Internationalising and exporting NZ’s literacy and numeracy professional development via the NCALNE (Voc)

Changes to qualifications

In order to export New Zealand’s unique professional development, training and credentials relating to literacy and numeracy we need to first internationalise the key qualifications. This means some changes to both of the qualifications. Here are my ideas for dealing with the NCALNE (Voc):

Dealing with Unit Standard 21204: Develop adult learners’ literacy and numeracy skills within a workplace training or education programme

This is a big unit standard worth 30 credits at level 5 and makes up the heart of the qualification.

  • Either: the unit standard needs to be broken in half with one half (Elements 1 – 2) dealing with the contextual content and the other half dealing with the more generic delivery side of things. This would mean the development of two new unit standards: One for the NZ Environment and the other for the International Environment. The content of these could be set up in parallel.
  • Or: Elements 1 and 2 need to be revised internally to allow for a focus on the NZ environment or an international environment depending on the candidate’s particular country of origin or where they are working. This would require some new wording in some of the elements, performance criteria, and range statements. The simplest way to do this would be to add words like the following to the existing statements: “Or other multicultural learning environment for adults”. Or variations on the theme.

My second option above is probably the simplest as it doesn’t require the development of other unit standards.

Here then is my draft of a revised version of Element 1 that would allow a New Zealand or International approach. Changes to the original in bold.

Element 1

Describe adult literacy and numeracy in Aotearoa New Zealand or another country in relation to the training or education programme

Performance criteria

1.1 Description includes an outline of adult literacy and numeracy to the present.

Range outline includes but is not limited to – Māori or other cultural group’s literacy and numeracy pre-colonisation, Māori or other cultural group’s literacy and numeracy initiatives, issues post-colonisation, literacy and numeracy issues, initiatives for learners from other cultures.

1.2 Description includes an outline of the development of adult literacy and numeracy initiatives that relate to learners in the programme.

1.3 Description includes a comparison of four adult literacy and numeracy definitions currently used in Aotearoa New Zealand or or other multicultural adult learning environment.

Range definitions include – one for Māori from either Te Kawai Ora or Professor Mason Durie’s speech 2001 to the Hui Taumata Mātauranga Māori or for another cultural group, one for embedded literacy, one for numeracy, one other adult literacy definition.

1.4 Description includes a discussion of reasons for low adult literacy and numeracy levels in Aotearoa New Zealand or another country as applicable. 

1.5 Description includes a discussion of the impact of low adult literacy and numeracy levels in Aotearoa New Zealand or another country as applicable. 

1.6 Description includes identification of resources appropriate and relevant to learners within the programme.

Range resources may include but are not limited to – two adult literacy and/or numeracy specialist organisations and their services in Aotearoa New Zealand or another country.

Element 2 is a bit more complicated… Not sure where to go with that one, but the opportunity is there for educators in other countries to look at what we’ve done in New Zealand with approaches and concepts from Maori education and see how other indigenous forms of knowledge and ways of teaching can inform teaching and training in general.

I’m sure the outcomes for learners would be better. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Why we need an international strand built into NZ’s literacy & numeracy professional development qualifications including the NCALNE (Voc)

My organisation, ALEC, delivers training that leads to the National Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace) – otherwise known as the NCALNE (Voc).

This qualification and the related unit standards will come up for review in 2013 or at some stage in the next 18 months.

  • I would like to be part of any and all discussions, working groups, consultation, or expert review of the NCALNE (Voc), unit standard 21204, and also the level 6 National Diploma in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (NDipALNE).

I’ve written to NZQA to let them know. Last time around I was kind of locked out. At least that’s how it felt. I was the new kid on the block then. Well, newish. But that’s another story. Also, many of my competitors are no longer doing this training. And that’s another story as well.

In any case, I think that there is some scope to revise the NCALNE (Voc) and NDipALNE so that there is a International Environment strand in addition to the NZ context that already exists (which could sit in a New Zealand environment strand). This would open up the training and delivery to export.

The TEC have already signalled that they want to export aspects of the national infrastructure that we have in place for literacy and numeracy including the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT).

The qualifications – the NCALNE and the NDipALNE – are the perfect vehicles for transmitting information about a country’s infrastructure for literacy and numeracy, but they’re just not quite ready in their current format.

My suggestion is that we redevelop the qualifications with an International Environment strand that can sit in parallel with the New Zealand content in a New Zealand Environment strand. There is already a precedent for this in New Zealand if you look at the National Certificate in Adult Education & Training (NCAET) which has a similar set up with both International Environment and New Zealand Environment strands available.

Another interesting aspect of this redevelopment is that it might also open up opportunities for other indigenous and multicultural groups overseas to look at how their own educational models could be incorporated into training and delivery (e.g. based on how Matauranga Maori concepts and approaches have been incorporated here).

Probably what I need to do is draft up the international strand and post it here. Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

Designing the National Diploma in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (NDipALNE) for Actual Delivery

Below are some further thoughts on my design for how to deliver and assess the National Diploma in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (NDipALNE):


  1. Context: Influences.
  2. Good teaching: Personal Approach
  3. Good teaching: Case Study
  4. Embedded Literacy and Numeracy Project 1: Programme Focus
  5. Embedded Literacy and Numeracy Project 2: Numeracy Focus

Next I’ll break each of these down with a New Zealand and international focus as appropriate

1. Context: Influences

This short project should look at the impact of national and international influences on the adult literacy and numeracy sector:

  • Either: in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Or: in another country where the candidate is working

Assessment evidence could be either a written report, digitally recorded oral presentation, or combination of both as negotiated.

2. Good teaching: Personal Approach

This short project should evaluate a personal approach to strengthen adult literacy and numeracy practice:

  • Either: in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Or: in another country where the candidate is working

Again, assessment evidence could be either a written report, digitally recorded oral presentation, or combination of both as negotiated.

3. Good teaching: Case Study

This project should demonstrate knowledge of literacy and numeracy for adults

  • Either: in Aotearoa New Zealand from the perspective of Te Ao Maori
  • Or: in another country from another multicultural or indigenous educational perspective.

Assessment evidence could lend itself to a portfolio approach combining written and digitally recorded narrative, discussion, description, and reflection.

4. Embedded Literacy and Numeracy Project 1: Programme Focus

This is the first of two longer projects that incorporate a combination of relevant theory, planning and development work, as well as practical application of the skills learned. The main focus for this project would be on developing a robust embedded LN programme in a particular context with reference to these areas in particular:

  • Planning to embed literacy and numeracy within training and education programmes.  Planning will account for two different programmes as well as learners with diverse needs.
  • Developing one of these programmes in detail including with regards to learning outcomes, diagnostic processes, teaching and learning modules, embedded literacy and numeracy activities, formative assessment, and evaluation processes
  • Delivering the programme, analysing the impact, and disseminating the results to stakeholders.

Assessment evidence could lend itself to portfolio assessment plus a written report and delivery of a digitally recorded oral presentation.

For candidates working in an international environment, the context will be a country other than New Zealand and with reference to other multicultural or indigenous educational perspectives as appropriate. Commentary and analysis as required will also reflect this.

5. Embedded Literacy and Numeracy Project 1: Numeracy Focus

This is the second of two longer projects incorporating theory and practice. The main focus for this programme is the development of numeracy understanding with measurement as a case study. Programme development and delivery will still include literacy, but there will be a strong contextualised numeracy component. The project will include:

  • Developing the candidate’s own understanding of adult numeracy learning and introductory numeracy concepts.
  • Undertaking an organisational adult literacy and numeracy needs analysis.
  • Preparing, facilitating, and reporting on an organisational literacy and numeracy programme with a focus on focus on numeracy and measurement.

Assessment evidence could lend itself to portfolio assessment plus a written report and delivery of a digitally recorded oral presentation.

Again, for candidates working in an international environment, the context will be a country other than New Zealand and with reference to other multicultural or indigenous educational perspectives as appropriate.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Exporting New Zealand’s Literacy and Numeracy Professional Development Qualifications including the NCALNE (Voc) and NDipALNE

In Aotearoa New Zealand we have several qualifications that were specifically developed to help professionalise the adult literacy and numeracy education sector in New Zealand. Three of these are:

  • National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace) – NCALNE (Voc)
  • National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Educator) – NCALNE (Ed)
  • National Diploma in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education – (NDipALNE)

These qualifications are unique in the world and the first one on the list is particularly interesting because it is designed for people who are trades trainers and vocational tutors in particular – people who don’t typically think of themselves as literacy and numeracy experts.

These qualifications were written specifically for the New Zealand training environment and accordingly have sections that relate to our history and culture as a country. This includes historical initiatives relating to education, but also in relation to Te Ao Maori – the world of Maori education.

Whatever I do… I’m sure it will involve these guys…

This content also helps to give these national qualifications a distinctly Kiwi flavour. The content from Matauranga Maori is appropriate and goes a long way to opening the eyes of many educators (myself included) to different ways of thinking about education and training. This is critical when it’s obvious that the so-called mainstream or traditional academic ways of doing things aren’t serving the interests of all of the learners.

It’s also entirely appropriate when it comes to working with trades and vocational training which lends itself to hands on approaches.

What I’m interested in now is the following question:

  • Given that these qualifications have a significant amount of New Zealand content baked into them, how could they be exported as valid international education opportunities?

The NCALNE (Voc) in particular is a short, intensive and largely non academic way of orientation tutors and other interested people to the world of literacy and numeracy, and embedded literacy and numeracy in particular.

In many ways, this particular qualification is the perfect vehicle for organisations, governments, perhaps even countries to transmit what they see as their national infrastructure for literacy and numeracy.

What I want to do is design a parallel set of outcomes, where appropriate, for the three qualifications that would allow them to retain their structure, acknowledge their original context, but allow others working in international and other multicultural settings to benefit from the training, experience, knowledge, and credentials that go with the qualifications.

Any thoughts on how I could do this? Let me know in the comments…

Unbundling education and training for online

The online world lends itself to unbundling. Unbundling is when you dismantle various aspects of a previous business model and sell them separately. Sometimes different companies and organisations can then specialise in a specific aspect of the business or industry.

An example would be in telecommunications. Previously, one monolithic company might have controlled all aspects of telecommunications within a country or region. Unbundling the industry means that now we can have companies that specialise in maintaining the lines, others that only offer broadband and phone services, and so on. In other words, unbundling potentially means:

  • Increased specialisation
  • More competition
  • Better efficiencies

I think this is what is happening (or going to happen) to the education sector over the next 10 years. Education and training is going to be unbundled and the Internet will be the vehicle to make it happen.

Currently, we certainly don’t have a single entity delivering education and training. So the telecommunications example doesn’t quite work. However, we do have lots of monolithic educational institutions that behave in similar ways. We also have a lot of inefficiency in the current system. We also have a problem with recognising and developing specialist areas of knowledge including how this specialist knowledge is disseminated.

The old model has always been to protect the specialist knowledge within educational structures that are reminiscent of the medieval guilds.

The internet is changing that. Information is now free. That means that even if you know something interesting that has allowed you to charge a lot of money for what you do, the chances are that your monopoly on this knowledge is about to end.

Some kid is going to post it all for free. If they haven’t already.

That means that you need to start working on a different business model for doing education and training. This is where I think unbundling comes into play.

We need to unbundle the education system. If we could separate out the different components we could then encourage increased specialisation, more competition, and better efficiencies.

So what are the components of an educational system that need to be unbundled?

Here’s a preliminary list:

  • Pre training: Information about education and training pathways including the decision making processes, form filling, application, and general matching up of people to the training opportunities that are available. There’s a business opportunity here for people, websites, or specialist organisations to act as online education brokers.
  • Learning platforms: If you want to do online or blended education you don’t need to have a software engineering team build your own platform. There are dozens of new edtech startups beavering away creating some really amazing 21st century learning platforms. This technology is still really in it’s infancy and I’d love to see if mature and develop over the next few years. There’s still opportunities here, but because it’s so specialised, why would you want to do both.
  • Niche content creation: This is what interests me. If we look at the music industry as an analogue, we can see that there as been a shift from big monolithic record labels doing everything to an unbundled music industry where artists have much greater control over their music. In fact, the artists can connect directly with their fans via music publishing platforms like iTunes. A musician could potentially write, record, produce, and sell their own music directly. Online platforms could provide similar opportunities to content specialists, whether organisations or individuals. I see big opportunities and potential here, but the problem is that information wants to be free.
  • Teaching and learning: This might go together with niche content creation but it doesn’t need to. It’s one thing to create content or new knowledge for a specialised subject area. It’s another thing to engage with learners and teach them this content. This is education and training, rather than just information for education and training. This interests me as well because of the connection to content creation. We should see better tools coming online to really engage our learners over the next 10 years, like online adaptive learning engines for specific content areas.
  • Assessment of learning: How do you know whether someone knows something? How can you tell if someone has made any progress in learning a skill or demonstrating knowledge? Well… you have to assess them. This is often part of a package deal with whatever learning platform you are using for the teaching and learning part. But it doesn’t have to be. External and more objective measuring tools (like exams) are a well established means of measuring learning, particularly in many specialised industries. Assessment is also it’s own specialised field of study and expertise.
  • Credentialing: Gaining credentials like certificates, diplomas, and degrees is traditionally part of a process (the end point usually) that learners experience when they enrol for a course of study. But it doesn’t need to be. It’s possible that in an unbundled education system, accredited organisations might focus more on applying credentials rather than delivering training. This could mean that they also provide the assessment process, but it could just mean applying recognition of current learning (RPL) or current competency (RCC) processes. This could have implications for those delivering training and doing assessment as learners would need to be collating and compiling a portfolio of evidence.
  • Registration of credentialed professionals: Some professions are used to some sort of professional registration for those who gain the right credentials. This allows for quality assurance mechanisms and also helps people sell their skills to others who can choose them from the list.

What do you think? Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments…

ELN tutor profile: What should a tutor profile look like for someone working on an embedded LN programme at levels 1-3?


Given the large number of new Youth Guarantee (YG) programmes submitted to NZQA for approval we are going to see an influx of new tutors involved with teaching in this space. This means that these tutors will be teaching courses that by definition need to be embedded literacy and numeracy (ELN) courses.

These tutors will also need to be familiar with the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT) so they can diagnose learners’ skill levels and report on progress.

ELN Tutor profile

I’m not sure whether the TEC has given any thought to the kinds of tutors that organisations should be hiring and developing. Probably they have. However, here’s my take on what the ideal tutor profile might look like for a tutor teaching on a level 1 to 3 course with embedded literacy and numeracy content.

For those working outside of New Zealand, the aspects that relate to Maori education can be internationalised to other indigenous, cultural, or multi-cultural contexts.

Tutors should know the demands of the training they are delivering including:

1. The context for their training programme. This includes:

  • An awareness of current definitions for literacy and numeracy including embedded literacy and numeracy.
  • An understanding of the bigger picture for course delivery at both national and local levels including an awareness of relevant historical initiatives, issues, and perspectives. This includes in relation to Maori and Iwi perspectives as appropriate.
  • The reasons for low levels of adult literacy and numeracy in the general population as well as their own learners.
  • The impact of low adult literacy and numeracy in terms of workplace, economic, and social factors.
  • Knowing what resources are available for them to use both online, in print, and in terms of specialist organisations.

2. Good teaching and best practice for adult literacy and numeracy. This includes:

  • Relevant theory with practical application to literacy, numeracy, ESOL, teaching and learning, culture, and context.
  • A working understanding of how approaches and methods from Maori education can form a framework for literacy and numeracy provision

3. A working understanding of how to map the literacy and numeracy demands of their training or education programme. This includes:

  • Knowledge of the Learning Progressions for adult literacy and numeracy (or an alternative system for those outside of New Zealand).
  • Ability to do “best guess” mapping and analysis using the literacy and numeracy progressions in order to identify training demands
  • Ability to do this mapping at the big picture course level as well as at the micro level for specific training resources, other key texts, tasks, calculations, and vocabulary.

Tutors should be equipped with the tools they need to know and understand their learners including

4. Literacy and numeracy diagnostic tools and process. This includes:

  • Appropriate tools and processes including, national assessment tools, and contextualised diagnostics.
  • Knowledge of how to create basic teacher-made literacy and numeracy diagnostics contextualised to the education programme.
  • A working knowledge of how to interpret diagnostic assessment results.
  • An understanding of how to work with learners to set learning goals and record these in learning plans.s

Tutors should know what to do to embed, assess, and evaluate literacy and numeracy progress and skills development including

5. Experience in how to embed and deliver literacy and numeracy training. Specifically:

  • A working understanding of how to plan literacy and numeracy skills development. This includes writing embedded literacy and numeracy learning outcomes, teaching sequences, and resources.
  • Existing experience delivering embedded literacy and numeracy training in their particular context or vocational training field. This includes using appropriate activities and teaching strategies to deliver explicit embedded literacy and numeracy training.

6. Experience in how to assess and measure literacy and numeracy progress. This includes:

  • Using different methods for assessing learning including non-traditional means of assessment.
  • An awareness of how to use formative assessment processes to inform programme objectives, learner needs and goals, as well as learners’ ongoing skill development

7. An ability to evaluate the effectiveness of the education programme they are delivering including:

  • Identifying changes and improvements
  • Reflecting critically on planning, teaching strategies, learning activities, teaching delivery, and assessment methods
  • Reporting to stakeholders

National Diploma in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education: Ideas on How to Package It – Part 2

Here are my thoughts on one of the three smaller assessment tasks that would lay a foundation for at least two much larger embedded literacy and numeracy projects as coursework for the NDipALNE

Assessment Task 1: Context – National & International Influences

Candidates for assessment based in a country other than New Zealand would have the option of contextualising their report to that country’s indigenous and other cultural communities.

  • Describe the impact of national & international influences on the adult literacy and numeracy sector in a 2000 word report
  • In terms of national impact the report would need to cover influences including the effects of colonisation, at least one government policy, one piece of national research, and one influence from either the historical context, the effects of immigration, urbanisation, or another piece of legislation. The discussion would also cover the the impact of these on teaching practices, adult learners, and well-being of Maori, as well as one other cultural community in Aotearoa.
  • With regards to international impact, the report would need to include discussion of one piece of international research, one example of an overseas government policy, and one example of overseas best practice for literacy and numeracy development. Candidates would need to describe these in terms of the socio-political underpinnings, their impact on sector development, and government policy, as well as their impact on teaching practices and adult learners in New Zealand.
  • The report would also need to make clear any connections or relationship between international and national influences.

Writing frame for the report

One possible structure for generating the report could be the following:
  1. Introduction
    1. Scope of report
    2. Preview of report structure
  2. Body of report
    1. National influences on literacy and numeracy sector development
      1. Colonisation
      2. Government policy
      3. National research
      4. Immigration (or Urbanisation, Legislation, or Historical influence)
    2. Summary of impacts on literacy and numeracy sector development from national influences.
      1. Impact on teaching practices
      2. Impact on adult learners
      3. Impact on Maori
      4. Impact on another cultural community
    3. International influences impacting on literacy and numeracy sector development
      1. International research
        1. Socio-political underpinnings
        2. Impact on sector development
        3. Impact on government policy
      2. Overseas resources
        1. Socio-political underpinnings
        2. Impact on sector development
        3. Impact on government policy
      3. Overseas best practice (or Overseas government policy)
        1. Socio-political underpinnings
        2. Impact on sector development
        3. Impact on government policy
    4. Summary of Impacts
      1. Impact on teaching practices
      2. Impact on adult learners in Aotearoa New Zealand
    5. Relationship between international and national influences
  3. Summary
    1. Review of report structure and content
    2. Summary of conclusions

Any thoughts let me know in the comments