Good e-practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

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Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

1



Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the

Flexible Learning Advisory Group (FLAG) and the
National VET Equ
ity Advisory Council
(NVEAC)
for providing the opportunity to investigate such an important area for Vocational Education and
Training.

We are also grateful for the support provided by both these National Secretariats and for the wisdom and advice
received from our Project Reference

Group whose members are listed below:

Project Reference Group

Kay Dean


National Disability Coordination Officer

Marlene Manto


National VET E
-
learning Strategy (South Australia)

Robin Miles


Social Equity Works

Georgina Nou

Online educator Anangu Pitjant
jatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands


Ruth Wallace


Charles Darwin University

Alicia Wein


Secretariat for the National VET E
-
learning Strategy

Authors

Donna Hensley and Christine Goldsmith



Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

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©

2013

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ed

as:

Good e
-
practice guidelines for
disadvantaged learners in VET


Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

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CONTENTS

Acknowledgements

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2

Project Reference Group

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2

Author
s

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2

Abstract

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5

Background

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6

Context

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8

Aims

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9

Scope

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9

Overview of Report and Guidelines

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9

Key Definitions

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10

Assumptions

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10

Search focus
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10

Definition of Terms

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11

Focus questions

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...................

16

Methodology

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17

Rationale

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17

Limitations and Challenges

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17

Findings

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Discussion and analysis

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Conclusion

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Recommendations

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35

Appendix A:
Good e
-
practice guidelines

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Appendix B
: Resources

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43

Appendix C: Key search terms

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.

44

Appendix D: Methodology notes
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45

References

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50

Abbreviated Terms

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55



Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

5


ABSTRACT

This project consists of two key outputs:

(1) A
literature review and analysis

of projects
funded by the Australian National VET

E
-
learning Strategy and
other national and internat
ional literature identifying

good practice in e
-
learning for disadvantaged learners.


(2) Guidelines to support V
ocational
E
ducation and
T
raining (VET)

p
ractitioners incorporating e
-
learning into
their practice with disadvantaged learners.

The review
examines what is effective

in the e
-
learning environment for disadvantaged learners that can achieve
successful learning o
utcomes and experiences
. It also
explores various e
-
learning pedagogical approaches to
inform good e
-
practice.

Multi
-
literacy competencies for both learners and practitioners are required to enable full participation in the
knowledge society. As identified by
Lee (2013
)

these competencies embrace areas including

connectivist
th
inking, digital citizenship,
cross
-
cultural
interaction skill
s,
innovativ
e thinking, problem solving and
social
networking skill
s. These are just some of the new skills required to function and participate in the 21
st

Century
domain. The challenge for VET practitioners is how to re
-
engineer their p
edagogy in an e
-
learning environment
to facilitate the achievement of these competencies and ensure inclusive learning.

The focus of the review, disadvantaged learners in VET who are engaging in e
-
learning, was broad and diverse
and identifying good practi
ce guidelines for each of these individual focus groups was not possible within the
scope of this review.

What did emerge from

the projects and literature were

four themes that are critical to

address when
implementing e
-
learning
strategies:



learner
-
cent
red approach



support strategies



blended delivery model
s



accessibility

The Guidelines and checklists are framed by these four themes and three areas that impact on the individual
relationship between learner and practitione
r in an e
-
learning environment:



kn
ow the learner, their community, their culture;



know yourself, your skills, approach and
p
ractice and



k
now your environment, th
e technology and learning space



Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

6


BACKGROUND

T
hi
s research project was
jointly commissioned

by
the Flexible Learning Advisory G
roup (FLAG)
1

and

the National
VET
Equity Advisory Council (NVEAC)
2
.

FLAG is an advisory group of the National Senior Officials Committee (NSOC). As the key policy advisory group
on national directions and priorities for information and communication techn
ologies (ICT) in the vocational
education and training system (VET) and Adult and Community Education (ACE), it has oversight of the National
VET E
-
learning Strategy 2012
-

2015

(‘the Strategy’)
.

NVEAC provides independent advice to the Council of Australi
an Governments (COAG) Standing Council on
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (SCOTESE) on how the VET sector can support disadvantaged learners
to achieve improved outcomes from VET. The NVEAC Equity Blueprint 2011


2016, Creating Futures: Achievi
ng
Potential through VET
sets the policy direction for the Council’s advice.

This project provides

an opportunity to consolidate past work in the area

of e
-
learning for disadvantaged
learners in VET
, examine contemporary national and international
thinking and to utilise the joint expertise of
the two councils.

NVEAC’s aspiration, as expressed in the Equity Blueprint, is for an equitable and inclusive VET system that
enables all learners to achieve their potential through skills development and to a
ccess the opportunities society
has to offer.

There is no doubt that an inclusive VET system leads to considerable benefits for the economy, communities and
individuals.
Deloitte Access Economics (2011
)
,
Australian Social Inclusion Board: Department of the Prime
Minister and Cabinet (2012
)
,
National VET Equity Advisory Council (2011a
)

We also know that education systems can reduce the extent to which differences in socio
-
economic background
relate to student performance.
(
Organisation for Economic Co
-
operation and Development, 2013
)

Access to, and the capacity to use information and communicati
on technologies, is critical for full participation in
Australian society today.


…dot com and not.com now define a new social order of individual economic power and individual economic
alienation

.

(Graham, 2000: 21 cited in Australian Institute for S
ocial Research 2006 p.4)

In 20
06, the Australian Institute for Social Research
commissioned a study to evaluate the barriers to e
-
learning

opportunities for women
, people with
disability and
I
ndigenous
3

people in

metropolitan and regional areas.



1

Flexible Learning Advisory Group 2013,
National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
, Australia, viewed
28 March 2013,
http://www.flag.natese.gov.au/
.

2

National VET Equity Advisory Council 2013,
National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
, Australia,
viewed 28
March 2013, <

http://www.nveac.natese.gov.au/
>.

3

Indigenous people in this paper refers to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from Australia

Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

7


They
noted that t
echnological and social change are mutually reinforcing phenomena and need to be located in
their wider social context.


With appropriate policy intervention, the Digital Divide can be reconfigured to be an instrument of positive
change


a Di
gital Bridge
-

providing a means of overcoming disadvantage, or it can be a mechanism of
entrenching inequity. It can be a support for community capacity building or a means of widening divisions in
communities. The VTE
(VET)
sector, and the effectiveness
with which it marries ICTs and learning methodologies,
can significantly affect these directions
.”
(
Australian Institute for Social Research, 2006
)

In 2002,
(
Cashion and Palmieri, 2002
)

noted
,

in their
research
which investigated the meaning of quality learning
from the perspective of VET online learners, that
“t
he

greatest deterrents to high quality online learning for
students have been found to

involve problems with technology and access to the internet

.

Is this still the case?
During 2010
-
11
,

79% of Australian households had access to the internet at home, up
from
72% in 2008
-
09. However, low income households remained much less likely than high income households to
h
ave a home internet connection.
(
Australian Social Inclusion Board: Department of the Prime Minister and
Cabinet, 2012
)

The ABS Survey

I
ndicator ‘
Household Use

of Information Technology 2011’

also found that the use of the
Internet at home was higher among younger people, those with high levels of educational attainment (such as a
Bachelor degree), and people who were employed. It also s
howed that home internet use was more common
among people who were born in Australia or in other English speaking countries compared with those born in a
non
-
English speaking country.
(
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011
)
.

The issue of access is also critical for rural and remote communities where infra
-
structure is currently
inadequate to meet e
-
learning needs in many locations. There are significant costs associated with equa
lising
access to technology for e
-
learning. This is an important topic that is outside the scope of this report, however
access to technology for disadvantaged learners needs to be considered at a systemic level if VET e
-
learning is to
be truly inclusive a
nd its social and economic benefits enjoyed by all.

For a number of years, FLAG has supported using e
-
learning to improve accessibility, participation and outcomes
for disadvantaged VET learners through a range of projects and studies. S
upport

has
compris
ed of innovation
projects using seed

funding to finance individual Registered Training O
rganisations (
RTOs) using an e
-
learning
intervention for delivery of training to disadvantaged

learners; as well as leadership projects that oversaw the
development of a wide range of resources to build VET sector capability
. A significant number of projects have
been undertaken which have provided a rich source of information for this report.

The
re is no doubt that e
-
learning provides advantages for learners. An E
-
learning Benchmarking survey has been
undertaken under the auspices of FLAG since 2005, undertaking annual national surveys of the uptake and use
of e
-
learning by employers, training
org
anisations
, VET students and VET teachers and trainers. The surveys
illustrate trends in the uptake of e
-
learning, the way in which technology is used in training, and the impact of e
-
learning on skills and employment.

Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

8


More than 6,000 VET students and 250
(RTOs) responded to the 2011 survey which focused on the uptake, use
and impact of e
-
learning.

“Student feedback has consistently shown that it is not just the formal qualifications and skills that they acquire
through VET that is of value in the workplace
. Their capacity to use technology more effectively and with
confidence has currency in the job market. The impact of e
-
learning on employment outcomes is at its highest
recorded level. Fifty
-
five per cent of students said e
-
learning helped them to do thei
r current job better, 42% said
it helped them to get a better job, and 66% said that they expected improved employment outcomes in the
future as a result of the e
-
learning in their course.”

I and J Management Services (2011
)

FLAG has also recently undertaken related research into developing a set of clear criteria for quality e
-
learning
delivery and assessment b
y VET practitioners, relevant to all
Australian Qualification Framework (AQF)

levels.

FLAG is also in the process
(2013)
of funding eight small projects to develop e
-
learning content to support equity
in VET.

What this report sets out to find is:
What wo
rks in the e
-
learning environment for disadvantaged VET
learners
that achieves successful experiences and outcomes

for them
? What can we learn from case studies an
d the
literature to inform
pedagogy to support improved outcomes for learners
?

Finding an agr
eed definition of VET e
-
learning pedagogy appears unresolved and an ongoing process. Research
that examines e
-
learning pedagogy in VET specifically related to disadvantaged learners is limited and we don’t
know as much as we would like to know. It would b
e advantageous to have a formula,
a way of doing things
that work
s

for all but as we know
,

there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to learning. What we do
know is that the effectiveness of all education systems depends critically on the qua
lity of the teaching and
learning that it delivers.

Context

This research

relates to Reform Area 3
Building the Capability of the VET Workforce

in the NVEAC
Equity
Blueprint (2011
-
16) and Goal 3 of FLAG’s National VET E
-
learning Strategy
(2012
-
2015
):
Expand participation and
acce
ss for individuals through targeted e
-
learning approaches.

It is

being undertaken in conjunction with a second NVEAC project relating to Reform Area 3 in the NVEAC 2012
-
13 Work Plan; project 3.1


to develop a Framework of Pedagogic Knowledge outlining the

principles and
strategies for training and teaching disadvantaged learners in VET.

The audi
ences who will benefit from both
project
s

include:



VET teachers, trainers, assessors



Disadvantaged learners in VET



Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

9


AIMS

The general aims of the
research
project were to undertake a review and analysis of FLAG projects and national
and international literature to identify good practice in e
-
learning technologies and pedagogical approaches in
vocational education and training, including a focus on learner
ce
ntred

approaches and teacher training to
deliver training and assessment for disadvantaged learners.

Scope

The evidence to
review and
analyse

to inform the development of

the good practice guidelines was

limited to:



FLAG projects targeting disadvantaged le
arners in e
-
learning technologies and pedagogical approaches
in the design and delivery of training and assessment.

To further support

the findings from the
analysis

of the FLAG projects,
reference

was made to

international and
national research literatur
e of good practice in e
-
learning technologies and pedagogical approaches for
disadvantaged learners including VET provision in:



secondary schools, community sector and dual sector organisations



e
-
learning technologies and pedagogical appr
oaches which are
learner
-
centre
d



teacher training in e
-
learning approaches and technologies



s
ocially
just principles and strategies for engaging learners through e
-
learning technologies and
pedagogical approaches in VET.

OVERVIEW OF REPORT A
ND
GUIDELINES

This project consi
sts of two key outputs:

1.

The development of
Guidelines

to support VET practitioners incorporating e
-
learning into their practice
with disadvantaged learners

(the Guidelines are listed in Appendix A)

2.

A
Report
providing the Guidelines as an attachment that examines the evidence that explains
how 1.
was achieved.

To ensure the project stayed focused on key issues and to ensure that current thinking and knowledge about
strategies for disadvantaged learners in VET
remained central to our approach, a Project Reference Group was
established. The membership of this group represented the diversity of the area that we were focusing on.
(See:
Acknowledgements for members of this group)



Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

10


KEY DEFINITIONS

D
efining the term
s for this study

is important as it provides a structure for investigation for the literature review
and outlines some o
f the key assumptions about current
research

in the area of VET disadvantaged learners and
e
-
learning
.

Assumptions

As defined by

the project brief, the following assumptions were applied.



Central to building the capability of the VET workforce is improved pedagogic approaches to effectively
teach and train disadvantaged learners in Australian VET context, particularly when contempl
ating the
use of e
-
learning.



Engaging disadvantaged learners through e
-
learning delivery and assessment is more than adding a new
gadget to their learning experiences. Through an emphasis on learner
-
centred approaches and teacher
training, e
-
learning tech
nologies are improving the connection between learners and their trainers and
improving learner experience and outcomes.



E
-
learning technology in delivering training and assessment has the potential to support pedagogy that
can improve disadvantaged learn
ers’ engagement and learning outcomes.

Search focus

Focus questions were originally developed by an NVEAC/FLAG Action Group in response to policy imperatives. It
was important before beginning the review to have a clear understanding of the meaning and in
tended
outcome of the questions.

In consultation with the Project Reference group, the questions were reviewed and terms identified that
required clarificati
on for the contextual evolution of the

project.

As
(
Anlez
ark et al., 2005
)

poin
ts

out; generally the
recognised

format to focus a systematic review question is to
consider the population of interest, intervention for investigation and outcomes considered most important for
assessing the results.

After an init
ial scan of the literature, the aspects of focus for the literature review:
population, interventions and
outcomes

were discussed with the Project Reference Group at the first meeting held at the beginning of the
project and the focus areas for investigati
on were identified below:

FIGURE 1: FOCUS OF I
NVESTIGATION


Population



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噅吠P牡捴楴楯n敲e

Intervention



N
-
汥慲l楮g

Outcomes



Improved

learner experience



Improved

e
-
learning
pedagogy

Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

11


The focus areas were further defined into sub
-
d
escriptors to refine the search and
these are outlined in the
methodology notes in Appendix D.

Definition of Terms

The fields of
both
VET

a
nd ICT

are littered with

jargon and acronyms.


Further confusion arises due to

such a
rapidly developing field

and

the

meaning of terms changing over time, with new terms emerging

due to changes
in

emphasis, use, or meaning.

(
Australian Flexible Learning Framework, 2003
)
.

The following terms are defined for the context of this project.

E
-
learning

A range of definitions for e
-
learning were identified in the litera
ture. E
-
learning is a term
that “
characterises

educational systems at the start of the 21
st

Century. Like society, the concept of e
-
learning is subject to constant
change…. It’s about doing things differently
.”

(
Sangrà et al., 2012
)

Various tags are currently used to describe e
-
lear
ning including: online learning, web
-
based learning, distance
learning, mobile learning,
flexible learning
and more, all of
which can prove confusing for teachers wanting to
embark on new approaches.

The different

interpretations of e
-
learning are often d
ictated by professional approaches and interests and fall
into definitions that are categorized by
Sangrà et al. (2012
)

into four areas; technology
-
driven definitions,
delivery
-
system definitions, communication
-
orientated definitions and educational
-
paradigm definitions.
Representative samples of definitions relating to these categories are listed below:

Technology
-
driven
definitions



Learning conducted via electronic media, typically on the Internet.

(
Oxford Dictionary
, 2012)



E
-
learning, sometimes termed computer
-
based training (CBT), internet
-
based training (IBT) or web
-
based
training (WBT), includes all forms of electron
ically supported learning and teaching, including
educational technology. The information and communication systems, whether networked learning or
not, serve as specific media to implement the learning process
.
(
Tav
angarian et al., 2004
)

Delivery system definitions



E
-
learning is the delivery of education (all activities relevant to instructing, teaching, and learning)
through various electronic media.

(
Koohang and Harman, 2005
)



E
-
learning
uses electronic media to deliver flexible vocational education and training. It includes access
to, downloading and use of web, CD
-
ROM or computer
-
based learning resources in the classroom,
workplace or home. It also includes online access to and participa
tion in course activities (e.g. online
simulations, online group discussions); directed use of the internet, mobile and voice technologies for
learning and research purposes; structured learning
-

based email communication; and online assessment
activities
.

(
National VET E
-
learning Strategy, 2011
)



E
-
learning is the
delivery of learning,

training or education programs by electronic means
.
(
Li et al., 2012
)


Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

12


Communication
-
orientated defi
nitions



E
-
learning is learning based on information and communication technologies with pedagogical
interaction between students and the content, students and the instructors or among students through
the web
.
(
González
-
Videgaray, 2007
)



E
-
learning is defined as learning facilitated by the use of digital tools and content that involves s
ome
form of interactivity, which may include online interaction between the learner and their teacher or
peers
.

(
Ministry of Comunica
tion and Technology of New Zealand, 2008
)


Educational paradigm definitions

This category defines e
-
learning as a new way of learning or as an
improvement
on an existing educational
paradigm.



E
-
learning is the use of new multimedia technologies and th
e Internet to
improve
the quality of learning
by facilitating access to resources and services, as well as remote exchange and collaboration.

(
Alonso et
al., 2005
)
.



E
-
learning is defined as information and communication technologies used to support students to
improve

their learning.

(
Ellis et al., 2009
)

For the purposes of this project, a definition of e
-
learning which
encompasses an educational

paradigm
orientated definition has been chosen.

This definition

also encompasses the notion of

pedagogy

and the notion
of
improving

learning outcomes
; t
herefore we have not listed the

term e
-
learning pedagogy
separately but
understand that it is implicit
ly included in the e
-
learning definition identified for this project.

The definition of e
-
learning used for the purposes of this project is:

E
-
learning is an approach to teaching and learning, representing all or part of the educational model applied,
tha
t is based on the use of electronic media and devices as tools for improving access to training, communication
and interaction and that facilitates the adoption of new ways of understanding and developing learning.
(
Sangrà
et al., 2012
)

I
n this paper we sometimes refer to e
-
learning that includes pedagogy as e
-
practice.

Disadvantaged learners
in VET

For the purposes of this project we have
use
d

the NVEAC definition

as outlined in their Equity Blueprint
:

(
National VET Equity Advisory Council, 2011a
)

-

People from socio
-
economically disadvantaged backgrounds

-

Indigenous Australians

-

Women

-

People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds particularly new arrivals to Australia,
refugees and emerging communities

-

People with
disability

-

People from rural, regional or remote locations or communities w
ith high levels of disadvantage.

Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

13


NVEAC agrees that these are important population groups to
monitor in the context of VET.
Further, the Council
argues that we also need to monitor the system’s success in providing a
‘second chance’

for people across thes
e
populations who are experiencing particular life circumstances, especially people:

-

with less than Year 12 or equivalent level of educational attainment

-

returning to learning after a long period of absence from study and/or work

-

reskilling following re
dundancy

-

involved in the criminal justice system

-

of working age who are neither working nor studying.

Aspects of literacy and numeracy skills and competence, although not identified as a distinct group, are
often
inherent across these cohorts.

For exam
ple, just over half of
Indigenous

students in year 9 meet the national
minimum standards for writing (55%) compared to 86% of non
-
Indigenous students. Disadvantage continues to
be concentrated geographically.

We also know that different kinds of disadvan
tage tend to coincide in
particular locations and persist over time. Those in the lowest socio
-
economic areas are around 20% less likely to
attain Year 12 or equivalent (74% compared to 94%)

(
Australian Social Inclusion Board: Department of the
P
rime Minister and Cabinet, 2012
)

T
he report
,

Social Inclusion in Australia: How Australia is Faring (2012) notes that; “
while the experience of a
single disadvantage can create difficulties for people, the experience of multiple disadvantage can have a
compounding and persistent effect, reinforcing barriers to getting ahead and increasing the likelihood of other
related pro
blems later in life”.
In Australia, based on ABS
(2011)

statistics, around 5% of the working age
population, or 640,000 people, experience multiple and complex disadvantage which may affect their ability to
fully participate in society.

E
-
learning offers
great opportunities to reduce disadvantage by enabling access for people who may
have
been
previously unable to attend formal classroom based learning; people with disability, people from rural and
remote locations, women who are primary carers etc. howeve
r
,

this is predicated on a 'level playing field' notion
of access that currently does not exist.

People and communities who do not have access to infrastructure or
technology are clearly disadvantaged from the benefits e
-
learning can afford.

While access

and infrastructure
are no guarantee of 'learner engagement' or 'learner outcomes' (as we will discuss in more depth later in this
report) and the focus of this research is on e
-
teaching and e
-
learning
,

the researchers would like to acknowledge
that 'lack
of access to new technologies' as a category of disadvantage may need inclusion on the above l
ist and
needs to be factored into

policy and planning decision making of Governmen
ts, funding bodies and RTOs.

VET (Vocational Education and Training)

It was im
portant to define this term as various descriptors are used internationally. The following definition from
the NCVER VET Glossary was used as a guide.

Post
-
compulsory education and training, excluding degree and higher level programs delivered by further
e
ducation institutions, which provides people with occupational or work
-
related knowledge and skills. VET also
includes programs which provide the basis for subsequent vocational programs. Alternative terms used
internationally include technical and vocatio
nal education and training (TVET), vocational and technical
education and training (VTET), technical and vocational education (TVE), vocational and technical education
Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

14


(VTE), further education and training (FET), and career and technical education (CTE).
(
Accessed 28/3/13
http://www.ncver.edu.au/resources/glossary/intro.html
)

As part of the inclusion and exclusion criteria, studies that focused on VET courses beyond Level 5 (Diploma)
were not reviewed.

Good Practice

Good practice is based on the gathering of evidence, for example
a teaching
method that

has been

proven to
work well and produce good results

and outcomes for both teachers and learners
, and is therefore
recommended as a model.

Within the context of this
report, ‘Good Practice’ was identified where VET
students from diverse backgr
ounds
and with diverse needs were

valued, supported and integrated into the community of learners by means of
flexible approaches on the part of
institutes,
colleges, f
aculties
,

c
o
-
ordinators and individual practitioners
.

Evidence
from case studies and research projects were included if they demonstrated outcomes that improved
the learner experience and revealed a progressive process of improvement in pedagog
y that engaged

the
lear
ner across a range of
contextualised

learning experiences.

The
Equity in VET:
Good Practice Principles

(
National VET Equity Advisory Council, 2011b
)

were also used as a
guide to select readings t
hat would inform the
Good E
-
Practice
Guidelines
for Dis
advantaged Learners in VET

for
this project (see Appendix A)

VET Practitioners

VET practitioners for this project are defined as:

Practitioners are those trainers and assessors who have a substantive involvement in VET delivery, whether
employed on a
permanent or temporary basis. They are expected to be suitably skilled in the practices of
teaching, training and assessment, and also to possess sound industry currency.

(
Australian Productivity
Commission, 2010
)

Learner Voice

Common themes throughout an initial scan of the literature included learner
-
focus, empowerment of learners
an
d the positive outcomes from listening and acting on learners’ feedback to inform pedagogy and outcomes.
(
Golding et al., 2012
,
Achren et al., 2012
,
Brown and North, 2010
,
Sawang et al., 2013
,
Guiney, 2012
,
Tyler
-
Smith, 2006
)


When learners participate in decisions affecting their learning experience, they are
likely to play a more active
role in the provider’s quality improvement processes


a key lever of service improvement
’.
(
Department for
Education and Skills Great Britain, 2006
)

Systematic collection of the views of learners is a rich source of valuable feedback, and when acted on
effectively it can influence the shape and

availability of services to ensure maximum benefit to the learner. This
is especially relevant for evaluating e
-
learning systems and implementation of learning approaches with
Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

15


disadvantaged learners.
Aspects of the emerging area of learner analytics are

f
urther discuss
ed in ‘Discussion
and Analysis’.

For the purposes of this project the f
ollowing definition was applied:

The engagement of VET practitioners and learners in a collaborative dialogue that
informs
,

facilitates and
achieves mutual learning goals.

Digital Literacy

This term was consistently found in the literature, in the context of
both
practitioner and learner competence,
required for participation in an e
-
learning environment.

D
igital literacy

has become much

more than the ability to operate

computers


just like traditional literacy and
numeracy, it comprises a set of basic skills which include the use and production of digital media, information
processing and retrieval, participation in social networks for
the
creation and sharing of knowl
edge, and a wide
range of professional computing skills.


Di
g
ital literacy improves employability because it is a
gate skill
, demanded by many employers when they first
evaluate a job application. It also works as a catalyst because it enables the acquisi
tion of other important life
skills
”.
(
Karpati, 2011
)


Digital lit
eracy can be an umbrella concept for important skills clusters which may include accessing information,
managing information and integrating and evaluating information. This last area provides one of the most
important roles for VET practitioners in suppor
ting learners to critically evaluate information.

Lee (2013
)

in research commissioned by UNESCO
state
s

that
future society will comprise the semantic Web, Big
Data, cloud computing, smart phones and apps, the

Internet of things, artificial

intelligence and various new
gadgets.

In short, it will be an information an
d communications technology (ICT)
-
based society

.
She

outline
s

an integrated approach towards new literacy training by establishing a literacy framework of
three categories of
“21st
Century Competencies” as being essential to future society.

1)

conceptual com
petencies:

connectivist thinking, innovative thinking and problem solving, critical
thinking, reflective thinking and positive thinking skills;

2)

practical competencies
: media and information literacy (with ICT skills as a key component) and learning
skills
; and

3)

human competencies
: social networking skill and virtual collaboration, self
-
management, humanistic
consciousness, digital citizenship and cross
-
cultural interaction skill.



Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

16


Focus questions

After defining the terms and discussing the focus for
investigation, the Project Reference Group agreed that the
final search questions were:

1.

What are the common elements/characteristics in e
-
learning that support responsive and tailored
training and assessment; and produce successful outcomes for disadvantag
ed learners in VET?

2.

What are the implications for good practice in the training of VET practitioners in e
-
learning that
support the delivery of training and assessment for disadvantaged learners in VET?


Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

17


METHODOLOGY

Rationale

The main focus for data collec
tion was the literature review conducted within the areas outline
d in the Project
Scope on page 7
.

To undertake the literature review, reference was made to the eight step model developed by
(
Anlezark et al.,
2005
)

which outlines the process for a systematic review of research to inform policy and practice. Reference
was also made to
Randolph (2009
)

and
Boote and Beile (2005
)

The purpose of the methodology employed for this project was to undertake a quality rev
iew of the literature
utilising

inclusion and exclusion criteria, weighting for relevance and quality and critical appraisal to address the
research questions.

This methodology, a systematic review of the literature, was selected as the emergence of e
-
lear
ning and e
-
pra
ctice approaches in education are

constantly changing due to the rapid introduction of various new
technologies. It was important to have appraisal criteria that ensured
the
currency and relevancy of the studies
selected.


Further informatio
n related to

coding and appraisal criteria are outlined in
Appendix D.

The research took place between February and April 2013. For the search strategy, a range of resources were
accessed including research papers and case studies of National VET E
-
learnin
g Strategy projects that focused
specifically on disadvantaged learners.
Fifty
-
nine
(59)
case studies from the

Participati
on & Skills

2012 /13’
and

Partnerships for Participation 2012


projects
were reviewed.

O
nline databases, web
-
based databases, web se
arch engines, websites and hand
-
searching of bibliographies or
reference lists and journals

hard

copy and content pages online were also accessed.
The articles
included in
this review include

both qualitative and quantitative studies.

The Project Referenc
e G
roup, FLAG and NVEAC Action Groups reviewed the methodology,
literature search and
finalisation of the Guidelines for this project.


Limitations

and Challenges

The evidence reviewed and analysed to inform the development of the good pra
ctice guidelines was limited to a
literature review (secondary sources).

Due to the scope of the project, it wasn’t feasible to conduct student/learner interviews and gather primary
sources of data.
However,
during t
he literature review
,

case studies, research projects and observations
were
sourced
that reflected the views of the diverse learner groups as well as those of practitioners.

Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

18


FINDINGS

Initially, a search was undertaken with
key search terms (see Appendix C
) to identify all pote
ntial studies for the
literature review. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were then applied and studies were selected for further review
and appraised using the

evaluation criteria
.

(Appendix D
: Table 2)

The ‘disadvantaged learner’ population defined for t
his report included the identified equity groups as well as
groups consistently referred to in the literature as disenfranchised, acutely marginalized or at
risk.

There are
also people exper
iencing multiple

disadvantages and facing
a range of barriers

to
participate in education and
training.

While some publications focused on individual cohorts or combinations of disadvantaged le
arner groups, such as
Indigenous

learners from remote locations, and female ref
ugees there was little research

found which relat
ed
solely to the ‘women’ lear
ner cohort in VET e
-
learning courses.

As
Karpati (2011
)

notes,
r
ese
arch in this area is
ambiguous and points out that s
ome studies
emphasise

that there are no gender
-
related differences in
computer skills acquisition: others document substantial gains when teaching strategies are specially tailored to
the needs of female learners.

Karpati (2011
)

provides e
xamples of successful gender focus
ed e
-
learning approaches
including

a project

in
M
alays
ia
for transforming women entrepreneurship from material business to
an
online venture
. This

proved to
be successful and sustainable because it considered needs that were gender specific.

In Australia, the natio
nal initiative called “
girls and ICTs


res
ulted in a showcase of hundreds of ‘best practice”
examples about teaching girls computer related knowledge more appropriately.

“In the coming years, new digital competence

models will probably be increasingly gender
-
specific, where the
special skills, ab
ilities, user patterns, and attitudes of each gender will be more adequately represented and
developed through more inclusive teaching programmes”
.
(
UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in
Education,
2011
)

Emergence and growth of the field of

learner analytics in the future will support these new
individualised

digital competence models.

In their study
examining barriers for e
-
learning for disadvantaged learner groups
,

the
Australian Institute for
Social Research (2006
)

explored gaps in three factors assoc
iated with the ‘digital divide’;


1.

Connectivity
(infrastructure and affordable access to the Internet)

2.

Capability

(skills, conf
idence and recognition of value in using the Internet)

3.

Content

(relevant, useful and accessible information and services online)

There have been some improvements and advances in connectivity
(
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011
)
,
however issues in the areas of capability (for both learners and practitioners)
and content
remain problematic.


The literacy demands and cultural homogeneity of many online courses and modules

raises q
uestions about the
adequacy of the skills of students from a range of backgrounds

and groups. Fundamental
i
ssues such as the
Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

19


cultural appropriateness of questioning,

conversational conventions, language acuity and delay, and student
attitudes towards

interaction with authority take on a heightened importance in an online environment. In

face
to face classrooms, diversity is an asset. In an online environment it may be a

distinct disadvantage.


(
Brennan,
2003
)


As at year
-
to
-
date (YTD) March 2013, th
ere were 338,916 enrolments by full
-
fee paying international students in
Australia on a student visa

and many of those are also undertaking online learning
as part of their
course.

In
2011, there were 171,237 international students enrolled in the vocation
al education sector.
(
Australian
Education International, 2013
)


Students from the Asian region represent 85% of international students in Australian vocational education while
the VET cur
riculum and pedagogy has been largely influenced by European traditions.


(
Tran, 2013
)


Chen and Bennett (2012
)

explored Chinese international students’ experien
ces of studying online at an
Australian university. The findings indicated a strong culture clash between these students’ educational
dispositions, shaped by their previous learning experiences in China, and the online pedagogic practices, which
were under
pinned by a constructivist approach.

“The logic of basing teaching and learning on a constructivist philosophy has become thoroughly

embedded in most spheres of education.”
(
F
iggis, 2009
)


There is evidence that r
ather than customising the online pedagogy to a particular group there seems to be a
trend to assume that ‘one size fits all’
.
For culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) learners, the

L
ack of
culturally appr
opriate learning is considered to be a major cause of unsuccessful

completions. Inadequate
teacher and provider sensitivity to cultural differences


as

well as language difficulties all contribute

.

(
Guthrie,
2003
)

During the past ten years there has been a

substantial
shift
and increase
in appro
aches and e
-
learning strategies.

Th
e
literature
search
revealed

a
number of
common elements and characteristics positively
impact
ing
the

e
-
learning experience and outcome
s for disadvantaged learners
. T
o facilitate the discussion and analysis stage,
these factors are grouped under the following themes and discussed further below:




learner
-
centred approach



support strategies



blended delivery model
s



accessibility

A
Learner
-
centred

approach

plays a significant role in the modern e
-
learning context. The case studies and
other literature researched consistently refer to t
his approach.
L
istening to the learner, adapting the learning to
suit the needs of the individual,
customising

resources based on the learner’s preferences,
connecting learners
and
practitioners in a way that unlocks a suc
cessful e
-
learning experience
,

are

constantly referred to as good
practice.


Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

20


“To support VET participation, pedagogies need to recognise and respond effectively to the impact of the
disparities between those students’ realities and educational institutions’ assumptions about knowledge”
.

(
Wallace, 2009
)

Support strategies

in

e
-
learning
include
both

technological support and broader program design inter
ventions.
The practical inclusion of interpreters (for the deaf, CALD learners), language facilitators for Indigenous learners,
e
-
literacy specialists and embedded LLN and digital literacy in the program design were identified as
contributors to the learn
ing experiences for both the learners and the practitioners.

Blended delivery models

mean
various mixes of on
-
line, distance, face
-
to
-
face delivery (
one
-
to
-
one

or one
-
to
-
many) with the use of computers and a range of technologies.

The literature indicates

this delivery model is
emerging as the most successful approach to increase the learning experience for d
isadvantaged learners in a
variety

of situations. A range of variables and contexts can be addressed through blended

models such as
connectivity, capa
bility
cultural context
and clarification of content.


Accessibility
, for this project, means
learner
a
ccess to technologies, such as inclusive

technologies,
infrastructure and appropriately designed resources

and programs

for
diverse learners groups.

It
was found that
the

impacts on accessibility to effective

learning consisted mainly of:



economic and social barriers preventing physical access to technologies and equipment beyond the
onsite learning environment,



avail
ability of appropriate inclusive

techn
ologies (either impacted by cost, not considered in the
learner’s plan, not available in time to complete the program, or not compatible with other technologies
available at the time),



physical availability of broadband and mobile coverage, beyond the city
, suburban areas,



cultural barriers and sensitivities, particularly for the CALD and
Indigenous

learners.

The literature provided a rich source of material relating to
and identifying
barriers affecting the learner
experience. It’s no surprise to note tha
t many

of the factors contributing

to the improved learner
experience

also create barriers by their absence from the programs.

Referring to learners with disability,
(
Downie, 2010
)

reports on the importance of resources being “
assessed for
usability and accessibility”
however he suggests that while standards compliance is highly desirable, “
as more
people without expert knowledge create e
-
learning resources, the likelihood of inacc
essibility increases
.”

Practitioners reported on challenges in meeting accessibility guidelines and standards.
(
Strategy, 2013
)

There
was evidence in some readings
of

too much responsibility
being
plac
ed on practitioners when the organisation
was accountable for establishing appropriate resources, standards and systems to support learni
ng.

A number of the National VET e
-
learning strategy project reports identified challenges, which negatively
impacted the learning experience. These include:



d
ifficulties in maintaining regular attendance



c
onstraints to accessibility of suitable techno
logies and infrastructure

Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

21




c
ompletion of tasks and programs impacted by learners’ skills, knowle
dge and circumstances, on entry

The
Centre for Adult Education (2012
)

in its
Employabilit
-
E

case study, reported its learners, all of whom faced
multiple barriers to education, had experienced sporadic attendance. In fact, attending
scheduled

classes was
difficult,
for a variety of reasons. “
This issue is coupled with fear and lack of confidence, feeling out of their
comfort zone.”

Attendance and commitment to an almost full
-
time program proved to be a challenge for their
Indigenous

learners in
Get That Job! Anangu S
peak Up
.
(
APY Lands TAFE SA Regional, 2012
)

TAFE SA Adelaide South Institute (2012
)

reported that learners in
E
-
learning opportunities for the Deaf

project,
didn’t respond to emails, or messages via
Facebook

or tex
t. A further barrier to their learning was the lack of
digital literacy of their interpreters and mentors. Lack of time to provide support and facilitate the learning
experience became an inhibitor to the learning experience.

JobCo (2013
)

reports that progress of its acutely marginalised, disadvantaged and disengaged learners is slow
and

some are

unlikely to complete l
earning within the timeframe allocated. As the project is current, JobCo
intend to introduce continual enrolments, to provide an extended period for the learners to complete their
program.

The research
findings

identified a number of themes that could be

further

tested as good practice. The

National
VET Equity Council
in its

Equity in VET
: Good Practice
Principles


provides a reference point for measuring or
aligning our findings.

(
National VET Equity Advisory Council, 201
1b
)

The findings demonstrate

a good alignment with principles 1
-
4 and 6, which are discussed in detail later in the
report. These principles are:



Principle 1:

Supported learner pathways and transitions are built into the learning experience.



Principle
2:

Strong partnerships and connections exist to support learners’ needs and their successful
transitions to further learning and / or work.



Principle 3:

Training has been integrated with work experience and / or is aligned with areas of labour
market deman
d to support sustainable employment outcomes.



Principle 4:

There is embedded support for foundations skills within vocational training.



Principle 6:

A commitment to improving the capability of the VET workforce to address the needs of
diverse learners.

How
ever, t
here appears to be a gap in
measurement and

continuous improvement strategies
, requiring future
discussion and attention beyond this project. Principles 5 and 7, both relate to analysis of the learning
experience, impact the feedback loop and abilit
y improve the overall learning experience and outcomes. The
se
two principles are
:



Principle 5:

The voice of the learner is heard and acted upon.



Principle 7
: The outcomes of the program / initiative have been measured and positive results are being
achi
eved.

Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

22


DISCUSSION AND ANALY
SIS

This review has been
focussed

at

the individual level and
the
personal relationship occurring between the
learner and the practitioner. This doesn’t mean that all of the other broader
organisational

and system issues
related
to implementing e
-
learning
haven’t emerged
. T
he goal here was to seek out e
-
learning barriers, issues
and success factors (facilitators) from the literature from both the learner and practitioner viewpoint
.

The responsibility for ensuring inclusive e
-
lea
rning practices does not rest with just the practitioner. It requires a
whole of organisation approach.

To successfully implement an effective e
-
learning strategy, practitioners cannot work in isolation.
“Both the
literature and the national consultations

for this study suggest that one person or group of people (the
champions) cannot embed e
-
learning. To embed e
-
learning requires organisation
, industry,
community
-
wide
processes to be put in place that will aid the champions and the teachers/trainers they
work with. The nature of
the management support required includes policy support, budget support and a responsive IT department.

(
Jolly et al., 2009
)

There are also broader issues for policy makers,
organisations

and RTOs that require further research.
“Any VET
institution wanting to implement learning at

a distance needs to implement a range of policies to ensure
successful implementation of the programmes…..

Decisions will need to
be
made about the education strategies
to be used, including the level of technology most accessible and appropriate to the n
eeds of its learners”
Le
Cornu et al in
Moran and Rumble (2004
)

Organis
a
tions

cannot work alone

if they are to provide the best opportunities for all of their learners.
As
Clarke
and Volkoff (2007
)

identified in their national survey of fifty
-
eight TAFE Institutes, “
Effective inclusiveness
practice requires the exchange of knowledge about
learner disadvantage and TAFEs to pursue collaborative
relationships with other educational, government and support agencies, particularly in the context of diversifying
populations and industries”.

So how has what we have discovered in the findings
addres
sed our two main search questions?

The first search
question asked:

What are the common elements/characteristics in e
-
learning that support responsive and tailored training and
assessment; and produce successful outcomes for disadvantaged learners in VET?

During the past ten years there has been a monumental shift in various approaches in e
-
learning strategies for
disadvantaged learners.

As Kruse (2002) in
(
Downie, 2010
)

says ‘
Like no other training form,

e
-
lear
ning

promised
to provide a single experience that accommodates the three distinct learning styles of auditory learners, visual
learners, and
kinaesthetic

learners’
.

Downie (2010
)

agrees with Kruse’s
comment, made almost 10 years ago, that “
e
-
learning has the potential to
meet the needs of widely diverse learners
.” He

suggests two crucial factors impacting this potential: the first is
the availability of suitable equipment and, secondly, “
whether the

e
-
learning resource has been developed with
the goals of addressing differing learning styles and accommodating people with disabilities
.”

The search of
Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

23


literature published in more recent years remains cons
istent

with these comments where ‘g
ood practice


means
a
highly personalised, learner
-
centred, and accessible

intervention
.

Returning to the four emerging themes
from the findings
that positively impact
the e
-
learning experience and
outcome
s for disadvantaged learners
; learner
-
centred approach,
support
provision,

blended delivery models,
and

accessibility

provides a basis for further analysis.

Learner
-
centred

approaches are highlighted in t
he
Equity in VET Good Practice Principles

which

states under
Principle 5 “
The voice of the learner is heard and acte
d upon”....
that a


flexible, learner
-
centred

approach has
been adopted..... program and learning support services have been
adapted.....
around the needs of individual
learner (sic) and their circumstances
.”
(
Brown and North
)

Wallace (2010
)

notes that “
through an emphasis on

learner
-
centred

approaches and teacher training, mobile
technologies have been found to improve connection between
Indigenous

learners and trainers”
.

In a large
-
scale
factor analysis
study that determ
ined the underlying constructs that comprise students’ barriers
to online learning
Muilenburg and Berge (2005
)

found that lack of social interaction was identified by students
with individual differences
4

as being the first of four critical barriers. Social interaction (a) was followed by
administration/instructor issues (b), learner motivation (c) and time/support for studies (d).

This is a significant
identified priority for l
earners compared to the past where often technical or administrative issues were
identified as the main barrier for learners.

Fostering social interaction
in e
-
learning environments can have a positive impact on

learners’ experience.
The

‘Employabilit
-
E’ p
roject

identified “
What really worked well was creating a culture of learning through structured
social interaction during pair and team activities as well as the breaks

.

(
Centre for Adult Education, 2012
)


The learning experiences and successful outcomes for disadvantaged

learners

were assisted by the inclusion of
various

learner

support strategies
.

Successful strategies
designed for “at
-
risk” students are identified by
O'Connor et al. (2009
)

an
d provide a
number of international case studies that describe strategies
trialled

to increase the learning success for these
students:

The University of Technology, Auckland New Zealand developed a First Year Experience (FYE) Intervention and
Support Pro
gram, one component of which is an at
-
risk program using “
triggers to identify at
-
risk students are
failure to attend a first class, failure to submit a first assignment, failing an assignment, consideration of
withdrawal or failing a unit of study
.” The F
YE strategy includes a “
rapid and consistent response
” by staff for the
“at risk” learner. The quantitative and qualitative evaluations demonstrate “
significant increases in retention
and progress for those who received FYE intervention
”.




4

Indiv
idual differences/variables included: gender, age, ethnicity, type of learning institution, self
-
rating of online learning
skills, effectiveness of learning online, online learning enjoyment, prejudicial treatment in traditional classes and the
number of o
nline courses completed.

Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

24


In the same rep
ort, the South Plans College, Texas USA, designed a comprehensive retention plan for its special
learner populations. An early alert system was devised (for non
-
attendance and participation) along with
“individualized success plans
”. For period autumn 2005

to spring 2006 the plan resulted in a retention rate of
84% for the pilot group compar
ed to 46% for the control group.

The early intervention program at the University of Huddersfield, in Yorkshire United Kingdom was developed
for students from lower soci
o
-
economic groups and non
-
standard entry qualifications. A diagnostic skills
questionnaire (to identify additional support requirements such as for LLN, problem
-
solving, personal
effectiveness
etc.
) and attendance monitoring system (including a number of c
ontact strategies such as text
messaging, contact by students’ personal tutor and letters generated through their student management
system) were introduced. One school of the university reported an increase in retention rate from 65% to 90%
over 3 year pe
riod.
(
O'Connor et al., 2009
)

F
or
Indigenous

learners
,

support strategies

include

language
support, involvement of Elders and community
members and provi
sion of opportunities for story
-
telling.


Wallace (2009
)

examined whether learner engagement and improved educational outcomes would result from
the use of e
-
Portfolios and other technologies, knowledge systems
and their associated
literacies
.

The inclusion
of a range of Indigenous trainers a
nd learners at every stage in the design of

e
-
Portfolio systems can have
benefits for learners and educational systems in the long term
.”

In the ‘Get That Job! Anangu Speak Up’ project “....
a big lesson was the importance of using a language
facilitator... to ensure communication between all of us was clear.”

The value of support workers, mentors and
opportunities to tell stories was also reported “...
Older community members have valuable w
ork stories to tell
from old times and more recent times”
. The project team noted the on
-
going engagement of the learners,
through the use of cameras

to take images of various workplaces
, increased the relevance of the learning, and
gave them ownership
.
(
APY Lands TAFE SA Regional, 2012
)

Wallace (2010
)
,
Norman (2011
)

and
Drolet (2009
)

note
d

the value of story
-
tel
ling to the learning experience.
Wall
ace (2010
)

notes that
Indigenous

learners can “
use readily available technologies in socially approved and
recognized ways
..
..young people taking photographs with mobile phones, creating digital stories about their
lives, or in the case of
Indigenous

learners, recording
E
lders’ oral histories.”

Norman (2011
)

notes
“....
when faced
with a story, the learner intuitively problem solves on behalf of the characters
, thus creating an innate
motivation to learn”

and
(
Drolet, 2009
)
, “....
for
Indigen
ous

learners .. the.....


gui
dance of E
lders through artistic
creations; story telling; .... songs...”

contribute to the e
-
learning experience.

Christie (2009
)

discusses Yolnju knowledge systems and culture, the significa
nt role of E
lders, and the
negotiations with senior Yolnju
advisers to ensure curriculum and practice remained faithful to the Yolnju laws
relating to “
knowledge exchange and representation
”.

An

important
factor

in
achieving successful e
-
learning experiences for disadvantaged learners

is the use of
blended deliver
y models
.

Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

25


A range of blended delivery options contributing to successful learning experiences are identified

within the
literature.

In the

Partnerships for Participation pre
-
e
mployment program for
Indigenous

learners


from remote
communities in South Aus
tralia, the project team reported “
we needed a different balance of online and face
-
to
-
face time in order to complete the tasks set
”.
(
APY Lands TAFE SA Regional, 2012
)
. A similar story for a different
group of disadvantaged learners was reported in case study: ‘
E
-
Learning opportunities for D
eaf students

“......a
blended delivery with an e
-
learning appro
ach would be beneficial ......
“ and in the ‘
WorXskills


project for
Indigenous

men in a correctional centre
“the mix of learning methods has enabled participants to develop their
skills .......the e
-
learning experience has given them
the skills to
continue their learning in remote locations

.
(
YouthWorX NT, 2012
)


APY Lands TAFE SA Regional (2012
)

tea
m introduced a blended delivery model to facilitate completion of task
sets, and noted the “....
freedom to choose tasks that appeal while practicing essential skills
“ empowered

their
learners. The project provided “
Opportunities for people to answer and sp
eak in their own time and be
encouraged to share their ideas have seen a growth in confident for several of the participants
.” To increase
relevance and improve motivation, cameras were provided to film and do interviews in the workplace. “
For the
fellas
who have never been involved in online sessions they need additional strategies to keep them engaged
”.

There were differing experiences for practitioners and learners involved in the

Migrating into the Retail
Workplace


project.
The practitioners found
the e
-

learning


experience was more immersive...and engaging....
than the traditional face
-
to
-
face methods
”, while “
t
he team learnt very quickly that this method of integrating e
-
learning into a blended model of delivery was one that they would have liked

to
have
action
ed

much sooner
” for
their CALD learners with lower than expected levels of digital literacy.
(
TAFE SA et al., 2012
)

D
igital literacy impacts

both the teaching and learning experience. The
Centre for Adult Education (2012
)

noted
the benefit of ha
ving an e
-
literacy specialist working with a practitioner to support learners who faced both
social a
nd educational barriers, enabling

a successful ‘
Just In Time’

and ‘
Just for me’

learning experience.

The positive impact was
not
limited to
just
the practitioners and learners. The
APY Lands TAFE SA Regional
(2012
)

project team no
ted that increasing the digital li
teracy for their
Indigenous

staff enabled new skills to be
passed on to family and friends in their community.

TAFE SA e
t al. (2012
)

and the
Centre for Adult Education (2012
)

also noted “....
the project highligh
ted the
benefits of embedding a structured digital literacy program across the organisation ...... making the teaching of
digital literacy skills explicit across various curricula has been invaluable
.”


The
fourth

theme emerging from the literature was

acc
essibility
.

To support learners in the Australian VET
environment
,

a set of E
-
standards
5

have been developed
, originally under the Australian Flexible Learning
Framework, and now maintained under the National VET E
-
learning Strategy.




5

http://e
-
standards.flexiblelearning.net.au/technical_standards/index.php

Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

26


The E
-
standards for
Training (V1.0) are designed to ensure that “
resource development follows internationally
accepted specifications ........ and technologies and applications used to build the resources ensure the most
consistent operation and widest possible use and reuse
of those resources. ...... and remove barriers to e
-
learning

.


In an e
-
learning context,
access to t
echnolo
gies, including inclusive

technologies, infrastructure and
appropriately designed resources for
disadvantaged
learners
should be ‘a given’
.

UK base
d
Ep
ic Performance Improvement Ltd (2011
)

noted in their white paper

Accessibility and e
-
learning

,
that “
E
-
learning, providing it is accessible, has the potential to open up fresh and innovative solutions for learners
with disabilities.”
They also refer

to 6 principles from

the IMS Accessibility Guidelines
6
, which focus on learning
design and technologies for people with
disability
.

These principles focus on the learner and include

customization based on user preference ..... provide equivalent
access.... based on user preference”.

Downie
(2010
)

in his paper
,


Creative inclusive e
-
learning

,

notes
for learners with disabilities that
“resources should be
assessed for usability and accessibility”
and

that


assuming that all necessary technologies are present and
operational, there remains the issue of the needs of people with diverse learning styles, including those with
disabilities
.”


The value of accessibility

and inclusiveness
goes beyond the lear
ners to the community in the

Get That Job!
Anangu Speak Up,
e
-
learning project.

A Jobs Board created, for their

remote
Indigenous

learners during the
project, has been made
“accessible publically, because other people outside the course were interested.
.....
one
woman has got herself a job and..... for her partner and a friend.”

The Centre for Adult Education’s
Employabilit
-
E program for disengaged learners was “
highly personalized and
learner
-
centred
”, with the inclusion of accessible resources and self
-
paced tutorials, and support strategies to
increase attendance and participation.


Kangan Institute (2012
)

in its

E
-
learning

opportunities for
the D
eaf


project
,

identified a number o
f
success
factors:



a blended e
-
learning approach



trial
of
a variety of inclusive

technologies



understand
ing the learner’s backgrounds



provision of appropriate support workers, and



allowing adequa
te time for completion of tasks

In addition, they r
eported fl
exibility and customis
ation of the learning were “
key ingredients......of effective
training for participants
.”

A further significant strategy to support the learner experience and increase learning
outcomes

is gathering and
acting on feedback from the lea
rner.




6

http://www.imsglobal.org/accessibility/

Good
e
-
practice guidelines for disadvantaged learners in VET

27


Golding et al. (2012
)

discuss the value of involving learner voice and learner input and its “
potential to empower
learners and transform their learning experience
.”

A number of programs report the gathering of learner feedback throughout stages of the learning. For example,
in its program

E
-
learning opportunities for the D
eaf

,
TAFE SA Adelaide South Institute (2012
)

aimed to use
an
online survey

during and post course
, to collect student feedback.

APY Lands TAFE SA Regional (2012
)

describe
using a baseline and final survey, along with detailed interviews to inform “
the analysis of project successes and
shortcoming
s
”.

There is limited evidence however,
from this review,
that information collected has informed the design of
existing or future programs, while
Golding et al. (2012
)

suggest that the e
xtent to which the lea
rner’s
participation is
recognis
ed

affects the value placed on their input. “
Learner voice also depends on the extent to
which the learner is
rec
ognis
ed

as an active participant in the teaching and learning process
.”

This lack of
evaluation and gathering of learner feedback is reinforced in the Horizon Report Technology Outlook
for Australi
an Tertiary Education 2012
-
2017

“Both the 2012 Horizon.au Advisory Board and the global higher
education advisory board noted that evaluation me
trics are not keeping up. There is a consensus that there is not
enough consideration placed on quantifying and qualifying the learning outcomes of the technology that is being
adopted
.

This notion supports the 2012 Horizon.au Advisory Board’s emphasis on
learning analytics as a
technology with potential impacts in Australia in the very near
-
term

(
Johnson et al., 2012
)

Having identified common elements and characteristics that positively impact the learner e
xperience and
learning ou
tcomes

the report now aims to draw on these findings to inform good e