WA11EL11 E-RPL for Rural and Remote WA

Executive Summary

Our project aims to develop a strategy to embed a sustainable e-learning culture into our organisation to support rural and remote learners. We will focus on developing an e-RPL assessment strategy for high level business qualifications that is low-priced, easy to access and with an uncomplicated format.

Background

Directions have been working in the Wheatbelt for more than 20 years, mainly providing support to Apprentices and Trainees. As one of the few Training organisations in the region, Directions has continued to grow into the Upper Great Southern and now the Goldfields as demand for our services has increased.

The current project is aiming to pilot delivery of a selection of units from the Certificate IV in Business qualification via E-learning into the Wheatbelt and Goldfields regions.
The chosen units include:
BSBITU401A - Design and develop complex text documents,
BSBITU402A - Design and develop complex spreadsheets,
BSBADM405B - Organise meetings,
BSBADM407B - Administer projects.

The Wheatbelt is a geographicaly huge area, and as such creates access issues for trainers. The ability to utilise technology to improve access to candidates was of great importance to the success of the project. As internet coverage has greatly improved in previous years, we see this as an area to further push training into the regions without the burden of long trips for facilitators and trainers.

What was done

We started our project learnings by attending TEAM10 conference in the city. All of the facilitators spread out and documentation of our learnings is below:

Sarah Smith: Attending the TEAM 10 conference was very inspirational and informative. As a team we are now even more enthusiastic and cant wait to get started on the second phase of our project. A lot of excellent information was gathered by our project team at the conference, which challenged us to find innovative solutions to issues we had been facing. We were also able to use a lot of the ideas developed on the day to approach our project from a different angle. There has been indepth investigation into a variety of software, new technologies, and the best methods to create and deliver our e-learning products to what has been and can sometimes still be a challenging regional area. A great deal of the research and problem solving involved in developing this project has been to overcome distance and isolation, however, it has opened our eyes to so many more possibilities.
Michele Fryer-Hornsby: All three of the sessions I attended at TEAM10 were great, very exciting information gained here. I attended the Toolboxes, Beyond Edge and Lights, Camera, Assessment sessions all of which were very valuable. The most informative and indeed the session that completely changed my way of thinking about e-learning was the Beyond Edge session. I gained enormous insight into the current youth culture thinking and way of accessing and absorbing information. I also learnt a huge amount in the Toolboxes session and extended my understanding of this resource - brilliant options available to assist with all e-learning development. I have always thought this type of learning was going to be the way of the future but I believe it is the way of now and will only become more widely used and effective in the future.
Paul Connolly - I went to the E-portfolios session first. Learnt lots about "Media Literacy" which I, personally, take for grated, but got a greater understanding of how candidates/students need these skills prior to undertaking anything to do with E-learning and the technologies involved. Mahara was introduced, but something our team definitely wants to learn more about. Second session was run by the E-Lerarning Coordinator and detailed the how to get stuff up online. Which applications are used and how they are used. Really liked the details about PD's which are available on the Westone site. You can do lunchtime toolbox sessions at your computer or attend in person. Then learnt about LORN in the arvo. Exciting stuff and our team is really ready to go now. :)

Benefits experienced by Directions

Directions found that the biggest benefit of the project was realising the potential of the ability to provide an excellent level of service to people in the regions who previously have not been physically accessible to. On top of this, we found that the cost to deliver via (mostly) electronic methods was extremely cheap in comparison to flying out and travelling by car and paying for accommodation. The level of contact which we could achieve via electronic methods was also suprisingly good according to the e-facilitators. We also found that the web-based Moodle tool was easy to use and access based on feedback from the candidates taking part in the trial.

Lessons learnt

Directions can see this method of delivery as a very low cost, easy to acces and user-friendly method. We learnt that clients would need fairly good Computing/IT skills, with support provided in media/IT literacy upon candidate induction. This is a great model for saving paper and limiting duplication of documentation. Also great to keep a track of student files notes and discussions, emails, telephone calls etc. We LOVE Moodle. It was really an eye-opener to all involved in the project, e-facilitators and candidates. Skype was also heavily utilised, so much so that it has now been embedded into the communications strategy of the whole Directions organisation.

The results


Outcomes:


  • Embedding a sustainable e-learning culture within our organisation
  • Making it easier for our facilitators to service clients in rural and remote regions
  • Allowing all potential learners the best option in terms of training without location being a factor
  • Provision of a low-cost, easy to access and user-friendly E-product for our clients.
  • Development of an E-communication strategy that can be integrated into other areas of our organisation.
  • Development of an E-RPL strategy that fit a range of clients in rural and remote areas.

Evaluation Strategy:

The project’s results were assessed in a number of ways including a student trial, feedback from e-facilitators, surveys from trial students, an evaluation report from the Project manager.

Reflections and suggestions

Directions found that some online instructional tools as part of each candidates induction would be extremely beneficial. In order for the project to be a success, learners needed some IT/media literacy to start with as many were not highly profficient on the computer or internet. We also found that there are many ways to improve the visual look of the Moodle page. Sarah Smith noted she had learnt how to get rid of the dreaded "scroll of death" by making the Moodle front page more like an actual web page. We also found we needed a method to record both sides of competency conversations which were taking place. We could not source technology for this but it obviously exists. We found that a marketing strategy which was region-specific would have helped as definitely one size does not fit all out in the Wheatbelt. We also found that we had to overcome both facilitator and candidate fear of technology. Our E-facilitators commented how passionate they are to continue to use E-learning with future candidates.

Framework connection

The national training system’s e-learning strategy, the Australian Flexible Learning Framework (Framework[[#_ftn1|[1]]]) funds and supports E-learning Innovations projects which aim to embed e-learning into the national training system by supporting and enabling innovation in training design and delivery, at the state and territory level.
For the current project, we are hoping to increase the uptake of training in regional and remote areas through utilising technology to make the process faster, more streamlined and tailored for each learner.
In engaging in this E-learning Innovations project, the following Framework products and resources were used…
Professional Development sessions provided both online and in person, LORN, existing resources online providing information about E-RPL and E-Portfolios.


Acknowledgement

This is a Western Australian E-learning Innovations project output, developed by Directions, with seed funding from the Framework.
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For more information

For more information on Directions:
Sarah Smith
RTO Manager
E-RPL for Rural and Remote WA
Phone: (08) 9622 6500
Email: sarah@directionswa.com.au

For more information on the Australian Flexible Learning Framework:
Phone: (07) 3307 4700
Email: enquiries@flexiblelearning.net.au
Website: www.flexiblelearning.net.au