e-Portfolios for the Trades Western Australia 2008

Swan TAFE


Background

In March 2007, The Department of Education and Training, in collaboration with the TAFEWA network, funded and established the Transforming Trade Training (TTT) project under the leadership of Swan TAFE. The model developed, as a result of the project, achieves the objective of early engagement, recognition of learning as it occurs in the workplace and flexibility of delivery in apprenticeship training.
A fundamental focus for the TTT project was the capturing of learning that occurs in the workplace. Importantly the methodology to achieve this requirement needs to be as accessible as possible and achieve minimal disruption to the productivity of the apprentice in the workplace. To this end, the use of eLearning technologies became an important part of the training delivery approach to the project.
This project identifies the use of blog and digital storytelling as key components in the collection of workplace evidence of competence in the workplace. The utilisation of these tools will form part of the apprentice’s ePortfolio and reside on a web server. Each ePortfolio will be available to the employer and RTO for review and comments. Apprentices enrolled in the same course will also be granted access for the purpose of team collaboration and peer review.

The Framework connection

The ePortfolios for the Trades project team initially undertook a desktop research on the topic of ePortfolios. Case studies from The Australian Flexible Learning website were analysed to shape the strategy of the project.
The project team also attended the WA E-learning Innovations Induction workshop and networked with other WA participants. This was extremely valuable especially as two other TAFE colleges had some experience in the use of ePortfolios and their input help us shape our project strategy.
From this project the following products are being made available to the Framework community:
  • Sample of apprentice blogs
  • Sample digital storytelling for Carpentry and Joinery
  • Sample Blog marking guides

Knowledge sharing

The information gathered from this project has been reported and will continue to be made available to key stakeholders. For example, the project team has been very pro-active in the promotion of ePortfolios and blogs by presenting at a number of conferences.
• Innovate08 conference where 70 participants attended to hear a group of apprentices showcase their ePortfolios and lecturers present an overview of the functions of ePortfolios to gather workplace evidence.
• Western Australian Department of Education and Training conference on Exploring good practice in Apprenticeships and Traineeship
• 2008 TAFE Building and Construction National Conference.
• Online mini-conference - Inspiring Innovations: national e-learning highlights!
• Victoria University delegation.

We also participated in the research conducted by Professor Victor Callan on “how e-learning is being used to assist completions in skills shortage areas” through an interview process.
Status reports have been given to Industry Working Groups that have been convened as part of the Transforming Trade Training project. The purpose of these reports is to inform the employers on the use of these technologies as part of the training processes for their apprentices.

A wiki web site has been established http://transforming-trade-training.wikispaces.com/TTT+Blogs to inform interested parties showcasing apprentices’ ePortfolios and various lecturer blogs. As more lecturers become involved in using ePortfolio to capture workplace learning they will be encouraged to report via blogs they findings on the use of ePortfolios. These blogs will be available to on the above wiki space.

For this project an eLearning support strategy was developed so as to engage employers, lecturers and apprentices taking part in the Transforming Trade Training project.

Over 200 apprentices participated in a 3-day foundation program in which they were:
• Introduced to the WebCT learning management system
• Created and updated a personal ePortfolio using blogger.com

Employers were invited to attend WebCT workshops to provide an overview of the use of a learning management system in the providing educational resources to their apprentices.

Professional development sessions were delivered to lecturers involved n the project on the following topics:
• WebCT
• Elluminate
• Overview of ePortfolios
• Creation and update of ePortfolios via Blogger.com
• Digital photostory
• Podcast

Building on essential infrastructure

The ePortfolios for the Trades has helped raised the profile of using the technology to help gather evidence of workplace acquisition of knowledge and skills by apprentices. A number of parties have contacted the project team as they are keen in starting the use of ePortfolios in their own trade areas.

Embedding E-learning

ePortfolios help to achieve good practice in apprenticeship training by providing effective communication between the employer, apprentice and RTO on a regular basis which would not normally occur if face-to-face meetings had to be arranged.

ePortfolios are a core component of the Transforming Trade Training model. This model has been implemented across five qualifications at Swan TAFE in 2008 with a number of other TAFE RTOs indicating that they too will be using the TTT model methodology in 2009. This will insure that ePortfolios will continue to gain traction as part of the reporting process of an apprentice’s learning.

Achievements

The project has demonstrated that by using ePortfolios a greater engagement by employers in the training of their apprentices is achieved.
Another outcome is that the majority of apprentices are more comfortable in using technology to record their achievement than by the more traditional method of paper based system.
The project has also started a culture shift amongst trade lecturers in using web-based technology in training of apprentices.

Exectutive Summary

Swan TAFE's E-Portfolio for the Trades project has identified the use of blogs and digital storytelling as key components in the collection of evidence of competence in the workplace. The utilisation of these tools may form part of the apprentice's e-Portfolio and reside on a web server with each e-Portfolio made available to the employer and RTO for review and comments.
This project has demonstrated that apprentices are familiar with web technologies although in many instances they have not used it as part of their formal trade training. With support from lecturing staff this knowledge can be efficiently and effectively used in the collection of evidence of workplace skills acquisition and collated in an ePortfolio.
From the project it has been found that apprentices find the creation and the maintaining of an ePortfolio much easier and rewarding than the previous system of hand written paper based training record books.
It is clear that if the concept of ePortfolios is to be sustained as part of formal trade training than professional development of lecturing staff is required. Many of the lecturers have little or no knowledge of web technologies and their potential in capturing workplace evidence of learning. However, in this project it was shown that once lecturers have acquired these skills and apply it in their delivery methodology then a greater engagement occurs by apprentices in their collection of evidence when compared to the more traditional methods.
Similarly the use of ePortfolios provides employers the mechanism to increase their engagement in participating in the training process of their apprentices but once again RTOs will need to ensure that employers have access to professional development in the use of these enabling technologies.

Project outputs

Resource links
How to guides
Blog instructions
Guide to making videos
Project resource kit
Ceiling - blog marking guide
Flooring - blog marking guide
Install windows and doors - blog marking guide
Scaffold - blog marking guide

Project Blogs

Project Manager
Transforming Trade Training
Student samples
TTTAFLUX
TTTroofy
Carpentry


For more information

Mike Bezaud
Project Manager
Transforming Trade Training
Swan TAFE
Phone: (08) 9442 8303
Email: mike.bezaud@swantafe.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