My Luggage Fetish Part 5 – Saddleback Leather Bags


As far as addictions go, this one ain’t so bad. Plus I don’t have the money to indulge.

It all started with Laptop and Gadget Bags. From there I moved on to Duffel Bags and Backpacks and other new bags from some of my favourite makers.

Lately, though I’ve become fascinated by hand stitched leather goods like journal covers.

It turns out that there are some pretty cool leather bags around including full on suitcases. They are not cheap, though.

Here’s a sample from one of my favourite sites for wasting time: Saddleback Leather. Their byline is “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead”.

Comes with a 100-year warranty. This stuff wears in, not out.

Leather Briefcases Like This One


Amazing Leather Backpacks Like This


Incredible Duffels Like This One


All this hand stitched goodness makes me want to buy some tools and see if I can make some of this gear myself.

Probably, I need to start with something simple, though. Like being able to sew in a straight line.

NCALNE (Voc) for TESOL with Pathways Awarua

go places on PA

Do you teach ESOL? Are You Supposed To Have The NCALNE (Voc)?

If you teach ESOL in a course funded by the TEC, you may need to complete the NCALNE (Voc) qualification.

The reason for this is the TEC conditions attached to the funding. These aren’t negotiable, but we now have a solution for TESOL teachers.

  • Are you an experienced and qualified TESOL teacher?
  • Do you need to complete the NCALNE (Voc)?

In partnership with Pathways Awarua, ALEC is now trialling an NCALNE (Voc) TESOL option.

This option combines professional development work and assessment on Pathways Awarua with a portfolio of ESOL-specific evidence.

Want to know more?

NCALNE (Voc) – TESOL option: Questions & Answers


The other day I mentioned that we’re investigating an NCALNE (Voc) option for trained and experienced TESOL teachers. We’re now ready to trial this.

Here are a few Q & A that I’ve tried to anticipate:

I’m already TESOL trained. Why do I have to have the NCALNE (Voc) qualification?

  • It depends on the funding that your organisation receives. In NZ, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is the government agency that funds most tertiary training. Different funds have different conditions attached. Some TEC funding contracts require teachers to have the National Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education (Vocational). Most courses at level 2 and below require tutors to have the NCALNE (Voc) as a minimum qualification. There is more information here.

I feel frustrated that the TEC does not recognise my TESOL qualifications and experience. I don’t want to get another qualification. Why should I bother?

  • Graeme Smith from ALEC was an ESOL teacher before he started ALEC to deliver the NCALNE (Voc). He taught here and overseas for 10 years before switching to literacy and numeracy. Graeme’s aware of the issues. And this process is optional. We’ve tried to design a solution that works for TESOL teachers, the TEC, and NZQA.

Can I just send you a copy of my CV and qualifications? Can’t you just have a look at these and sign off the NCALNE?

  • Sorry, no. We need to make sure we follow a robust process for this. To meet NZQA criteria, we need you to supply evidence for each qualification outcome. This is to prove that you know and do the things specified in the outcomes. But we can help you interpret these outcomes from an ESOL perspective. And you’ll need to send us your brief CV and qualifications as part of your portfolio of evidence anyway.

How much does it cost to get the NCALNE (Voc)?

  • The TEC subsidises the cost of the NCALNE (Voc). But they don’t cover 100%. In 2015, ALEC is charging a per-candidate fee of $750 + GST. We don’t discount this. And this pricing will most likely increase in 2016. But we are offering the following: Because this is new for us, you can try the process out for free up until the point that we tell you we’re ready to request your credential from the NZQA. This means we will assess your evidence portfolio and work with you at no initial cost. If you’re not happy, you walk away at any stage. We’ll bill your organisation at the end of the process provided everyone is happy.

What’s the process for this?

  • Our process has two parts. One is a portfolio of evidence and attestation from you that meets the outcome requirements. To complete this you’ll need to have a manager or supervisor verify the evidence that you compile and submit.  We want you to supply ESOL specific evidence from your normal teaching practice wherever possible.

    The other thing is that you’ll need to complete two of our regular assessments. These are available on The portfolio evidence relates to outcomes 3 to 7 from the NCALNE (Voc). And the regular NCALNE assessments relate to outcomes 1 and 2. You can do these in any order, but we recommend that you complete assessments 1 and 2 first.

What are the seven NCALNE (Voc) outcomes?

  1. NZ context (Pathways Awarua NCALNE Assessment 1)
  2. Maori context (Pathways Awarua NCALNE Assessment 2)
  3. Knowing the demands (Portfolio)
  4. Knowing the learner (Portfolio)
  5. Knowing what to do (Portfolio)
  6. Assessing progress (Portfolio)
  7. Evaluating (Portfolio)

I don’t want to compile a portfolio of evidence. Can I just do the course the regular way

How do I access the NCALNE (Voc) content for assessments 1 and 2?

  • It’s online here: First, you need to register as an educator on the website. Contact us for our ALEC join code. Second, you need to complete the ENROL module. We’ll send you more info once you’re enrolled.

How do I put together my portfolio for outcomes 3 to 7

  • We have instructions and a template that we’ll send you. We’re committed to keeping this paperwork minimal. We’ve designed the shortest template for this we can. It’s four pages long. This one document combines your portfolio checklist, your candidate attestation, and your verifier sign-off. Your evidence is on top of that, of course.

What kind of evidence can I submit?

  • You are free to choose the kind of evidence that you submit as well as the format that you submit it in. This applies to each of outcomes 3 to 7. We’ve listed some possible sources of evidence in the checklist. We want you to choose evidence that relates to your ESOL context. We’re happy to discuss this with you as you need to.

What if I can’t supply the right kind of evidence? I’m worried there might be gaps?

  • We think that ESOL teachers routinely do many, if not all of the things required by Outcomes 3 to 7. If we think there is a gap in your portfolio evidence we’ll get in touch with you and talk about it. We might ask you to send additional material. or we might ask you to complete a particular task to generate the evidence we need. We’re on your side here and we want this process to work.

Where should I add comments or notes?

  • You can use any format you like for this. For example, you can email us or create a separate word document for any notes or commentary that you want to add. The main thing is that you label everything clearly so we can connect these to the correct outcomes. Also, please send supporting notes or commentary electronically to  

My supervisor or manager wants to add comments. How do they do this?

  • As above, any format is fine as long as it is clearly marked with the name of the supervisor or manager, as well as the outcome that it relates to. We would like to encourage you to seek this feedback from your managers and include them in the process as much as possible.

    Try and anticipate our questions. If a piece of evidence might seem unclear to us, comments from your manager may help us make the connection to the outcome more easily. This will speed up the process for all of us.

TESOL Option for NCALNE (Voc): Anyone Interested?


Here’s another experiment… an NCALNE (Voc) qualification option for experienced and trained teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

This might apply to you (or someone you know) if you are in this kind of situation:

  • You teach an ESOL course that is funded by the TEC. Examples might include SAC1 and 2 funded training, Intensive Literacy and Numeracy (ILN), or Workplace Literacy (WPL).
  • A condition of funding is that tutors must have the NCALNE (Voc) qualification.

Our NCALNE (Voc) option for teachers in this context might work for you if you also meet these conditions

  • You have existing TESOL experience and qualifications
  • Your teaching practice includes your own TESOL-specific versions of the kinds of evidence that we’re looking for.
  • You’re prepared to compile a portfolio of this evidence and complete a couple of stand-alone assessments so that we can ensure that you meet all of the qualification requirements.

Interested…? Hit me up in the comments. I’m going to need some people to trial the process and see if it’s viable.

Do you want to help review the ALNE or ATT unit standards?


The NZQA is inviting expressions of interest to below to the unit standards review panel for the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (ALNE) and others in similar domains.

I’ve pasted in their recent letter below. There are contact emails at the end of the letter


Kia ora tātou

In October 2015 the New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s National Qualifications Services (NQS) will begin the review of Level 4-6 unit standards currently listed on the Directory of Assessment Standards (DAS) in the following subfields: Adult Education and Training (including Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education) and Generic Education and Training.

The domains to be considered in this review are:

Adult Education and Training

  • Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (ALNE)
  • Delivery of Adult Education and Training
  • Design and Development of Adult Education and Training
  • Evaluation in Adult Education and Training
  • Management of Adult Education and Training

Generic Education and Training

  • Assessment of Learning 

This review is the result of the development of proposed qualifications in Adult and Tertiary Teaching (ATT) at Levels 4-6. It reflects the need to both ensure that existing standards remain fit for purpose, and also that there is a suite of unit standards suitable for those who wish to use them as assessment tools in programmes towards the proposed new qualifications.

You are receiving this notification because you and/or your organisation:

  • reported credit against existing Adult Education and Training (including ALNE) and Generic Education and Training unit standards
  • are an organisation with an interest in either of the above subfields
  • have registered an interest in this area, and/or
  • have been recommended to us as possibly willing to contribute to the project.

We invite expressions of interest by close of business on Wednesday, 28 October 2015 to be on one of the review panels or the email consultation networks for the following areas:

  • Adult Education and Training and Generic Education and Training
  • Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education.

Review panels

The panels will be scheduled to meet initially on 17-18 November 2015. There will be at least two further two-day, face-to-face meetings (including a meeting in December) to continue the unit standard development and review process. This is likely to be followed by several shorter meetings in 2016 by teleconference or Skype, so access to appropriate equipment will be useful.

The review panels will be made up of people who, in Adult Education and Training, and Generic Education and Training and/or Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education, have:

  • expertise in teaching
  • experience in assessment, design and moderation of unit standards
  • involvement in capability related projects, reviews and programme implementation
  • a commitment to the use of unit standards as assessment awards in programmes
  • a commitment to open communication, collaborative problem solving, and team work.

The panels will have balanced representation from across the community and education sector. Members of the review panels will be paid a sitting fee, and travel and accommodation expenses will be met by NZQA.

Application to be a panel review member can be made by completing the attached form and sending it to either: or

Email consultation network

The email consultation network will receive updates on progress between meetings and be given opportunity to comment on issues and drafts of the unit standards prior to and after national consultation.

If you have received this email directly then you are already on the email consultation network. For those who would like to join, please reply to the relevant email address and express your interest.


Any feedback or interpretation issues with the current Adult Education and Training and Generic Education and Training unit standards that might inform the review panels can be forwarded to: or

Please distribute this message through your own networks to anybody who may be interested. For more information, please see Review of ALNE and ATT unit standards.

Nākū noa, nā

Amy Buckland and Annie Chan

Qualifications Development Facilitators

Qualifications Services


Four Tools For Building Cool Stuff Online: Or How To Start Thinking Outside The Box


I went to the Supercharge conference the other day in Wellington. This was a business conference… nothing to do with literacy, numeracy or even education (I know… thank goodness right…?)

Lots of cool stuff. The coolest though was the 40-minute presentation by Justin Wilcox of Customer Development Labs.

At the start of his presentation, he said that in the 40 minutes that he had to speak he was going to do the following:

  1. Come up with a product idea.
  2. Get some customer feedback.
  3. Build a website
  4. Launch the product

Considering that by the time he had said all this he only had about 35 minutes left I think we were all rather skeptical.

But he pulled it off. And these were the tools that he used:

1. Customer Discovery Ninja

Just this on its own was very cool to see in action. The Customer Discovery Ninja is a tool that allows you to connect to potential customers in North America. They sign up because they have time on their hands and get a small reward for participating.

Justin had decided that he wanted to create some kind of Fitness Tracking App, so he had selected various categories and subcategories in the Customer Discovery Ninja. And ended up with something relating to fitness, weight loss, and diet as the key areas.

From there, he opened the phone line and waited for the call. 10 minutes later someone connected and we listened to him interview a guy in New York who was struggling with diet and weight loss issues.

After a few minutes, it was clear that what this guy needed was not a fitness tracking app, but some kind of product that allowed him to track what was working when it came to diet.

So based on the dialogue, Justin switched away from his initial idea to the diet tracking idea. And then he had about 10 minutes left to do everything else.

2. Instapage

And this is mostly what he used: Instapage. Within about 2 minutes, he had built two landing pages for his new product. Instapage allows you to create web pages via drag and drop.

And then he  created an alternate version of the page so that you could do A/B testing. Instapage makes this really easy. I haven’t tried any of this yet, but based on the demo I think it’s all doable.

3. Powtoon

From here, Justin wanted to jazz up the landing page a bit with a short animated video. For this he used Powtoon. Powtoon advertises itself as an alternative to Powerpoint. It;s drag and drop like Powerpoint or Keynote, but you end up with a animation at the end.

So another 2 minutes to create a short animation. And then he imported this into the Instapage landing pages.

4. Celery

Finally, he wanted a button on the landing page to take pre-orders for the product. So he used Celery for this. Celery is very simple. It’s just a button for taking credit card information for pre-orders. Buyers don’t get charged until your product launches.

And then he launched it.

So Justin didn’t actually create the product, but he did something that was in line with the lean startup method: Come up with a minimal viable product idea and then see if anyone would buy it.

From here, he would be able to take pre-orders to fund the development of the actual product.

It was fast and dirty. But it was impressive.

Justin practises what he preaches as well. And you can have a look at his series of books on how to implement this kind of thinking at his website here: The Focus Framework.

This stuff is cool. I wish I knew this when I started in business. Talking to Justin afterwards, he said that everyone wishes the same thing. And that we all come to these conclusions late.

In my field, we tend to be good at what we do. But this is only in terms of our technical skills. We get professional development and training in these areas.

But we are often rubbish at the skills we need to use our technical skills to build and run a sustainable business. We don’t know how to make a buck… to put it in crude terms.

Most of all, I think we need this kind of thinking in education: Customer validation, lean startup methodology, designing a minimum viable product, product testing.

And then quickly pivoting when it’s obvious that something isn’t working. Unfortunately, the regulatory environment (both TEC and NZQA) act in ways that run counter to this kind of thinking.

This is not their fault. But it’s time to start thinking outside the box.

Really thinking outside the box.

Red Peak: How To Compare The Different Flag Choices

Redpeak montage

So my bro Simon allegedly started the Red Peak social media campaign. I already linked to his first post about this here.

And after flying Red Peak at half mast for a few days (after we thought all was lost), it was great to see that those in power changed their minds.

Now it looks certain that Red Peak will be one of the options in the flag referendum. This is good news. And means that we can now choose between some actual choices instead of the variations on the silver fern.

And just a note on this: You can like Red Peak, AND still love the Silver Fern (just not want it on a national flag).

What I wanted to see, and what Simon has now put together, is a visual comparison between the different flag choices. With some notes on good design.

  • Please: You can read it in full here. It will take you under 4 minutes and you’ll get an easy-to-read tutorial in good design (not just good flag design).

Simon’ lists 5 questions to ask yourself when you’re looking at the flag choices (or arguing with your old stubborn relatives).

Each of these he backs up with illustrations and a visual comparison between the five options. They’re all laid out side by side. Anyway, here are the questions:

  1. Does it look like a flag?
  2. Does it play nicely with others?
  3. Does it work at scale?
  4. Does it use pure design?
  5. Does it create stories?

If this all still sounds a bit abstract, then don’t just read this. Click through and have a look at the various choices side by side. And consider the design questions as you do.

And if that’s not enough to convince you (or the relatives) then check out this Ted Talk on what makes a good (and bad) flag. It’s totally unrelated to Red Peak, but it does give some great (and similar) advice. Hint: Apparently, Americans have a lot of really crappy regional flags…

Or just hit play below