FLEXIBLE LEARNING LEADERS
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute
FINAL REPORT: SYLVIA ARTHUR
Sylvia Arthur – FLL Final Report Page 1
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 3
Outputs and Outcomes ................................................................................................ 3
Analysis ........................................................................................................................ 4
Significant Benefits - Personal ...................................................................................... 6
Significant Benefits – SWSI .......................................................................................... 7
Sharing Learning and Knowledge ................................................................................. 7
Strategic Planning......................................................................................................... 8
Leadership Opportunities .............................................................................................. 9
Key Directions for Flexible Learning in VET for next two years ........................................... 9
Personal References .................................................................................................. 10
Additional Comments.................................................................................................. 12
Final Presentation ....................................................................................................... 12
Sylvia Arthur – FLL Final Report Page 2
I have always had a strong interest in flexible, and in more recent times, online learning
exploring alternate and different approaches to teaching and learning to meet the
diverse learning needs of learners. Working in country and metropolitan colleges and
private training organisations has provided me with a range of experiences and
opportunities to add to my learning in this dynamic and challenging area.
Being nominated as the South Western Sydney Institute’s Flexible Learning Leader
came at an opportune time for me to explore recent developments in Australia and
overseas in flexible and online learning.
Outputs and Outcomes
Report the outputs and outcomes of your development program against your development plan
goals and learning strategies
The South Western Sydney Institute has been involved in the development of online
material in the construction trades area and was very soon to trial the product with a
group of learners.
Learners in the construction trade area are traditionally from a younger age group
studying courses under the apprenticeship scheme; however there are also post-trade
courses, which have mixed age groupings. The demonstration and lecture methods of
lesson delivery have been the common approach used in this area.
As a result, in my professional development plan I identified three key areas I wanted to
I was keen to explore how organisations have made the transition from the
traditional demonstration delivery methodology to a flexible learning environment,
with a particular focus on the construction trades area.
Gain an understanding of models of flexible and online learning, including virtual
classrooms and individual learning centres.
Investigate teacher and learner support structures to assist staff and learners
make the transition to a flexible and online learning environment.
The next question was how was I going to achieve these aims. To do this I identified a
number of strategies that I could use: global literature search and information gathering,
formal training and development, site visits and attendance at conferences.
On reflection I have determined that I have had a great deal of success in finding some
answers to my questions, however it did not start off that way.
I started my journey immersing myself in the global literature search and information
gathering. What I soon discovered was that while there is a plethora of information
available what soon became apparent was that there was very little valid and reliable
information in my area of interest. This was particularly true in the case of online
learning in the construction trades area. Therefore, upon my return from the overseas
visit I refocussed my attention to the literature search based on the knowledge that I had
gained from this trip.
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My overseas trip to the UK included visits to colleges, universities, private training
organisations and also attendance at two conferences in Scotland. I spoke with a range
of key people in these organisations together with staff involved in national projects. I
was also able to speak with practitioners who have been involved in innovation at a
grass roots level. This ensured that I was able to gain information from different
perspectives. The people I spoke with were both generous with their time and
knowledge and while I was disappointed to discover that very little online learning was
being conducted, in the trades area, I was able to benefit significantly from their
My research in Australia has contributed significantly to the aims of my development
program. Visits to organisations that are both innovative and leaders in their field have
provided me with a great deal of knowledge; this is particularly true in meeting goals 2
and 3 of my program.
In total I attended four conferences (refer to the section titled Personal References), all
of which in some form contributed to my learning journey.
I am continuing with the Master of Education (Information Technology in Education) with
a renewed vigour and focus. In addition, as a result of the scholarship, I discovered an
inherent need to establish my own knowledge management system. As an initial
strategy, I am developing a web site to assist me to achieve this aim.
The incidental learning that has taken place has also been invaluable and contributed
greatly to my professional development. There is a great deal more to discover, the
challenge now is to set the direction for the next step.
Analyse what you have learnt from your experiences as a Flexible Learning Leader that will have
an impact on flexible learning in VET
One of my discoveries as a Flexible Learning Leader is the growing move to a learner
centric model. In the UK in the construction trades students direct their own learning
with the teacher facilitating the process. Learners work in collaborative groups in a
variety of learning environments with a range of learning resources and tools.
Collaboration with partners, such as industry and schools, is an important component of
this model. A national project, led by the University of Plymouth, is conducting research
into student-centred learning in construction education (SLICE Project). In addition the
trade colleges I visited all used the student-centred approach incorporating key
strategies to facilitate the learning including:
Industry focussed with partnerships/networks
Practical assessment conducted onsite
Collaborative work groups, problem-based learning (“practice fields”)
Portfolio/learning journal approach
Individual learning agreements with learners
Self-guided activities and resource material
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Computer-based activities and multimedia resources
Instructor facilitates the learning, but also takes an active role in the learning
(research has found that the instructor taking an active as opposed to a passive
role is the preferred approach by learners in the trades area – SLICE Project)
Research projects and rolling enrolments
During my visit to the UK I discovered that there were a number of national projects,
which focus on accelerating the take up of learning and access to learning. The shift
from learning for a job for life to one of lifelong learning means that strategies need to
be implemented to ensure that people have equal access to learning.
On a macro level Australia can learn from the UK model in particular such schemes as:
Complementing the above strategy – Individual Learning Accounts
Industry Learning Networks
Establishment of learning centres in key access points
Outlook Exchange Project – learner access to resources at any time and any
place in the world
On a micro level organisations have implemented their own support mechanisms for
teachers and learners. In the majority of instances national funding has supported
Teacher and learner resource and or support centres. Orientation and induction
projects for staff and learners embarking on flexible learning. My research to date
has identified that lead organisations have sound orientation and induction
processes for their practitioners and for their learners
Whole of organisation approach to innovation and new learning initiatives
Professional development – construction teachers are undertaking the
ECDL/ICDL (European Computer Drivers’ Licence/International CDL) program as
a means of achieving a base level of information technology skills
Just-in-time training for staff, Coventry College has a implemented a strategy
called, Time for Training, to address timely PD for staff. This is becoming an
increasingly important issue - the need for timely and strategic PD for staff. PD
initiatives to support lifelong learning and the use of sound evaluation methods for
Other experiences I have discovered include:
Repackaging learning to meet industry and client needs, into easily digestible
Technology - reusable learning objects, knowledge management, broadband
technologies, increased bandwidth, IT resources for staff
There is a significant body of research that is conducted overseas both by
practitioners and leaders that we can tap into. Certainly in the UK people readily
share their research findings with others
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The importance of libraries as a strategic partner in the learning environment.
Organisations I was fortunate to visit that provided sound library support and
services include Southbank Institute and Charles Sturt University. In the UK a
number of colleges have instigated Faculty Libraries eg Leeds College of Building
I was able to gain a sound understanding of the role and models used for teacher
resource centres. These range from units that develop resources to more
sophisticated models, which are units, set up in their own right.
There are many things that I have learned from my experiences that can be included in
this document, however I have concentrated on the major areas. The challenge now is
to develop and implement strategies to enable the shift from an instructor-led program
of organised instruction to a facilitated student-centred approach in a flexible learning
context in the construction trade area. These strategies are as important for the teacher
as for the learner. However what are the teaching and learning implications for such an
approach? Do learners in the trade area have a low preference for independent student-
directed learning and a high preference for highly organised instructor-led learning? And
if so how do we adapt the model? Does this model suit a range of preferred learning
styles and/or can we adapt the model so that it does? What are the key elements?
These are some of the questions that require further exploration.
In addition what we also now need to explore in Australia are the opportunities to
maximise online learning as a valuable tool available to support the student-centred
approach in the trade area.
Describe the most significant benefit from the Flexible Learning Leaders program for you and
On a personal note the most significant benefit has been the personal growth I have
experienced. This includes an increased knowledge in a wide range of areas relating to
Other benefits have been afforded to me include the forming of networks both within
Australia and across the globe. This has been a particularly rewarding experience with
the opportunity to learn from others and to share information with colleagues and peers
to maximise the benefit to all. The ability to engage and dialogue with staff, relating to
aspects of my findings has also given me an increased sense of confidence on a topic
that I am interested in.
The Flexible Learning Leaders scholarship has also reinforced my belief in the
importance of self-management. Coupled with this is the management of knowledge, as
stated previously I am working toward developing a web site as an initial strategy to
meet this objective.
The opportunity to participate in a national project such as this has been a challenging
but rewarding experience. It has provided me with a great many opportunities to pursue
in my professional development both on a personal level and professionally.
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South Western Sydney Institute
The South Western Sydney Institute is committed to the provision of flexible learning
and has identified its commitment in its Strategic Plan and Business Plan. From the
information and knowledge that I have been able to gather from my involvement in the
Flexible Learning Leaders Program, the institute has and will be able to benefit in a
number of ways.
In November 2001 I had the opportunity to make a presentation of my findings to date,
at the Institute’s Teaching and Learning Festival. From these findings I put forth a
number of recommendations that I perceived would be of benefit to the Institute.
Subsequently, from these recommendations the institute will be prioritising, developing
and implementing strategies to achieve the desired outcomes. It is envisaged that my
involvement will continue as a group member on these teams where appropriate.
The institute will also benefit from gaining access to current ideas and concepts, from a
wide source of information, which will then be shared with other members of staff.
The institute will be able to benefit from the provision of input to the committees,
working parties, steering groups and forums that I am a member of and those that
require my input. In particular:
Development of a model for the student-centred learning approach
Teacher and learner support models
Contacts and information sources
Promotion of flexible and online learning
Professional development strategies
The benefits of the scholarship will continue in 2002 and beyond.
Sharing Learning and Knowledge
Identify how you have shared (or are sharing) your learning with others in your organisation, with
other Flexible Learning Leaders, with other Strategy 2001 projects etc. Outline how you will
continue to share your knowledge more widely (ie State/Territory and Australia) in the future
To date I have presented my findings at the Institute’s Festival of Teaching and
Learning which has resulted in many enquiries and requests for presentations at Faculty
and staff meetings. Staff have also been keen for me to assist them in various aspects
of flexible learning, subsequently I have been able to provide the support and
assistance they require. I have also assisted staff in the trial of online learning in the
trade section by developing and implementing an action plan.
I have also had the opportunity to share my knowledge with members of committees
and working groups that I am involved with. This will continue as I am involved in a
number of these groups in the institute, these are outlined in the section titled
I have also commenced with disseminating the material I have gathered to appropriate
persons and groups. This will continue in the future as I collate the data into meaningful
chunks of information. In addition I intend to make my web site available to staff.
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I have been involved with a number of LearnScope projects and will continue to do so in
the future. I will also continue to involve myself with the other members of the Flexible
Learning Leaders in a number of ways including contributing to the discussion forum.
My intentions are to continue working with the institute in the further development of
flexible learning throughout the organisation. I am a member of the Flexible Learning
Committee and the Institute’s Teaching and Learning Online Working Group. This
provides me with the opportunity of sharing my knowledge on a regular basis with the
members of these groups.
I will continue to search out opportunities to further my involvement in flexible learning
and to subsequently share my findings and promote flexible learning with the staff in my
organisation and to a wider audience.
Describe how your experiences have influenced your organisation’s strategic planning or
implementation of flexible learning to date and outline how you will continue to provide input in
the future to your organisation’s strategic planning
As stated the institute is committed to flexible learning and has incorporated it into its
As Manager Teaching and Learning I was involved in setting the terms of reference for
the Institute’s Flexible Learning Committee. The terms of reference include:
Provide advice and information to the Faculty Directors’ Group on innovative
teaching and learning practices
Promote best practice in teaching and learning
Identify training and learning needs
Facilitate access to appropriate resourcing mechanisms for innovative teaching
and learning, including the services of the Institute Instructional Resource Centre
Facilitate teachers’ participation in new Institute, TAFE and national projects
I also wrote a paper for the establishment of the Teaching and Learning Online Group,
which has since been implemented. From this group a number of working parties have
evolved, which have had a positive impact on planning and implementing online delivery
in the institute. This will continue to evolve as new directions and initiatives emerge.
I have also established a Teaching and Learning Initiatives Fund to provide support to
staff for innovative projects in teaching and learning. This has proven to be a successful
initiative in the Institute.
My final presentation includes key areas and strategies for organisations to explore
including: engagement with learning, future directions and finally what I call a
“Transitional Framework” which is a conceptual framework for an organisation to
address in the adoption of a flexible and innovative learning environment for teachers
and learners. For 2002 I will be exploring this concept further.
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For the future I have identified a number of areas for consideration, for example since
my appointment to Head of Studies Information Technology Arts and Media, I have
identified a need to develop a Flexible Learning Management Plan. This will enable the
Faculty to capture those areas for action.
The challenge now is to transfer all that I have gained, from the scholarship to date, and
transpose those relevant aspects of the learning to my new area of responsibility.
Outline the new leadership opportunities that your organisation has provided for you so far and
outline any new leadership opportunities that you are negotiating with your organisation for the
When I commenced the scholarship my substantive position was Manager Teaching
and Learning. In October 2001 I was appointed to the position of Head of Studies
Information Technology Arts and Media. This position involves a wide range of
leadership opportunities for me to pursue. I have just completed the Faculty’s Business
Plan which incorporates a number of new initiatives including flexible and online
learning, for example in 2002 we will be conducting online learning across the Faculty a
project I am keen to lead.
As stated previously I am a member of the Flexible Learning Committee, the institute’s
Teaching and Learning Online Working Group and a number of other committees,
steering groups, working groups and focus groups.
I will also be working with the Building and Construction Faculty on my findings and
other Faculties and Units where applicable.
I have also had the opportunity to participate in the VET Managers’ of the Future
Leadership Program. As a result I have devised my own Leadership Action Plan.
The institute will continue to afford leadership opportunities for me to pursue.
Key Directions for Flexible Learning in VET for the next two years
Summarise in a series of points – no more than 10 – what are the key directions for flexible
learning in VET for the next two years. Your summary should be based on your experiences this
year as a Flexible Learning Leader and could be a succinct statement of the analysis you have
Teaching and Learning - investigate strategies to enable the shift from an
instructor-led program of organised instruction to a facilitated student-centred
approach in a flexible learning context, specifically in the construction trade area.
Explore the opportunities to maximise online learning as a valuable tool available
to support the student-centred approach in the trade area.
Investigate the opportunity for repackaging “chunks of learning” into programs of
learning to meet the needs of the individual and/or industry.
Collaboration with Partners – investigate “fit for purpose networks” as a means
of tapping into current work practices and expertise, improving the learning
environment for learners and hence to be more meaningful and authentic.
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Additionally cooperative networks with the view of achieving better outcomes for
the organisation – promoting innovation and improved efficiency.
Professional Development – just-in-time training, PD initiatives to support
lifelong learning, learner centric, information communication technology skills
(base level of skill development), individual personal development growth,
strategic alignment of PD and sound methods of evaluating PD.
Research and Development - we need to increase the level of research into
VET and we need to become smarter at sharing the outcomes of this research.
This is just as important for practitioners as it is for managers.
Technology – knowledge management, reusable learning objects, access,
bandwidth, broadband technologies etc
“Clever Country” – if we are to be a truly “clever country” and encourage
lifelong learning, we need to implement strategies to enable access to learning.
These strategies were presented previously and are certainly models that we can
Some examples of source web sites include the following:
Books and Journals
Teaching & Learning Online: Pedagogies for New Technologies, (2001) edited by John
E-Moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning Online, (2000) Gilly Salmon
Flexible Learning in a Digital World: Experiences and Expectations, (2001) Collins &
Implementing Computer Supported Cooperative Learning, (2000) David McConnell
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Distance Education Journals (various)
Association for Learning Technology Journals
Stephen Downes Workshop – Sydney
Interactive presentation of information on new technologies in education and where this
might lead educators to in terms of learning. Other key areas included online learning
communities (topic centred), globalisation and commercialisation and learning objects.
Good overall picture of current issues. Web site: www.downes.ca
ICDL 9th Improving Student Learning Conference “Using Learning Technologies”
Conference aimed mainly for an audience from the higher education sector. Heavily
based toward research findings from that sector, however these may be applied to
vocational education settings. Address by the keynote speakers proved informative and
Papers from this and previous conferences may be obtained at:
ALT-C 8th International Conference Changing Learning Environments, Edinburgh,
Conference aimed at a mixed audience from various education sectors, with a strong
focus of research and study findings from the higher education sector. However these
findings may be applied to the vocational education sector. A vast array of
presentations, interactive sessions, panels and posters were available to choose from,
which in itself made it difficult to make a selection. Keynote speakers, in the main,
presented useful and current information. Very useful information was gleaned from this
conference. Some comparisons were made of where Australia sits in the context of
flexible and online learning to the UK.
Papers from this and previous conferences may be obtained at: www.alt.ac.uk
Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia Conference “2001
Education Odyssey: Continuing the journey through adaptation and innovation” –
Current and beneficial information was gathered from this conference. Good variety of
presentations and workshops were provided. Addresses given by the keynote speakers
were also informative and beneficial.
Papers from this conference may be obtained at: www.oten.edu.au/odlaa
NetWorking 2001 Conference “From Virtual to Reality” – Brisbane
Very worthwhile and beneficial conference. Keynote speakers provided participants with
current information, which could be utilised at the workplace. Good choice of
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workshops, depending on area/s of interest. Resource material was of a high standard,
including the trade exhibitions.
Papers from this and previous conferences may be obtained at:
Please add any additional comments – if you have confidential information you wish to include
put it in this section.
The Flexible Learning Leaders scholarship has been an exceptional opportunity for me
to participate in a national professional development program. I wish to extend my
gratitude to all those who have assisted me ANTA, the South Western Sydney Institute
and Jenny Dodd and her team.
Please attach your Final Presentation for loading to the website if you have not already submitted
The final presentation can be found at www.flexiblelearning.net.au/leaders/
Financial Acquittal Statement
Please attach a signed financial acquittal statement for your development plan budget that clearly
shows how funds from the Flexible Learning Leaders project and your organisation were spent.
Please include an invoice for the final payment
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