Hi Everyone,
After our first meeting of 2010, I went home thinking about the subject of competency and at this point I should explain that I'm a reflective learner when it comes to processing information and often need time to think things through before I add to the discussion. Hence the reason why I didn't raise these thoughts last night.
I agree with most of the points that were raised last night on this subject but would like to add some of my own.
Staff competency
I think the work that people like Doug Purcell and Margaret Granger have done in taking applications like Janison and Moodle out to the masses has been great. However, I think we now need to be ramping this up to the next level. By this I mean, I often hear staff coming out of a workshop saying it was helpful and that they learned how to do a few things, but they were not sure how to incorporate what they'd learnt into their own teaching practices.
I think the next round of workshops should be concentrating on teaching methodologies using e-learning applications. I know this was mentioned briefly last night but my feeling is that the learning is being lost on some staff because they don't know how to apply their new e-knowledge and perhaps some examples of how to incorporate the application into their own teaching may be the motivation needed to get more staff involved. I'm confident there are enough staff within Regional who use e-learning methodolgies to great effect and perhaps we could put some proposals on the table that these are the people we need to deliver the next phase of e-learning training?
‚ÄčStudent competency
Again I agree with the sentiments expressed last night about the need to encourage students to develop computer literacy in order to maximise their learning experience.
Two thoughts from me:
I feel there is a tendency to perhaps 'undersell' the abilities of some of our students. I think sometimes all it takes is a little bit of encouragement and work from us to help people 'kick start' their confidence to build on their level of technology skill. I've had a number of students who have come to me never having sent an email but after a little bit of one on one (and some help from their kids as Con mentioned last night), they're soon accessing links and uploading files to my Moodle sites with confidence. Sure it's a bit more labour intensive from our part but I see that's part of the role of being a professional educator.
The other thought I had is probably more of a concern and please tell me if I've misread the discussion. There was talk about the possibility of making it mandatory(?) that students complete some form of computer training prior to commencing their qualifications or indeed as part of their qualification.
I understand the intent and would certainly agree that if we feel someone lacks the necessary skills, then we could encourage them to take on some bridging training outside of our course (keeping in mind what I've just said about perhaps giving them a chance to see what they bring to our trainig session first before we rush off signing them into other courses.) However, I think we need to be careful here that we're not seen to be over assessing what the student needs to demonstrate to meet competence in our courses. The Performance Criteria and Assessment Guidelines in the relevant training Packages should be our guide here (as was pointed out last night.) Although our own knowledge and experience may tell us that students would benefit from being able to demonstrate competence with certain technologies in order to get the most from our courses, if there is no stipulation in the training package, either within the perfromance criteria or the employability skills that specifically state the student must be able to use certain equipment or software applications, then we can't base our assessment decision around whether or not the student can use that technology.

That's not to say that in our teaching we can't incorporate how to use the technology. Training packages are designed to give us the freedom to decide the content and methods of our sessions but we need to always keep in mind the validity of our assessment processes and ensure that we are not expecting our students to demonstrate knowledge and skills over and above the minimum acceptable industry standards that are included in the training package.

If I've just spent the last couple of minutes telling you 'to suck eggs' and I've misread the discussion, then I do apologise but I just felt we were in danger of getting into some shaky ground here.

Any thoughts?

Peter G