ALEC Profile Part 1: Organisational Environment

So now I’m updating our ALEC company profile and creating it as an online Google Doc that I can access and share anywhere anytime. The idea of an organisational profile is that it’s snapshot of an organisation and covers key organisational characteristics as well as summarises your strategic situation.

Here’s a summary of ALEC’s operating environment below updated for 2014. Organisational relationships and strategic context to follow shortly. This format is based on the Baldridge criteria which we used to organise our quality management system when we set it up in 2007.

1. Product Offerings

ALEC Education Products

  • ŸTraining and assessment in relation to the National Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace), or NCALNE (Voc).
  • ŸŸConsulting expertise and professional development as required in relation to adult literacy and numeracy education (ALNE).
  • ALNE resources for tutors embedding or contextualising adult literacy and numeracy in their own programmes. We produce these under the brand.
Product Importance Delivery
NCALNE (Voc) This is our most important product and critical to our success. Face-to-face, blended, online and by distance
Consulting Important but less frequent; e.g. to TEC, NZQA or others as required. Face-to-face, email, phone
Resources Minor relative importance. Through our face-to-face training, by courier or mail; online shop (to be launched 2014)

2. ALEC Vision & Mission

Purpose: Why do we exist?

ALEC exists to provide innovation, expertise, professional development and training in adult literacy and numeracy education to industry, communities, government, and our own sector.

Vision: Where are we going?

ALEC’s vision is to be the leader in adult literacy and numeracy education and consulting in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.

Mission: What are we trying to do?

ALEC’s mission is to:

  1. Provide remarkable adult literacy and numeracy education products.
  2. Serve our learners, stakeholders, and communities through practical approaches to education and consulting which are grounded in best practice and current research.
  3. Become the adult literacy and numeracy education provider of choice for industry, learners, organisations, and government agencies.

Values: What are we on about?

The following whakatauki or proverb embodies many of ALEC’s values:

Mā te huruhuru te manu ka rere – It is the feathers that enable the bird to fly.

We believe that our approach to embedding literacy and numeracy into adult education can help tutors and trainers teach anything, improve learning, and help their students achieve better outcomes.

In providing our education products we strive for simplicity, clarity, good design, passion, innovative approaches based on experience and application

Core competencies

As an organisation we:

  • We excel at taking potentially complex material from our field and re-presenting it in ways that are comprehensible for others especially non-experts.
  • Have a time-proven process for delivering and assessing the NCALNE (Voc) and related unit standards.
  • Have good relationships with key stakeholders including TEC and NZQA, but also a wide range of commercial and non-for-profit organisations, companies, other training providers, industry bodies, and government agencies.

3. Workforce Profile

Adult literacy and numeracy education specialists and facilitators

ALEC has no staff. Our workforce consists of contracted LN specialists and trainers who facilitate the professional development and training and other activities as as required. ALEC negotiates workshop facilitation with contractors. These are pitched as short-term projects with a set number of delivery days

ALEC Director, Graeme Smith, is the lead facilitator. Our contracted facilitators are all based in different parts of the country and are often involved in other ALNE activities outside of ALEC work with our full support. This approach allows us to expand and contract according to market demands. This approach also allows us to minimise unnecessary bureaucracy.

Currently, we can deliver training to more than 100 candidates with three facilitators and a combination of online, distance, blended, and face-to-face cohorts around New Zealand. All of our facilitators have advanced degrees in relevant fields and an extensive background in education and training with a focus on adult literacy and numeracy education.

Our facilitators are all experts in their fields and they often also function as ALEC advisors from time to time.

Administration and operations

ALEC delivery of NCALNE(Voc) training is decentralized. However, all administration happens online and general operations are managed by the Director and a part-time assistant who is also a contractor and based overseas.

Most operational and administrative procedures are embedded in the project management software that we use as our learner management system. This application, known as ALEC Basecamp, relies on project templates designed to include all aspects of our training and assessment process. This system has evolved over time and we now tend to update it as new requirements arise or we think of ways to make our processes more efficient.

The decentralised and increasingly online nature of our administration and operations should allow us to cope with increased demand for distance and online provision of NCALNE (Voc) and related qualifications as we move forward.

ILN Staff

Between 2004 and 2014 ALEC had several staff working at our local Taupo-based intensive literacy and numeracy (ILN) funded course. However, we closed this course in early 2014 due to low numbers and increasing fixed costs.

We also contract in expertise in literacy, numeracy, Maori literacy and numeracy, and other specialist areas as we need to.

4. Assets

Technologies and equipment


Because of our decentralised workforce ALEC relies on technologies such as online software applications as well as mobile communications to make our administrative and operational processes work. Some of these technologies include:

  • 37 Signals suite of products including Basecamp project management and Highrise contact management for learner management.
  • Google Apps for Business for integrated email, calendars, cloud storage, and Google Docs
  • Pathways Awarua for delivery of online NCALNE (Voc) modules.
  • Our website for our learners to access delivery content, assessment tasks, and other information.
  • Camtasia 2 for recording and editing ALEC video content.
  • for storing NCALNE (Voc) video content that supplements face-to-face and other online content.
  • for mapping ALEC processes.


One major shift in terms of the technologies and assets that we use is from hardware to software. We maintain and use both Apple Mac computers as well as Windows PCs, but as the software applications list above have matured in recent years the applications have become not only cross-platform, but also cross-device.

This means that we are increasingly able to leverage devices like smartphones and tablets in our work, or especially when travelling. It also means the kind of computer is now less important than the kind of browser and access to high speed broadband or mobile data.

Aside from computer related hardware and software, and because of our decentralised operations, we now need very little in the way of other facilities or equipment. Our workforce tend to operate from home for administrative purposes or on our clients’ sites for training purposes. We still need to have some physical storage for learner study packs and training resources, but our goal is to continue to minimise the amount of printing that we do and shift most of the resources online.

It is also worth noting here that despite growing demand for online and distance training in our field, and our desire to push more of our content online and into social media channels, ALEC is committed to maintaining the unique human experience of being a real learner in a real class of real students in real time. We so expect that we will always deliver much of our training face-to-face with groups of learners as we have always done.

Website development

The first iteration of our website went live in April 2010. The site ( has been through several major changes since then and continues to provide valuable support to the workshop delivery of our NCALNE (Voc) course including digital versions of all our study materials, assessment tasks, and resources for learners.

As ALEC has evolved, so has our understanding of web technology and what we need and want from a website. Currently, we have a major rebuild of our website underway and hope replace our current provider with a new site that we manage ourselves later this year. This new site will reflect a greater emphasis on video content as per our Youtube Channel.

Pathways Awarua

Our partnership with Pathways Awarua resulted in new professional development pathways aligned with ALEC’s NCALNE (Voc) training available through their online learning platform in 2013. This technology will allow us to further develop online assessment modules for this work as well as new online pathways for other qualifications in 2015.

5. Regulatory Requirements

Key compliance requirements

As an NZQA registered and accredited private training establishment we comply with the following requirements:

  • Education Act 1989 – Part 18
  • Private Training Establishment Registration Rules 2013
  • PTE Enrolment and Academic Records Rules 2012
  • Student Fee Protection Rules 2013
  • NZQF Programme Approval and Accreditation Rules 2013
  • Consent to Assess Against Standards on the Directory of Assessment Standards Rules 2011


Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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