What’s the problem? Technology


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The impact of technology and the accelerating technological change is one of the themes that often comes up in discussions about why we face literacy and numeracy problems in the 21st century.

The relentless march of technology and increasing technological complexity mean that the demands of work and life have changed significantly in recent years compared to previous generations.

Adult learners today face literacy and numeracy demands today that simply did not exist before. Or at least they did not exist in the same way due to the increasing integration of computers, mobile devices, and the internet in our daily lives and work.

This change is highly visible and means that we all need to develop new “literacies” including digital literacy in order to keep learning and address gaps that could emerge between the “technologically” rich and poor.

Your learners are likely to be at a disadvantage if they can’t access online resources and services for work or daily life.

Some questions to think about

Let’s pause for a few moments. The questions below are not assessed, but thinking about your answers to them will help you with the assessment task.

  1. What impact has technology had on your trade or industry?
  2. What about the impact on how you teach or assess?
  3. What can you do to help encourage digital literacy?

Low adult literacy and numeracy levels: What’s causing the problem?


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It’s difficult to say exactly what is causing the problem of low adult literacy and numeracy in Aotearoa New Zealand. What we can say though is that low adult literacy and numeracy skills are associated with certain kinds of things.

Just because two things happen together doesn’t always mean that one causes the other. This is an easy mistake to make. In technical terms, we can say this: “Correlation does not imply causation.”

So the point is to be a bit cautious when we’re talking about what we think is causing the problem.

That said, here’s a list of things that often pop up when we talk about what’s causing low skills in the adult population in literacy and numeracy:

  • The impact of colonisation.
  • Socio-economic factors.
  • Cycles of poverty.
  • Poor teaching.
  • Technology.

We’ll have a look at each of these next.

Literacy and numeracy definitions: What’s the difference?


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Similarities and differences

We’ve looked a few different meanings for literacy and numeracy. Now we need to look at how these definitions are the same or different. This is so that you can see how they apply to your teaching or to your learners.

Knowing the similarities and differences is going to help you decide what aspects of each you want to absorb into your own approach. That’s one of the things that is going to help you teach better. So while it’s the application that counts, for starters you need to think about some of the differences.

Just like you need to figure out what’s relevant for your context, you need to figure out what you think the similarities and differences are.

Here are some questions to keep in mind as you work through this process.

Literacy

  • Is the focus just on literacy?
  • People who have good literacy skills behave in certain ways. What does this behaviour look like?

Numeracy

  • Is the focus just on numeracy?
  • People who have good numeracy skills also behave differently to people who don’t. What does this behaviour look like?

Literacy and Numeracy

  • Is there a focus on both literacy and numeracy?
  • We’re most interested in the definition for embedded literacy and numeracy. There are reasons for that. What do you think they are?

Holistic

  • Is there a more holistic approach? Where does this come from?
  • How can a more holistic definition of literacy, such as from Māori and Pasifika help us in our teaching?

Economics

  • Definitions that come from government funding agencies are likely to have economic drivers. This means that under the surface there are likely to be economic incentives behind the drive to encourage and strengthen literacy and numeracy in the population.
  • Let’s assume that this is a good thing. What’s the motivation?

Social

  • Are there social consequences?
  • In other words, if we adopt a particular focus to literacy and numeracy, how can this make our communities better or worse?

Political

  • When leaders talk about literacy and numeracy in a national context – even if they don’t say so – which definition(s) are they likely to be referring to?
  • What kind of political action do you think is associated with this?

ESOL

  • Does it incorporate English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)?
  • If this is not already relevant for you, how could it be important in the future?

Time to do some work

Let’s pause for a few moments. Here’s your task:

  • Download the PDF worksheet, or use the chart below to make notes on how the six definitions we’ve discussed are similar or different.
  • Make sure you think about the questions above.

This task is not assessed, but it will help you with your assessment.

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Teach better – What is embedded literacy and numeracy?


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What’s the definition?

Embedded literacy and numeracy means

Combining the development of literacy and numeracy with vocational and other skills (p.5).

Where does this definition come from?

Tertiary Education Commission (2013). Adult Literacy and Numeracy: An Overview of the Evidence, Annotated Bibliography’. Wellington: TEC

What are some key features?

Literacy and numeracy skills

  • Are contextualised to the programme. In other words, it’s not literacy and numeracy for everything. It’s literacy and numeracy for farming. Or agriculture. Or employment skills. Or whatever it is that you teach.
  • Provide learners with competence, confidence and motivation to success in the vocational or other training programme.
  • Are embedded at the level of the learner, programme and organisation.

How is this definition relevant to my teaching context?

This is relevant because it gets to the heart of what this professional development is about. In other words, how to mix in the kinds of literacy and numeracy learning that your learners need to really succeed at your course.

It’s also relevant because this is what the TEC wants and funds you to do. It’s just business as usual. But don’t forget that the motivation behind this is a good one. The embedded approach is backed up with research that says it works better for you and your learners.

Contextualising and integrating literacy and numeracy means your teaching becomes more relevant, more helpful for your learners. You’ll teach better. Learners are complex bundles of motivations. Much of the time you can’t control all the variables. But the idea here is that you can start with what you can control. That’s your approach to teaching.

Learners are complex bundles of motivations. Much of the time you can’t control all the variables. But the idea here is that you can start with what you can control. That’s your approach to teaching.

Your approach is internal to you. And you have complete access to yourself. There might be limitations in terms of resources you have to use or coursework that you have to get through. But you can choose how to approach these things.

And that’s powerful. Harness that power and you can teach better and in new ways.

You can’t know what state your learners will be in when they show up next week on Monday (or even if they will show up). But by taking an embedded approach you can set up the best conditions for learning to happen. That makes you a better teacher.

How do I teach better?


theres-a-better-way-to-teachThat’s my question for this year. And hopefully for you as well.

Stay tuned…

NZCALNE (Voc) Course Approval Granted By NZQA


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Good news…! It’s taken longer than we expected, but following the release of the new standards for Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education the other day, NZQA has now granted our course approval.

This means that we can now start on the course development work for the latest update to the most popular qualification for literacy and numeracy professional development.

This will include new content for the online version of our training on Pathways Awarua.

Please note the name change

  • From: National Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace) or NCALNE (Voc).
  • To: New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace) or NZCALNE (Voc).

Also, the current version of the qualification – the NCALNE (Voc) – is still fit for purpose for the next two years. By this, I mean that it’s still fine for providers to deliver training and assess against the existing qualification and standards for the next two years.

By this, I mean that it’s still fine for providers to deliver training and assess against the existing qualification and standards for the next two years. After this time, the existing qualification (like the version before it), will be deleted, and providers will no longer be able to award it.

If you already hold the existing version of the qualification or an older one, you will still meet the TEC compliance requirements. You won’t need to do it again.

However, we are creating new knowledge in the sector all the time. It’s up to you to stay current with what’s happening in the sector.

The design of our new programme will reflect the latest thinking and research. Even if you’ve already finished the NCALNE (Voc), you may want to have a look at the content modules to make sure that you are current.

As they are now for the NCALNE (Voc), the content modules for the NZCALNE (Voc) will be freely available on Pathways Awarua. TEC funding and the top-up fees for participants won’t kick in until you official enrol and complete the first couple of assessments.

Lots of things are not changing:

  • 40 credits
  • Level 5
  • Required TEC compliance for SAC 1 and 2 as well as WPL and ILN funded training.
  • Online via www.PathwaysAwarua.com.

There are a few subtle differences, though, and I’ll post a breakdown of how we’re going to structure the new version of the course programme shortly.

If you’re in the middle of the current version of the qualification, your best course of action is to continue with it and complete it before the end of the year.

More to follow soon. Any questions, please let me know in the comments.

New Adult Literacy and Numeracy Standards Released for the New Qualifications


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Well, it’s taken a while… but it’s finally official. Here’s what you need to know:

  • We have a new suite of unit standards for adult literacy and numeracy education.
  • These new standards are for the new qualifications including the New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace).
  • The old standards are now expiring, but are still fit for purpose for assessment until 31 December 2018. So there is roughly a two-year transition period.
  • The content for Unit Standard 21204 has been broken up.
  • The new NZCALNE (Voc) will eventually replace the current NCALNE (Voc), just like the current NCALNE (Voc) replaced the original NCALE (Voc).

In terms of the new NZCALNE (Voc), there are four new standards. These are:

  • Unit 29622. Describe adult literacy and numeracy education in Aotearoa New Zealand. 5 credits
  • Unit 2962. Design strategies to embed adult literacy and numeracy in the delivery of a training or education programme. 10 credits
  • Unit 29624. Plan and facilitate embedded adult literacy and numeracy skills development in a training or education programme. 15 credits
  • Unit 2962. Use assessment to strengthen adult literacy and numeracy teaching and learning. 10 credits

A caution:

  • These standards are not the roadmap to delivering the new qualification. But they do provide a clear guide to what content the new NZCALNE (Voc) should assess as part of programme delivery. It will be up to providers to determine what that delivery roadmap should look like.

The good news:

  • As ALEC already has consent to assess the ALNE standards to level 6, we’ll automatically get this consent extended to the new standards.
  • We submitted our course approval documentation to the NZQA months ago for delivery of the new qualification but it’s been in limbo land pending the release of these new standards. This is now underway again on the NZQA side and we’re waiting to hear on its status.
  • I’ve worked on both the new qualification and the new standards as part of the subject expert group. This means any new content will incorporate the best of what ALEC has had to offer to date, as well as our most current thinking and knowledge about embedding literacy and numeracy into training.

The plan:

  • Our plan is to begin delivering the new version of the qualification with the new standards as soon as we can. Hopefully, this will be by the start of the academic year in 2017. This will depend on how much longer the course approval process takes and then how quickly we can move to develop the new content required.
  • We’ll keep you updated here on any progress.

Any questions? Please let me know.