The other day I listed a bunch of reasons why you need to punch literacy and numeracy in the face.
Today I want to tell you how to be the Ronda Rousey of adult literacy and numeracy education.
Some of this you can do on your own. Mostly, though you need to do this as an team inside an organisation.
That makes it hard. This is mainly because people are idiots.
I’m kidding (don’t quote me out of context please). People aren’t idiots, but this is a niche inside a niche so you have to have a deep understanding of how things work across a bunch of different dimensions. And you’ll have to work hard to pull it off.
But if you (and your team) can master these 7 areas, I think you could totally dominate this field. You could rip the arms off literacy and numeracy and throw them in the corner.
This is from my reflection and experience so I’m happy to be wrong. If you think differently and have some better ideas please let me know in the comments.
Here’s my take on the critical success factors that need to be in place if you want to totally dominate this market:
- You need the right team. This is not rocket science. But you do need the right team including subject area experts with deep domain knowledge. This team needs to include the key thought leaders in the sector at the present time. I think this means a (mostly) younger team of people aligned to a strong vision for literacy and numeracy in the 21st century.
- You need access to TEC funding. Access to dedicated literacy and numeracy funding streams. This includes a spread of funding across all aspects of literacy and numeracy provision including ALEG, ILN, and WPL as well as probably SAC funding for courses where literacy and numeracy are supposed to be embedded as part of “business as usual”. It goes without saying that you also need a good relationship with the TEC. There is no point going to war with your funding agency. This is called “cutting off your nose to spite your face”.
- You need to be able to deliver the right outcomes. This means meeting and exceeding TEC requirements for showing progress in Assessment Tool results, embedding LN into business as usual operations, and minimum professional development of staff, i.e the NCALNE (Voc).
- You need a strong professional development focus. If the sector was in its infancy prior to the $167 million investment of the TEC, then we must now be nearing the end of our adolescence. However, there is still a huge amount of work to be done to upskill tutors and trainers at every level, but especially those teaching at Levels 1 and 2 or in Foundation Learning programmes. Vocational training programmes around the country see massive amounts of churn when it comes to tutors. This area needs immediate attention, especially due to the requirements of the TEC in regards to Section 159 of the Education Act 1989 where these tutors are required to hold the NCALNE (Voc) as a minimum qualification. This is where you need to really to punch literacy and numeracy in the face.
- You need to create new knowledge. We need to build on the existing infrastructure and knowledge to create new knowledge, new content, new qualifications, new courses, new research, new processes and new systems for increasing our learners’ literacy and numeracy levels. This is not just in order to meet compliance requirements and avoid financial penalties, but to contribute to the wider education goals of our country.
- You need to set up scalable systems. Most of the way we currently do education is not set up to scale. This is true of the teaching as well as the systems that exist behind the scenes. For example, the success that ALEC has enjoyed with the NCALNE (Voc) training is due in part to the project management approach we use behind the scenes. Rather than a regular student management system we have adapted and refined a cloud-based project management system for our own specific purposes. Each candidate is a project within the larger system and we can track and assign every step along the learning journey from enrolment through training through to digital archiving at the end. Our course now sits inside Pathways Awarua in an online learning environment. Both of these systems are massively scalable.
- You need an entrepreneurial approach. There are multiple untapped opportunities for the right team to exploit and develop in order to reduce the impact of reliance on TEC funding. While these funding streams are the bread and butter of our work, they always represent a risk to some degree. Potential opportunities:
- Resources: The development of commercial education related resources and materials for sale nationally and internationally is one way to develop an alternative income stream. This needs an online business model, probably with some kind of freemium/premium approach and contextualised to the vocational areas that need the support.
- Training: The development and packaging of literacy and numeracy related intellectual property including training and qualifications for sale internationally is another opportunity. Our literacy and numeracy professional development qualifications are unique in the world and could provide the vehicle to export the wider infrastructure. This is untapped potential although I’m aware that people have been talking about it.
- Consulting: Investigating opportunities for international consulting around the unique approach we have which incorporates indigenous pedagogies with adult literacy and numeracy education and professional development is another potential opportunity. The NCALNE (Voc) is a case study how to bring together these various elements in an effective way. Again, this is untapped international potential.
- Approach: Approaching education through an entrepreneurial lens in general. This means looking for practical solutions to all aspects of the work through effective use of technology and creative thinking. We’re still largely stuck in a 20th century model of doing education and we don’t really know what is going to work moving forward. However, we need space to try (and fail) at a whole range of different things if we want to start seeing different results.