Ann and Chemène (we) attended and co-presented at ACER‘s National Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy Conference (NALLNAC) held in Adelaide on 14 and 15 May 2015.
We got a lot from the conference and wanted to share our reflections and insights in this post.
This was not the first year we have attended NALLNAC, and this year we were pleased to see even more workshops dedicated to helping VET practitioners assess LLN skills and build foundation skill development into vocational training:
- Chemène relished the chance to hear from foundation skill ‘gurus’ such as Philippa MacLean (writer of the ACSF), Dave Tout (Numeracy Guru and NALLNAC organiser), and Ros Bauer (Australian Training Awards Winner – Excellence in Adult Language Literacy Numeracy Practice Award), just to name three.
- Ann re-united with long-standing LLN colleagues and networked with VET practitioners to learn more about the challenges and opportunities presented when incorporating foundation skills into VET.
This conference truly offered a meeting place between LLN and VET practitioners. Thank you to the 2015 ACER National Adult Language Literacy and Numeracy Conference team for this opportunity.
Our workshop was called,
Within VET Training, where are the opportunities to EMBED (Explore Moments to Bring Explicit LLN Development into VET)?
As luck would have it, ACER scheduled our workshop for the last time slot on the last day of the conference. So, we were prepared to deliver to a small, tired group. Instead, we were delighted by a large group of motivated and energetic LLN and VET professionals who were prepared to share experiences and ideas.
It’s hard for VET practitioners to get started or make progress building learners’ foundation skills within VET–trainers know their training content, and prepare to deliver it effectively. So how can building foundation skills fit within the time available?
Our workshop aimed to help VET practitioners do just that: to identify ways to monitor, support and build Foundation Skills within vocational training sessions.
We used a case study as the basis for group discussions. We gave participants:
- an example of a vocational session plan (a real example, donated by a skilled and very nice trainer we know).
- a profile of a typical learner group for this session.
Participants worked in small groups to identify ways to adapt training delivery so that in addition to covering vocational content, the session delivery could also:
- Support learners
- Upskill learners and help them build foundation skills
- Monitor foundation skill development.
Although the suggestions focus on foundation skill development, the vocation or workplace content remained at the forefront.
So what ideas did participants come up with? See for yourself!
We collated the ideas participants came up with in a post-conference takeaway pdf resource. We also added a few ideas of our own. Participant ideas were so good that we thought we’d make it available to anyone wanting to get ideas for how to build foundation skills within vocational education sessions. We hope you find it useful and welcome your feedback.
ACER 2015 NALLNAC Conference Reflections
NALLNAC left us reminded of, exposed to, and encouraged by the array of authors, papers, reports and workshops with impacting messages about LLN development in Australia.
The following comments and links are also relevant to the current national foundation skills agenda, each with a focus on the trainer/teacher. The authors either remind us that how and what we do are critical to learner outcomes, or suggest there are stages and phases progressed as we integrate LLN into VET training.
1 We were reminded of:
For example, The US Gordon Commission’s paper, To Assess, To Teach, To Learn: A Vision for the Future of Assessment, reminded us that where Foundation Skills are concerned, critical to progress is assessing the needs and capacity first, then implementing a continuous loop of teaching, reflecting, feedback and assessing. The key take-away teaching model Assess, Teach, Learn fits harmoniously with building learner foundation skills where knowing current learner capacity is the starting point.
2 We were exposed to:
For example, the Les Retford Integrating LLN into VET Practice research findings expose perspectives of VET practitioners as they transition towards embracing foundation skills within VET teaching. The spiral metaphor (image) suggests that trainers progress through five stages: commencing with awareness and progressing towards influencing practice. If you support VET trainers , be mindful that the journey is a challenge and consider the support available.
3 We are encouraged by:
Revisiting two ‘gems’. For exmple, John Hattie’s Visible Learning ranked teaching and learning approaches that affect learning. Hattie’s emphasise on the teacher as the change agent, and teaching from the perspective of the learner can’t be overlooked.
Also, Dr. Jackie Gerstein’s Growth Mindset has become a popular model for educators and reminds us that if we have the Growth Mindset we will be prepared to continuously adapt and grow as educators, and therefore achieve better results.
Teaching is a work in progress.