of the predominantly classroom-based teaching and
learning model: to make it responsive, agile and creative. In the VET sector, an additional challenge is for the
teacher from an educational institution or from within an enterprise to acquire the skills to support competencybased training and assessment in the workplace.
Teachers who were part of the VET system prior to the implementation of the National Training Framework (NTF)
in 1996 were encouraged in the late 1990s to review their roles and to embrace a range of new approaches. The
Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) suggested that the role of the VET teacher was changing from a
source of knowledge to a manager of learning and a facilitator (ANTA 1996, p.8) and that the new role of the
trainer was a facilitator of change (ANTA 1997b, p.1).
The new policy directions of the NTF posed many challenges for many institution and classroom-based
teaching staff:
Trainers will need to be up-to-date in relevant technical areas and confident to leave the structured
classroom environment for the workplace to facilitate the integration of on- and off-the-job training. They will
become learning facilitators, working in partnership with individuals, enterprises and industry groups to
negotiate learning projects, develop new courses, customise generic courses to suit individual and enterprise
needs, and establish and maintain the mechanisms for assessment. Even where consultancy and learning
facilitation are not required, classroom-based trainers will need to have made the shift to an outcomes
orientation and become industry-oriented (ANTA 1997a, p.3).

Vignette 3.2 describes how East Gippsland TAFE teachers comprehensively revamped their approach, mirroring
the ANTA and the Rossett & Sheldon models, to become learning managers and facilitators of learning. Just one
part of their changed practice involved liaising with workplace mentors who were located hundreds of
kilometres away.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Innovation can occur when workplace trainers model good practice

ANTA (2001) acknowledges the increasing differentiation of the VET workforce and identifies eight different
groups within VET, including workplace trainers, workplace mentors, workplace supervisors and staff from RTOs.
However, the two largest groups of VET practitioners are institution-based teachers who sometimes work in the
students workplace and enterprise-based workplace trainers, often employed by the enterprise. While both
groups are discussed throughout this report, workplace trainers deserve a special consideration at this point in the
report, as they are well distributed and often out of sight and easily overlooked because they are located in
specific enterprises.
Harris et al. (2000b) note that, in the move from off-job to on-job training, the workplace trainer is assuming an
increasingly critical role in the provision of training opportunities. They found that, despite the increasingly
important role for workplace trainers in the NTF, there has been relatively little attention paid to them (p.2), yet
workplace trainers perform a critical role as:
Workplace trainers foster environments conducive to learning; they work and learn with co-workers, structure
and shape work processes to accommodate learning, promote self-direction in learning and, although to a lesser
extent, link external learning experiences with work and learning within their enterprise (p.50).

Simons et al. (1999) found that the workplace trainer role includes the following functions:

organises learning collaboratively with the trainee/learner;

learns together with others;
promotes independence and self-direction in learners/trainees;
advocates on behalf of learners/trainees;
reconciles experiences of work and learning;
works alongside learner/trainee;
draws on others in the workplace to help facilitate the learning process;
discusses learning experiences with trainee/learner;
assesses work and learning using both formal and informal processes; and
demonstrates techniques and processes.
In addition to this list from Simons et al., research for this project suggests that the expanding role of the
enterprise-based workplace trainer includes direct involvement in innovation. For instance, Vignette 1.1 on
the Manufacturing Learning Centres describes workplace mentors employed by manufacturing companies
supporting the VET In School students, using an action learning methodology, to assist students to develop
problem-solving skills.
Vignette 1.2 describes North Coast Institutes delivery of the Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training,
and how it enables Centrelinks in-house trainers to develop increased capability. As a result of this, the
Centrelink workplace trainers not only provide more services within Centrelink but are innovative in upgrading
the North Coast Institutes call centre training operation.

Innovation can occur when teachers use different mixes of skills

Applying the Rossett & Sheldon (2001) model to the Australian VET context, we suggest that teachers need
innovative skills and knowledge in at least four areas:

Vocational skills, such as skills in tourism or engineering;

Adult learning/teaching skills, such as how to support problem-based learning;

VET sector specific skills, such as how to assess competencies in the workplace;

Generic personal skills, such as developmental skills, including managing personal and
professional growth.

The following diagram depicts these four areas of skills and knowledge.
3 How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning?


Diagram 3.1: One view of integrated capabilities for contemporary VET practitioners (Gribble 2001)


and Teaching

VET Sector


A VET teacher can be innovative by drawing on her/his skills in one or more of the above segments. VET teachers
can be innovative by applying, expanding and combining their skills either individually or collectively in any
mix of these capabilities and their domains.
Vignette 3.2 on teaching in East Gippsland TAFE provides an insight into teachers who demonstrate skills in all
four areas described above. For instance, the teaching staff need vocational knowledge of social sciences; an
understanding of adult learning to underpin their use of learning mentors; VET sector specific skills to provide
assessment services in the workplace; and generic personal skills to provide good communication with students
via teleconferencing.

Innovation in teaching can occur as a result of collaborative planning by

The following model from Biggs (1999, p.19) offers a suggestion as to where innovation occurs. This model directs
us towards the three P stages in teaching and learning, viz:

the presage stage, before learning takes place;

the process stage, during learning;

and the product stage the outcome or results of the learning.

This current study suggests that innovation can be planned at the presage stage, implemented at the process stage
and its benefits realised at the product stage.
In trying to apply Biggs model for the VET sector it is important to emphasise that there are many stakeholders
who help frame the context for the conditions of provision such as employers and unions as well as teachers
and educational managers, workplace trainers and supervisors and that only at the micro-level does the model
become useful for designing specific teaching strategies that help carry or define the innovation. Most of the case
studies and vignettes in this report describe a range of stakeholders additional to VET teachers who also
contribute to the presage or planning stage.
There is considerable scope for innovation in VET to be planned, especially at the presage stage and process stages.
For instance, Vignette 3.2 on teaching and assessing in the region of Gippsland in Victoria describes the planning that
occurred at the presage stage and the multi-faceted teaching model that was then implemented at the process stage.
The Biggs model is better seen as a sub-set of the larger process of innovation derived from Williams (1999). The
latter, as set out earlier in the Introduction, describes creativity leading to discovery and invention, and flowing
onto the process of innovation and the implementation of the innovation. Within Williamss larger schema, the
Biggs model does represent an explanation of frontline activities by teachers and trainers.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Diagram 3.2: Biggs 3P model of teaching and learning (1999)






prior knowledge


quantitative: facts, skills

qualitative: structure, transfer
affective: involvement



The point is that there is a relationship between the professional work and judgement of the teacher and trainer
in framing and executing the teaching and learning strategy, broader external drivers and conditions, and
collaborative planning with stakeholders.
The steps in the Williams model are demonstrated in Vignette 3.1 where Caterpillar Institute (WA) managers,
trainers and learning resource developers and Caterpillar distributors combined their ideas at the presage or
planning stage before developing and implementing an innovative learning program to assist the upskilling of
light vehicle mechanics. The positive outcomes of this collaboration were felt beyond the student group.

Vignette 3.1

Multi-faceted innovation in teaching heavy vehicle mechanics in

regional Western Australia Caterpillar Institute (WA) Pty Ltd
There are many dimensions to innovation in teaching. In the following vignette, five learnersupport initiatives enable mechanics from the light vehicles field to acquire qualifications in the
heavy vehicle field, in response to a significant industry skill shortage.
The innovations relate to learner support arrangements that allow for the recognition of current
competencies, using a variety of assessment and delivery strategies, and providing individual
support, including changing the timeframe for the program to suit participants and their
This integrated, multi-dimensional service-based approach to innovation in teaching, in
response to industry needs, has resulted in offers of employment for all participants in the three
inaugural programs conducted in 2002-2003.

Meeting an industry skill shortage

The Caterpillar Institute (WA) Pty Ltd has operated as a Registered Training Organisation since
late 2000. It is a joint venture between Caterpillar, a global leader in heavy vehicles and WesTrac
Equipment Pty Ltd, a leading Western Australian retailer of heavy vehicles.
The Institute offers training and assessment services in the following areas: Certificate II in
Automotive (Mechanical Vehicle Servicing); Certificate III in Automotive (Mechanical Heavy
Vehicle Mobile Equipment, Plant/Earthmoving/Agriculture); Post-trade Technical Training;
Machine Operator Training; Occupational Safety and Health; and Certificate IV in Assessment
and Workplace Training, and Frontline Management.
3 How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning?


The Caterpillar Institute (WA) has extensive knowledge of the heavy vehicle industry and the
needs of the industry for well-trained, highly-skilled trades people.

unable to recruit
suitably qualified

In 2002, the Caterpillar Institute (WA) took advice from employers within the heavy vehicle
industry that there was a significant shortage of qualified heavy mechanics to meet the needs
of industry. For example, this shortage was publicly illustrated in frequent advertisements for
heavy vehicle mechanics in The West Australian during 2002. This skill shortage is also noted in
a WA Department of Training occupational fact sheet, which states that priority will be given to
training in the heavy vehicle sector.
As a result, in the competitive field of training tenders in Western Australia, one of the
priorities identified is for the upskilling of motor mechanics to work as heavy duty plant

Designing an innovative program

In response the Caterpillar Institute (WA) designed an innovative Trade Upgrade program that
allows trades people in the light vehicle industry to upgrade their skills so they can work within
the heavy vehicle industry.

all participants
have been
offered positions

The Trade Upgrade program enables trades people with a Certificate III in Light Vehicle
Mechanics Trade to upgrade their skills and knowledge to the Certificate III in Heavy Vehicle
Mobile Equipment, within the Automotive Training Package.
The Caterpillar Institute (WA) was presented with a national award from Automotive Training
Australia (ATA) in late 2002 for the design of this new program. Innovation in the program
extends well beyond the mapping of the light vehicle competencies to the heavy vehicles
The program involves bridging the difference in competencies between light vehicle mechanics
and heavy vehicle mobile equipment mechanics. Nine competencies must be completed and
assessed to enable trades persons to upgrade their trade certificate.
During 2002 the Caterpillar Institute (WA) advertised the new Trade Update program and received
150 enquiries, resulting in 35 interviews and the selection of 8 mechanics in the first intake.
As a result of the program, all participants gained employment in the heavy-duty mechanical
industry. Caterpillar Institute (WA) presently has a waiting list of people wanting to undertake
the program and is now conducting the program in two locations: Perth and Kalgoorlie. The
participants in the Kalgoorlie group were employed by WesTrac on the basis that they would
complete the trade upgrade. The employer is releasing them on full pay to attend block
release training.

Five dimensions of innovation in teaching

The innovation in the heavy vehicles mechanics program is significant because it includes the
following five aspects of the delivery and assessment of the program.

a variety of
is used


Firstly, a strong focus is placed on the recognition of current competencies. Caterpillar

Institute (WA) has developed a twelve-step skills recognition process that ensures that the
new participants have every opportunity to have their application for recognition assessed
fairly and appropriately.

Secondly, a range of different assessment strategies is used, to help students identify their
own strengths and weaknesses so that they acquire skills methodically and quickly. The
strategies for each competency include requiring the student to complete a knowledgebased written assessment and to provide a practical demonstration for the facilitator. Other
assessment strategies include judging the quality of a students project and analysing the
students portfolio of work.

Thirdly, a variety of delivery methodologies is used in the program. The training is normally
provided in Perth at the Caterpillar Institutes premises adjoining WesTrac Equipment Pty Ltd,
so students have access to the actual equipment they will be working on when they are
working in the industry. In Kalgoorlie the training is delivered at the WesTrac Equipment
facilities. A fully equipped computer suite is available for student use and students can access

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

digital copies of Caterpillar training manuals and other online materials. To enable students
to progress in a self-paced manner for some aspects of the program, Caterpillar provides
reference books and learning materials. All facilitators are experienced trainers with
Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training qualifications and are skilled at
modifying the training delivery to accommodate the needs of individuals and the group to
ensure that the training objectives are achieved.

Fourthly, one-on-one support is available for all program participants in the following ways:
individual counselling is provided to assist with learning-related issues; assessors and facilitators
are alert to any concerns or difficulties the participant may be experiencing; extra tuition is
available in literacy and numeracy; coaching is provided if a student needs special assistance;
and all participants are provided with advice about employment opportunities in the industry.

Fifthly, the program can be delivered in many different timeframes. For instance, the first
intake in 2002 completed the 200 hour program over a series of Wednesday evenings and
Saturdays, so the program fitted around the participants ongoing employment. An alternative
approach initiated in 2003 which suits employees of companies that want their staff retrained,
involves participants attending a block release for five days a month over six months.

Transferable model
can be delivered
across the

The Caterpillar Institute (WA) model for the Trade Upgrade from light vehicle to heavy vehicle
mechanics can be transferred to any other Caterpillar site within Australia. It can also be
delivered across the automotive industry. Curtin Vocational Training and Education Centre
(VETC), South East Metropolitan College of TAFE and a number of mining companies and
contractors for example WesTrac, Macmahon Contracting and Roche are assisting in the
delivery of the Trade Upgrade in 2003.

VET teachers need knowledge and skills in four areas to be innovative:

vocational knowledge such as knowledge of heavy vehicle mechanics;

adult learning/teaching knowledge such as a knowledge of how to support resource-based


VET-sector specific skills such as how to assess competencies using a variety of strategies;

generic personal skills such as how to assist students develop self-confidence to function in a
partially self-managed learning environment.

Following Rossett & Sheldon (2002), another message from this vignette is that new roles for
teachers that support innovation include:

contributing to the many support systems created by the training company that encourage
and support the individuals learning;

managing knowledge resources developed by others.

Innovation in teaching can result from the use of a variety of strategies to

support lifelong learning
Until recently, and to the casual observer, the professional business of teaching and learning in VET gave the
appearance of distributing knowledge from a relatively fixed and limited bank of received content that was
mediated by the professional educator. The educator was often preoccupied by heavy engagement with lecturing
or demonstrations, leading group discussions or seminars and workshops, and using curricula determined
elsewhere by subject experts. However, in the case of much of VET this scenario has never really been
representative of the truth. VET work has been invariably mediated by the real world of work and the level of
interaction and interchange between these two worlds has accelerated in recent years.
The introduction of competency-based training in the early 1990s and the focus on building industry-led
demand by the National Training Framework from 1996 onwards was in response to the training needs of the real
world of work. Interestingly, one result has been the expanding scope for VET professional practice and
professional judgement.
3 How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning?


The competency based movement is only one educational reform that has changed the character of VET and is
a function of much broader societal shifts that are still unfolding. These are demanding that learning be
recognised, encouraged and supported much more broadly to meet the needs of industry and, more recently,
the active citizen. As a result, as the functional roles of learning have begun to change, so too have the related
structures, roles and rationales for VETs teaching and educational mission.
Technology-based innovation in VET teaching has been the most visible but possibly not the most important
response to this much broader and more diverse movement of learning away from traditional educational
structures and assumptions. The movement of learning away from traditional structures will increasingly
challenge, contest and extend the capabilities required of VET pedagogies, learning design and management, and
the professional judgement of teachers and trainers operating from institutional systems.
By the mid-1990s commentators were noticing the need for wider recognition of learning processes and
clearer relationships with learning outcomes. For example, one view (Tinkler et al. 1995, p.79) was that
at least eight different types of learning would be needed in order to satisfy demand in the emerging
information society:
1. lifelong learning

2. learner-directed learning
3. learning to learn
4. contextualised learning
5. customised learning
6. transformative learning
7. collaborative/cooperative learning
8. just-in-time learning.

Many of these have now been adopted as learning strategies in VET. For example, Burns (2002, pp.260-305) notes
the innovative use in contemporary VET of the following:

workbased and workplace learning;

activity-based and problem-based learning;

guided experiential learning;

simulations and games;

mentoring and coaching;

informal learning such as peer tutoring and virtual communities;

flexible learning, e-learning, online learning and now blended learning;

learning organisations, learning communities and communities of practice.

This report provides examples of the majority of the above strategies. For instance, Case Study 3 in this chapter,
on assessing key competencies in electrotechnology, includes examples of workbased and workplace learning,
activity-based and problem-based learning, guided experiential learning and mentoring and coaching.

Innovation in teaching can occur when students are assisted in developing

future-oriented capabilities
Burns believes that the current movement in learning in VET is toward flexible, interactive, self-directed and selfpaced learning. The prevailing trend is towards the development of lifelong learning, and this is based on
flexible delivery and permitting adults to enhance their sense of identity, self-determination, autonomy, mastery
and self-worth. (2002, p.305)
Similarly, Stephenson (2000) stresses the need for adaptive, agile learning in VET. This is summarised in Diagram
3.2 below. It indicates that learners need to go beyond acquiring competencies for familiar problems in familiar
contexts, to developing future-oriented capabilities to solve unfamiliar problems in unfamiliar contexts. Such
skills are not easily acquired and highly-skilled and knowledgeable VET practitioners are a key agency for assisting
learners to develop such capabilities.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Diagram 3.3: Adaptive, agile learning (based on Stephenson 2000)



COMPETENCE (present orientation)

CAPABILITY (future oriented)

Qualities employers want:

New knowledge
Tolerance of uncertainty
New productivities

Qualities employers expect:

Application of existing knowledge

Predictable outcomes
Quality assurance
Established standards
Clear goals
High productivity



Vignette 4.1 on photography students describes teachers of photo-journalism adapting their course to suit the
changes in photo-journalism in industry. These industry changes include the requirement for new employees to
perform as freelance photographers, who are sometimes engaged at the last moment to research, and to undertake
and complete assignments to a high standard and under strict time pressures. To effectively teach or train a
student for such photo-journalism means paying considerable attention to the learners development of both
technical skills and generic skills. Following Stephenson, it can also mean helping the trainee photographer
develop skills to solve unfamiliar problems in unfamiliar contexts.

Innovation in teaching can occur when teacher-centred methods are skewed

towards student control
A new challenge for VET teachers is to stimulate individuals to pursue self-directed and lifelong learning while
still using conventional teacher-centred methods such as lecturing, demonstration and tutorials. It has been
argued that teaching methods that are congruent with the principles of andragogy and lifelong learning should
involve the following:
active participation in self-paced, self-directed learning in which new materials, skills and information can be
made meaningful and related to existing knowledge, facilitating successful understanding, raised self-esteem and
intrinsic motivation to continue learning. (Burns 2002, p.264)

Burns says that, in the hands of a skilled and thoughtful professional, most conventional pedagogical methods
such as lecturing and demonstration
can evolve gradually towards more student control/leadership as learners obtain experience and skills in the
techniques. Thus teacher-centred need not always be so if the method is skilfully used (p.265).

For instance, a lecture can be made stimulating with the use of visual aids such as video clips, slides and
demonstrations, and be supported by interesting examples and small-group follow up sessions. Burns also
suggests that a tutorial can be made valuable if the teacher:
drops into the background and allows the students to present material and discuss and argue, only coming back
in to ask awkward questions or to summarise. (pp.265266).

Videoconferencing, which often requires a strong teacher presence, is used extensively by some TAFE Institutes
in rural and regional areas of South Australia and Queensland. However, continuing efforts are made by teachers
in the videoconferencing domain to ensure optimum student activity (see, for example, Mitchell et al. 1993).
As distinct from teacher-centred methods, some student-centred group methods occupy what Burns (2002) calls
a grey area as there can be ambiguity and judgment required to know whether it is the teacher or learner who, at
3 How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning?


any time, should be in control. These methods include games, simulations, role-playing, team building,
brainstorming, debating, seminars and workshops. Some of these methods, such as games, simulations and role
playing, can also be conducted online, as well as in the VET classroom (Ip et al. 2002). Burns (2002) notes that all
of these teaching methods can be individually modified to ensure students are active.
Case Study 2 on textile teaching in Tasmania illustrates how students can take control of their own learning
through immersion in both simulated and actual workplace environments, as well as by accessing self-paced
materials and taking on projects that replicate those undertaken in industry.

Innovation in teaching can occur when self-directed learning is fostered

Self-directed learning is considered a cornerstone of lifelong learning for adults, but fostering and supporting it is
still very challenging. Self-directed learning refers to any application that gives the learner responsibility for their
learning and grants them autonomy in choosing the material they will learn, how they will learn it and at what
pace (Burns 2002, p.273). Self-directed learning is easier for a teacher to manage within the well-resourced
learning centre, where packages of learning materials are more readily available, than in the industry workplace.
Even so, self-directed learning
usually takes more careful and detailed planning and structure to support and shape the individuals learning or
developmental efforts than are required in more traditional learning operations (Burns 2002, p.274).

Two aspects of self-directed learning are critical reflection and learning how to learn. Critical reflection on
experience is a commonly promoted feature of adult learning programs. It includes questioning and reframing
personal and professional assumptions and adopting new perspectives on what were previously taken-for-granted
ideas and behaviours. Helping learners to learn how to learn in a range of different situations and through a range
of different styles is the goal of many adult educators. Much research is still needed in adult education to
understand the benefits, limitations and applications of critical reflection and learning how to learn (Burns 2002,
The difficulties of encouraging self-directed learning are underlined by Smiths (2000b) research into the learning
strategies used by VET apprentices which showed that the meta-cognitive strategies required for effective
controlling and directing of learning, and for generating new learning, were poorly developed and seldom used.
In contrast, cognitive strategies associated with the acquisition of knowledge and skill from structured learning
sessions produced much better learning outcomes and results. (Mitchell et al 2001, p.86).
Vignette 3.1 in this chapter describes teachers from the Caterpillar Institute (WA) combining conventional
classroom sessions with other strategies designed to directly stimulate self-directed learning. The latter include
providing students with the use of customised reference books and extensive written learning materials that are
purpose-built by Caterpillar Institute (WA) staff. Case Study 1 from Holmesglen TAFE also provided examples of
innovative teaching that encouraged youths at risk to take control of their learning.
Models present how idealised learners should behave. For example, learner-centred learning carries with it an
expectation of a degree of personal responsibility and ownership that is generally regarded as a good thing in
itself. But when the conditions for this are lacking some learners will not want to accept the inherent degree of
responsibility that this model of learning and the learner requires.
VET practitioners do report resistance to innovation, reluctance, or lack of interest from many learners. This
resistance is due to a wide variety of factors including a lack of skills or confidence to learn, or lack of obvious
motivators to acquire necessary learning capabilities. Such cultural, attitudinal, situational and societal factors are
powerful barriers to any orderly progress in learner needs and behaviours. This also points to the fallacy of
expecting that learners necessarily progress in a linear developmental way and this has important implications
for conceptions of lifelong learning and for the often unspoken role of teachers and trainers in how they develop
effective interaction with learners.
A number of the case studies and vignettes report on resistance to innovation by learners. The resistance was
usually overcome by teachers attention to the learners concerns, teachers winning learners support for change,
and teachers being patient while learners developed their own responses to the innovation. Vignette 3.1 on
Caterpillar Institute (WA) showed how the trainers provided counselling services, extra tuition and coaching to
ensure learners were well supported in their innovative program.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Vignette 3.2

Use of workplace mentors for training delivery across a region East

Gippsland Institute of TAFE, VIC
Regional settings present challenges for VET providers, such as how to equitably deliver training
to widely spread sites. The introduction of workplace training means that some VET providers
are faced with the challenge of providing high-quality and consistent training and assessment
in hundreds of locations, many of which are far from the teachers base.
The following vignette provides insights into one VET provider who met these challenges with
an array of strategies.

Industry skill shortage drives innovation

East Gippsland Institute of TAFE has fifteen widely distributed sites across 15% of rural Victoria.
Through this network the Institute serves large regional towns such as Sale and Bairnsdale and
many small and isolated communities.
A social sciences team at the Institute delivers the Community Services Training Package across this
region, offering programs that include child studies, aged care, nursing and community services.

In 2000, the social sciences team led by Catherine Brigg launched an innovation called the
Gippsland Integrated Model of Assessment and Service Delivery. This followed considerable
experimentation in the preceding eight years.
long history of
customer focus

The innovative assessment and service delivery model has grown out of a long history of regional
responsibility and specific customer focus. The model is driven by industry need, rural isolation
and our learners need to learn within close geographic proximity to where they live and work.
Physical distances are vast, population density is low, and regional industries in the fields are
small-scale operations, with a small core of staff needing to access training within the scope of a
busy working life. (Brigg & Wilkinson 2000)

The social sciences team is one of six self-managing teams at East Gippsland Institute of TAFE.
The social sciences team has had autonomy in relation to resource management, both financial
and human, and in relation to determining targets, for eight consecutive years. Catherine Brigg
believes that this organisational practice of encouraging autonomous work teams underpins
decision-making within the social sciences team:
This culture has enabled learning managers within this team to develop teacher workload
allocation principles that support their flexible learning model.

Guiding principles for the innovation

The Social Sciences team developed a number of guiding principles for their Integrated Model.
The first two principles relate to organisational alignment:

capacity as

make sure that co-ordinated and strategic learning support services are convenient for
learning mentors and students;

integrate assessment and service delivery with the Institutes Teaching and Learning
Strategy, including course renewal, curriculum and AQTF alignment (Wilkinson 2002b).

Four additional principles refer to learner support:

develop all students capacities as independent learners capable of self-assessing their needs,
in particular by providing integrated support in their programs;

provide learning resources that can be customised and integrated into programs;

use professional development to strengthen staff members ability to identify and address
student learning needs;

support staff in their roles as learning managers and mentors.

Lastly, to help address delivery in this regional setting:

develop inclusive learning communities at team and sub-team levels and support students
in transition to participate fully in these learning communities

encourage sessional training staff to act as mentors for students in setting up learning
communities (Wilkinson 2002b).
3 How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning?


Novel features of this approach

The Institutes assessment and service delivery approach has at least five novel elements that are
noteworthy, as follows.
Firstly, individual learning plans are developed with each student, and these plans are regularly
monitored by teachers who refer to themselves as learning managers. Moreover, the learning
plan links the student to their learning manager, to recognition of current competency services
and to other groups of students in the workplace.
Secondly, a range of strategies underpin the delivery of training and assessment:


Students can attend classes, undertake workplace projects, participate in telematic tutorial
sessions, attend monthly Saturday or weekend schools, and join cluster groups supported by
outreach workers in smaller communities. The model embraces workplace assessment of current
competencies, on-the-job mentoring, weekly telephone link-ups across up to 15 locations
involving 20 students, individual home study packages, mentoring with industry based staff with
specialist expertise, one-on-one tutor support and student management administration from the
Flexible Learning Centre in Sale, and an increasing use of online assessment, assignment
submission and tutorials (Wilkinson 2002a).

Much of the remote contact with students is provided by telephone, as not all students have
access to email.
Thirdly, intensive support is provided for students with specific learning and delivery needs,
including one-on-one consultations and small group work. Self-paced learning resources
materials have been developed for students in a range of areas such as study skills, information
technology, tertiary learning skills and transition programs (Wilkinson 2002b).
Fourthly, students are related to as members of a learning community:
Through the design and implementation of a combination of innovative teaching and learning
strategies that have been devised for distance learners, through partnerships with local
enterprises and networking with collectives of the regional workforce, a learning community has
been formed (Wilkinson 2002b).

Fifthly, full-time staff members of the social science team monitor the progress of individual
students using a learning management computerised database called Ed Trak. As examples,
each year Sally Anne Wilkinson (sub-team Facilitator, Health and Community Services) oversees
the learning progress of more than 120 students through EdTrak; as does Di Deppeler, a teacher
based in Bairnsdale, who supports over 80 students studying disability, aged care and/or
diversional therapy courses.

Learning mentor scheme

The assessment and service delivery model was implemented in 2000 and has been
continuously improved since then. A major enhancement was made in 2001 with the addition
of the EdTrak database.
direct industry
involvement in

Another major enhancement was the introduction of a learning mentor scheme. Learning
mentors are industry-based trainers:
Industry-based sessional trainers are coached by the full-time staff to become learning mentors; that
is, industry specialists able to guide students in the acquisition of competencies. The learning mentor
scheme ensures that students in the workplace are supported adequately in acquiring competencies.
It has been found that our learning mentors have the industrial skills and we the
educational knowledge and curriculum expertise. Through a detailed calendar of professional
activities that address the new learning modes our learning mentors have developed skills
in program development, assessment and consistency of outcomes (Brigg and Wilkinson 2000).

Student outcomes and transferability

Student outcomes from the Integrated Model are outstanding:
The East Gippsland Region Integrated Model demonstrates educational effectiveness with
completion rates of 98% and employment outcomes of 95%. It demonstrates responsiveness to
reform through the use of Training Packages to facilitate lifelong learning (Wilkinson 2002a).


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

the potential for

new applications

The social sciences team has now implemented its assessment and delivery service model in all
of the different subject areas within social sciences and believes that the model can now be
transferred to other program areas within the Institute.
The Integrated Model recently won an award from its Victorian Industry Training Advisory
Board: recognition that this regional teaching and learning model could be used by social
sciences teams in other RTOs.
The Integrated Model could be transferred to other RTOs, as Catherine Brigg believes that it is
based on a number of specific ingredients, in addition to being learner-focused:
autonomy re resource management; trust and collaboration within the team; and shared risktaking and respect for colleagues, for example in relation to workload distribution.

Some further messages about innovation emerging from this vignette are as follows:

Innovative teachers develop an adaptive pedagogy, to enable them to support a mix of

learning strategies in a variety of contexts.

Professional judgement can drive and sustain innovation, from initial conception of a new
approach to the implementation of a multi-faceted program.

Work teams can stimulate and then carry innovation in teaching, with different team
members providing different skills and inputs.

The East Gippsland Institute vignette also models innovative approaches to assessment, based
on a strong commitment to quality assessment outcomes. This is evidenced by:

the focus on accurately analysing and interpreting competency standards and matching
these to the needs of learners and their learning environments;

the construction of quality assessment tools and assessment strategies which meet the
principles of validity, reliability, flexibility and fairness;

the concern for the provision of quality information on assessment for both the candidates
and all assessors.

Innovation in teaching can occur when activity-based learning and problem-based

learning are facilitated
Ensuring that students are active and doing things in order to learn is not a new idea. But achieving this
successfully is still a goal for innovative teachers. Wills et al. (2002) propose a return to the views of Dewey in
Democracy and Education (1916) when he advocated that:
Methods which are permanently successful in formal education give the student something to do, not
something to learn, and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking (Wills et al. in ANTA 2002, p.34).

Wills et al. suggest that in the past decade computational and communication technologies have provided
powerful tools for devising activities for learners that are of such nature as to demand thinking. These authors
suggest that e-learning provides opportunities to think afresh about what it means to give learners something to
do. They also suggest that problem-based learning, which gives students the opportunity to grapple with real
problems, can contribute to thinking about designing learning environments that require the learner to be active.
For Wills et al. (2002, p.35), an activity-based learning environment consists of three elements:
(1) learning tasks: the tasks which the learner will engage with;
(2) learning resources: the resources needed to successfully accomplish the tasks; and
(3) learning supports: the support the learner requires in the process.
Wills et al. go beyond Deweys suggestion that learners be active, because they add that the focus needs to be on
creating a learning environment, not a teaching environment, where learners are given the support and resources
to successfully carry out tasks that demand their thinking.
Case Study 3 on key competencies in electrotechnology provides examples of activity-based learning, where
students are encouraged to do learning activities at a pace and time that suits them. Following Wills et al. (2002),
3 How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning?


the range of tasks can be selected by the electrotechnology student, ample learning resources are made available
and support is provided by mentors.

Innovation in teaching can occur at varying levels of complexity and intensity

This study shows that innovation often requires VET teachers to adopt new roles, use different methodologies
and customise assessment and training to suit different clients and contexts. VET teachers also need to
understand the subtleties involved in innovation: for instance, the complexity and intensity of the innovation
might vary from one context to the next. The following diagram is a reminder of two different axes that can be
used to plot and describe an innovation.


Diagram 3.4: The axes of complexity and intensity of innovation (Gribble 2002a)


Complexity of Innovation


Intensity of Innovation


Plotting the implementation of an innovation in advance might lead VET teachers to check whether they have
put in place all the measures needed to optimise the likelihood of positive student outcomes. For instance, the
diagram above could be used to plot an innovation, say, that is high in complexity, as it will contain many
dimensions, but low on intensity, as it will be introduced cautiously over a long period of time. Alternatively, an
innovation might be low in complexity, as it will contain one key innovative feature, but high on intensity, as it
will be introduced very quickly.
Often VET teachers need to use their judgement to determine the appropriate complexity of an innovation. For
instance, in Vignette 3.2 on East Gippsland, the community services staff consciously decided to implement their
innovative approaches over a number of years, so that both students and teachers could adjust to the changes.
VET teachers also need to use their judgement to determine how intense to make the innovation. In Vignette 3.1
on Caterpillar Institute (WA), the innovation in delivery of automotive mechanical training was intense,
involving a range of novel features, but the intensity was supported by the provision of counselling services, extra
tuition and coaching.

Other examples of current practice

Complementing the two vignettes and case studies in this chapter, the following table provides brief descriptions
of a range of other current practices in VET, which require teachers to perform non-traditional roles.
Table 3.2: A range of current practices in VET teaching and learning



Brief description of innovation

Box Hill Institute of TAFE, VIC

Students access a bio-technology business that operates from the

TAFE premises

Brisbane and North Point Institute of TAFE, QLD

Students converted an old Volkswagen car frame into a garden,

called Herbe the VW as a Living Garden

Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), ACT

Constantly refreshes the practice firm concept: e.g. recently added

e-commerce facilities to the website, to fit new e-business
competencies for the Business Services Training Package

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Table 3.2: A range of current practices in VET teaching and learning (contd)


Brief description of innovation

Chisholm Institute of TAFE, VIC

Facilitates problem-based learning in Resource Management

Cooloola Sunshine Institute of TAFE, QLD

Uses a model for clustering practice firms in a business incubator: a

model that extends the practice firm concept to the creation and
piloting of a business incubator that reflects the reality of current
resource challenges and the diversity of learning pathways

Douglas Mawson Institute of TAFE, SA

Combines a practice firm, simulated businesses and business

incubators for retail and hospitality students. Retail and hospitality
students develop generic competencies in the same practice firm

Early Childhood Training And Resource

Centre (ECTARC) Wollongong, NSW

Provides integrated online and phone support for distance learners

in the child care industry

English Language and Literacy Service,

Adelaide Institute of TAFE, SA

Provides flexible teaching for non-English speaking African

immigrants; e.g. using cardboard road maps on the floor and model
cars to assist students to prepare for their drivers licence test

Institute of TAFE Tasmania, TAS

Home-based tutors deliver an e-learning basic computer skills course

to remote learners in Community Access Centres

Onkaparinga Institute of TAFE, SA

Uses project-based learning in the Advanced Diploma of Engineering,

in collaboration with Schefenacker Vision Systems and the industry
advisory body

TAFE NSW Riverina Institute

Uses story-telling as a teaching strategy in adult literacy and

business and management studies


RMIT Textiles: Young Essentials. Multidisciplinary teams of RMIT

Textiles students undertook a total product development of a sock
they designed themselves. A contract was signed with Big W after
four students flew to Sydney to negotiate distribution of the product.

Spencer Institute of TAFE, SA

Uses an online tourism office for delivery to remote locations, in

collaboration with industry

The brief examples in the table above suggest some of the new roles performed by innovative teachers; the range
of skills and knowledge drawn on by teachers involved in innovations; and teachers support for self-directed

In response to the question How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning? the discussion has shown
that innovation can occur when teachers consciously adopt new roles such as those of learning broker or
strategist. Innovation is modelled by the new roles performed by progressive enterprise-based workplace trainer
and by institution-based teachers. Innovation can occur when staff draw on some or all of four areas of expertise,
such as their VET sector specific skills about how to assess in the workplace or when VET staff implement new
services that are based on collaborative planning.
This does not exhaust the possibilities as innovation can also occur when practitioners support lifelong learning
strategies; when they enable students to develop future-oriented capabilities; when they adapt teacher-centred
methods to allow for more learner autonomy; when they promote self-directed learning; and when they use
imaginative activity-based and problem-based learning.

3 How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning?


Case Study 3

International benchmarking underpinning the assessment of key

competencies in electrotechnology Torrens Valley Institute of TAFE, SA
The following case study summarises an innovation that evolved over the period 19912003,
as the result of multiple factors, including one teachers energy and his organisations support.
The innovation moved through numerous iterations and is still being fine-tuned.
The innovation has been deliberately promoted, it is recognised internationally and it has
benefited from being benchmarked with the worlds leading experts in the same field.

Assessment innovation

optimal learning

The Electronics & Information Technology (E&IT) program at Torrens Valley TAFE
(TVTAFE) in suburban Adelaide has developed and implemented an innovation they have
named the Key Competencies Assessment Strategy. The innovation occurs within a flexible
learning framework at the Institute and enhances the delivery of the Electrotechnology Training
Package. The assessment strategy focuses on developing, assessing and certifying students
key competencies, and has achieved external acclaim for innovation and excellence.
Key competencies are generic skills essential for effective performance in the workplace and
are highly regarded by employers. They cover problem solving, communication, teamwork,
using information, planning and organising, using technology and using mathematical
techniques. Other terms used instead of key competencies include employability skills, generic
skills, personal skills and soft skills.
The objectives of the assessment strategy are to:

contribute to the implementation of the national training system, including

Training Packages;

develop the optimal flexible learning environment for students to acquire key

address increasing industry client and individual students needs for generic skills;

provide opportunities for development, assessment and certification of key competencies;

develop a practical approach to implementation of the assessment strategy.

Strategy components

an holistic

The TVTAFE Key Competencies Assessment Strategy is a voluntary opportunity for students to
apply for explicit assessment and recognition of one or more key competencies at specified
performance levels as part of any existing course assessment. Students perform a selfassessment of their selected key competencies using the respective assessment sheets and
identify evidence to support their assessment which is presented in any convenient form to
the facilitator for validation.
Validation considers two aspects: that the student has successfully performed the key
competency to the specified performance level criteria clearly stated on the assessment
sheet and that the student is explicitly aware of these key competencies and their own
competence in them. Certification takes the form of a Statement of Attainment issued
by the organisation listing all key competencies, noting the respective performance levels
achieved. All results, along with a comprehensive portfolio of evidence for each student, are
maintained in the local computer-managed student results system, for ease of access by
the student.
The TVTAFE teacher who has led this innovation since its inception, Advanced Skills Lecturer
Rob Denton, believes that this innovation is more than a tangible, innovative product:
it is also
a holistic education strategy focused on the complex area of generic skills development and the
challenge of developing a practical and workable implementation.

Rob Denton also believes that a strength of the TVTAFE strategy is its focus on nurturing the
learning of key competencies, in addition to assessing and certifying these crucial skills.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Educational strategy
The development of the innovation was based on a range of deliberate strategies and initiatives
and the construction of a comprehensive educational strategy over a ten-year period, involving:

emulates the

extensive research and development;

consultations with industry, students and staff;

partnerships with universities, providing knowledge of educational exemplars;

promotion and marketing of the innovation to all stakeholders;

facilitation and mentoring of students;

student self-assessment and facilitator validation;

development of resources, guidelines and computerised recording systems;

evaluation and refinement of the product;

comprehensive student orientation and support;

commitment to continuous improvement.

Flexible learning, in the sense of providing students with options about when and how they
learn, provides the educational framework for this innovation. Rob Denton explains:
We set up an extremely flexible learning program, with the doors open from 9am to 9.30pm and
students can come in whenever. The design of the Engineering centre emulates the workplace.
Students set their own timetable and choose the way they want to learn: they choose the
resources they want to use, the learning activities and which staff they want to access. They have
ultimate choice as to how, when, what and where they learn.
As most students come from a traditional learning environment, they require lots of support, so
a huge effort is put into the induction and orientation. But then students are expected to make
a commitment. If they know they will be away, they need to submit a leave form.

This flexible approach to assisting learning in the Institute evolved over the last ten years, with
significant emphasis devoted to providing appropriate support frameworks:
For example, we allocate a mentor to every student, to assist the student to plan and monitor
their progress and to clarify future directions. The mentor provides a sole, stable contact point
within the otherwise very flexible and fluid program. A stable relationship can be developed
between mentor and student to offer individualised support and guidance. We have introduced
refinements since 1992, to cater for students changing from directed learning to self-directed
learning. We have added more support systems and improved the approach by being
more comprehensive.

A number of other influences besides flexible learning affected the creation and development
of this innovation in key competencies assessment. Under the leadership of Rob Denton, this
key competencies strategy was influenced by the following factors:

not simply
an add-on

a comprehensive review of research, including the Mayer Committee reports on key


participation in national and local work-based learning projects such as the Institutes own
key competencies focus group and projects at the national, State and Institute levels;

liaison with other educational and industry bodies, and industry involvement in the
development of the assessment model.

A major strategic decision, taken in the early 1990s, was to embed the assessment of key
competencies in the engineering program. Rob Denton explains:
Key competencies were at the core of the design and development of this whole engineering
program not simply an add-on feature. The engineering section deliberately adopted national,
State and local guidelines, wherever possible, for the explicit assessment of key competencies to
capitalise on the efforts of others over a number of years and to ensure relevance and recognition
across the nation.
3 How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning?


Students are another major influence on the innovation: they are provided with ongoing
opportunities to critically explore, debate and influence the implementation of the assessment
strategy. Students have a say in implementation issues in the E&IT program through the
programs student representative council (SRC), which provides formal communication and
collaboration between students and staff. The SRC is recognised as an official body within the E&IT
program and TVTAFE and has an influential voice in any program issues relevant to students.

Learning and employment benefits

A recent independent research study provided the following E&IT student perspective on
learning and development:

urther in
in the


Commenting on the process of assessment, the learner suggested that combining the assessment
of technical skills and knowledge with assessment of the key competencies worked well and made
the latter seem so much more relevant to him. More importantly, having to work out how he
could demonstrate the achievement of various key competencies not only focussed his learning,
it also offered the opportunity for him to build additional skills (Clayton et al. forthcoming 2003).

The student noted the value of self-assessment:

If you can use self-assessment you will go further in the workplace. You need to examine how you
go about things. If you dont know how you go about things, you will not be able to work out
what can be improved (Clayton et al. forthcoming 2003).

Rob Denton believes that making the key competencies much more visible and explicit to
students and employers improves the recruitment process and outcomes for both employers
and graduates. He is now observing employment outcomes that are directly attributable to the
strategy, as follows:
The HR Manager of local award winning E&IT company said they selected an E&IT graduate
specifically on the basis of evidence of demonstrated and certified key competencies over a
number of more technically qualified applicants. They are extremely pleased with this graduates
performance, diverse capabilities and work-readiness they got what they wanted! (SA Training
Initiative Award application 2002)

The Human Resources Manager at the firm commented:

He has contributed to the company in many ways over and above what is expected of him. This
includes organising and actively contributing to team meetings and group activities and delivering
training to new team members. We are very proud to have him as part of our team as he not only
excels at his position but creates a friendly, open environment around him (Award application 2002).

Comments from one graduate include:

My employer promotes an innovative work culture where everyone is made to feel important in
achieving the goals of the company. This means everyone needs to be able to work well in
groups, to independently research, analyse and present information as well as problem solve and
use technology. These key competencies are imperative to meeting the companys strategic
objective. So I was extremely pleased to find that all the key competencies I developed fitted in
so well with this culture (Award application 2002).

Rob Denton believes that the main outcome of the assessment strategy is achieving a learning
environment in which:
students willingly engage in self-assessing their performance in the key competencies. This practice
is enormously beneficial to students and to witness it actually happening is very satisfying.

Another outcome of the assessment strategy is providing flexibility in accessing learning

Flexibility and choice for students is the fundamental underlying principle of these philosophies.
Students are offered maximum choice and flexibility in their learning pathways for both technical
competencies and key competencies, and are invited to negotiate any special needs or
preferences they may have (Rob Denton).

To continually improve the assessment approach, TVTAFE took the decision to benchmark
themselves against other international providers of similar services. Rob Denton finds that

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

education and training authorities around the world including the UK, USA, New Zealand,
South Africa, Sweden, France, Germany, Norway and Canada are seeking workable solutions
for implementing generic skills within VET. All agree it is crucial and complex and has proven
costly. For example the UK invested heavily in a mandated requirement for a formal Key Skills
Qualification. Unfortunately, this has proven too onerous complex testing arrangements of
the three basic Key Skills National Qualification recently axed as mandatory for all academic
students 16 plus (Turner 2002).

The TVTAFE assessment approach is also endorsed by the international authority in this area
of education, Alverno College, Milwaukee, USA, which calls the approach assessment-as-learning.
Rob Denton believes that this key competencies assessment strategy exhibits excellence
through its comprehensive nature of implementation processes, credibility and contribution to
local and national interests. In terms of innovation,
it demonstrates innovation through having achieved a successful model of practical
implementation that is a first in Australian VET and of great significance to national new policy
development in this challenging priority area.

The initiative was the runner-up in the 2000 National Assessment Awards an award program
conducted by the University of Melbournes Assessment Research Centre. This national award
recognises innovative and exemplary assessment practice in the VET context and is assessed by
a panel of national experts in assessment using the following criteria: reliability, validity,
uniqueness, cost effectiveness, benefits/outcomes, evidence of practicability, workable strategy
and evaluations of use.

Future directions

areas identified
for further

In seeking to continuously improve and expand this model, the E&IT program at TVTAFE
formed a partnership with the Centre for Lifelong Learning and Development at Flinders
University to conduct a national research project, funded by NCVER. The partnership produced
a report entitled The Authentic Performance-Based Assessment of Problem-Solving (Curtis &
Denton 2003). Rob Denton considers that this research project was valuable in improving the
E&IT model improving assessment rubrics, refining assessment processes and for formulating
national recommendations for practical implementation.
The alliance with Flinders University is the first phase of an ongoing research agenda aimed at
practical implementation across the whole of TVTAFE. Rob Denton has initiated and coordinates
a TVTAFE key competencies focus group to facilitate this very goal of organisation-wide
Other areas identified for further development include establishing a longitudinal research
strategy for graduates in the workplace (a recommendation made by Alverno); development of
an Institute central support facility for key competencies; and enhancing key competencies
assessments in the workplace.

Sustainability and transferability

Rob Denton believes that the E&IT innovation in assessing key competencies is a robust and
comprehensive strategy founded on very sound philosophies and principles, positioning it well
for sustainability within TVTAFE. Other RTOs wishing to transfer the model to their settings will
need to put in place similar strategies pioneered at TVTAFE.
allowing students
to take control

One threat to sustainability is that nationally the indicators for long-term sustainability are not
yet clarified but the potential and need is there. Rob Denton comments:
For more than 10 years the importance of key competencies or generic skills has been
acknowledged and is stronger than ever today. This is very much a long-term and internationally
widespread pursuit. The voluntary nature of this E&IT initiative is consistent with the studentcentred rationale by allowing students to take control and responsibility for their participation.
There is no doubt that this leaves it open to failure unless students are sufficiently motivated to
not only see the benefits, but more significantly to actually make the effort to try it.

On the other hand, TVTAFE effectively creates conditions which make it attractive for students
to give it a go:
3 How does innovation occur in VET teaching and learning?


The E&IT strategy has shown that it is possible to offer explicit comprehensive key competencies
assessment in such a way that students will make a conscious decision and effort to give it a go.

Some further messages from this case study are as follows:

Intentionality and consciousness on the part of the teacher can affect the level of intensity
and complexity of the innovation and its possibilities and benefits.

Professional intuition and tacit knowledge, combined with a knowledge of industry and VET
sector requirements as well as knowledge of students, can all influence innovation in

An innovation can be modified, improved and enriched over an extended period of time,
particularly if organisational support, from an informed management is available to the
innovative teacher or teaching team.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

What fosters or impedes innovation in VET teaching 4

and learning?

This chapter identifies a range of factors that foster or impede innovation in teaching and learning in VET.

Key points
Key points raised in the chapter include the following:

Innovation in teaching and learning is complex and can be impeded easily by numerous internal or
external factors.

In response to pressures on RTOs to change their structures and improve their services, one of the characteristics
of the successful RTO of the future will be its ability to foster ongoing innovation in teaching and learning.

Within RTOs, innovation in teaching can be carried forward in different ways by individuals, work teams,
organisational units and senior management.

The social capital generated by VET practitioners relationships can stimulate innovation.

Networks between RTOs and between individuals within and across RTOs, such as assessor networks, can
foster innovation in teaching.

Internal and external pressures encourage innovation in teaching within RTOs

Whilst innovation is needed in teaching and learning processes, the same is also true at the organisational level
of VET, as the two are symbiotic. Examples of recent organisational responses to the need to change include:

organisations outsourcing work that is not core business;

RTOs changing their staffing profiles towards a reduced number of permanent staff and increased numbers
of casual staff and short-term consultants and self-employed contractors;

the increased use of teams;

improvements in IT infrastructure, to enable staff to become competent in the use of information and
communications technologies (Waterhouse et al. 1999; Marginson 2000).

Whilst these types of organisational changes can generate greater uncertainties, they may support conditions for
teaching innovations. For instance, Vignette 2.2 on OTEN provides an example of the last point: of an
organisation improving its IT infrastructure so that its staff can provide increased levels of student services.
4 What fosters or impedes innovation in VET teaching and learning?


One significant and contemporary external pressure on RTOs is to meet the training needs of knowledge workers.
Latchem & Hanna (2001, p. 28) suggest that the new economy depends upon knowledge workers whom they
believe are the initiators and drivers of human resource and social development, economic growth and reform,
and the free flow of information and knowledge. To create these knowledge workers, educational and training
institutions must not only accommodate change but also must reinvent themselves and lead change. Latchem &
Hanna argue that the consumer and technological revolution is forcing change upon almost every aspect of work,
communications and learning:
We cannot tell where the revolution will take our educational and training institutions the new technologydriven market forces have yet to fully evolve but it seems inevitable that there will be winners and
losers (p. 27).

Those educational organisations that succeed will not simply throw technology into the current mix of
operations but will have developed the following strategic responses:
A fresh vision of learning that transcends current boundaries and practices and allows unprecedented
access and learner-provider interaction.

A map of the opportunities and challenges they face.

The organisational means of achieving this vision and surmounting the challenges.
An entrepreneurial culture, driven by idea-push (creating new markets) as well as market-pull
(responsiveness to needs) (Latchem & Hanna 2001, p. 27).

Congruent with Latchem & Hanna, the current study shows that a complementary ingredient of the successful
RTO of the future will be the fostering of innovation in teaching and learning. For instance, Case Study 4, on the
Open Learning Institute of TAFE in Queensland, demonstrates how an organisation can meet the criteria set out
by Latchem and Hanna and drive innovation across the organisation, in response to both external and internal
forces for change.

Specific RTO strategies can foster innovation in teaching

Lin (2001, pp.1415) finds that the following organisational cultures, structures and processes are needed, if
innovation is to flourish in the networked world:

a corporate culture that is agile and flexible and encourages diverse thinking, individual initiative and the
development of new ideas;

a constant stream of information from many sources that might be relevant for the future;

a diversity of contacts and networks to quickly gain access to new knowledge and resources;

a perspective based on an understanding of a diversity of generational, national, industrial, business and

ethnic cultures;

a program to cultivate innovation as a core competency;

a commitment to lifelong learning;

a constant review of strategies, to adjust for constant change.

The consultations for this report indicated that the above cultures, structures and processes are desirable to foster
innovation in VET with regard to good practice in teaching, learning and assessment.
To foster innovation at practitioner level, workloads need to be managed in the context of providing staff with
extra support and enhancing staff morale:
Innovation cannot depend upon the heroic individual innovator, working late, over weekends, and in addition
to all the other duties. It is therefore important to establish realistic timelines and workloads and put in place
support networks that will help develop morale, motivation and performance. (Latchem & Hanna 2001, p. 48)

Vignette 4.2 in this chapter provides an example of a VET provider TAFE NSW Hunter Institute constantly
reviewing its structures, cultures, processes, philosophy and networks, to gain access to new knowledge about
innovation in teaching and learning.
Vignette 4.1 below shows how the inspired or creative individual teacher can be supported by an informed and
proactive manager.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Vignette 4.1

Managing innovation in teaching in response to photography students

and industrys needs Photography Studies College, VIC
Following is an example of how an educational manager can foster innovation among teaching
staff and also create opportunities for students to influence course design and delivery.

The Photography Studies College (PSC) is a specialist photographic college founded in 1973
and located in an arts and recreation precinct of the city of Melbourne. It is a private Registered
Training Organisation.
unique diploma

PSCs core program is a unique Advanced Diploma of Photography course. Graduates from the
Advanced Diploma can apply to RMIT University for a one-year conversion course for the
Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Photography or BA Media Arts. PSC also enjoys a close relationship with
the peak industry body, the Australian Institute of Professional Photography and other
photography associations.

Drivers of innovation
The college attracts outstanding teaching staff with strong credibility in the photography
industry and with a wide variety of skills and knowledge. PSCs Managing Director, Julie Moss,
emphasises that at PSC, everyone is connected to industry. Many of the teaching staff are
running their own small businesses as commercial photographers, photojournalists, artist,
designers and so on.
As a result, Julie manages a very diverse range of teaching staff. For example, one of her
teachers was previously a fashion photographer in Milan while another is an expert in digital
photography from one of Australias leading daily newspapers. The staff also includes a teacher
who is both a practising photographic artist and a doctoral student, while another PSC teacher
recently won a scholarship to New York that resulted in her introducing a new teaching
program on colour at PSC.
but different

One of the teachers, Peter Charles, is responsible for the implementation and development of
the digital imaging curriculum. He has been the picture editor for The Age and The Australian,
worked in New York and performed the role of Photography Manager at the 2000 Olympics.
Peter passionately embraces the field of digital imaging.
Julie Moss is clear about her role in managing these highly qualified staff:
The challenge here, as always when managing a diverse group such as ours, is to match their
expertise and capabilities with the appropriate area of course delivery. This is just as important for
the teachers as for the college and the students. I have consistently found that when the match
is right, teachers feel enabled and empowered. This is a great catalyst for innovation.

Peter Charles appreciates the way Julie Moss encouraged him to take leave for six months to
undertake the Photography Manager role at the 2000 Olympics. He will also take leave to
perform the same role at the Rugby World Cup in Sydney in 2003.
Another driver of innovation is the need to develop educational programs to keep pace with
changes in the industry. For Julie Moss, digital technology is one of the main forces for change:
Digital technology is changing faster than anyone in training can keep up with. It continues to
change and a few months after you embed information in learning materials about digital
technology, the information needs to be updated. At the College, we need to be innovative in
the way we respond to digital technology, staying up with it but not going too far, too quickly.

Hence, three drivers of innovation at the College include this responsive, flexible management
style and the different talents of the teaching staff, as well as developments in industry. The
fourth driver, the student, is described below.

Responding to students learning styles

A key feature of innovation in teaching and learning at PSC is the recognition, and use made,
of the different learning styles of individual PSC students. As Julie Moss explains:
4 What fosters or impedes innovation in VET teaching and learning?


dyslexic but

I want my staff to think differently about how they do things and to acknowledge that students
have different learning styles. We could easily assume that our students are mostly visual, but
many are kinaesthetic or aural learners. And some of our students are dyslexic and struggle with
the written component of the program, but they are brilliant photographers. Other students are
very good at thinking conceptually and framing ideas but struggle with the technical side of
photography. Students differ from year to year and group to group. We have eight intakes each
year, and every group is different.

Julies appreciation was sharpened by the experience of the dissatisfaction of one of her senior
teachers in 2002 with the behaviour and attitudes of a group of second year students in the
Advanced Diploma program. So Julie engaged an external consultant with expertise on young
adult learners. This ultimately led to all PSC staff being provided with a range of practical tools
for recognising and addressing different student learning styles.
As a result, student learning styles are now analysed using a combination of formal and
informal strategies.

Innovation in response to multiple drivers

An example of where the multiple drivers at PSC combined to produce an innovation at the
College is the recent overhaul of the third year of the Advanced Diploma of Photography
program. The changes to the Advanced Diploma are the result of management responsiveness
and feedback from the industry, PSC staff and students. These changes include the revamping
of photojournalism to reflect industry demand for shorter, specific, photography assignments.
Peter Charles explains:
Traditionally, photo journalism was a two semester major study, with two major photographic
and research assignments. Now we have added to the course many short, sharp and diverse
assignments for students, which are not just photojournalistic in style either. Nowadays
newspapers might expect a photographer to be able to cover very different situations one after
the other, like photographing the Logies one night, then a fashion parade and a restaurant
feature the next day. So our course reflects the situation in industry.

hungry to learn
new techniques

Peter Charles believes that the College adds considerable value to the students experiences in
the photojournalism course by involving a wide range of practitioners and experts from industry:
The students are regularly addressed by newspaper editors and sub-editors, researchers from
television and many other experts, and the guests give the students feedback on their work.

Julie emphasises that innovation in teaching and learning is also driven by student feedback that
can be quite confronting unless it is heard and acted upon. She explains:
In the first semester in 2002 a number of students in a third year part-time group some of whom
are already working in the industry expressed concern with the way ideas and concepts were being
presented by two of their teachers. While they were hungry to learn new techniques, they needed
these techniques to be much more specific to the area of the industry they were already working
in. While not everything students say is right, if we didnt listen to our students we wouldnt have
a college. We have to listen. For instance, when students say the workload is too great, I listen.

Listening involves time and effort. Julie telephoned all the course students involved and found
out for herself what they wanted changed. Julie also had to make sure that students were fair
about their complaints.
The benefit of contacting all the students was that it identified problems that needed to be
addressed. Primarily, students wanted short, sharp segments of theory and practice.
Julie explains the impact of the students on planning:
As a result, we totally revised the program in the semester break, as well as thanking the students
for their input. I included a selection of these students into the planning group for the following
year. I have continued a close involvement with them to ensure the changes are working for
all concerned.
I am passionate about my work and I have had experiences of approaches that didnt work. Its
sometimes not just enough to do written evaluations, its also vital to always keep my ear to the
ground and respond to the mood of the groups.

An immediate benefit of this intervention is that the students who wanted changes then
performed significantly better than expected in their end-of-year assessments. Julie Moss found

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

that the students were happy with the outcomes of the discussions with staff and felt satisfied
with what they had achieved.
Other aspects of this innovation in program design to meet student needs included involving
students in the planning of the revised program and matching staff teaching expertise with
each component of the revised program.

Conditions fostering innovation

A range of existing conditions within PSC made this innovation of a revamped third year
program possible and helped shape its form and character. These conditions included:
intervention by
an attentive

intervention by a responsive and attentive manager who acted as an educational leader in

balancing students needs with staff teaching strengths;

commitment by PSC teaching staff to meet the changing needs of each student cohort;

attentiveness to industry and enterprise needs and expectations.

The success of innovation in strengthening teaching and learning outcomes for staff and
students in PSCs core program are now expected to flow into its other programs. The process
used at PSC also significantly extends leadership to students and staff themselves, initiated by
management concern.

Other messages about innovation emerging from this vignette include the following:

Students can foster innovation, if staff listen to students ideas and suggestions.

Managers need to be alert to the intrinsic drivers of innovation in teaching, such as

a teachers passion for a topic.

Within RTOs, different practitioner groups and structures can drive innovation
Research for this study shows that innovation can occur as a result of the efforts of an individual teacher or of a
small group of practitioners. Innovation also can develop within units of an RTO or as a result of whole of
organisation activities. The vignettes and case studies within this report cover innovations developed in all four
categories, summarised in the diagram below.
Diagram 4.1: Location of innovation (Gribble 2002b)



Unit, e.g.

Group of

4 What fosters or impedes innovation in VET teaching and learning?


It was noted earlier that Latchem & Hanna (2001, p.48) point out the dangers in relying too heavily on the
heroic individual innovator. While the individual teacher was the focus of innovation in a previous age when
industry did not have a say in the delivery of education, the advent of an industry-led national training system
has encouraged whole RTOs to engage with innovation and to develop systems to support it. Work teams and
organisational units are often better placed than individual teachers to develop, implement and sustain an
innovation in teaching over time and in the multi-faceted Australian national training system.
Case Study 4 within this chapter on the Open Learning Institute, QLD shows how a whole-of-organisation
approach can support innovation at all levels within the organisation. Innovation can be driven from the bottom
up or from the top down, but if it is to be sustained it often needs both group and organisational support.
Just one of the factors that can drive innovation is the educational manager who is aware of different ways to
stimulate innovation, as described above in Vignette 4.1 and as modelled in the next.

Vignette 4.2

Simultaneously fostering multiple innovations TAFE NSW Hunter

Within the TAFE NSW Hunter Institute, innovation is driven by the interplay of the demands of
the large Newcastle region and the ability of Hunter Institutes staff to find ways in which
programs can be offered in more adaptive ways. Hunter Institute is now consolidating its
organisational flexibility by building innovation across its teaching and learning activities. It is
doing this by consciously and successfully seeking to make innovation the norm and not the
exception in the way teaching programs are now developed and delivered.
A whole-of-organisation approach to innovation in teaching and learning by Australias largest
regional TAFE Institute is the result. Set out below are some reasons for how and why it has
accomplished its achievements.

The catalyst
The catalyst for the Hunter Institutes innovative effort is their Institute Teaching and Learning
Innovation Centre (ITALIC). This was established in 2001 and has attracted over $2m in external
funding for over fifty innovative projects. Many involve digital technology.

rolling out

The role of ITALIC is now changing within the Institute, as the aim of organisational innovation
progresses. Initially, ITALICs role had targeted support for the early adopters of digital
teaching and learning technology but it has now devolved its presence within the organisation.
As one of ITALICs Program Managers, Jock Grady explains:
ITALIC started as a separate mechanism and there was a danger of it becoming seen as elitist or
exclusive. So now ITALIC works within each faculty and aims to model innovative practice and to
encourage a quick spin out to the whole faculty. Instead of growing ITALICs staff, some faculties
now have their own innovation units with a full time staff member.

ITALICs role is now more focused on identifying future trends in pedagogy and providing new
frameworks to prepare for the future. As Jock says:
We are pushing the boundaries to predict how the next generation of teachers and learners will
function. We take ideas and work with people and add value. Currently we are looking at how
small, highly energised teams work. We are using such studies as seeds that attract ideas, to
generate momentum.

Drivers of innovation
The Assistant Director Michael Adermann sees innovation from a quite specific perspective:
a business


as a method to bring change about to address the future. Therefore, it is an investment. We have
to put money into an initiative to make it work. It is value-creating activity, not value-adding.
We are innovative in our business modelling as well as in teaching and learning. We are innovative
in the way in which we manage. Our business model is the Business Excellence Framework, which
has innovation built into it, such as our Quality Reference Group in Leadership and Innovation,
chaired by the Director, which uses creative problem solving techniques.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

To further develop innovation, Hunter Institute is cultivating and forming new partnerships.
For instance, it has links to Microsoft that have supported the development of a knowledge
management system and it is discussing partnership opportunities with two universities, VET
providers and research centres for joint research into the theory and practice of innovation.
Michael Adermann sees digital technology as a driver of innovation:
We want to explore through research how digital technology is not only changing learning but
influencing the whole policy area.

multiple internal
drivers for

Jock Grady views digital technology as part of a trend towards the blurring of boundaries
between explicit and implicit knowledge and believes that information and communications
technology provides new speed and new connectivity possibilities.
Most importantly, says Jock:
We want a broader cross-section of staff developing innovations and we want to help teach staff
how to teach creatively.

To achieve this, the Institute is now disseminating innovative strategies throughout the

Jock Grady predicts that in the future innovation management toolsets will be developed that
will teach staff how to teach creatively and this will suit the Institutes approach to innovation.
The many teachers who are actively involved in innovation within Hunter Institute are
motivated by a variety of incentives including financial support by the Institute and recognition
and appreciation awards. They have developed new capabilities in utilising digital technologies
and facilitation strategies and have plans to expand their innovative teaching and assessment
strategies through action learning, enhanced learner feedback systems and reflective practice.

What inhibits innovation?

The Institutes experience with organisation-wide innovation in teaching and learning leads
Michael Adermann to believe that there have been two main inhibitors at work:
The major inhibitor is the old culture, the old mindsets in teaching and learning and in VET
pedagogy. The average age of our staff is 48, and in some areas, 52, and some of these staff are not
wanting to change. Resourcing is a problem: we need more resources to fully support initiatives.

fear of the new

Jock Grady links this to a fear of the new amongst some teaching staff but Jock also sees the
slowness of the national system as an inhibitor:
The speed of reaction of the VET system is a problem; for instance the time it takes to develop a
new resource, like a Toolbox.

ITALICs other Program Manager, Donna Hensley also agrees that it is still difficult for many
teachers to adjust to this paradigm shift of faster, pro-active development of learning resources.
She believes that teachers would benefit if Toolboxes were smaller, generic, and presented in
chunks or learning objects, which could be used in a number of contexts.

Current innovations
The benefit of an organisation-wide innovation strategy in teaching and learning is reflected in
the range of services now offered to the region. These now include:

tangible success
of strategies

courses in boat and shipbuilding delivered to the region via a Maritime Alliance,
incorporating videoconferencing, online learning and workplace mentors;

electrotechnology courses delivered via a Flexible Learning Centre at Belmont Campus,

using fieldwork simulations and an online assessment tool focusing on authentic assessment
in a laboratory situation;

hairdressing courses delivered at Gosford and Hamilton campuses using custom-made video
resources and an off-the-shelf content management and learning management system;

apprenticeship butchery training courses delivered in the New England area, in

collaboration with New England Institute, using a multi-dimensioned blended learning
approach, including the online provision of the theory components of the course.
4 What fosters or impedes innovation in VET teaching and learning?


In addition, innovation in teaching and learning is also evident in other Institute activities

53 industry-based WELL trainers who have created an online community of practice to

communicate more effectively and share resources;

courses and learning portal provided for the newly formed Learning Community in the
Upper Hunter Valley, in collaboration with mining company Coal & Allied, local councils
and other stakeholders;

a simulated workplace on an interactive CD for Childrens Services students;

art theory teaching which now routinely uses stored digital images so that students can
remotely access and manipulate art images, accompanied by period music.

Donna Hensley reports that the Institutes focus on the provision of blended learning
opportunities, particularly in hands on areas, has resulted in approximately 10% of Hunters
students taking up these options and the numbers are increasing exponentially.

Devolved innovation
The Hunter Institute has taken its energy for innovation away from a start-up specialist teaching
and learning unit and devolved this through its internal teaching and learning operations. This
reduces the gap between practitioners and their support and relocates the responsibility and
benefits of innovation much closer to the teaching and learning professional. This, in turn, has
impacted on a much wider range of innovation in teaching and learning than could be ascribed
to any single unit.
This has been achieved through the aligning and harnessing of a range of change strategies
aimed at a paradigm shift to focus all areas of the organisation on its core business of teaching
and learning.

The messages from this vignette about innovation in teaching include the following points:

Professional isolation can deter innovation in teaching but collaboration between teachers
can often stimulate innovation, so RTOs are wise to stimulate innovation among work teams
and departments or faculties.

Innovation in teaching and learning can be fostered and sustained by specialist units that
focus on innovation or by staff designated with specialist roles.

Innovation in teaching and learning can be supported by senior, middle-level and

supervisory-level managers within RTOs.

Tapping into the social capital of colleagues stimulates innovation in teaching

In the VET workforce, much informal professional or practitioner learning occurs within naturally occurring
communities of practice. Defined briefly, communities of practice are groups of workers bound together by
common interests and a passion for a cause, and who continually interact. They are often informal, with
fluctuating membership and people can belong to more than one community at a time. Communities of practice
are different from formal work groups, project teams or informal networks, in emphasising the development of
members capabilities and the building and exchange of knowledge (Mitchell et al. 2001b).
The literature shows that when appropriately supported by their organisations, communities of practice play
a critical role: they are the major building blocks in creating, sharing, and applying organisational knowledge
(Lesser and Prusak, in Lesser et al. 2000, p.124). Ultimately, communities of practice contribute to
the development of social capital in organisations. The latter has been defined by Cohen and Prusak (2001) as
an organisations stock of intangible human connections such as trust, personal networks and a sense
of community.
Communities of practice are a new concept for most VET personnel and the legitimacy of communities of practice
is being quickly established across the system, according to Mitchell (2003). He found that communities formed
in 2002 by the national staff development program Reframing the Future were generally effective in exploring

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

the depths of professional practice: that is, the set of frameworks, ideas, tools, information, styles, language,
stories and documents that community members share (Wenger et al. 2002).
Vignette 5.2 describes a community of practice developed by TNT Express, TDT Australia and six VET providers
which transformed the relationships and arrangements between all parties, resulting in important outcomes for
students, the enterprise and the providers.

Knowledge management based on practitioner knowledge assists innovation

in teaching
There is growing interest in stimulating the use of knowledge management by both teachers and learners in VET
(Mitchell and Young 2002). Here, for current purposes, knowledge management is defined as:
a multi-disciplined approach to achieving organisational objectives by making the best use of knowledge it
focuses on processes such as acquiring, creating and sharing knowledge and the cultural and technical
foundations that support them. The aim of knowledge management is to align knowledge processes with
organisational objectives (Standards Australia 2001, p.7).

Recent research (e.g. McDermott 2000; Cohen and Prusak 2001) shows that knowledge management, while taking
advantage of technologies such as databases, is dependent on cultural issues within an organisation. This includes
the creative use of knowledge by practitioners within the organisation. For instance, McDermott (2000, p.24)
argues that the art of professional practice is to turn information into solutions. He shows that professionals
exercise a stream of judgements:

when to run a product promotion, how to estimate the size of an oil field, how to reduce the weight and cost
of a structure. To solve these problems, professionals piece information together, reflect on their experience,
generate insights, and use those insights to solve problems (p.24).

McDermott (2000, pp.24-25) concludes that thinking is at the heart of professional practice and knowledge is the
residue of thinking: knowledge comes from experience. VET practitioners can be conceptualised as professionals
who piece information together, reflect on their experience, generate insights, and use those insights to solve
problems (Mitchell and Young 2002).
Vignette 3.2 describes the way the social sciences staff at East Gippsland Institute of TAFE capture, share and
disseminate the knowledge of their colleagues, to refresh and extend their practice. For the community services
staff within the Institute, knowledge management is based on trust and collaboration within the team as well as
shared risk-taking and respect for colleagues.

RTO provider networks foster innovation in teaching

The literature on strengthening and broadening innovation in contemporary organisations that is most relevant
to this study relates to managing and sustaining innovation across networks, not just within individual enterprises.
Networks between organisations and between individuals within and across organisations emerged as key to
innovation in the 1990s. Henry and Mayle (2002) note that the difference between Henry and Walkers 1991 book
on Managing Innovation and their recent publication Managing Innovation and Change is the critical place given in
their later book to people, intellect, partnerships, networks and devolved structures. They remark that some
important long-term themes are unaltered from 1991 including open cultures, and they emphasise that
innovation and change are not short-term undertakings. However, they note that in the intervening period
partnerships and networks have now come to be regarded as additional contributors to innovation (Henry and
Mayle 2002, p.xii).
Mitchell et al. (2002) report on a range of VET assessor networks involving assessors from different networks
that effectively developed new assessment strategies and tools.
Case Study 3 describes how a VET provider, Torrens Valley TAFE, deliberately networked with international
practitioners in assessment, in order to improve its innovation.

Innovation can be impeded by countless factors at many steps in the

innovation process
This study stresses the complexities of innovation and how it often requires a range of enabling factors including
favourable pre-conditions and high-level skills of a range of contributors. Impediments and resistance to
innovation are to be expected.
4 What fosters or impedes innovation in VET teaching and learning?


Innovation is part of change and resistance to change is a common, almost universal phenomenon.
Organisations, groups and individuals frequently resist anticipating or responding to change in order to focus
their energy on current conditions. Frequently the meaning and significance of change also has to be explained
and interpreted into meaningful forms before the goals and means to achieve it are legitimated. Change also
invariably involves forms of loss and redistribution of power that may be resisted by particular interested groups
or stakeholders. In broad terms, and especially in the postmodern world, change is contestable and the same
applies to innovation, including innovation in professional practice.
One way to consider the factors that can impede innovation is to consider the reverse of the factors identified in
this chapter as potentially fostering innovation. For example:

RTOs can impede innovation by failing to respond to either internal or external pressures for innovation.
An example of this is an RTO that loses business by ignoring enterprises that want training delivered in the

RTOs can impede innovation by ignoring the social capital of their staff and not appreciating the value of
staff knowledge of industry and staff networking with members of the industry.

Other factors within an RTO that can impede innovation include the lack of management support, insufficient
resources, staff resistance, student opposition and an inability to convert creative ideas into innovative services
that can be implemented. Case Study 2 on the Institute of TAFE Tasmania described how organisational leaders
needed to counter a culture that was not industry-focused, before innovation could be introduced and be
VET system factors can both foster and impede innovation. For example, the audit and compliance aspect of VET
can affect innovation in teaching. Vignette 4.2 profiles an RTO that continues to be a leader in innovation despite
the awareness of one key staff member that some systemic factors might militate against innovation.

In answer to the question in the title of this chapter What fosters or impedes innovation in teaching and
learning in VET? one of the findings from this study is that internal and external pressures can affect
innovation in teaching within RTOs. For example, one specific organisational strategy that can foster innovation
in teaching is developing a corporate culture that is agile and flexible and encourages diverse thought, individual
initiative and the development of new ideas.
Innovation can be fostered by different structures. For instance, networks can foster innovation across
organisations. Additionally, innovation in teaching can be fostered by an individual teacher or a small group of
practitioners, or units within an organisation or the whole of the organisation. Tapping into the social capital of
colleagues stimulates innovation in teaching and encouraging knowledge management based on practitioner
knowledge can assist innovation in teaching.
Innovation in teaching can be impeded by the opposite approaches. For example, RTOs can impede innovation
by discounting the value of staff networking with industry.
The idea that organisations, groups and individuals can and do impede innovation is simply proof that an
innovation must go through some form of initiation ceremony at a variety of organisational levels; and that
innovation must defeat or circumvent the antibodies that organisations often generate against change in order
to protect their stability.
This raises a difficult and complex issue. Why do individuals, groups and whole organisations unless in crisis
and facing very limited options work to destabilise themselves by embracing or initiating internal change?
Whilst this issue about innovation cannot be dealt with in this report, the significance of innovation as an
initially ambiguous venture for those concerned does need to be noted.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Case Study 4

Embedding innovation across the organisation Open Learning

Institute, QLD
Taking a whole-of-organisation approach to innovation means reviewing all the practices and
processes within the organisation and redesigning the organisations plans and structures, as
well as influencing the culture of the organisation. The following is a case study of one provider
that took on these major tasks.
The case study also highlights the value of individual staff taking the lead in an initiative.

The Open Learning Institute (OLI) in Queensland provides over 124 different courses to more
than 23,000 students a year. While delivery is predominantly through the use of print-based
materials, a range of delivery models is used. For example, for courses in childrens services, OLI
uses a combination of print-based materials, workplace mentors and assessors,
videoconferencing, telephone tutorials and telephone advice.
OLIs students are located throughout the State and are most likely to be mature aged, have
prior post-secondary educational experience and be in employment. They will also have chosen
modes of delivery that suit their work circumstances and/or lifestyle requirements.

Irrespective of the delivery mode selected by the student, OLI staff are mindful that factors such
as student motivation and readiness for learning are key components in predicting successful
student outcomes. OLI staff are continuously monitoring and analysing their customers
preferences and expectations to get a better understanding of what makes for success. For
example, as John Blakeley, OLIs Director of Educational Services, explains:
These factors [readiness and motivation] can be as significant as design, delivery model choice
and the level of interactivity in the achievement of successful outcomes. Appropriate information
prior to enrolment, induction and support need to be provided. Expectations of the level of
service to be provided need to be clearly communicated at the outset.

model demands
more innovative

The Institute operates a distributed learning model of operation. This means that students never
need to come onto campus. This mode of operation sets up challenges that require innovative
solutions. As John explains:
Distributed learning requires that the entire learning-teaching process is conceived before a
student becomes involved. Distributed learning creates flexibility in some ways, but can be quite
rigid in others: for example, the relative lack of real-time contact with a teacher or tutor.

The consequence of these sorts of factors is that there is an ongoing need for innovation
because this method of operation quickly unpacks more traditional assumptions and
relationships about teaching and learning. It demands more attention to innovative professional
practice in order to make the whole model of operation workable. However, successful
innovation means that the model can then be extended to more diverse student groups and
across a wider range of services. This is now OLIs experience and this experience now offers
exportable ideas for other providers to consider.
Ongoing innovation is strongly supported by research by OLI staff. According to John Blakeley,
the research will need to be continuous:
OLI must continue to search and develop new and relevant ways of interactivity for students,
within its resource constraints.


the internal
dynamics of

A number of specific, internal drivers are behind OLIs development of innovative teaching and
learning models. Some of these drivers are dynamic, that is, they are part of the consequence of
running with this type of model and are closely tied into the logic of turning this model into an
operational success. Examples of this include: the need to constantly improve interaction between
teacher and student; the need to efficiently and effectively continue to meet the demands of the
client groups; and the need to improve OLIs relationships with its delivery partners.
The external drivers that caused OLI to set up their innovative teaching and learning models
include pressure from students and the expectations of partners. Each year more and more
4 What fosters or impedes innovation in VET teaching and learning?


students want to determine when to enrol, when to study and when to submit assessments. For
example, OLI now has around 70,000 module enrolments each year that have starting and
finishing dates determined by the students. To enable students to enrol at any time in the 52
weeks of the year, the Institute developed a digital customer relationship management (CRM)
system called OSCAR.
Partnership relationships are uncovering the need for new teaching and learning approaches.
For example, OLI has a new partnership with Queensland Health to deliver leadership training
to their staff. As John Blakeley explains:
Defining and redefining the Institutes role and the need to continuously improve its relationship
with its partners in learning (the motto and key value proposition of the Institute) demand that
we seek new and/or better ways to perform all aspects of OLIs operation.

Description of an OLI innovation

The following example helps to explain how innovation unfolds at OLI. The partnership
between OLI and Queensland Health delivers a leadership development program for
supervisors, team leaders and all core staff for Queensland Health.

In January 2001, OLI began a contract that continues today with Queensland Health. This was
to develop and deliver training services for administrative staff in the Certificates II, III and IV
and Diploma of Government from the Public Services Training Package. The delivery of these
services is based on a workplace delivery model that includes the provision of unique learner
support by a group that includes an OLI facilitator and a Queensland Health local program
coordinator, a workplace supervisor, and a workplace assessor. This model differs from those
being trialled in other States, in that the latter normally start with the Certificate IV and Diploma
of Government and do not cater initially for Certificate III.
unique workplace
learner support

The other components of this workplace learning model include:

a self-assessment process to support formal recognition of existing skills;

appropriately designed learning content and workplace activities;

self-check activities;

support and assessment tools provided for assessors;

Queensland Health workplace assessors who conduct the assessment.

A further innovative dimension involves the use of an online service provided by OLI called
VETTWeb. Some of the functions made possible by the VETTWeb platform include allowing
students to enrol, obtain administrative support, access learning materials and communicate
with their facilitators. More specifically, online features of the leadership program include:

an online interface between learner and facilitator;

an electronic forum for workplace assessors;

a help desk based at OLI;

access by Queensland Health local program coordinators to tracking and reporting facilities
on VETTWeb.

In addition, the Queensland Health participants who access the associated VETTWeb learning
room include 40 local program coordinators, 140 workplace assessors, all online participants
and the Queensland Health corporate office.
One feature of this unique delivery model is that the student is provided with an easy-to-follow,
online flow chart that maps out the various pathways that can be taken to obtain qualifications.
For instance, the flow chart shows how and when the student can complete self-assessment
tests, apply for recognition of current competencies, inform a supervisor and workplace assessor
of progress and participate in assessment activities.
Kathy Bannister, the OLI Program Manager for the Queensland Health partnership, reports that
the student outcomes from this initiative are significant:
Since October 2001, approximately 2000 course application forms have been processed across
60 Queensland Health Districts and Statewide services and corporate office branches. Of 800


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

enrolments (with over 45% receiving recognition of prior learning) 450 qualifications have
been issued as of March 2003.

Developing the innovation

The current partnership model between the OLI and Queensland Health is the beneficiary of
experience learned from two previous undertakings. In 199899 Kathy Bannister applied a
similar model to Air Services (aviation rescue and fire fighting), for units now associated with
the Public Safety Training Package. The experience from this Air Services project influenced the
design and delivery of a pilot trial for the Queensland State Government Departments Certified
Agreement (2000). This involved the delivery of training across 20 government agencies
involving 16 TAFE Institutes.
Significant planning and negotiation between OLI and Queensland Health were required before
the leadership program commenced, especially given the complexities of providing distributed
learning across the State with a corporate partner.
OLIs steps to
success with its
corporate partner

Kathy Bannister says that experience indicates that there are five planning steps that can be
identified in this relationship building.

The first step is to focus the client on understanding the VET sector and the workplace learning
model. Topics for discussion include enrolment procedures, awards, assessment strategies and
reporting requirements. This planning stage also involves explaining the need to register
enterprise-based workplace assessors with an RTO.
The second step is to examine the clients hardware capabilities, to identify the resources
required for the online components of the learning program.
The third step is to work through a flow chart of actions needed to underpin the delivery of the
course, as follows:

establish online portal to support delivery using VETTWeb;

draft all student administration documentation such as enrolment forms, withdrawal forms
and change contact detail forms;

contextualise workplace assessor profile forms;

establish workplace assessor database;

develop self-assessment resources;

develop supervisor guide for self-assessment;

develop self-assessment video;

develop workplace assessor refresher program;

develop assessment tools;

engage tutorial support;

set up internal (OLI) processes for handling enrolments and RPL applications.

The fourth step relates to quality and risk management. OLI managers are advised to:

check thoroughly against the flow chart of actions set out in the third stage;

think of all the likely students concerns and develop responses to possible frequently asked
questions for posting to the program website;

make sure the client is familiar with all the processes; and

understand the VETTWeb and other technology requirements.

The fifth and final step is to conduct orientation sessions for the client; to conduct change
management sessions for the workplace supervisors; and to ensure that students, workplace
supervisors and assessors are familiar with the RPL/RCC process.
This demanding five-step process provides OLI with a stepped model for guiding the successful
delivery of programs that are developed in partnership with large corporate clients and where
online support services are involved.
4 What fosters or impedes innovation in VET teaching and learning?


Benefits for clients staff and organisation

Besides impressive student completion rates, Kathy Bannister considers that another important
outcome was for Queensland Health staff who increased their understanding and knowledge of
how to use both self-paced learning print-based materials and online materials. Kathy also
believes that as all the learning in the program is linked to each individuals workplace, the work
of each participant is enriched.

learning relevant
to workplace

The program meets Queensland Healths needs to provide employees with learning which is
highly relevant to their workplace. At the same time it provides students with a whole of
organisation perspective to see how their work contributes to Queensland Healths goals and
values and to develop an appreciation of the competencies required of future leaders in
the organisation.
Kathy Bannister believes that the local program coordinators within Queensland Health gain
from an improved understanding of the workplace learning model and the use of the online
medium. Importantly, they are also enhancing their understanding of vocational educational
and training. In addition, Queensland Health workplace assessors benefit from a refresher
program conducted by OLI and from accessing online support materials and advice.

OLI staff benefit from involvement in the Queensland Health partnership, particularly by
coming to understand the learning needs of a client organisation. The OLI itself benefits from
the Queensland Health partnership as it provides an example of how OLI can satisfy the diverse
needs of a large organisation, using integrated strategies and resources.

Sustaining and transferring the model

wider sector
applications now

Kathy Bannister believes that the momentum of the OLI-Queensland Health workplace learning
model will be sustained. For example, the enterprise bargaining agreement within Queensland
Health will ensure that training in this sector will continue. This agreement links pay progression
to qualifications for the target group, administrative staff, and provides staff with reward and
recognition for participating in the program. Kathy Bannister also believes that the upskilling of
Queensland Health staff fits with the State governments commitment to a Smart State strategy.
The OLI model developed for leadership programs within Queensland Health also appears
transferable within that sector. For example, operational workers within Queensland Health are
now also undertaking self-assessment programs to gain qualifications using the same workplace
learning model. Queensland Health is also using the VETTWeb platform to deliver additional
units on human resources for the purpose of professional development, in particular HR staff.
Other service units within Queensland Health are also now focusing on how they can use the
delivery platform as a medium to deliver professional development training for their staff.

Whole of organisation support for innovation

A theme of this case study is that innovation in one program delivered by the OLI the
partnership with Queensland Health is underpinned and supported by the whole structure of
OLI. This raises the question of what has OLI done to support innovation within its organisation.
John Blakeley sees three influences behind OLIs embedding of innovation within OLI:
support for

The embedding of innovation in the operations and daily work of the OLI has, I believe, come
about from several influences, but is chiefly through the integration of those influences.
Firstly, there does need to be some understood and accepted direction or vision for the Institute.
Secondly, this must be linked to the tasks and roles of staff in such a way that they can see the
link. Thirdly, there needs to be a shared acceptance of the value of planning, the rewarding and
recognition of effort and the acknowledging of accomplishments. All of these must be regularly
communicated and discussed and reported on.

The social and technical infrastructures at OLI are aligned and contribute to this integrated
approach to innovation.
Other actions taken within OLI also stimulate innovation in teaching and learning. For instance,
the OLI executive seeks out and encourages participation in a range of planned activities that
explore avenues of learning that are of strategic importance to the Institute.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

As an example, the OLI has conducted over 13 LearnScope Projects in the last three years and
the 2003 LearnScope projects are structured as part of the overall estrategy for the Institute.
OLI have also undertaken two Framing the Future projects and in 2002 John Blakeley undertook
research as a Flexible Learning Leader.
In 2002 OLI instituted a reward and recognition process that results in an annual overview and
celebration of staff nominated in the following categories: innovation, leadership, client service,
excellence and team work. The categories overlap, but they reflect the activities valued in the
OLI and were selected by OLI staff.
Customer feedback tools are regularly refined and are used across all delivery teams and
The innovation process which is a feature both of its internal work processes and its
competitive strength continues to be a major focus at OLI.
It is clear that the organisation has been successful in encouraging staff to gather, assess and
implement an appropriate range of creative ideas from themselves, colleagues and students.
Opportunities are continuously provided for staff, students and customers to provide feedback
and suggestions. Mediums for these include face-to-face feedback, purpose-specific student
surveys, course and module evaluations and focus groups.

Other approaches to stimulate creativity that can lead to innovation at OLI include:

allocating appropriate resources to promising ideas;

emphasising the importance of staff participation in improvement;

establishing benchmarking partners and providing staff with online access to participate in
international benchmarking activities;

refining approaches to researching, designing and developing new technologies and

techniques to improve OLI.

Creative thinking leads to ideas that become suggestions for consideration. These suggestions
are then logged within OLI electronically and they are tracked until resolved.
The above are all initiatives that help to build creativity and strongly encourage staff
contributions. By focusing on, and supporting, the social and human capital of the organisation
and its relationships with learners OLI appears to be creating the internal leadership and
infrastructure necessary for innovation to be more generative and systemic across its individual
operations. For this reason innovation seems as though it is embedded in a wider if less visible
whole-of-organisation system of practice.

The messages about innovation in teaching and learning from this case study include the

Expediency can drive innovation in teaching, such as the need to deliver to students who
do not physically attend a campus.

RTOs that have foresight and plan for innovation are well placed to take advantage of new
market opportunities.

Innovative services often move through various iterations over a period of years as the
organisation and its members improvise and learn.

4 What fosters or impedes innovation in VET teaching and learning?



Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Who gains from innovation in VET teaching and learning? 5

This chapter extends the discussion in chapter one about the importance of innovation in teaching and learning
by identifying who benefits from innovation.

Key points
Key points raised in the chapter include the following:

Innovation in teaching can have a ripple effect, moving beyond the individual learner to benefit the
community, industry and regions.

The positive impacts on the teachers involved in an innovation can be ongoing, as an innovation at one
point in time can be improved upon later, so teachers involved in innovation are continually improving
their professional skills.

Innovation in teaching can have both tangible and intangible effects on the VET sector and its external
relationships, increasing its reach to workplaces and student cohorts that may not have been catered for by
more conventional teaching strategies, ultimately raising the profile and standing of the VET sector.

Innovation in teaching facilitates students learning

The discussion in Chapter 3 showed how innovation in teaching assists learners and all fifteen case studies and
vignettes show how students learning is enhanced by innovation in teaching. For instance, Case Study 1
described how youths at risk benefited from the innovative teaching approaches taken by the Holmesglen
Institute of TAFE. As just one example, Holmesglen TAFE staff re-invented and enlivened horticulture sessions to
fit with the backyard blitz mindset of the students, resulting in improved motivation and more meaningful
student learning.
Some further examples of innovation that facilitates learning are as follows:

In Vignette 3.1 on Caterpillar Institute (WA), the comprehensive learning system constructed by the
training staff catered for different learning styles and ensured a high level of success by the students.

In Vignette 5.2 below, teachers assisting TNT Express travelled in the cabins of large transport vehicles, to
conduct on-the-job assessment and training of drivers, enabling the drivers to demonstrate their
competencies in a familiar environment.
5 Who gains from innovation in VET teaching and learning?


The community benefits from innovation in VET teaching

Innovation in teaching can benefit the wider community in a number of ways. For instance, Vignette 5.1 below
describes how an Indigenous community in a remote part of Northern Territory benefited from an innovative
training program that provided previously unemployed participants with employable skills.
Three other examples are as follows:

Vignette 1.2 on TAFE NSW North Coast Institute and Centrelink showed how a more highly-trained
Centrelink staff impacted positively on regional development and community well-being.

Case Study 1 on Holmesglen Institutes provision of meaningful training for boys at risk demonstrated the
community benefits of the young people acquiring a positive attitude to their own work and study futures.

Case Study 5 on Goodwill Industries in Perth shows how structured, accredited training provides benefits
for people with cerebral palsy, increasing their confidence, enriching their lives and providing each
individual with an objective measure of what competencies they have acquired.

Innovation in teaching meets the needs of equity groups

Understanding and satisfying the learning needs of equity groups such as the vision impaired, people in remote
areas and Indigenous people requires innovative responses by educators.
With the advent of Training Packages, concern is often expressed by equity group advocates that the starting
point is too high and that bridges are needed into the Training Package qualifications. As a practical response to
this concern, a chunking of competencies is often undertaken so as to suit the local context and abilities of the
students and to lead the learner into nationally recognised qualifications through gradual stages. For example,
Vignette 5.1 describes the way the relevant competencies from one Training Package were identified to suit a
group of unemployed Indigenous people.
Training Packages lend themselves to such customisation in the hands of highly skilled VET practitioners who
understand the learners context. In the disability arena, the aim is to assess learners to the national standard
and to identify ways of assessing within the particular confines of the disability for example, by using body
language rather than the spoken word, but still achieving the comparable standard. There are very many VET
examples where, with the guidance of experienced practitioners, equity groups are progressing very well
through national qualifications in Training Packages. For instance, Case Study 5 on Goodwill Industries in Perth,
describes the provision based on innovative teaching approaches of accredited training for people with
cerebral palsy.
Buys et al. (1999) found that it is important for students with disabilities to assert their rights and demand access
to sufficient information to enable them to make informed choices. Students must seek assistance whenever it is
needed and advise authorities of any physical access difficulties they encounter or other problems with support
services. Buys et al. (1999) also found that VET providers must ensure that their staff receive adequate training
programs, information and incentives to address equity issues. It is the responsibility of the organisation to
maintain standards in teaching practice, to monitor the appropriateness of support services and to audit the
physical accessibility of their facilities.
Technologies such as CD ROM and the Internet potentially provide opportunities for equity groups, but equity
issues are particularly complex in the field of online learning. For instance, practices such as providing text-based
alternatives for multimedia to comply with W3C requirements may be boring for the vision-impaired user. Elearn
in Western Australia caters for students who are blind or vision-impaired:
West Australian training provider Elearn WA has successfully constructed and field tested a new product that
enables blind and vision-impaired students to access cutting-edge online training resources that provide entrylevel IT training. Users of the product, TruVision, are able to self-direct their learning, by using an audio and textbased interface, so that the learning context and interactions can be heard through a combination of screen
reader and streamed audio (Campus Review, 2002 Sept, 1117, p.14)

Empowering the individual to ask for assistance is admirable, but people cannot always be expected to ask, so
teachers and support services staff need to be aware of the needs and find ways to anticipate these requests. Equity
group networks and mentoring services are options being used by some RTOs to benefit equity groups.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Vignette 5.1

Innovation in teaching remote Indigenous students about mining

operations Alcan, Yirrkala Business Enterprises and Government, NT
Innovations in service delivery can provide benefits for a range of stakeholders. This is the case
in the following vignette, which describes a learning program delivered to unemployed
Indigenous students in Arnhem Land.


ambitious for a
remote location

The location is a remote part of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, 30km from Nhulunbuy.
A unique partnership has been forged between a mining enterprise, Alcan, an Aboriginal
company, Yirrkala Business Enterprises, and governments (NT-DEET and DEWR), to help ensure
future employment opportunities for Indigenous people in the region. The program is
ambitious in its aims and design for such a remote location but the students are motivated to
learn and there is a real need for skilled workers in the region.
Alcans latest innovative project is the YBE Nabalco Operator Training School (YNOTS) which is
providing training and employment for local Indigenous people. For Alcan and Yirrkala
Business Enterprises, YNOTS is a new phase in the thirty-year relationship between the
two companies. According to the Alcan Group President Primary Metal, Cynthia Carroll,
the YNOTS innovation provides mutual benefits for Aboriginal people and industry. Ms
Carroll said: YNOTS is showing Aboriginal people that they can balance their culture with
employment demands.

Craig Bonney, the Manager of YNOTS, sees the YNOTS innovation as a continuation of previous
efforts by Alcan Gove formerly known as Nabalco and a bauxite mine and alumina processing
operation in the Northern Territory to ensure equity and continued access to the resources of
North East Arnhem Land for Indigenous Australians.

YNOTS provides Indigenous students with nationally accredited, practical training in equipment
operation, road construction, earthworks and mining and also modules in life skills, work
routines, health and safety and financial management. All trainees are New Apprentices and are
enrolled in the Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Open Cut) as well as Certificate
I, II or III in Workplace Education.
In 2002 the mining-related competencies included: operate light vehicle, conduct truck
operations, operate forklift, conduct front end loader operations, conduct dozer operations and
conduct grader operations.

simulated work

The training is provided in a simulated work environment, mirroring the conditions the students
could expect to find in the Alcan mine operation and providing access to the same machinery
the students could be using in full time employment. Students fill in timesheets and
operator forms used by Alcan. Trainers from Advanced Training International, the RTO awarded
the tender to conduct the program, have expertise in driving large mine machines,
enabling them to teach students on the same machines they might be operating in their
future jobs.
The YNOTS program has run for two years from 2001 to 2002 and is continuing in 2003.
The first year of the program in 2001 was successful in that many participants acquired a range
of new competencies. But there was a view that the collection of competencies did not add up
to a strong, coherent whole for the individual student. Additionally, literacy and numeracy
emerged as an obstacle to student achievement, as the students are expected to be able to fill
out forms and to understand road signs in English.
In response to these concerns, changes made in 2002 included the use of a support group and
the allocation of mentors, including two graduates from the 2001 student cohort. In addition,
specialist staff from the Northern Territory University were engaged to assist students to acquire
further skills in literacy and numeracy. The new focus in 2002 on the use of Training Packages
is considered a major benefit for students who can now attain a nationally recognised
qualification that is portable to other settings and transferable to many worksites. In 2002, the
original innovation was consolidated and improved.
5 Who gains from innovation in VET teaching and learning?


Impact and sustainability

In November 2002, of the 24 trainees who commenced the 30 week program, 20 successfully
completed the course and 15 have moved into employment with a broad range of businesses
and community organisations. Eighteen of the group completed a Certificate II and several
undertook a Certificate III in relation to working bulldozers.
providing a sense
of a future

Peter Hogan from Northern Territorys DEET reports that YNOTS and Alcan have planned a
workshop in 2003 to look at a five-year plan for the sustainability and development of YNOTS:
YNOTS will not be a one or two-year program but has the long-term backing and support of
Alcan and YBE. They are committed to getting the program to increase Indigenous employment
in East Arnhem. It is rare to get such a private enterprise commitment to a project such as this
and Alcan needs to be complimented on this initiative. They are committed to develop this
project so that it not only works but so that it is recognised as a best practice initiative.

The benefits of the YNOTS program extend to the individual students and their communities,
industry and enterprises. The YNOTS logo reads, The road to the future, and, according to
Craig Bonney, that is what this venture is all about: providing young Indigenous people with a
future; a sense of purpose, confidence and hope.

Other messages from this vignette about innovation in teaching include the following:

The provision of relevant VET assessment and training services to Indigenous people in
remote parts of Australia can have multiple effects: from positively inspiring the individual
learner, to providing role models within the community, to assisting local industry and
creating more jobs.

To provide innovative, effective teaching in remote areas of Australia is not an easy task, as
it requires high levels of collaboration between government, industry, the community,
teachers and learners.

Innovation in teaching enriches teaching practice

A consistent theme in the case studies and vignettes in this report is that developing and implementing an
innovation in teaching provides opportunities for teachers to reflect, work on and improve their practice. For
instance, Case Study 2 on textile teaching in Tasmania records how staff held regular meetings where the teachers
reconsidered their approaches.
Some other examples from this report are as follows:

Vignette 1.1 on the Manufacturing Learning Centres described how the innovation created a learning
culture within each participating enterprise, enabling the workplace trainers and assessors as well as the
TAFE lecturers and VET in School teachers to learn from each other about optimising the workplace as a site
for learning.

Case Study 3 on assessing generic skills in electrotechnology at Torrens Valley Institute TAFE described how
professional teaching practice was positively affected by benchmarking the innovation against the best
practitioners in the world.

Innovation in teaching increases the capability of the teachers organisation

Another theme is that the RTOs profiled in the report regularly seek to replicate an innovation from one section
in another section of the same organisation. For example, in Case Study 4 on the Open Learning Institutes
innovative delivery of a leadership program to Queensland Health, OLI managers believed that the innovation
not only increased OLIs capability to offer the same organisation other programs, it also enabled OLI to have the
confidence to offer similar programs to other organisations.
Other examples from this report are as follows:


Vignette 1.2 on North Coast Institutes provision of on-the-job assessment and training for Centrelinks call
centre staff in Coffs Harbour led to North Coast Institute repeating the service in two other call centres and
promoting the model across the TAFE NSW network.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Vignette 2.1 on Brisbane and North Point Institutes innovations in simulated assessment in trade areas led
to the promotion of simulation in other Training Package areas within the Institute and also attracted the
attention of other RTOs.

Innovation in teaching increases the capability of client enterprises

A range of the case studies and vignettes in this report highlight how innovation in teaching and learning has
increased the capabilities of enterprises and RTOs. For instance, in Vignette 1.1 on the Manufacturing Learning
Centres in South Australia, the manufacturing companies involved were clear about the benefits of participation.
These benefits not only included the possibility of attracting school leavers; the benefits also included the positive
impact on their companys activities, such as the reflection undertaken by the companys learning mentors about
improved, workbased learning processes.
Other examples of clients capabilities increasing as a result of innovation include:

Vignette 3.2 on East Gippsland TAFE reported that health and community service enterprises throughout
the region benefited from staff undertaking structured training and other staff becoming skilled as
workplace mentors.

Vignette 5.2 below shows how a large Australian company benefits from the best practice teaching
developed by a group of six VET providers. The company sought the collaboration of the providers in
developing best practice, to optimise training within the enterprise and to ensure that the introduction of a
new technology was uniform across its many branches. Its story follows.

Vignette 5.2

Best practice delivery led by a national enterprise TNT Express

For Australian-wide enterprises like TNT Express, a large transport and distribution firm, the
availability of consistent and portable qualifications is essential to assist company training effort.
Moreover, to be regarded as effective and relevant such accredited training needs to be
delivered at times, in places and in ways that suit the enterprise and its staff.
This type of responsiveness is not simply left to training providers. As the following example shows,
a national company can be extremely proactive in bringing around the right kind of delivery and
can do so by innovating with new types of partnering arrangements with the right kind of provider.
TNT Express provides a good example of innovative practice that involves the establishment of
a community of practice comprising the company, six providers and TDT Australia Pty Ltd as
the project manager.
This relationships-based approach shows the potential that can arise from high levels of
collaboration between all parties, including the sharing of learning materials and an agreement
to jointly adopt a best practice approach to training delivery.

TNT Express is one of Australias largest and leading transport and distribution companies. It has
depots located across the country at airports and in metropolitan and country locations in every
State and Territory.

changes in

TNT Express is an accredited Investor in People, an international quality standard for people
management, and its strategies for improving business performance depend on ensuring its
people are skilled, motivated and informed.
Competition in the transport and distribution industry is characterised by the continual
introduction of new technologies that increase speed and efficiency of operations but also affect
work processes. Within this turbulent change environment, TNT Express defines having skilled
staff as a key to its future prosperity and survival.
Front End Data Collection technology (FEDC) is one example of a new technology that TNT
Express is now introducing throughout the company. FEDC involves the use of a hand-held data
collection unit that is passed over each transported item when it is loaded or off-loaded. This
technology enables TNT Express and its client to track, via the Internet, the movement of the
item at any given point in time.
5 Who gains from innovation in VET teaching and learning?


The rollout of this technology and the competitive edge it gives the company depends
heavily on the speed and success in training TNTs internal staff. These pressures provide key
drivers for the innovation in teaching described below. However, a number of enabling
conditions were required in order to ensure an adequate training response.
These conditions were as follows. TNT Express as a national enterprise was seeking quality and
consistency in training and assessment for skills, including skills in the new technology in order
to secure business benefits. But they also had access to an industry training body that could
provide a project management service; and providers from several States who were prepared
to collaborate in order to satisfy TNT Express as their common client.
To meet the training needs of its widely dispersed workforce and to keep up with these
competitive changes in its industry, TNT Express embarked on a program to train as many of
its staff as possible in Transport & Distribution Certificate III (Road Transport) in 2000. TNT
Express entered into Traineeship training agreements with providers to deliver the certificate
training for New Entrants and Existing Workers.

From 20002002, six providers from five States and from the Northern Territory became
involved in the program of upgrading the qualifications of TNT Express staff. These were
Victoria University, the SA Institute of Applied Logistics, Transport Forum from WA, TAFE NSW
Western Sydney Institute, TransQual from Queensland and Northern Territory University.
TDT Australia, the national industry training advisory body (ITAB) for transport and distribution,
became involved in this program, as it had a long-standing relationship with TNT Express
through the apprenticeship scheme. Additionally, TDTs Cinthia Del Grosso had facilitated a
community of practice as part of a pilot program in 2001 for Reframing the Future and she
proposed to Robert Adams, TNTs National Training and Development Manager, that the
establishment of a community of practice might enable the consortium of providers to better
meet the needs of TNT Express. The availability of funding from Reframing the Future for TNT
Express to establish a community of practice was also an enabler.

Developing the innovation

a system of
best practice

work needed
to establish
shared views

To ensure consistent quality of training across State and Territory borders, TNT Express
proposed that the six different providers agree on a shared model for the provision of training.
In response, TDT Australia recommended the establishment of a community of practice in
2002, consisting of all the stakeholders in the training program. Communities of Practice are
groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems or a passion about a topic, and who
deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis (Wenger,
McDermott & Snyder 2002)
TNT Express saw the establishment of a community of practice among this group as a means
for developing a system of best practice between its providers, and in opening up
communication channels with them and TNT Express staff. The community could also
accelerate and enrich the implementation of the Training Package. The facilitator of the
community of practice, Cinthia Del Grosso from TDT Australia, described the first meeting:
At that first face-to-face meeting of the group in early 2002, the providers were reluctant to speak
as they were sitting with rival providers. Some providers were not used to considering the
enterprise as the initial client: they were used to seeing the individual student as the client. So
some time was given to the group defining itself in relation to the client (TNT Express). This was
very important as all members worked at establishing the goals, values, objectives and strategy
for working together, thus gaining ownership of the group and of its work aims.

The community of practice found that face-to-face meetings were the most effective.
Teleconferences were found to work well once an agenda was set. This involved issues first
being aired by email between participants. Twenty nine people were involved in some capacity
with this community of practice, although the core was a group of eight who met face-to-face
and in teleconferences during 2002.
In 2002, some problems began to emerge in the scheme. The head office of TNT Express in
Sydney had stipulated to the providers the 21 units from the Training Package that they wanted
delivered, but providers had approached each depot and discussed the units with operational

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

staff. These discussions resulted in the providers suggesting that 60 different units be delivered
around the country, with different units offered in each site. By having an established
communication forum this issue was quickly resolved, with the unit selection process being
consolidated to ensure consistency across all sites.
Cinthia reports that the concept of a community of practice was challenging for these participants:
work needed
to establish
shared views

At first, identifying with a sense of community was really difficult for people who in every other
facet of their work are their competitors, so it was really important to focus on their professional
practice. Only after a period of time did they start to review their role as a member of
a community.

As with all communities of practice, Cinthia found that there was some work to do to establish
shared views:
There were issues with understandings about who the client was, the role of TDT in the project,
the standards expected by the Company, the practical implementation of training and creating
the opportunities for relationships to develop and build but the most important lesson that I
learnt was that relationships take time to build.

Cinthia also noted that the usual challenges of time and distance were combined with the
difficulty of each provider being at a different stage with regard to the implementation of the
TNT Express New Apprenticeship program.

In Cinthias judgement, a meeting held in August 2002 at last brought the group together. They
planned activities and a conference for all involved in the program, for November 2002. The
conference enabled the group to focus on learning about the FEDC system, to showcase the
learning resources developed for the Certificate, to launch the TNT Training Newsletter
Investing in our People and to discuss a variety of learning programs and issues.
The development of trust between the members was also a turning point. As Cinthia says:
Once trust was developed, the providers opened their doors to each other to share current
knowledge and to develop and learn new or perhaps different ways of doing things. TNT Express
also opened their doors, making their specialised staff available for providers developing
specialised training and resources specific to TNT Express.

The groups convenor, TNTs Robert Adams, believes that there were significant benefits in
building rapport:
The level of collaboration between the providers enabled us to achieve the critical outcomes of
consistency in methodology and content at each of the sites. We could not have achieved this
without a community of practice.

Teaching and assessment dimensions of the innovation

Co-operation within the community of practice resulted in the development of a common and
shared model of teaching. This was arrived at as follows.
Firstly, the six providers agreed with TNT Express to identify best practices in teaching within
the group and then to adopt them. TNT Express staff identified the best practice provider
and other providers responded by visiting their interstate colleague. Peter Thomson, Manager
of the Centre for Transport, Distribution and Logistics at Victoria University, and a leading
participant in best practice within this project, believes that best practice includes a range
of activities:
staff only in the
depot early or
late in the day

We needed to develop a learning system that fitted with the fact that the staff were only in the
depot from 6.008.00am and didnt return till 5.006.00pm. We put a lot of effort into preassessment, interviewing each participant and finding out their current knowledge and
competencies. As a result of this analysis, we made modifications to the way we delivered the
training and the way we assessed. We also involved the trainees in the process, who enjoyed
having some input

One unique aspect of the delivery of training was that in some States trainers actually
accompanied TNT Express drivers in their trucks, and conducted in-cab assessments of
competencies in the real workplace situation.
Secondly, the six providers agreed with TNT Express to use common processes. These included
a Pre-Assessment Tool; Individualised Training Plans; Site Workforce Plans; and State Plans. Peter
5 Who gains from innovation in VET teaching and learning?


Thomson from Victoria University believes that the willingness of the providers to follow these
steps demonstrated that they were responsive to TNTs needs.
Thirdly, the six providers agreed to develop learning materials for different aspects of the
Certificate III and to then share these materials. Peter Thomson explains that the relationship
between the providers was initially stand offish, but the face-to-face meetings between the
interstate providers turned this around, resolved this and the community of practice was the
strongest driver in the implementation of this change process. Each provider could then modify
learning materials, having first reached general agreement about the design and content of
the materials.

Outcomes for TNT Express staff and providers

Some comments from students indicate the value of the program for the students and the
company. Simon Dagher (27 years of age) has worked for TNT Express for eight years, starting
in Melbourne before moving to Hallam in Victoria in 2001. Simon appreciated the occupational
health and safety (OH&S) training, as he has to deal with workplace hazards each day as a
forklift driver:

The OH&S training has certainly helped raise awareness across the depot. The idea we all share
responsibility for a safe workplace I think has sunk in. Hopefully this will reduce the number
of incidents.

a better
understanding of
the business

Wayne Dillon, who started working with TNT Express as a driver in 2000, has seen a lot of
changes at TNT Express in that time. He is enthusiastic about the Certificate III in Transport and
Distribution he commenced in early 2002:
The training has been invaluable. We have all gained a better understanding about the business
and TNT Express have given us the opportunity to apply what we have learnt to the day to day
operations. This should make TNT Express a more competitive and hopefully more profitable
company in Australia.

Cinthia Del Grosso sees four types of learning for the provider:
Ive been considering what kinds of learning were done by the providers, above and beyond the
ordinary. It included learning about pre-training assessments (this is a relatively new concept in
our industry, though not in others); learning about the reporting schedule for New
Apprenticeship training - how it works and understanding the rationale for timelines; learning
about the FEDC system (a technologically based system) that TNT Express are beginning to
implement (where else could they have learnt about this?); and learning that if they dont work
with the enterprise as the client in the first instance, they wont be in a position to work with the
individual client.

Roslyn McKinven, the business manager for transport and distribution from TAFE NSW Western
Sydney Institute, sees many benefits from their involvement in the TNT Express program.
Specifically, it provides her Institute with a national and State-wide case study; it enables her
Institute to provide additional training services required by TNT Express; it brought her staff into
contact with other providers in other States; and the working model now means that her
Institute can bid for nation-wide tenders in collaboration with interstate partners.
For TNTs Robert Adams, the outcome of high-quality and consistent training exceeded the
initial expectations from the undertaking.

Transferability and sustainability

The developers of the model for delivering and assessing training across TNT Express are
confident that the model can be applied to other transport and distribution companies,
provided the other companies have a commitment to training similar to that of TNT Express.
total support
of senior

Cinthia Del Grosso comments:

The total support of the company and senior management was imperative to the success of the
undertaking. Additionally, the leadership skill of some of the providers was also an important factor.

Interestingly, the participants in the 2002 community of practice have also agreed that they
want it to continue as there is still work to be done. The company is also supportive of the
community continuing.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

So the process of relationship building looks set to have continuing benefits beyond the
immediate life of the project that first brought the group into being. This is a benefit that
reflects the merits of a national body such as Reframing the Future continuing to provide initial
funding support for such groups of enterprises and practitioners.

Other messages from this vignette about innovation in teaching are as follows:

An industry-led VET system benefits from enterprises that not only have a very clear idea
about what training they require, but have the energy and vision to develop relationships
with a variety of providers.

The social capital residing in the relationships between the participants in innovations, such as
the one supported by TNT Express, can enrich the VET sector and benefit both the immediate
participants in the network and other parties. The benefits of innovation can be highly mobile.

The VET sector benefits from innovation in teaching

The VET sector, which traditionally struggles to achieve public recognition, benefits from innovation in teaching
and learning in both concrete and intangible ways. For example, VET benefits from the sectors reach into
workplaces and student cohorts and hence into enterprises and industries not catered for by earlier strategies.
An example is provided in Case Study 4 which showed how the Open Learning Institute of TAFE used a range of
innovative methods to provide learning opportunities in leadership development for staff from Queensland
Health a student cohort spread around that vast State.
Intangible benefits include the increased status that successful innovation brings to the sector, enhancing the
image of the sector in the eyes of the community and industry. For example:
Vignette 5.2 above on TNT Express showed how innovation in teaching enabled VET providers to respond to a
clients unique requirements and in the process enhanced the reputation of the six providers abilities to meet
industry training needs.
North Coast Institutes assistance of Centrelink, described in Vignette 1.2, raised the profile of VET providers with
the large national enterprise Centrelink second in size to only the Department of Defence among
Commonwealth agencies and with the call centre industry.
The innovative approaches by Hunter Institute profiled in Vignette 4.2 won respect not just for the Institute but
for the sector, particularly as a number of Hunters initiatives are in liaison with other sectors, including schools
and universities as well as community-based learning structures.

In response to the question that provides the title for this chapter Who gains from innovation in VET teaching
and learning? the discussion showed that a range of individuals and groups benefit from VETs innovations
including learners, the community, teachers, provider organisations and providers clients.
The discussion showed that the benefits often migrate or can be transferred from one group to the next. For
example, an individuals achievement in gaining recognition for competencies can positively impact on
community attitudes to VET as well as feed into enterprise growth and regional development. The discussion also
showed that an innovation in teaching in one section of a VET provider can produce multiple benefits within
and across the provider concerned.
The whole VET sector also benefits from innovation in teaching, with an innovation in one niche area often
helping to quicken the pace of responsive change elsewhere in the sector. These case studies suggest that a far
greater degree of attention should be given to the localised innovation processes that accumulate to deliver
regional and national benefits.
The VET sector has choice in how it responds to change and what innovation it wishes to initiate. The case studies
and vignettes give ample evidence that the processes by which futures in VET are being shaped are significantly
dependent on VET practitioners and the solutions they devise.
5 Who gains from innovation in VET teaching and learning?


Case Study 5

Innovative teaching and assessment for learners with a disability

Goodwill Industries and West Coast College of TAFE, WA
The following case study provides a poignant account of how innovation in the provision of
structured training and assessment can have multiple benefits for people with cerebral palsy.
Benefits also accrue to the enterprise and the community.

Supporting learners self-determination

a commitment to
assisting staff with
disability in the

Goodwill Industries is a light manufacturing engineering business owned by the Cerebral

Palsy Association of Western Australia Limited. It is an employment service providing a
supported employment opportunity for fifty-six people with a range of disabilities. Funding for
employees is provided through the Commonwealth Government Department of Family and
Community Services.
Goodwill is about twenty kilometres from Perth. It makes housing and construction hardware
such as brick ties, building straps, brackets and washers. It also produces light engineering
products such as ladders, chairs, scaffold equipment and gas manifolds, and cabins for fourwheel-drive vehicles. Jobs performed at Goodwill include machine operating, product assembly,
packaging and stores work.
One of Goodwills specific aims is to provide training and support to assist employees to
develop vocational and education skills. An innovative approach to the development of
competencies within the Metal and Engineering Training Package was commenced in 2001 and
is described in detail below.

Gaining employment at Goodwill Industries

Employment is restricted to persons in receipt of the disability support pension and who can
maintain their quality of life in the workplace.

Employees are initially offered four weeks paid work experience. The support for this includes
an induction program which uses a buddy system involving an experienced employee. After the
initial four-week period, the Employment Committee decides whether a full-time position will
be made available. If so, a six-month probationary period then commences.
Services offered by Goodwill to its employees include on-the-job training, assistance to attend
TAFE courses and in-service training. Other services include ergonomic seating, adjustable
work stations, work-related therapy, and benefits such as sick leave, long service leave
and superannuation.

What workplace assistance means

Phil Pitchers, Manager of Goodwill, says that employees fall into three broad categories in terms
of their support requirements high, moderate and low-support.
For instance, the high-support employees are transported to work in wheelchairs and may have
a speech impairment. They also require assistance with their personal hygiene at work and with
equipment modified eating their meals. Others may have no speech but are able to communicate with staff using
for each employee different signals.
One of the high-support employees is sixty-eight years of age. He started at Goodwill when he
was thirty and does not wish to retire. He operates his custom-built machine with one arm,
when he can, and otherwise with a head pointer/hook. Another high-support employee is
totally deaf, and non-verbal. One side of his body is non-functioning and yet he is very
independent at work.
Moderate and low-support employees require lesser levels of assistance but generally all
employees require standard equipment to be modified to suit their capabilities. Doug Ennis, the
Production Manager, oversees the construction of machines to suit particular employees.
In addition, all employees are assessed and supported by a physiotherapist, occupational
therapist and speech pathologist.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Workplace communication need

In 1999 staff recognised that the companys employees could benefit from additional support
in workplace communication. For example, as Phil Pitchers says people with cerebral palsy have
special communication needs, as they use body language extensively.

body language
used extensively

Phil Pitchers approached West Coast Training Solutions at West Coast College of TAFE to assist
with a Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) program. This began a relationship that
continues today. In this process, Christine Evans, a West Coast TAFE teaching staff member
found that her colleagues went up a huge learning curve. The reason was that:
We had literacy teachers but they were not experienced in training people with special needs.
This was a challenge but in the WELL program the West Coast staff learned to work effectively
with both the employees and staff, which included a speech pathologist.

This WELL program operated from 1999 to 2001 and resulted in the development of a range
of communication skills for all staff, and not just those with disabilities.

Profile of trainers and assessors

Many of the staff at Goodwill have worked there for over five years In fact, Eric Jarvis, the
Employee Support Officer has been on staff for twenty-five years. But staff members are always
seeking improvements in the way they relate with and manage their employees.
In 2001, the third year of the WELL program, it was decided that Goodwills ability to assist
employees to develop new skills required the staff at Goodwill to be able to train and assess the
employees in the workplace. As a result, the majority of the staff at Goodwill Industries
undertook a Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training under the guidance of West
Coast TAFE. In all, eight staff as well as two supported employees completed the training.

customising the
Training Package
to suit employees

According to Ned Cocivera, Goodwills training manager, one benefit of the Goodwill staff
acquiring these competencies was that it helped staff to better customise nationally recognised
training and assessment for their employees. With the assistance of West Coast TAFE, his staff
first started by investigating the relevance to Goodwills employees of the competencies set out
in the Metal and Engineering Training Package.
Ned feels that this Training Package gives us a basis to figure out what competencies are
needed. Ned explains how the Training Packages are interpreted:
Most employees couldnt set up a machine, which means they cant obtain a certificate. So we
interpreted the Training Package to suit the employees. The range of variables was not wide
enough: the Training Package is a good base, but is used as a guide only. So we came up with
our core skills program, to complement the Training Package competencies.

The core skills include communication, work ethics, occupational health and safety, quality and
willingness to undergo training. The skills acquisition of each employee is mapped against
Goodwills core skills and the competencies in the Training Package. Developed and used
together, this became an innovation that provides the employee and the staff with a
comprehensive and recognisable picture of each employees progress and achievements.

Development of the innovation

Besides the use of Core Skills, the innovation in teaching and assessment at Goodwill included
the introduction in 2001 of competency-based, workplace training for its supported employees,
as part of the implementation of the Metal and Engineering Training Package.
need for a more
formal training

The genesis of this innovation was the insight gained by staff from the WELL program. This was
because, as Christine Evans from West Coast TAFE explains, the WELL program helped the Goodwill
staff realise that the supported employees could benefit from a more formal training system:
Goodwill Industries needed a more formal training system, so the West Coast staff trained the
staff. Then we made a step into assessment: we formalised assessment. Having someone
from West Coast completely removed from Goodwill Industries provided different ways of
gathering information.

According to Christine Evans, the innovation has moved through two stages since the WELL
program finished in 2001. Firstly, the introduction of the Training Package involved
5 Who gains from innovation in VET teaching and learning?


considerable analysis of the units and elements of competency to identify the competencies and
elements that are relevant to the Goodwill employees. Phil Pitchers explains:
Our supported employees may never gain a Certificate I or II, which is not necessarily the goal
for most. We want them to acquire competencies and we want to be able to assess them against
national standards.

The second stage of the innovation, in 2002, involved the development of flexible assessment
tools, which provided many challenges, as described below. This process was greatly assisted
through project funding and support from ANTAs Reframing the Future program.

Challenges in developing assessment strategies

Significant challenges emerged in developing appropriate assessment strategies during 2002.
For instance, Ned Cocivera observed that
the employees are keen and willing but it is hard to determine whether their learning has been
assimilated; that is, whether there is understanding.

Christine Evans noted that: The challenges for assessment are unique. Many of the employees
can only nod to indicate they understand. Is that enough? Is that valid?
needed to develop
a complex
assessment tool

Phil Pitchers commented some other complexities:

Some employees have an episodic condition, which means the person may drift in their ability
from one hour to the next or from one day to the next. A person may be competent to do
something but not at a regular pace or continuously over a period of time. So we needed to
develop a complex assessment tool.

Christine Evans found that the assessors at Goodwill need to know what core skills the
employees have acquired, so they can have an idea of the level the employee may be able to
meet. Robert Williamson of Goodwill who conducts most of the assessment, follows the advice
of referring to the employees history chart:
I investigate their history charts, which lets me know what to note regarding the employees
speech or hearing. Then I look at the program to see what I can adjust. With some employees, I
use the speech pathologist for guidance; that is, for clues about how to get the message across.
Speech difficulties are significant: some of the employees use picture cards; one uses a pushbutton speaker box; only one uses formal sign language; but all the employees are experienced
in communicating in other ways.

Robert Williamson finds that the employees are now not threatened by the assessment process,
but sometimes the assessment needs to be conducted a number of times:
The disconcerting thing is that some people are capable of doing the required duties but I have
to relate this to a set of guidelines and it is disconcerting as they might not be assessed as
acquiring the competency. Sometimes I have to go back and back. I have to talk very slowly, be
concise, make sure it is not noisy and they are looking at me. Fortunately, the supported
employees do not feel threatened.


value of accredited
training was firstly

The internal drivers for the competency-based, workplace training include the desire to improve
the training offered so that supported employees can be given access to more targeted training.
Ned Cocivera considers that in the past training was informal and unstructured and there was
no record keeping, in contrast to the new approach:
The value of accredited training for us was firstly transparency: it was not something we made
up. Also, it introduced formality, structure and records. The record-keeping suits industry, who
want to know our employees are trained against industry standards; the Commonwealth, who
are interested in quality; and our employees, as they can now see where training now fits in with
their further development. For the staff, the record-keeping approach provides a base for
further training.

Phil Pitchers believes that the single largest external driver for changing the training system
at Goodwill is the Commonwealth Government, whose requirement for funding includes the
implementation by Goodwill Industries of a quality system that is audited independently.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

The Commonwealth disability reform initiatives, including the Commonwealth Disability

Standards, are pivotal to our quality assurance.

The Commonwealth is releasing a productivity tool in 2003 which will provide performance
measures for Goodwill and other providers.

Continuous improvement of the innovation

The innovation in providing competency-based workplace training as part of the implementation
of a Training Package is being progressively improved, particularly in the area of assessment.
For instance, there is a new focus on pre-training assessment that includes the assessment of
each employee by a speech pathologist, occupational therapist and physiotherapist. Phil
Pitchers explains the importance of such specialist input:

tailoring better
the way to
present training

The assessment conducted by these specialists leads to the design of training customised for the
individual. For instance, at this early stage, the speech pathologist can tell you many things: for
example, cognitive skills, retention ability and the ability to communicate.

Another improvement involves the new ways training is customised to suit the student. Ned
Cocivera explains:

We are tailoring better the way we present training. Initially we grouped students according to
their disabilities. The next step is to group students according to whether they have speech,
hearing or retention deficiencies. We use a range of methodologies, particularly role playing and
visuals, such as PowerPoint.

The area of assessment was the main focus for improvement of the model in 2002 and was
assisted by a Reframing the Future grant. Phil Pitchers explains that the team involved in the
2002 project spent considerable time developing assessment tools and methods that could be
mapped to the Metal and Engineering Training Package.
This proved a challenge, as much of the equipment at Goodwill has been designed or modified
to suit the special needs of the employees: Designing the assessment tools that are needed to
assess the underpinning skills and knowledge for each of the mapped units was difficult at
times. Additionally, and as Phil says:
the communication skills of some employees limited the amount of information provided to the
assessor to accurately assess these skills. Innovative approaches had to be devised to ensure that
a fair, valid and reliable assessment of all candidates was carried out (Pitchers 2002b).

The 2002 project team effectively developed processes and procedures to ensure the ongoing
moderation and validation of the assessment system. The team also identified learning
pathways for different job levels and different employees:
A skills audit was conducted at the beginning of the project to determine the training and
assessment needs at Goodwill Industries. This allowed the project team to identify all of the job
tasks and to then break them down into manageable tasks so that people with a disability could
perform a variety of jobs at a number of different levels (Pitchers 2002b).

Benefits for employees, staff and Goodwill Industries

Ned Cocivera believes that the main benefit for the employees is the growth in self-esteem:

developing an
acceptance of

The employees now feel they can change jobs within Goodwill Industries. When employees look
at another job being performed at Goodwill and say Why cant I do that?, they can answer that
as well as us, because they know their skill levels.

Eric Jarvis sees two sets of benefits: firstly, assisting employees to obtain other jobs and secondly,
employees developing an acceptance of change. Eric continues:
If an employee leaves and an employer rings up seeking a referees report we tell them what the
person has done and the skills they have acquired.
There has been a vast change in the attitudes of the employees. They are now more accepting of
change. The things that used to be a threat are now seen as part of their going forward.

Goodwill Industries staff reported benefits from the introduction of competency-based

workplace training, particularly the sense that they had objective measures for determining the
5 Who gains from innovation in VET teaching and learning?


skill levels of each of their employees. This knowledge enables the staff to provide employees
with optimum opportunities, such as experiencing a range of different jobs within Goodwill
TAFE staff member Christine Evans feels that her role as the adviser to the staff-based trainers
and assessors is the best use of her skills. Her specialist role enables her to assist the staff to finetune the complex assessment tools.
Goodwill Industries as an organisation also benefits from the innovation in teaching and
assessment, by better achieving the aims of the business of providing the best possible support
and opportunities to the employees.

Sustaining and transferring the model

commitment to
a process

The model of competency-based, workplace training for employees with cerebral palsy and
other disabilities will be sustained at Goodwill Industries because of the staff and employee
commitment to a transparent training and assessment process which benefits all parties.
The model has been promoted throughout Goodwill Industries and West Coast Training
Solutions. Wider promotion has occurred within the Cerebral Palsy Association. Phil Pitchers
presented a poster session at a national Reframing the Future conference in Sydney in
November 2002, which drew considerable interest.
Any VET provider working with people with a disability might find it useful to analyse the
thinking behind the innovation at Goodwill Industries and the time, effort and patience needed
to introduce and improve the model. The rewards are also worth considering.

The Goodwill Industries-West Coast College innovation is a powerful story to end this series of
fifteen case studies and vignettes. The innovation shows the value to society of recognising an
individuals competencies and pointing learners towards other competencies they might strive
to achieve and what transparent processes are devisable for assessing their progress.
The benefits of a national training system that provides these public processes can extend
beyond the individual learner to the community. Other beneficiaries can include the learners
employer and the other staff in the enterprise. In these ways, innovation in VET teaching and
learning can have multiplier effects.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

What can be done to further support innovation in 6

VET teaching?

This chapter provides a discussion about how innovation by VET practitioners can be encouraged in the future.
The ultimate value of such an investment is to provide better outcomes and benefits for VET learners,
practitioners, RTOs and other stakeholders.

Key points
Key points raised in the chapter include the following:

Public support for innovation in teaching in VET is common, but recognition of the practice is not as

It is not desirable or possible to offer a simple formula for how to foster and sustain innovation in teaching
and learning in VET because there are too many complexities involved.

It is possible to identify an initial conceptual framework for reaching a better understanding of what is
involved in supporting innovation in VET teaching and learning.

This research supports the proposal for the development of a national mechanism for disseminating
information about innovation in VET teaching and learning and for directing more assistance to the local
level to support and encourage VET practitioners to renew teaching and learning practice.

Current issues about support for innovation

This report focuses mostly on the positive messages given by the VET practitioners in the case studies
and vignettes. However, the case studies and vignettes contain many candid remarks and anecdotes that make
it clear that many of the innovators met resistance and struggled to bring their new work to fruition. Behind
these stories of successful improvisation and experimentation there were unexpected difficulties,
contradictions, ongoing uncertainties and sometimes rather lucky breakthroughs. The cases studies and
vignettes are a reminder of the complexities of innovation and the challenges of implementing and managing the
processes necessary to bring on the future.
The text that has accompanied the case studies and vignettes has drawn on insights from a literature review, and
more importantly from a wide range of VET people who generously gave their time for interviews or
who participated in regional focus groups. Their collective feedback strongly suggests that much more awareness
is needed about the value and location of innovation in VET teaching and learning. They very usefully point to
6 What can be done to further support innovation in VET teaching?


the many different ways that innovation and its associated processes can be developed and implemented and
they clearly say that innovation in teaching and learning deserves close and careful scrutiny.
There may well be much more complex issues involved in innovation than were reported and discussed but
participants were clear that:

public policy support and idealised rhetoric for more innovation in teaching and learning in VET is far
more common than the tangible support necessary for it to occur;

innovation is positively regarded and supported by many different stakeholders across the VET sector from
teachers, to managers, students, employers, unions and industry training bodies although the support is
sometimes only in small pockets or areas of VET;

the concept of innovation is not deeply interrogated within VET and many VET practitioners remain
unclear about the possibilities of innovation as an internal work process within their reach and capability.
In particular, many appeared confused about the processes especially at the group or organisational level
that are involved in putting new ideas to work. In fact, the term innovation was reportedly somewhat
alien for practical people who want to get on with action and build their knowledge and expertise through
experience and results.

In response to the above findings, a suggested framework was identified, and is set out below, to assist wider
recognition and understanding of innovation in teaching and learning arrangements in VET, and for better
supporting and sustaining local forms of innovation.

An initial conceptual framework for supporting innovation in VET teaching

and learning
The findings from this study provide the basis for a conceptual framework consisting of guidelines, set out below
in the form of a series of statements and explanations. The guidelines suggest where more effort is required within
VET if the scope of innovation in teaching and learning is to be expanded and the pace quickened.
The framework shows that the types of innovation discussed in the case studies and vignettes are complex,
requiring high levels of skills. Despite or possibly more accurately because of the complexities involved in
actually achieving innovation in teaching and learning in widely different VET localities the actual processes of
innovation, whatever its local content and character, appear to require extensive professional judgment,
experience and wisdom by practitioners.
The future of innovation lies in the hands and minds and actions of people who know why and what needs to
be done, and how to do it and, ultimately, how to do it well. This kind of practical and situated knowledge is not
acquired from a book or manual and in many cases is not contained, or containable, within a single head. This
is why so much of the innovation we have examined in this project proved to be team or group-based and to rely
on its own value chain of practitioners to carry it through over time.
Drawing on the experience of the work we have undertaken, the framework we wish to identify and recommend
is based on these salient points:
Innovation can be significantly enhanced by a deep knowledge of learners, learning styles,
teaching strategies and learning sites and contexts. A deep knowledge of these matters would
include an understanding of the issues set out in Chapters 2 and 3 of this report. The case studies and
vignettes in this report illuminate many VET practitioners outstanding theoretical and practical grasp of
learning and teaching, including their knowledge of learners, from both sociological and psychological
perspectives; their understanding of learning styles, using a range of different schema, such as the verbal
and non-verbal or the convergent and divergent learner; their knowledge of teaching strategies, from
problem-based learning to experiential learning, simulation and e-learning and mentoring, coaching and
peer support; and their knowledge of the value of informal and formal learning in the workplace as well
as in training rooms.
Innovation can be significantly enhanced by a deep understanding of assessment. The new and
more compelling frontier for practical innovation in VET teaching is no longer the use of technology.
Rather it is assessment, including workplace and institution-based assessment. Workplace assessment can
vary from assessing a transport driver in the cab of a TNT Express semi-trailer to assessing a staff member
with cerebral palsy operating a custom-designed piece of equipment with his chin. Conducting
institution-based assessment often involves the creative development of simulated workplaces such as a
simulated textile factory in Tasmania or an electrotechnology laboratory at Torrens Valley Institute, or a
simulated mining operation in Arnhem Land. All of these situations require the assessor to possess a
high level of specialist knowledge and to exercise considerable professional judgment.

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Innovation can be stimulated by deliberate, intentional activities, such as conducting group

discussions between VET practitioners and others to generate new ideas and to encourage research and
reflection. Much can be achieved by creating a climate conducive to risk-taking and facilitating the
sharing of ideas. The case studies and vignettes show that VET practitioners often stimulate innovation
through the use of action learning sets, structured staff discussions, presentations from guest speakers,
participation in conferences, or visits to other establishments where they may observe or benchmark. In
addition to these structured and formal approaches, innovation sometimes benefits from a contributors
incidental or informal learning.
Innovation can occur without VET teachers being trained as innovators. The majority of
practitioners described in each of the case studies and vignettes in this report were not trained to be
innovators. Rather, they became innovative because they wanted to shape and interact with their
environment and to work in new and different ways. They were not passive agents who had skill deficits
that required fixing before they contributed to the innovation. Their contexts and their actions
combined to create conditions for them to attempt to innovate, even if they then needed to change and
extend their skills.
Innovation cant be forced upon VET practitioners, so skill and wisdom is needed to nurture
innovation. Resistance to change is normal and each teacher and learner will make up their own minds
as to whether they will internalise and adopt new practices. Resistance to change is often healthy, for
instance when the change being proposed has not taken into account the possible negative impacts of
change. In many of the case studies and vignettes in this report, the proponents of change needed to
advocate the value of change, win the confidence of those who will be affected, and persuade them of
the benefits that will ensue from the change.

Innovation can be influenced by practitioners motivations or personality traits or sense of

personal or professional identity. The case studies and vignettes in this report show that VET
practitioners have varying motivations, personalities and identities. For instance, one VET practitioner
may be motivated by a desire to model originality; another by a determination to provide improved
services; and another by a desire for deserved recognition from peers. Personality traits influencing
innovation can include a preference for being unconventional; or a preference for operating in an
ambiguous and challenging situation. A teachers sense of identity say, as a humanist, an industry
specialist or as an oracle or facilitator may also influence her or his response to a proposed innovation
in teaching.
Innovation can be affected by local, contextual factors such as the nature of the teachers work
groups, work leaders and managers, the nature of the workplace, the nature of the enterprise client or
the nature of the local community or region. An innovation successfully developed in a small,
regional RTO might not succeed in a large, metropolitan RTO. Due to local contextual reasons, an
innovation developed in a private RTO might not be possible in a public provider. Hence, there is a
need for those involved in innovation in teaching and learning to know their local contexts and to
customise the innovation to suit the different components of the local context. The practitioners
described in the reports case studies and vignettes understood their local contexts and adjusted their
innovations accordingly.
Innovation can occur despite the lack of ideal support or pre-conditions or documented market
demand. Sometimes, innovative and passionate individuals and work teams develop and implement
innovations despite an antithetical work environment and in adversity. Sometimes an innovation is
developed despite the lack of pre-conditions conducive to innovation, because the innovators believe
the innovation will meet a need that is not yet being articulated by the recipients of the innovation.
Not every successful innovation is in response to a clearly articulated market demand: sometimes
an innovation is in anticipation of a market demand. Vignette 3.2 from East Gippsland Institute
describes VET practitioners using their judgement to design a sophisticated service, which then won
customer support.
Innovation can be affected by the interplay of disparate factors. The case studies and vignettes in
this report show that innovation is often the result of the interplay of individuals, groups and
organisations with particular situations including imperatives, problems and issues that cause enough
irritation to require new ideas and practices to fix. This introduces room for initiative, judgment,
opportunism and improvisation that all contribute in variable ways to the successes shown in the case
studies and vignettes.
Innovation can be driven by multiple factors, including the individuals motivation for
improvements, organisational goals and encouragement, external forces such as changes in industry,
expediency or chance events, the demands of enterprises or the preferences of individual students. The
6 What can be done to further support innovation in VET teaching?


case studies and vignettes in this report show that rarely is there one solitary factor driving change and
commonly there is a mix of factors, making it challenging for those managing innovation to know
which factors to respond to first or most.
Innovation can be assisted by different stakeholders performing separate functions. For
example, some people are better at providing creative suggestions, others are better at providing political
support for a suggestion, while others are better at taking the suggestions and constructing a new
product or service, and others are better at marketing or implementing the innovation. Often, all of
these types of people are required to see a creative idea turn into an ongoing service that can be
identified as an innovation. Some managers may deliberately create a value chain of practitioners by
involving different types of people to play a complementary role in a team or group so as to ensure the
innovation is fully implemented. Each of the case studies and vignettes in this report describes the range
of different contributors to any one innovation.

Innovation can be facilitated or hindered by a range of organisational factors such as the

organisations structure, culture, planning strategies and communication systems. For instance,
innovation can be assisted if organisations remove rigid, bureaucratic hierarchies and develop cultures
that value leadership, creativity, trial-and-error experimentation and thinking about the future and how
it can be realised differently. Innovation sometimes can be assisted by structured planning and other
times by a flexible approach to planning which leaves open the possibility of responding to unexpected
changes. Communication systems can assist innovation, where innovative suggestions or ideas are
shared across teams and organisational units, with a minimum of censorship. The case study on the
Open Learning Institute and the vignettes on Hunter Institute and the Open and Training Education
Network provide examples of organisational structures and processes facilitating innovation by relaxing
the usual gatekeepers that keep many organisations and practitioners divided or partitioned.
Innovation can spring from new or changed relationships between providers and clients. It is
important for the VET provider to listen carefully to a clients expression of new or different needs,
despite the fact that meeting the needs may change the relationship and ultimately, perhaps some
elements of the provider. For instance, the client may want the VET provider to change the previous
assessment or delivery strategies, or the client may want the VET provider to join a consortium of
providers, so the client has more choice. Vignette 5.2 described how the VET client, TNT Express, required
six providers to form a new relationship with TNT, in developing a new model for training delivery.
Innovation can be supported by certain styles of leadership. The case studies and vignettes in this
report support the view that participative, visionary and/or transformational leadership (King and
Anderson 2002, p.126) is often an antecedent to innovation. More specifically, many of the case studies
and vignettes show that leadership by the senior managers is less significant in implementing an
innovation than the leadership provided at the level of Head Teacher, Principal Lecturer, Head Trainer or
similar level. Many of the case studies and vignettes show that leadership might well be exhibited by
several persons acting concurrently or sequentially.
Innovation can be assisted by judicious management interventions or initiatives, provided, firstly,
that the manager knows the staff involved and knows how to frame and time an intervention. And
secondly, in influencing innovation managers need to also take into account the other personal,
organisational and external factors discussed earlier in this report. For example, Vignette 4.1 describes
the senior educational manager at the Photography Studies College in Melbourne using her management
expertise to influence innovation in her College.
Innovation can be facilitated by change agents at any level of an organisation. A change agent is
the individual who takes responsibility for a creative idea being translated into an ongoing service for
learners. Innovation can be driven from staff at any level of the organisation: for instance, in some
situations it might be easier for the teacher at the frontline to drive an innovation up through the
organisation than for the senior manager to drive an innovation down through the organisation. The
case studies and vignettes in this report portray a range of change agents operating from different levels
of their organisations.
Innovation can be stimulated by attending to group processes. For instance, the importance of
team building among teaching staff is a consistent thread underpinning the innovations described in the
case studies and vignettes in this report. The team building strategies might include catering for different
views within the group, providing opportunities for team members to critique proposed changes and
allowing time for team members to trial new approaches.
Innovation can benefit from the social capital developed by contributors to the innovation.
Social capital is the wealth that exists because of an individuals social relationships (Lesser 2000, p.4).
The relationships between the participants in an innovation project generate social capital that is of


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

value to the VET sector. This social capital, based so often on tacit as well as explicit knowledge of the
participants, is unique and enriches the specific innovation. In many of the case studies and vignettes
in this report, the social capital of the participants underpinned the successful implementation of
the innovation.
Innovation can only be transferred when a range of factors are in place. An innovation
successfully implemented in one context may not succeed in another. A number of the innovators
profiled in this report were aware of the challenges of transplanting an innovation and deliberately
promoted the initial innovation as they understood that innovations will be resisted unless there are the
right conditions and there is sufficient time, understanding and commitment for the innovation to take
root elsewhere.

Recommended mechanism
The research for this project finds that, given the importance of innovation to VET, there is a case for a dedicated
mechanism to promote and support innovation among VET practitioners. What is meant by the metaphor of
mechanism is a nationally-sponsored arrangement that can assist grassroots teachers and trainers in
conjunction with other stakeholders such as educational managers to better inform themselves about useful
ideas and practices about innovation in teaching that offer improved results and outcomes for VET students and

The purpose of this proposed national mechanism is to support the dissemination of useful and practical
knowledge, techniques and ideas for application about innovation in teaching and learning elsewhere in VET.
The mechanism is intended to facilitate action and provide better results for VET clients, VET practitioners and
VET organisations.
A migrating frontier of professional practice is required to both lead and follow changing conditions in VET. This
suggests that to keep up with changing practice at and around the frontline of innovation in VET that VET
practitioners would benefit from arrangements that give them better sources of information, knowledge and
understanding of changing teaching and learning practice across the sector.
A key feature of good practice is that practitioners have good knowledge of professional developments and
behaviour in their area of operations and how VET practice is being redeveloped. This is not to suggest that VET
practitioners simply imitate others, but rather that they use knowledge of other practice as a way of informing
their own judgement and professional imagination, and that this helps to open up the possibilities that exist for
innovation in their own arena of practice.
The VET sector needs highly informed practitioners who know about successful practice elsewhere in the sector
and can match this with appropriate innovations of their own. Identifying good practice is a key to fostering
innovation as it profiles champions and also encourages the creation of collaborative mechanisms to further
explore good practice and set realistic standards for success.
Making practitioner information more readily available can support VET professionals to position their own
thinking and practice closer to contemporary changes in VET professional practice. This can help to ensure that
innovation, in whatever form it then takes, will continue to contribute positively to the development of teaching
and learning outcomes across the sector.
This discussion about a mechanism is the subject of a separate report emanating from this project. The report is
entitled: Proposal for a national mechanism for promoting and sustaining innovation in teaching and learning in VET.

It is not a great help to simply say that innovation in teaching and learning in VET can be supported in a variety
of ways. The challenge is to know what to do to assist innovation given different conditions and contexts. One
option worth particular consideration is to make a serious attempt to assist VET practitioners to know about the
different ways that innovation can be practised and supported by themselves in their own engagement with their
work and work roles.
A freer market in ideas about practice and possibilities can give practitioners the inspiration and information that
can lead to the kind of change that motivates them to aspire to excellence and to generate better or more
appropriate outcomes for their students and clients. More information is also required to demystify the concept
of innovation and make it realisable at work without turning innovation into a thing or another external
endurance test or obligation for practitioners.
One way to achieve this is to facilitate practitioners talking to practitioners about their practice and supporting
them to get up to speed with developments across the sector introduced by their peers and colleagues and by
6 What can be done to further support innovation in VET teaching?


other VET organisations. The sense of the possible that such interactions achieve can be expanded if the VET
sector sponsors much more focus on teaching and learning, and on this process as an interactive one rather than
a set of procedures to meet organisational practice and routine.
This necessarily implies a re-evaluation of the role of VET practitioners in making a difference through the quality
of their engagement with their work, and the support they need to have to grow the possibilities of their work.
There are signs that policy reform in VET will start to pay increased attention to the capacity and capability of
the VET workforce, and especially its engagement with teaching and learning. An increase in support for
innovation might produce the kinds of benefits revealed in the case studies, vignettes and conversations that we
have reported.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET




Appendix 1: Members of the consulting team and steering committee

Consulting team
The consulting team from John Mitchell & Associates, Sydney, was led by Managing Director and principal
consultant for this project, John Mitchell, who is the primary author of this report.
Strategic advice was provided by:


Berwyn Clayton, Director of Centre Undertaking Research in Vocational Education (CURVE), Canberra
Institute of Technology; an expert in assessment in VET;

John Hedberg, Professor of Instructional Science, Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice, National
Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; editor-in-chief of the journal
Educational Media International and an expert in learning strategies and new learning technologies.

Nigel Paine, Manager Training and Knowledge Management, BBC, UK; an expert in knowledge
management, flexible learning and innovation and on the range of dissemination strategies used to
promote innovation in teaching and learning in both the UK and Europe.

Steering committee
The consulting team thanks the following members of the Steering Committee for their assistance.
Particular thanks are extended to the OTTE Project Manager, Ian Gribble, for his inspiration, support and tireless
commitment to the project.




Richard Campbell

Manager, National Training Products Support Department of Education & Training,


Pat Forward

Vice President (TAFE & Adult Provision)

Australian Education Union, VIC

Jeremy Gilling (represented

by Wendy Davies for part of the

Executive Officer

Manufacturing Learning Australia

Ian Gribble

HR Projects Manager

Office of Training and Tertiary

Education, VIC

Kate Guthrie

A/Manager Professional Development Unit,

Department of Training

Department of Education and

Training, WA

Paula Johnston

Manager Flexible Learning

Australian National Training Authority,


Graeme Kirkwood

Manager Learning Development Business


Institute of TAFE Tasmania

Julie Moss

Managing Director

Photography Studies College, VIC

John Parish


Kangan Institute of TAFE, VIC

Maret Staron (represented by

Val Evans for part of the project)

Leader, Professional Development Network

TAFE Educational Services, NSW

Department of Education & Training

Carol Ward

General Manager, Business Improvement

Institute of TAFE Tasmania

Susan Young

National Project Director

Reframing the Future

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET


Appendix 2: The project brief

This project will be managed through the Office of Training and Tertiary Education (OTTE) with the research
undertaken by a contracted group of education and learning consultants.

The rationale for this project is that quality teaching, learning and assessment are at the centre of the vocational
education and training mission. Considerable innovation is underway by practitioners in developing new and
more effective ways of developing these functions.
Much of this innovation is as a result of highly decentralised activity and reflects the continually expanding
knowledge base of professional practice in the VET system.
This project proposes to offer two avenues for helping to integrate a clearer knowledge and understanding of
practices, new ideas and new approaches to the teaching, learning and related assessment relationships in VET.


Firstly, by providing a national review of good practice that is drawn from current provider activity and
Secondly, by investigating the development of a suitable national mechanism for ongoing information and
support for the dissemination of teaching and learning practice and to strengthen and broaden innovation in the

The project will:

Identify broad developments in teaching and learning in VET at the State, national and provider levels.

Provide appropriate models or approaches that explain the innovation process in VET teaching and learning

Identify specific examples of good practice as case studies for innovation that are representative of the
sectors that comprise the national VET system.

Provide a design for an appropriate national mechanism for supporting the ongoing dissemination of
innovative teaching and learning practice for the national VET system.

The project will provide:

Better national, State and regional understandings of innovation in VET teaching and learning practices.

Improved approaches for supporting VET teaching and learning practices at the provider, State and national
system levels.

A higher level of professional and organisational recognition of the importance of innovative teaching and
learning practices to the future of VET.

Better quality information and a proposed national mechanism for maintaining the dissemination of good
practice in teaching and learning.



Appendix 3: Research methods

Briefly, the major research methods used in this project were:


preparation of a bibliography;

preparation of a literature review on good practice;

preparation of literature review on possible mechanisms;

preparation of a discussion paper on good practice;

preparation of a discussion paper on mechanisms;

conducting of field interviews;

conducting of seven focus groups to test discussion papers;

preparation of a database of innovations;

identification of possible case studies and exemplars;

undertaking of case study research;

conducting of two focus groups to test the initial findings;

preparation of final report.

Description of case studies and vignettes

Five case studies and ten vignettes were prepared for this report.
Case studies and vignettes have different characteristics and provide different benefits for this project:

case studies are more structured and detailed, employing a rigorous methodology and providing rich
illustration of current practice against a theoretical framework

vignettes are shorter and less structured, often focusing on one or two major aspects of activity, providing
insights into practitioners and learners operating effectively in a variety of settings.

Both the case studies and the vignettes illustrate key themes about innovation in teaching and learning in VET,
such as:

the nature of the innovation

drivers of the innovation

how the innovation was fostered and sustained

student outcomes from innovative teaching.

The selection of case studies and vignettes was made in consultation with the OTTE Project Manager and required
the approval of the subjects.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Appendix 4: Names of interviewees

The consulting team thanks the following people for participating in interviews for this project.


Michael Aderman, Deputy Director, TAFE NSW Hunter Institute


Margaret Aspin, Senior Project Officer, ANTA, VIC


Allan Ballagh, Associate Director TAFE, RMIT, VIC


Kathy Bannister, Project Manager, Open Learning Institute, QLD


John Blakeley, Director Educational Services, Open Learning Institute, QLD


Jillian Blight, Manager, Manufacturing Learning Centres, SA


Catherine Brigg, Manager Social Sciences and Visual Arts, East Gippsland TAFE, VIC


Dinah Caine, Chief Executive, Skillset, England


Duncan Campbell, Manager Evaluation, BBC Training and Development, UK


10. Richard Campbell, Manager National Training Products Support, DET, QLD
11. Pam Caven, Principal Project Officer, ANTA, VIC
12. Clive Chappell, Associate Professor and director of RCVET and co-director of OVAL, University of
Technology, Sydney, NSW
13. Judy Curson, Manager Policy and Projects, Victorian TAFE Association, VIC
14. Wendy Davies, Project Manager, Manufacturing Learning Australia, VIC
15. Andrew Dean, Project Co-ordinator The Marchmont Project, Exeter, England
16. Rob Denton, Advanced Skills Lecturer Electronics & Information Technology, Torrens Valley Institute, SA
17. Pauline DeVries, Coordinator Retail and Tourism Programs and Innovation Manager, Douglas Mawson
Institute of Technology, SA
18. Margaret Dix, Professional Development Network, TAFE NSW
19. Jenny Dodd, Project Manager Flexible Learning Leaders Program, ACT
20. Gavin Dykes, ICT in Schools Division, Dept for Education and Skills, England
21. Kathi Eland, Chief Executive, ELAN Learning Options, TAS
22. Val Evans, Professional Development Network, TAFE NSW
23. Carol Fripp, General Manager, AEShareNet Ltd, NSW
24. Pat Forward, Vice President TAFE and Adult Provision, Australian Education Union, VIC
25. Jeremy Gilling, Executive Officer, Manufacturing Learning Australia, NSW
26. Jock Grady, Manager e-Learning, TAFE NSW Hunter Institute
27. Kate Guthrie, A/Manager Professional Development Unit, Department of Training, WA
28. Margaret Hamilton, Dean, Centrelink Virtual College, ACT
29. Graham Hargreaves, Training Coordinator, Manufacturing Learning Centres, SA
30. Daniel Hausin, Production Manager Media Centre, Open Learning Institute, QLD
31. Donna Hensley, Program Manager Flexible Learning, TAFE NSW Hunter Institute
32. Celeste Howden, Communications and Marketing, Manufacturing Learning Australia, NSW
33. Gareth Jones, Head of Innovation and Learning, BBC Training and Development, UK
34. Tess Julian, Director, Ratio, NSW
35. Annette Kirby, Assistant Director, Spencer Institute of TAFE, SA


36. Graeme Kirkwood, Manager Learning Development Business Improvement, Institute of TAFE Tasmania
37. Megan Lilly, General Manager, Business Services Training Australia Ltd, VIC
38. Rod McDonald, Consultant, QLD
39. Julie Moss, Managing Director, Photography Studies College, VIC
40. Warwick Newson, Manager, Caterpillar Institute Australia, Asia Pacific Learning, VIC
41. Wendy Nichols, Executive Officer Training Products Support, DET, QLD
42. Gaye Oakes, Team Leader Textiles and Clothing, Institute of TAFE Tasmania
43. Shane ONeill, Facilitator, Caterpillar Institute Australia, Asia Pacific Learning, VIC
44. John Parish, Director, Kangan Batman Institute of TAFE, VIC
45. Bob Paton, National Executive Officer, MERSITAB, NSW
46. Nic Pearl, Principal Project Officer, ANTA, QLD


47. Geoff Pederson, Principal Teacher-Accounting, Open Learning Institute, QLD

48. Judy Perkins, Educational Manager English Langugage and Literacy Services, Adelaide Institute of TAFE, SA
49. Trevor Perry, Manager Plumbing and Construction Finishing, Holmesglen Institute of TAFE, VIC
50. Robert Player, General Manager Training Group, Department Training and Employment, WA
51. David Ryan, Director Research and Development, West Coast College of TAFE, WA
52. Tom Schuller, Dean and Professor of Lifelong Learning, Birkbeck College, University of London, England
53. Sherinda Shae, Senior Project Officer, ANTA, VIC
54. Euan Sample, Head of Knowledge Management Digilab, BBC Training and Development, UK
55. Michael Shankie, TTOP Co-ordinator, Holmesglen Institute of TAFE, VIC
56. Kaye Shofield, Director, Kaye Schofield & Associates, NSW
57. Larry Smith, Training Products Support, DET, QLD
58. John Smyth, CEO, Institute of TAFE Tasmania
59. Lyn Stallard, Professional Development Network. TAFE NSW
60. Maret Staron, Leader, Professional Development Network, TAFE NSW
61. Carol Ward, General Manager Business Improvement, Institute of TAFE Tasmania
62. Robbie Weatherley, National Manager LearnScope and Professional Development Network, TAFE NSW
63. Clem Wong, Team Leader Technology Product Development, Open Learning Institute, QLD
64. Renee Wyatt, Educational Manager English Language and Literacy Services, Adelaide Institute of TAFE, SA
65. Susan Young, National Project Director, Reframing the Future, SA


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Appendix 5: Focus group participants

The consulting team thanks the following 130 participants for their participation in the focus groups.



South Australia, 31 October 2002

1. Jillian Blight

Manager, Manufacturing Learning Centres

MLC Mitsubishi

2. Andrew Boorman

Principal Policy Officer, VET Quality Branch

Dept Further Education, Employment,

Science and Technology

3. Annabel Bridge

Business/Education Partnerships

Business SA

4. Wendy Burns


TAFE NSW South East Institute

5. Judy Fawcett

Lecturer/Co-ordinator Online, Community

Services and Health

Torrens Valley Institute

6. Judy Forbes

Project Officer

Onkaparinga Institute of TAFE

7. Jennifer Gibb

Manager, National VET Research and Evaluation



8. Ros Gill

Project Manager

FLAG Flexible Learning Innovation Project

9. Jenny Lee

Curriculum Manager


10. Wendy Morrow

SA Director


11. Elizabeth Owers

Principal Policy Officer

VET Quality Branch, DETE

12. Roger Parry

Principal Lecturer


13. Sandra Surguy

Training Development & Marketing Coordinator,

Faculty of Community Services & Health

Torrens Valley Institute

14. Margaret Thornton

Business Response Manager,

Educational Development


15. Susan Young

National Project Director

Reframing the Future


Queensland, 6 November 2002

1. Deborah Archbald

Managing Director

Deborah Wilson Consulting

2. Kathy Bannister

Educational Consultant

Open Learning Institute

3. Richard Campbell


DET Training Products Support

4. Leura Cathcart



5. Carol Chambers


DET Training Products Support,

Centre for Training Materials

6. Rod Green

Senior Executive Officer

DET Training Products Support

7. Di Halligan

Senior Executive Officer

Training Products Support

8. Cathy Hazzard

Key Account Manager, Child Studies

Moreton Institute of TAFE Bayside

9. Marie Healy

Product Manager, Rural and Business Services

Product Support Unit

10. Bob Lamb

Senior Executive Officer

DET Training Products Support

11. Sandra Lawrence

Acting Studies Director

Brisbane Northpoint Institute

12. Robbie Lawson

Senior Executive Officer

DET Training Products Support

13. Reg Little

Executive Officer

DET Training Products Support

14. Phil Maytom

Senior Executive Officer

DET Training Products Support

15. Wendy Nichols

Executive Officer

DET Training Products Support

16. Jenny Norman

Planning and Reporting

Open Learning Institute (OLI)

17. David Reed

TAFE Product Manager

Product Support Unit

18. Bob Riseley

Executive Officer

DET Training Products Support

19. Frida Rossiter

TAFE Product Manager

Open Learning Institute (OLI)

20. Janine Schubert

Acting Director, Centre for Innovation and


Product Support Unit

21. Jennie Wallace

Director Academic Programs

Study Group Australia






NSW, 7 November 2002


1. Margo Baas

Office Manager


2. Richard Baker

Head Teacher, Manufacturing and Engineering

TAFE NSW South Western Institute

3. Graeme Cartwright

Senior Education Officer

TAFE NSW Sydney Institute

4. Natalie Fernandes

Traineeship Coordinator


5. Julie Frail

Faculty Manager Access Programs


6. Meredith Graham

Administrative Assistant


7. Nan Greig

Team Leader/Training Service


8. Peter Ireland

Policy and Compliance Manager

Billy Blue

9. Trish James

Senior Education Officer Educational Planning

and Profiling


10. Vijendra Lal

Chief Learning Design Officer Resource Design

and Development Unit


11. Jan Macindoe

Assistant Director Organisational Improvement

TAFE NSW Southern Sydney Institute

12. Marie Manidis

CEO CREATE Australia


13. Dennis Macnamara

Business Development Manager


14. Julie Proudfoot

VET Field Officer


15. Diane Siljanovic

Head Teacher Information Technology

TAFE NSW Sydney Institute

16. Louise Turnbull

Manager e-Learning


17. Garry Turner

Teacher Education Coordinator, Organisational


TAFE NSW Southern Sydney Institute

18. Yvonne Wilson

Head Teacher, Business Services, Wetherill Park

TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute

Victoria, Group A, 18 November 2002

1. Margaret Aspin

Senior Project Officer


2. Allan Ballagh

Associate Director, TAFE


3. Clarice Ballenden

Executive Director

Aspire Training Pty Ltd

4. Cathy Down

Project Director (Educational Development)


5. Shirley Evans

Organisational Development Consultant

Holmesglen Institute of TAFE

6. Anne Forwood

Senior Consultant

Dench McClean Carlson

7. John Glover

Executive Director

Group Training Australia

8. Ian Gribble

Senior Project Manager


9. Paul Harrington

Curriculum Maintenance Manager, Automotive

Kangan Batman TAFE

10. Peter Heilbuth

Manager Flexible Learning Projects

East Gippsland TAFE

11. Karen Holmes

Projects Officer

Narre Learning Network

12. Marlene Johnson

Senior Curriculum Projects Officer


13. Stephen OSullivan

Professional & Organisation Development


Kangan Batman TAFE

14. Jodee Price

National Training Manager


15. Peter Waterhouse

Managing Director

Workplace Learning Initiatives Pty Ltd

16. Geri Wild

HR Project Manager


17. Cheryl Wilkinson

HR Projects Manager


Victoria, Group B, 18 November 2002


1. Claire Brooks

Coordinator Community Learning Networks


2. Sue Coyne


Coyne Didsbury Pty Ltd for Victorian

Assessors Network

3. Cinthia Del Grosso

Project Officer

TDT Australia

4. Anne De Schepper

Manager Educational Services Development

Chisholm TAFE

5. Peter Dibbs

Project Manager Educational Services


Chisholm Institute of TAFE

Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET




6. Caroline Grayson

Manager, Innovation in Education

Swinburne University of Technology


7. Mary Hoffman

Manager Professional Development

Swinburne University of Technology


8. Lorna Lawford

Projects Officer


9. John Molenaar

Executive Officer

Manufacturing Learning VIC

10. Clint Smith

Field Manager

TAFE frontiers

Manager, Learning Pathways

11. Liz Stafford
Tasmania, 20 November 2002


1. Janine Bowes

Manager, national QTP website

Tasmanian Government

2. Kathi Eland

Chief Executive

Elan Learning Options

3. Helen Houston


Institute of TAFE Tasmania

4. Graeme Kirkwood

Manager, Learning Development

Institute of TAFE Tasmania

5. Glenn Macgowan

Training Coordinator

Pasminco Hobart Smelter

6. Trish McCullough

Manager, Environmental Tourism Training Project Tasmanian Government

7. Jo Murray


Pelion Consulting

8. Gaye Oakes

Team Leader, Textiles and Clothing

Institute of TAFE Tasmania

9. David Perkins


Institute of TAFE Tasmania

10. Marcus Regus

Horticulture Natural Resources

Institute of TAFE Tasmania

11. Kirsty Sharp


Institute of TAFE Tasmania

AVETRA, Melbourne, 26 November 2002

1. Margaret Aspin

Senior Project Officer


2. Fran Ferrier

Research Fellow


3. Sheila Fitzgerald

Executive Director

TAFE frontiers

4. Ian Gribble

Senior Project Manager


5. Chris Horton

Manager, Research, Planning and Development

Wodonga Institute of TAFE

6. Mark Landy

Field Manager

TAFE frontiers

7. Alan Linklater

Worldskills Manager

TAFE NSW Sydney Institute

8. Jayne Pitard

Project Officer

Victoria University, Centre For Curriculum

Innovation and Development

9. Clint Smith

Field Manager

TAFE frontiers

1. Heidi Astbury

Principal Lecturer

CY OConnor College, Narrogin

2. Christine Bateman

Senior Consultant, Professional Development Unit Office of Training, WA

3. Lynne Butler

Principal Lecturer


4. Lynne Deering

Senior Professional Development Consultant,

Access and Equity

Office of Training, WA

5. Mardi Dwyer

Principal Lecturer

West Coast College of TAFE

6. Pat Edgar

Workforce Development Consultant

Challenger TAFE

7. Christine Evans


West Coast College of TAFE

8. Lyn Fulcher

Professional Development Officer

West Coast College of TAFE

9. Sue GeddesPage

Principal Lecturer

Central TAFE

10. Lauri Grace


3 CM

11. Di Granger


Lifelong Learning Pty Ltd

WA, 17 March 2003

12. Margaret Greenhaugh Professional and Career Development Officer


13. Kate Guthrie


Professional Development Unit, Office

of Training

14. Sue Lapham

Director, Corporate Development

WestOne Services

15. Margaret McHugh

Principal Consultant, Literacy

Office of Training, WA






16. John Mitchell

A/Director, Accreditation

Swan TAFE, representing the Training

Delivery Group

17. Wayne Muller

Manager Training Products

Office of Training, WA

18. Lyn Scantlebury

Belmont City College

19. Anne Simpson

Senior Consultant

Professional Development Unit, Office

of Training, WA

20. Melanie Sorensen

Content and Delivery Manager

WestOne Services

1. Clarice Ballenden

Executive Director

Aspire Training Pty Ltd

2. Kaye Burton

Project Manager


3. Cathy Down

Project Director (Educational Development)


4. Anne Forwood

Senior Consultant

Dench McClean Carlson

5. Ian Gribble

Senior Project Manager


6. Pam Jones

Policy and Research Manager

Group Training Australia

7. Clint Smith

Field Manager

TAFE frontiers

8. Peter Waterhouse

Managing Director

Workplace Learning Initiatives Pty Ltd

Victoria, 22 April 2003



Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Appendix 6: Contacts for the case studies and vignettes

Set out below are the names of contact persons for the case studies and vignettes (permission was granted by the
named persons), together with an email address, for readers wanting more information.
For other information about the report, the author, John Mitchell, can be contacted on johnm@jma.com.au


Contact person


Case Study No.1

Holmesglen Institute of TAFE, VIC

Trevor Perry


Vignette No.1.1

Manufacturing Learning Centres, SA

Graham Hargreaves


Vignette No.1.2

Centrelink Call Centre, Coffs

Harbour and TAFE NSW North
Coast Institute, NSW/ACT

Peter Newman


Case Study No.2

Institute of TAFE Tasmania, TAS

Gaye Oakes


Vignette No.2.1

Brisbane and North Point

Institute of TAFE, QLD

Sandra Lawrence


Vignette No.2.2

TAFE NSW Open Training and

Education Network (OTEN), NSW

Louise Turnbull


Case Study No.3

Torrens Valley Institute of TAFE, SA

Rob Denton


Vignette No.3.1

Caterpillar Institute (WA) Pty Ltd

John Longman


Vignette No.3.2

East Gippsland Institute of TAFE,


Catherine Brigg


Case Study No.4

Open Learning Institute of TAFE,


John Blakeley


Vignette No.4.1

Photography Studies College, VIC

Julie Moss


Vignette No.4.2

TAFE NSW Hunter Institute, NSW

Michael Adermann


Case Study No.5

Goodwill Industries WA in
conjunction with West Coast
College of TAFE, WA

Phil Pitchers


Vignette No.5.1

Alcan, Yirrkala Business Enterprises

and Government East Arnhem
Land, NT

Craig Bonney


Vignette No.5.2

TNT Express, TDT Australia and

six providers, national

Robert Adams





Appendix 7: References

Adams R., & Del Grosso, C. (2002), Action Plan for Reframing the Future Project on Communities of Practice.
Adams R., & Del Grosso, C. (2003), Final Report on Reframing the Future Project on Communities of Practice.
Australian National Training Authority (1997a), Research Reports into Professional Development, Australian National Training
Authority, Brisbane, Australia.
Australian National Training Authority (1996a), Learning Styles, Work Based Learning in Progress Series.
Australian National Training Authority (1997b), Flexible Delivery Pilots: Bringing training to your fingertips, Australian National
Training Authority, Brisbane, Australia.
Australian National Training Authority (1997c), Research Reports into Professional Development, Brisbane.
Australian National Training Authority (2001), Training Package Developers Handbook, Melbourne.
Australian National Training Authority (2002), Fresh Thinking about Learning and Learners: A Blue Sky Project, Brisbane.


Bannister, K. (2003), Presentation of E-learning Strategy, Open Learning Institute, Brisbane.

Bannister, K. (2003), Queensland Health and Open Learning Institute Partnership Project, Open Learning Institute, Brisbane.
Beckett, D. & Hager, P. (2002), Life, Work and Learning, Routledge, London.
Biggs, J. (1999), Teaching for quality learning at university, Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University, Suffolk.
Billet, S. (2001), Learning in the Workplace, Allen & Unwin, Maryborough.
Blakeley, J. (2002), E-learning Strategy for the OLI, Open Learning Institute, Brisbane.
Blight, J. & Dymock, D. (2002), Innovation to Integration: School-VET Pathways to a Learning Culture, 5th Annual Conference
of the Australian VET Research Association (AVETRA), Melbourne, March 2022, 2002.
Blight, J. (2002), Manufacturing Learning Centres. Partnering School VET Pathways to a Learning Culture, submission for
CAPAM International Awards Program, Innovations in Government 20012002.
Boud, D. & Garrick, J. (ed.) (1999), Understanding Learning at Work, Spon Press, London.
Briggs, C. & Wilkinson, S. (2000), The East Gippsland Region Integrated Model for Assessment and Service Delivery for the
National Competencies in Childrens Services, Aged Care and Disability Work, presentation at the Community Services and
Health Industry Training Body conference, Melbourne.
Burns, R. (2002), The Adult Learner at Work, Business and Professional Publishing Pty Ltd, Warriewood, NSW.
Burns, S. (2000), Artistry in Training, Business and Professional Publishing Pty Ltd, Warriewood, NSW.
Buys, N., Kendall, E. & Ramsden, J. (1999), Review of Research: Vocational education and training for people with disabilities, NCVER,
Leabrook, South Australia.
Clayton, B., Blom, K., Meyers, D. & Bateman, A. (2003, forthcoming) Assessing and certifying generic skills Whats happening in
VET?, NCVER, Adelaide.
Clayton, B., Booth, R. & Roy, S. (2001), Maximising confidence in assessment decision-making: A springboard to quality in
assessment in 4th AVETRA conference, Research to reality: Putting research to work, AVETRA, Alexandria, NSW.
Cohen, D. & Prusak, L. (2001), In Good Company. How social capital makes organisations work, Harvard Business School Press, Boston.
Curtis, D. & Denton, R. (2003, forthcoming), The Authentic Performance-based Assessment of Problem-Solving, NCVER, Adelaide.
Denton, R. (2002), Key Competencies Assessment Strategy, Torrens Valley TAFE, submitted for future NCVER publication.
Denton, R. (2002), SA Training Initiative Award application, Internationally Acclaimed Key Competencies Assessment Strategy,
Torrens Valley Institute.
Drucker, P.F. (1999), Management Challenges for the Twenty-first Century, Butterworth & Heinemann, Oxford.
Ellyard, P., Imagining the future and getting to it first, in Australian Institute of Management (2001), Innovation and
Imagination at Work, McGraw Hill, Sydney.
Ferrier, F., Trood, C. & Whittingham, K. (2003), Going boldly into the future: A VET journey into the national innovation system,
NCVER, Leabrook.
Flexible Learning Advisory Group (FLAG) (2001b), Strategy 2002, Melbourne.
Gribble, I. (2001), One view of integrated capabilities for contemporary VET practitioners diagram supplied to the author.
Gribble, I. (2002a), The axes of complexity and intensity of innovation, diagram supplied to the author.
Gribble, I. (2002b), Location of innovation, diagram supplied to the author.
Hager, P. (1998), Learning in the workplace, Robinson, C. and Thomson, P. (eds) Readings in Australian vocational education and
training research, NCVER, Adelaide, pp.3056.
Hager, P. (2001), Workplace judgement and conceptions of learning, Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol 13, No. 7/8, pp352359.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Harris, R., Simons, M., Bone, J. (2000a), More than meets the eye? Rethinking the role of the workplace trainer, National Centre for
Vocational Education and Research, Adelaide.
Harris, R., Simons, M., Hill, D., Smith, E., Pearce, R., Blakely, J., Choy, S., Snewin, D. (2000b), The Changing Role of Staff
Development for Teachers and Trainers in VET, National Centre for Vocational Education and Research, Adelaide.
Henry, J. & Mayle, D. (ed.) (2002), Managing Innovation and Change, Sage Publications, London.
Ip, A., Linser, R. & Jasinski, M. (2002), The Zen Of Being An Effective Mod In Online Role-Play Simulations, Ausweb 02,
Sunshine Coast QLD.
Jones, A. (2001), Its a judgement calland consistency isnt all its cracked up to be in 4th AVETRA conference, Research to
reality: Putting research to work, AVETRA, Alexandria, NSW.
King, N. & Anderson, N. (2002), Managing Innovation and Change, Thomson, Australia.
Latchem, C. & Hanna, D. (2001), Leadership for 21st Century Learning: Global Perspectives From Educational Innovators, Kogan Page,
Lawrence, S. (2002a), Project Final Report on Reframing the Future project conducted at Brisbane & North Point Institute of
TAFE 2002.
Lawrence, S. (2002b), Assessment through Workplace Simulation: Background, Definitions, Givens and Principles, PowerPoint
Lesser, E. (ed.), (2000), Knowledge and Social Capital, Foundations and Applications, Butterworth & Heinemann, Boston.


Lesser, E. & Storck, J. (2001), Communities of practice and organisational performance, IBM Systems Journal, Vol 40, No 4.
Lesser, E. & Everest, K. (2001), Using Communities of Practice to manage Intellectual Capital, Ivey Business Journal, March/April.
Lesser, E., Fontaine, M. A. & Slusher, J. A. (2000), Knowledge and Communities, Butterworth & Heinemann, Boston.
Lesser, E. L. (2000), Knowledge and Social Capital, Butterworth & Heinemann, Boston.
Lin, I., Innovation in the networked world, in Australian Institute of Management (2001), Innovation and Imagination at Work,
McGraw Hill, Sydney.
Mant, A. (2002), Leadership in the Public Sector: Physics, Chemistry or Something Else Entirely, overhead slides, Building
Leaders Managing People Seminar Series, Institute of Public Administration Australia, Melbourne, 25 Sept.
Marginson, S. (2000), The changing nature and organization of work, and the implications for vocational education and training in
Australia: Issues Paper, National Centre for Vocational Education and Research, Adelaide.
McDermott, R. (1999), Nurturing Three Dimensional Communities of Practice: How to get the most out of human networks,
Knowledge Management Review, Fall edition.
McDermott, R. (2000), Knowing in Community: 10 Critical Success Factors in Building Communities of Practice at
Mitchell, J. G. & Wood, S. (2001), Evidence of High-skilled Staff and High-Performing VET Organisations, ANTA, Melbourne.
Mitchell, J. G. & Young, S. (2001), High-skilled high-performing VET, ANTA, Melbourne.
Mitchell, J. G., Latchem, C., Bates, A. & Smith, P. (2001a), Critical Issues in Flexible learning for VET Managers, TAFE frontiers,
Mitchell, J. G., Henry, J. & Young, S. (2001b), A new model of workbased learning for the VET sector, ANTA, Melbourne.
Mitchell, J. G. & Young, S. (2002), Knowledge Managament and the National Training Framework: Core Ideas, ANTA, Melbourne.
Mitchell, J. G. (2002a), The potential for Communities of Practice to underpin the National Training Framework, ANTA, Melbourne
Mitchell, J. G. (2002b), The Never-Ending Quest: Effective Strategy-making and change management for high-performing VET
organisations, ANTA, Melbourne.
Mitchell, J. G. (2003), E-business and Online Learning: Connections and Opportunities for VET, NCVER, Leabrook.
Mitchell, J. G., Latchem, C., Atkinson, R., Schuller, J., King, B. (1993), Evaluation of Videoconferencing in Higher Education, NBEET,
Mitchell, J. G., Young, S., McKenna, S. & Hampton, C. (2002), 110 Ways to Implement the National Training System, ANTA,
Oakes, G. (2003), Success in TCF, Tasmania, 19992003, paper.
Open Learning Institute (2002), Key Change Initiatives 20022003 brochure, Brisbane.
OTFE: Office of Training and Further Education (1997), Staff development policies and priorities for the State Training System 1997-99.
OTFE: Office of Training and Further Education (2000), State Training System Staff Learning Profiles.
Owen, C. & Williamson, J. (1994), The development of learning cultures in the workplace: some phantoms, paradoxes and
possibilities, (re)Forming post-compulsory education and training: Reconciliation and reconstruction, Conference proceedings, Griffith
University, Centre for Learning and Work Research, vol 2, pp.7486.
Paton, R. (3 April, 2003), email correspondence with John Mitchell.
PETE: Office of Post Compulsory Education Training and Employment, Staff Development Advisory Committee (2000), Trends in
the Victorian TAFE Institute workforce: a research report.


Pitchers, P. (2002a), Action Plan for Reframing the Future Project on Staff Development.
Pitchers, P. (2002b), Final Report on Reframing the Future Project on Staff Development.
Prowse, G. & Turnbull, L. (2002), The Accounting Teaching Section Background, notes, OTEN, Sydney.
Robinson, C. (2000), New Directions in Australias Skill Formation. Lifelong learning is the key. National Centre for Vocational
Education Research, Adelaide.
Rossett, A. & Sheldon, K. (2001), Beyond the Podium, Delivering Training and Performance to a Digital World, Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer,
San Francisco.
Simons, M., Harris, R. & Bone, J. (1999), Workplace trainers: What Do They Do?, in Quality and Diversity in VET Research:
Proceedings of the second national conference of the Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association, AVETRA,
Alexandria, Sydney.
Smith, P. J. (2000a), Preparedness for flexible delivery among vocational learners, Distance Education, 21, 1, pp. 2948.
Smith, P. J. (2000b), Flexible delivery and apprentice training: preferences, problems and challenges, Journal of Vocational
Education and Training, 52, 3, pp. 483502.
Smith, P. J. (2001a), Technology student learning preferences and the design of flexible learning programs, Instructional Science,
29, 3, pp. 237254.


Smith, P. J. (2001b), Enhancing flexible business training: learners and enterprises, Industrial and Commercial Training, 3/4,
pp. 8488.
Smith, P. J. (2001c), Modern learning methods: rhetoric or reality further to Sadler-Smith et al., Personal Review, in press.
Standards Australia (2001), Knowledge Management, A framework for succeeding in the knowledge era, Sydney.
Stephenson, J. (2000), Diagram used in a presentation at Holmesglen Institute of TAFE.
Tinkler, D., Lepani, B. & Mitchell, J. (1996), Education and Technology Convergence: A Survey of Technological Infrastructure in
Education and the Professional Development and Support of Educators and Trainers in Information and Communication Technologies,
Commissioned Report No. 43, NBEET, AGPS, Canberra.
TNT (2002), Investing in Our People, TNT Training Newsletter, West Melbourne, November.
Turnbull, L. (2002), Innovation in Teaching and Learning Case Study: Email Support Program, notes, OTEN, Sydney.
Turnbull, L. (2002), The Accounting Teaching Section Background, notes, OTEN, Sydney.
Turnbull, L. (2002), Innovation in Teaching and Learning: Open Training and Education Network (TAFE NSW): Case Study 1:
Flexible Delivery: an integrated systems approach, notes, Sydney.
Turnbull, L. & Twyford, K. (2002), Innovation in Teaching and Learning Case Study: Email Support Program, notes, OTEN,
Turner, D. (2002), Employability Skills Development in the UK, NCVER, Adelaide.
Waterhouse, P., Wilson, B. & Ewer, P. (1999), The changing nature and patterns of work and implications for VET, National Centre
for Vocational Education Research, Leabrook, Australia.
Wenger, E. (1998a), Communities of Practice: learning, meaning and identity, Cambridge University Press, New York.
Wenger, E. (1998b), Communities of Practice Learning as a Social System, Systems Thinker, June.
Wenger, E. & Snyder, W. (2000), Communities of Practice: The Organisational Frontier, Harvard Business Review, v. 78, no. 1,
pp. 139145.
Wenger, E., McDermott, R. & Snyder, W., (2002), Cultivating Communities of Practice, A Guide to Managing Knowledge, Harvard
Business School Press, Boston Mass.
Wilkinson, S. (2002a), Action Plan for Reframing the Future project.
Wilkinson, S. (2002b), Final Report for Reframing the Future project.
Williams, A. (1999), Creativity, Invention and Innovation, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.
Wills, S., Hedberg, J., Little, P. & Oliver, R., The Learning Environment in Australian National Training Authority (2002), Fresh
Thinking about Learning and Learners: A Blue Sky Project, Brisbane.


Emerging Futures: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

EMERGING FUTURES Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

Mitchell | Clayton | Hedberg | Paine

Innovation in Teaching and Learning in VET

John Mitchell John Mitchell & Associates

with assistance from Berwyn Clayton, John Hedberg & Nigel Paine