NCALNE (Voc) => NZCALNE (Voc) Update

NCALNE Voc Replacement?

For anyone who’s interested in the progress of the replacement qualification for the NCALNE (Voc), my summary of the work to date happening on the NZQA side is below:

  • Towards the end of last year the Teacher Education Governance Group, based on a summary of sector feedback recommended that the NZCALNE (Voc) was submitted for “Application to List”. This was published on the NZQA website here.
  • This approval to list was noted here on the NZQA update page for TROQ review of teacher quals.
  • The update also shows the newly drafted NZCALNE (Voc) as worked on by myself and others in the working group with a reference in the file name to the final version being uploaded in Feb 2015.

From the updates on the NZQA website, it looks like everything is in order. But the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly and I don’t expect much to change in the near future.

Normally, there is a significant lead in time when introducing a new qualification to allow providers and others to make adjustments needed to deliver and assess against a replacement.

For now, the current version of the NCALNE (Voc) is still fit for purpose in our view and we’re likely to keep delivering in it’s current format until new arrangements on all sides are finalised.

Four Things I Learned About Education Working With The Army

General Education

A few years ago I had the privilege of working with members of the NZ Army and NZ Defence Forces education team. It was lots of fun being on base and I learned a bunch of things that have really stuck with me over time.

I’m generalising here, so you’ll have to allow me a bit of poetic licence…

1. Working in education is a bit like being in the Army

These days, there’s really only troops and generals. The troops on the ground are the educators on the front lines of foundation education. The generals are the owners, managers, bureaucrats, policy wonks and others involved in the business of education.


2. You’re probably in the troops

Most of us aren’t generals. And the generals know who they are. In fact, if you’re not one of the generals then you have to be in the troops by default.

There are reasons for that. One is that the middle is being sliced out. This is happening in every big bureaucracy. Middle means middle management. Whether it also means middle class is something we’ll find out over the next 10 years. There are implications for this, both good and bad.

Whatever the reason, being in the troops helps explain why it feels (at least sometimes) that you’re on the front lines of a battle.

Middle Management

3. Deadwood gets cut

One implication of all this is that because the middle is being (has been) carved out there aren’t very many options left for you. This means that you can’t afford to be deadwood. If you are, you’ll be cut out. Actually, even if you aren’t they might still cut you out. Which brings me to the last thing…


4. If you want to be employable, you must be deployable

Nothing is guaranteed, but this one should be self explanatory by now. If they (the generals) can deploy you… then you’ve got a job. But the landscape will be different. You might be sent to new places. And you’ll need new strategies AND new tools to fight the good fight.

Improve your literacy and numeracy outcomes by thinking more like an entrepreneur

slippery slope

Here’s my draft abstract for the literacy and numeracy conference later in the year. Tell me what you think or what you’d be most interested in hearing or discussing with this as the general theme (assuming it’s accepted).

Literacy and numeracy is a tough business to work in due to the increasing demands of… well, everything.

Government policy, assessment requirements, administration workload, not to mention living in the most information rich and technologically advanced century in human history make our work in adult literacy and numeracy education increasingly complex.

How do you improve your own outcomes, and those of your learners, AND survive and possibly even thrive in a rapidly changing and seemingly unpredictable tertiary education landscape?

Here’s one possible answer: You might need to think more like an entrepreneur (even if you’re “just” a tutor).

In this workshop, Graeme Smith from ALEC discusses how he’s applied entrepreneurial thinking to his own work in the literacy and numeracy sector in Aotearoa New Zealand. This includes an introduction to some of the digital tools Graeme uses.

Small group discussion will focus on how literacy and numeracy educators can get started on thinking more like entrepreneurs in the business of improving adult literacy and numeracy education outcomes.

NCALNE (Voc) Assessment 1: Walk Through

NCALNE Voc Walk through

How’s it going…? This is part two of your special care package for the NCALNE and assessment 1. It contains additional supporting material that you can dip into as you need to in relation to the first assessment task on the New Zealand Context for Literacy and Numeracy.

The first part is here in case you missed it. What we’ve outlined below relates more specifically to how you might go about writing up your report. If you’re a good writer, or you’re already well underway with your report writing then feel free to ignore this content.

Preparing to write the 1500 word report

Right-oh then…! You’ve signed up for this NCALNE (Voc) training (or perhaps someone has signed you up) and now you have to write a 1500 word report. We’d better just get on with it…

The thing that you need to do first is get ready to do the writing. Do these things in the list below:

  1. Find and read the two checklists that relate to Assessment 1. These are printed in your Assessment Guide or available for download from Pathways Awarua in Assessment Module 1. The first of these checklists relates to the content of your report. The second relates to the structure. The content checklist tells you what you need to cover (e.g. definitions for literacy and numeracy). The structure checklist tells you what features your report should include (e.g. an introduction, body, and summary). Knowing these key points will help you when you do your reading, planning, and composing.
  2. Review the content in Module 1. You can do this by going back through the material in Module 1 in Pathways Awarua, or you can skim Section 1 of the Study Guide if you have a printed copy.
  3. Read in more detail. Go back and read the sections below in more detail. As you read you’ll see web links or references to further material. Check these out for extra bonus points. And yes we can tell if you’ve done extra reading…
    1. Definitions
    2. Initiatives
    3. Reasons and impact
    4. Resources and organisations
  4. Take notes as you read. If you’re working with the printed Study Guide then underline, or use a highlighter as you read.

Brainstorming and planning your report

Ok, by now you should have done your reading and familiarised yourself with both the content and structure of the report. Here’s what you need to do next:

  1. Have a look at the Assessment 1 report template. If you’re in Pathways Awarua this is the Assessment Module that sits below the orange ribbon. If you have the printed Assessment Guide it’s after the checklists in section 1. If you received the last coaching email you should have it as an attachment. If you don’t have it we can email it to you. Just drop us a line: You can also just create your own template as long as you follow the structure we’ve outlined.
  2. Start organising your thoughts and notes. We think that the best way to do this is by using mind maps. If you are not familiar with mind maps you should have a look here at some examples. You will need to organise your thinking around the following parts of the report:
    1. Definitions: What are the similarities and differences between the established definitions for literacy and numeracy? Remember: You don’t have to create your own definitions. Just work with the ones that are there.
    2. Initiatives: What literacy and numeracy initiatives relate to your work or learners?
    3. Reasons and impact: Why do your learners have low literacy and numeracy levels? What does this mean for them? What is the impact on your industry?
    4. Resources and organisations: What literacy and numeracy resources do you already have access to? What organisations can you access that provide literacy and numeracy expertise?
    5. Recommendations: What do you suggest? What’s going to make a difference for you or yourr learners? For your organisation?
  3. Start with an initial brainstorm for each of these key aspects of the report … a kind of brain dump, if you like. Then, start to categorise and organise what you have brainstormed or mindmapped… Use colours, codes, or a key if that helps you. Then do a second brainstorm with the major categories as the new main branches of your new mind map. This reorganisation of your ideas is critical to writing a coherent report that flows well. As you categorise or reorganise your ideas, you should redraw your mindmaps or redraft your lists of key points and subpoints to reflect how you are organising your thoughts.
  4. Put your ideas in order. Once you have got your thoughts and ideas categorised and organised you should put them in order. We’ve already given you a structure for the report… so use it. Start ordering your sub-points. Look for logical structures like “general to specific” or “most important to least important”. You may feel at times that some of this feels a bit arbitrary. It might be… but what you are doing is trying to bring logic and coherence to your scrambled thoughts. It’s obvious who has done this when we read these reports. What matters is that your final report as a good flow.
  5. Write all this up in an outline. Keep in mind the report template… this is really your master outline. But you can outline your key sections, subheadings and information for your paragraphs. Your outline will become your roadmap for writing the report.

Composing your report

Now that you have done your reading and some in-depth planning, it’s time to write your report. If you have done the reading and planning work previously this won’t be too difficult as you’ve got your roadmap (the outline) to work from.

If you are struggling here, you will need to go back to the previous sections and see what you’ve missed. If you are ready to go:

  1. Revisit the report template. This is your master outline and writing frame. You should be clear by now about what you are going to write in each of the sections, and what the structure of the report looks like.
  2. Check out the model report. There’s a model report available from us if you want. This is to give you an idea of what we’re expecting. Email us if you don’t have it already.
  3. Divide your writing time into bursts. Focus on “just writing” to start with and don’t worry about editing. Seriously… put all that stuff about sentence structure and spelling out of your head. We’ll deal with that in the last section.
    1. Definitions: This is basically a regurgitation of the same definitions provided in Module 1 and the Study Guide. Start by just typing these in. Make sure you reference them. Also, you do need to provide some commentary around what you see as the major similarities and differences between the four definitions provided. The best way to do this is to focus on the differences between the three TEC definitions versus the Māori literacy definition.
    2. Initiatives: We think that it makes sense to start this section by summarising some key data from the ALLS survey to give a sense of the bigger picture for the country. This is one good way of setting the scene. ALLS is also a major literacy and numeracy initiative. You should then follow this up with a couple of initiatives that relate to you and the work you do. You can always add this course of study as one of the initiatives if you are short on ideas.
    3. Reasons and impact: Pick several key reasons and several key impacts from your planning and write these up. It’s always better for us if you connect these with your own learners or work context. Write from your experience here.
    4. Resources and organisations: If you can’t think of any resources or you don’t know of any… read up on the Learning Progressions and summarise. Also, feel free to write up ALEC as an organisation here. Otherwise, just write up one resource you know about and one organisation that fits the bill.
    5. Recommendations: Sure you’ve just started this course of study, but you probably already have some strong ideas about what you and your organisation could (or should) be doing. Write from your perspective as a tutor.

Revising and editing your report

Ok… at this point, what you probably have is a draft. From here you need to revise and edit this draft. Basically, you want to polish up your report so it looks good and reads well. Here are some practical things that you can do:

  1.  Go back to the content and structure checklists we mentioned earlier. If you can tick everything then it’s probably all good…!
  2.  Read your report out loud to yourself. This will feel weird if you’ve done this before, but if you find that some sentences are difficult to read, then this is probably an indication that you need to revise them. Put a circle around them and read on. You can come back to them later.
  3.  Ask someone else to read your report and give you some feedback. This could be a colleague or family member. As an interested non-expert, they’ll quickly tell you what makes sense and what doesn’t. Feedback here can be in relation to content or structure. It’s easier for another person to spot a missing apostrophe or misused comma than it is for you.
  4. Other guidelines:
    1. Identify the main point, purpose, or idea of a sentence or paragraph. Move it to the beginning if it’s not already there.
    2. Root out passive voice. Passive voice is easy to identify. Look for one of the forms of BE plus the VERB ending in -en or –ed E.g. am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been plus the -en or -ed word. E.g. is requested, were eaten. Change these sentences to active voice. It’s fine to use “I”, “we”, “he”, “she”, or “they”.
    3. Find long or unnecessary words or jargon. Change to simple words of three syllables or less.
    4. Avoid long sentences. Cut long sentences into shorter sentences of less than 15 words.
    5. Avoid long paragraphs. Split up your long paragraphs. They should be less than 2 cm deep on the page or no more than roughly 5 sentences as a rule.
    6. Watch out for any distracting spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Ask someone, use a spell checker, find a dictionary, or look online for help.

Submit the final version

Just a hint: you’ll probably never feel 100% happy with your writing. But if you’ve done everything required in terms of content and structure, stop fussing, just check the word count one last time, and either hit submit if you’re in Pathways Awarua at the end of the Assessment 1 template. Or just email the final version to us here:

Getting started on assessment 1 of the NCALNE (Voc) with ALEC: 2015 Update

NCALNE Voc Assessment 1

This is part one of a two part special care package of extra supporting material that you can dip into as you need to relating to Assessment 1 and the New Zealand Context for Literacy and Numeracy.

This post updates any earlier support information relating to Assessment 1 the NCALNE (Voc).

Saving trees by not printing the NCALNE (Voc) Unit Standards

First though, just a quick note: we have stopped printing some items like the NZQA unit standards that we assess you against as well as some of the readings. The reason for this is that we found that people weren’t actually reading these resources.

Skip this short section if you don’t care about the unit standards. If you want them we’d encourage you to go to the links below and download them. Just read them on your computer.

Think about whether you need to print them out as the details are reproduced in a more useable format in your ALEC Assessment Guide.

The National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace) has 40 credits at level 5. Unit Standards 21204, 21196 and 9685 make up the 40 credits of the NCALNE (Voc).

Template for Assessment 1: NZ Context

We can send you the Word Doc template for the report which is Assessment 1. This is the same as the online template in Pathways Awarua. If you want to use it you should do a “save as” onto your computer and type straight into it.

Here are a few other bits and pieces. Some of this will take you to Pathways Awarua or this blog which is where the most up-to-date information is at the moment. Here you go…

Pathways Awarua

Make sure that you are registered to use Pathways Awarua. The latest version of our entire ALEC course for the NCALNE (Voc) is now online in the Pathways Awarua platform. It’s free to register if you haven’t already.

  • There are instructions here on what to do to register. Contact to use our ALEC join code and go straight to Step 2 of this process. Once you’ve registered may have to complete a couple of short modules on how to use the Pathways platform and then you’ll have access to all of the content modules for the NCALNE (Voc) as well as two of the Assessment modules. If you want to know more about how the NCALNE (Voc) works on Pathways watch this short YouTube Clip.
  • Remember: You can complete Assessment 1 via the word template OR via the online assessment template for Module 1. If you’re working on in Pathways Awarua for your assessment tasks, if you haven’t already you will also need to complete the online ENROL module before you can submit your work to us through Pathways Awarua.

Don’t forget the printed matter

Don’t forget to review what’s in your ALEC Study Guide and Assessment Guide if you have the printed versions. It’s easy to overlook this, but your Study Guide, Assessment Guide, and any readings that we’ve sent you contain everything that you need to complete the assessment for this part of the course.

  • Take notes or highlight while you skim the section relating to the NZ context.

Assessment 1 requirements

Familiarise yourself with the requirements for Assessment 1. You can listen to me talking through the assessment tasks in short audio-only podcasts here on his blog.

All the assessment podcasts are on the same page on the blog so scroll down to the audio for Assessment 1, click it and listen to it. If you have a smartphone these podcasts will run on your phone if you have a data plan or are in Wi-fi. These audio files are also in the Pathways Awarua Assessment Modules.

Questions to ask yourself while you’re reading and thinking

Good readers always have good questions when they’re reading. Ask yourself the following questions as you work your way through the material.

  1. Definitions: What are the established definitions for adult literacy and numeracy? What’s an embedded approach? What about from a Maori perspective?
  2. Initiatives: What are some of the historic and current initiatives that are relevant to your training and learners?
  3. Reasons and impact: Why do we have low levels of adult literacy and numeracy? And what’s the impact of this on learners, study, work, communities, industry, and the nation?
  4. Resources and organisations: What resources are out there to help strengthen adult literacy and numeracy? What organisations?
  5. Recommendations: What do you think would make a difference? What would you suggest to address the issues around low adult literacy and numeracy in relation to your work?

Other resources and reading

Here’s some other things you can do to get started on this first assessment.

  1. Watch the short YouTube clips on the New Zealand Context on our ALEC Youtube Channel. You can access the playlist for Assessment 1 here.
  2. Work your way through Content Module 1 on the New Zealand Context in Pathways Awarua. You’ll have to do some reading and some writing, but there are some interactions as well. Working your way through this module will set you up for the assessment task. This content is the same as the latest ALEC Study Guide for the NCALNE (Voc).
  3. Read the brief overview of Literacy and Numeracy in New Zealand by John Benseman. It’s a PDF download that you can find here and a good overview that builds on what we discussed.
  4. Read up on the various TEC funded national initiatives that support literacy and numeracy. Full text is here from the TEC in their own words.
  5. Find out more about the State of the Nation with regards to national literacy and numeracy surveys including the current PIAAC and the 2006 ALLS.

Getting started on Assessment 1

Remember you’ve got two choices: EITHER you can click on the Assessment Module 1 in Pathways Awarua and do it online. The Assessment modules are below the orange ribbon (the content modules are above the ribbon). OR you can work from the template in the ALEC Assessment Guide and attached below.

If you’re not sure what to do then get in touch with us. Hit reply and send an email to or ring or txt Graeme. Email us if you need Graeme’s mobile number.

We can support you further with:

  • Guidance around how to write a report
  • A model in terms of what we’re expecting for your response
  • Extra information as needed

When you’re finished

When you’re finished, make sure you do a final proof read. Then send your completed assessment task to us at Well… that’s all for now. Stay in touch.

How do you survive as a teacher or tutor in a rapidly changing education landscape?

Happy place

So… what to do about it? If you’re like me you probably think a lot about what you need to do to survive and hopefully thrive in a rapidly changing educational landscape.

Or if you don’t think about it you should…

You can hide for a while from the massive changes ahead for work, education, and play, but it’s better to do it on your own terms.

The answer, or at least, the answer for me, is this:

  • think more like an entrepreneur in the weird world of education.

This means that you’re on the path to becoming an edupreneur. Yes, it’s a word.

Having your own education business is not a prerequisite to thinking like an entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter where you fit in the organisation, you can start thinking more like an entrepreneur.

How do you do this? It’s about changing your mindset for starters. And the simplest way to do that is to start using the some of the tools that entrepreneurs use to manage and do their work.

What kinds of tools am I talking about? You want use tools that enable you do these things:

  1. Use cloud-based technologies: Often we do need physical time in physical locations with physical learners. But what about your other work including admin tasks? Are you set up to do this from anywhere? Can you cut the chain to your desk? Can you cut the chain to your laptop? What tools do you need to do this?
  2. Seek customer feedback: This sounds basic. But what feedback do you get from your learners and others in your sphere of influence. How do you know that what you’re delivering is any good? Does your evaluation process give you any useful information?
  3. Iterate your education product: The best products, including education products have been through, and continue to go through countless iterations – that is, cycles of change and tweaking and improvement. This is where high quality feedback from your learners and others is critical if you want to rise above the plateau of mediocracy that plagues much of education. These innovation cycles can be small, but they are necessary if you want to create
  4. Develop and publish audio content: Can you create rich audio content for your learners? How do you feel about listening to the sound of your own voice? As a 21st century educator you need to feel comfortable with the sound of your own voice. Do you know how to record digital audio content? Have you ever listened to a podcast? Could you podcast chunks of your content? What tools do you need to do this?
  5. Develop and publish video content: Can you create rich video content for your learners that they can access anywhere anytime? Do you know how to record digital video content, edit it, and upload it to Youtube and other platforms? What tools do you need for this?
  6. Communicate without relying on Email: Email is horribly broken for most people who work in any kind of bureaucracy. What alternatives do you have to email for communications? Can you message your learners or your team? How do you broadcast key messages from your organisation? What about key messages from you personally? What’s the best platform? How can you engage your learners in a conversation outside of face-to-face interactions and email? Again, what tools do you need here?

Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 for each of the above… Any thoughts?