Central TAFE STOC Shop, Western Australia, 2008

Business (Aboriginal Programmes)

http://stocshop.centraltafe.wa.edu.au/

Background

The STOC Shop is an ATSI (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Practice Firm project at Central TAFE, the aim of which is to involve students in community projects and organisations as a means of achieving increased, culturally appropriate and flexibly delivered training, including the use of IT.

The Framework connection

The main things we drew on from the Framework were other people’s products and projects including “Interactive Ochre” and various Toolboxes, (this helped us with design, content and functionality). More than anything, however, the project provided us with the opportunity to identify groups and individuals with whom we could network nationally, (eg: Chisholm TAFE and Holmesglen, Victoria and Southbank TAFE, Queensland, for collaboration and future development.
We will share our STOC Shop website – which can be copied and adapted for use by other RTOs which want to offer Certificate II in Business through a practice firm for Aboriginal clients.

Project Description

College Strategic Context
This project addresses several important college priorities: “strengthen our engagement with, and commitment to, Indigenous communities and enterprises and make a positive contribution to communities through building relationships and pathways.”
Through our Aboriginal Programs Coordinator Helen Corbett, the college has begun negotiations with the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) – owners of Native Title over the city of Perth – to collaborate on a range of new programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students which will be underpinned by our Aborignal and Torres Strait Islander Framework – currently under development but due for endorsement by our new Governing Council in the middle of the year. The Framework includes a Statement of Commitment aligned to Western Australian Department of Education and Training and Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Priorities for Indigenous training and education and this project will be one significant strategy for progressing its aims.

Start-up
The Noognar Kadadjiny Kulark Kart Centre will seek expressions of interest from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and others with respect to community projects and initiatives requiring support. Once group – the Mid West Metro Family Aboriginal Corporation – has already indicated its strong interest in accessing our services. The services we provide will, we anticipate, be fairly broad, from communications work such as designing posters and flyers and other word processing tasks, through to taking phone calls and staffing booths or stalls at community functions. Services will be provided free to eligible community groups and organisations. We will choose the projects based on their suitability to provide our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with interesting and relevant work which will enable them to develop competency and be assessed to gain a qualification, as well as establishing employment networks. In particular, (and in line with the Western Australian Department of Education and Training Priorities in the WA Aboriginal Education and Training Plan), we want to "achieve increased, culturally appropriate and flexibly delivered training, including the use of IT for Indigenous people".

Work-like environment which is culturally secure and appropriate
We want to make attendance at the STOC Shop as work-like as possible for the students, in order that their pathways to employment and further study will be maximised. In addition, the possibility for flexible attendance patterns and project working has been identified as likely to increase retention and completion for our target client group. The possibility for inter-generational learning within the STOC Shop is also a very powerful aspect of the project.

We are planning 2 key e-learning initiatives in support of this overall project.
a) The practice firm will have a 'virtual' identity as well as a physical one. The development of the STOC Shop website and associated material will be handled by our web development students, led by Multimedia lecturer Helen Burgess. However, she and her students will work with the ATSI students as the clients in the development of the site and the 'handover' to them for operation. Basic functionality for the site will include the ability for community groups and organisations to send in requests for help and to receive responses from the ATSI students/practice firm participants. In terms of employability skills, the experience of working in an online environment is something that will be very valuable and powerful for our students.
b) The students will trial the use of personal online assessment diaries, to which they will learn to upload material (including photographs and video clips) for the development of assessment portfolios. Assessment on this program is intended to be holistic and student-centred, and the skill in developing a personal profile online will be an important e-learning initiative which supports the overall concept of this initiative.

Knowledge sharing

Discussion about the STOC Shop has been included in a number of academic team meetings, including college-wide meetings such as the Principal Lecturer Forum and State-wide meetings such as the Access Programs Curriculum Support Services Network (CSSN). At meetings with community partners and other organisations we have also taken the opportunity to talk about and promote the STOC Shop, and a number of referrals have come through the Education District Offices as a result of promotion by the college’s Education Pathways Manager. Our Aboriginal Employment, Education and Training Committee (AEETC) recently endorsed the approach and we hope to gain greater support from them in the future with the STOC Shop.
Staff from Central TAFE recently undertook a training programme in Formal Recognition of Informal Learning with Anne Deschepper and Alana Killen from Chisholm TAFE, Victoria. The week with them included the opportunity to share and discuss a number of issues, including approaches to Aboriginal programmes and they will be sharing the STOC Shop model with their colleagues on return to Chisholm. In addition, we have discussed the possibility of including further development of the STOC Shop in a collaborative Reframing the Future project for 2009, incorporating the Recognition of Informal Learning (21896VIC) course into our approach.
The STOC Shop site was built using WordPress, an industry-standard software, and based on a design by VALEN Designs LLC.

Building on essential infrastructure

Benefits to the Framework from our Project include:
  • Greater knowledge-sharing and networking between providers, both at State and national level
  • An additional tool/model which can be easily adapted for use in a number of contexts
  • Links made between the Framework and another national policy priority area, namely Aboriginal programmes/participation by Indigneous people in VET, including flexible learning.

Embedding E-Learning

Our project has helped to embed good practices in e-learning at Central TAFE (and within Community Learning and Partnerships in particular) in a number of ways:
  • The use of the STOC Shop website as an embedded part of the programme delivery, not ‘bolted on’
  • The use of the students themselves as clients in the development and design of the site (especially important to make the site appealing to young and older Aboriginal learners)
  • Focus on the learning rather than the technology – we haven’t allowed this project to become a playground for geeks, but rather an exploration for lecturers aiming to provide a better experience for students.
Our e-learning project been embedded into Central TAFE’s business strategy and beyond the life of the project because:
  • It is included in the overall ‘list’ of e learning tools and approaches available at Central TAFE (and will be shared in an ongoing basis with other areas that want to use it). For instance, the Disability Programs area which also has a practice firm is exploring the possibility of creating a similar site for their course
  • The STOC Shop site is now an accepted resource in the delivery of Certificate II Business within Community Learning and Partnerships and will continue to be developed and supported through area’s normal funding and resources processes.

Achievements

How have your business and/or learner group/employees or other stakeholders benefited from the project?
The community organisations which have used the services of the STOC Shop (eg: Midwest Aboriginal Family Corporation and the Aboriginal Women’s Congress of WA) have benefitted from the project, along with students who have had some additional flexibility. Staff are learning more about e-learning approaches all the time and this has been a terrific learning project for them.

What impact has the Innovations project had on your organisation/business partner/learner group?
The STOC Shop has increased our enrolments from Aboriginal students, made the program more accessible and provided some new pathways through the Certificate II in Business (several of the students are going on to employment and/or further study next year).

What are the returns on investment you are seeing?
• Increased student enrolments
• Greater student satisfaction (measured informally)
• Greater staff motivation (provides a new approach in a challenging area).

What did you learn through this project? Were there unexpected outcomes?
It would take too long to list all the things we’ve learnt from this project but a few important learnings include:
• You can’t assume all young people are computer-savvy (some disadvantaged young people have rarely had access to a computer or mobile phone)
• You can’t assume that older people don’t have the interest in computers and the Internet as younger learners – our older Aboriginal students had just as much interest in learning about how to do things like uploading images and using the email as our younger ones
• If you develop a website, then the users (staff and learners) have to have true ‘ownership’ of it, otherwise they won’t use it
• Web designers are not all the same: our designer is also a lecturer and therefore very understanding and empathetic, and clear about the site as a learning tool. We had experience of someone else who was not!

How did your project- empower learners, stimulate demand, provide greater choice, respond to the needs of disadvantaged learners, and facilitate increased recognition of prior learning?
This Project has provided some new stimulus and enthusiasm in the design and delivery of Aboriginal programmes at Central TAFE. All of our students are from socially disadvantaged backgounds and some of them are dealing with extreme situations and crises in their lives. The STOC Shop seems to be a model worth developing further as a way of attracting and retaining Aboriginal students and that’s the main claim we’d be prepared to make at this stage.

Executive summary

Our project is called “STOC Shop.” STOC stands for “Services to Our Community” because that is what the STOC Shop provides – services to the community, particularly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in the Perth metropolitan (near city) area. The aim of the STOC Shop is to involve students in community projects as a means of achieving increased, culturally appropriate and flexibly delivered training, including the use of IT.
We established the practice firm in suitable premises at the Leederville campus of Central TAFE where we also have “Sense of Place”, a culturally secure area for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The e learning Innovations grant supported us to develop a ‘virtual’ version of the STOC Shop which enables us to promote business services to Aboriginal organisations and provide students with experience of working in an online environment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) students participating in the program are enrolled in Certificate II of Business and may also pursue Certificates I and II in Leadership Development. They receive culturally appropriate support through our Noongar Kadadjiny Kulark Kart Centre (NKKKC).
This is an exciting program and is the first time that Central TAFE has established a practice firm with Aboriginal students which uses flexible learning and assessment approaches. Not only that but it also assists in the establishment and development of community partnerships with a range of Aboriginal organisations, several of which may also provide work opportunities for our graduates when they compete their studies with us. For some students, the experience of working in the STOC Shop may also give them the confidence to set up their own online businesses – the scope for which is very significant in Perth. Working online already provides many Aboriginal people with a useful way of working flexibly and with broad market reach.
Our challenges for the future include: growing the number of services we can provide through the addition of new office equipment in the STOC Shop; growing our client base so that we have plenty of work on the go at all times and growing our student numbers so that we support increased business.

For more information

Sue Thompson
Director Community Learning and Partnerships
STOC Shop at Central TAFE, Perth, WA
Phone: (08) 9427 1281
Email: sue.thompson@central.wa.edu.au

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