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.

 

 

Is Anyone Still Interested In The NZ Diploma in Adult Literacy and Numeracy?


Develop Superpowers

It’s been awhile, but I’m still thinking about the New Zealand Diploma in Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NZ Dip ALNE).

This newly revised diploma is now on the NZQA framework. It’s a 120 credit level 6 qualification.

The new one is a million times better than the old one. I think I started trying to write the old one about 6 times and failed each time.

What I’d like to find out is… is anyone else still interested?

It’s a lot of work to work to write the documentation that a provider needs to get this accredited. And then there’s a lot more work to do to create the actual course content.

I have a bunch of (mostly untested) assumptions about the NZ Dip ALNE that I’d like some feedback on.

So feel free to comment here or let us know by email (assess@alec.ac.nz):

Here are some of my assumptions… in no particular order:

  1. NCALNE (Voc) and NCALNE (Educator) graduates would be interested in extending themselves through the NZ Dip ALNE. This would include those who enjoyed the personal challenge of their previous literacy and numeracy professional development and saw positive changes in their own professional practice.
  2. Graduates who are now in leadership or management roles may be interested due to the fact that the level 6 qualification is focused on leadership and informing organisational change and capability.
  3. Managers would support the further professional develop of experienced staff, particularly those who have shown an interest in embedding literacy and numeracy into their teaching.
  4. ESOL teachers and managers involved in TEC funded training could be interested as their project work could reference the needs of ESOL learners and the contexts in which they work and study.
  5. The TEC would support the training as it aligns with their current implementation strategy, priorities, and goals.
  6. Cross-crediting up to 30 credits from previous NCALNE study could provide a strong incentive for joining the course. This includes NCALNE (Voc) graduates working in trades or vocational training.
  7. Candidates would need up to 2 years to complete the qualification. And alternatively, some candidates would be able to work through the requirements faster depending on their circumstances.
  8. A series of three or four big projects based on a teaching and learning inquiry cycle and that each reference all or most of the graduate profile outcomes would be more interesting and engaging for candidates. The alternative would be a series of smaller discrete assessment tasks that step through the graduate profile outcomes, but… [sorry, just fell asleep].
  9. It would need to work (mostly) online and by distance. Although, there could be some great opportunities to bring candidates together at key times to support each other and contribute to sector development through sharing what people are learning through the work.

Some further thoughts on using three or four big projects… If you’ve done our ALEC version of the NCALNE (Voc), what I’m thinking of here is what we called your project work.

Our NCALNE (Voc) project work is a kind of inquiry cycle where you:

  • look at issues and context
  • then assess learner needs
  • design literacy and numeracy skills development
  • do some teaching
  • measure learner gains
  • and then evaluate your effectiveness.

The Diploma is bigger (120 credits instead of 40 for the Voc) and at a higher level (6 instead of 5). This means we need to turn the volume up. But if you could cross-credit up to 30 credits through a portfolio of your NCALNE (Voc) work and some other bits and pieces this would then leave you with 90 credits to complete across three big projects over two academic years.

Each project would take you through the inquiry cycle, but with a different focus each time. And because it’s a higher level course, you’d be required to provide leadership and support to other practitioners. These could be people you work with or your colleagues in other organisations.

The goal:

By the time you’ve put yourself (and your team or collaborators) through their paces three or four times, you’d have developed not just literacy and numeracy, but high-level teaching superpowers.

By this, I mean:

  • You’d know more about teaching and learning and could use the knowledge.
  • Your skills would be in much higher resolution than before.
  • You’d be consistently able to get better results.

Sure, it would be about literacy and numeracy. But actually, it would be about leadership. And getting results. And learning to teach better. And supporting learners to learn better.

The literacy and numeracy content would be the vehicle… the waka… a way to create a growing community of badass educators who can thrive in the turmoil of sustained innovation and organisation change.

 

 

7 Things You Need To Do To Totally Dominate Literacy and Numeracy


2B08153900000578-3182764-image-a-2_1438496978386The 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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”.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.

Sign up to Pathways Awarua now…!


One of the best kept secrets in tertiary training in New Zealand is Pathways Awarua. It’s not really a secret, but up until recently, this has only been available to tutors and trainers.

From now, however, this great suite of teaching and learning tools is available to everyone. Well, to Kiwis anyway.

Check out the cool video above with Ben Mitchell (better known as TK from Shortland Street).

So, if you have older kids who need a hand with maths and reading, or you’re interested yourself, there is a fantastic resource available online here: https://pathwaysawarua.com.

The emphasis is on improving literacy and numeracy for adults including young adults. So think 16+ or use your judgement.

Content includes reading comprehension, vocabulary, maths, and most recently The Road Code.

It’s current, free (funded by the TEC) and your tax dollars. And it’s all NZ content and linked to post high school vocational training as well.

10 000 learners around the country already use it and now it’s open to anyone regardless of whether you’re in an official training course or not.

Disclaimer: I’ve written some of the content available on Pathways Awarua including the modules for the online version of the NCALNE (Voc) training and professional development.

Using the Speak to Communicate Progression to Assess Confidence


speak to commThis is a bit rough and ready, but I wanted to get down some thoughts on using the Speak to Communicate Strand that have been rattling around in my head for a while now.

Here’s the problem

  • Lots of tutors and trainers notice an increase in the levels of learner confidence that they see over time with regards to speaking and communicating, but they don’t know how to measure this or talk about it in a robust way.

For example, from a classroom training point of view, if you’re working with a group, particularly if the group includes older adult students who don’t speak English as a first language, and you notice that many are withdrawn, shy, won’t make eye contact, struggle to participate and so on, you’re likely to make at least a mental note that they are lacking in confidence.

From an employer’s perspective, you might observe that some workers dislike making small talk on the factory floor, or actually hide behind pieces of machinery so that they don’t have to engage in any kind of interaction.

Another scenario, might be that a trainee cannot deliver a clear set of instructions or tell another person a procedure for how to do something.

Here’s a possible solution

The Learning Progressions that we work with in New Zealand for determining the literacy and numeracy demands and assessing learner proficiency provides a way to describe and work with learners’s abilities for speaking (just as it does for reading and numeracy).

Speaking is not part of the focus of the TEC’s Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool, so it tends to get sidelined. However, most trainers, tutors, and employers would agree that listening and speaking are critical in the classroom and workplace.

This is probably doubly important for employers as it’s something that is visible to them in terms of the sometimes limited interactions that they might have with workers and employees.

I think that we can look at the Speak to Communicate strand and incorporate our ideas of “confidence” in a way that makes sense for both trainers, learners, and employers (and the TEC).

Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Start with the actual speaking and listening scenarios or tasks that people really have to do. Here’s a couple for starters below. Brainstorm some that are generic and some that are site or context specific:
    1. Introduce yourself to others
    2. Discuss a workplace issue or concern that relates to an area that you are familiar with.
    3. Discuss a workplace issue or concern that relates to an area that you are not familiar with.
    4. Deliver a short presentation to a manager outlining possible changes or improvements to workflow.
  2. Map the speaking demands using the Speak to Communicate strand and progressions. If you’re doing this work, you should have done the NCALNE (Voc) training and have a good idea on how to do this already. The image above is not meant to replace the actual strand, but I scribbled out some of the key words in each step as a way of getting a very rough and ready analysis of certain kinds of scenarios. Don’t take my word for it – go and look at the whole strand, but for example:
    1. introduce yourself to others: Step 1 – 2
    2. Discuss a workplace issue or concern that relates to an area that you are familiar with: Step 2 – 3
    3. Discuss a workplace issue or concern that relates to an area that you are not familiar with: Step 3 – 4
    4. Deliver a short presentation outlining possible changes or improvements to workflow: Step 5 – 6
  3. Come up with real samples and examples of the actual language you’d expect to hear for each scenario (like you would when creating a judgement statement for an assessment schedule for NZQA purposes). Create your own master guide for each scenario showing the kinds of language that you’re expecting and how much of it you need to hear before you can make a judgement that the learner is confident in relation to that particular aspect of the interaction.
  4. Use a “Confidence” traffic light system for each relevant step for each scenario that you’re assessing. Probably, I need to expand on this somewhere, but here’s what I mean in a nutshell: For each relevant step that relates to a particular scenario you can assess your learner as follows:
    1. Red: Not confident
    2. Amber: Developing confidence in this area
    3. Green: Can do this with confidence
  5. Summarise the results if you need to report to an employer or manager. You don’t need to give everyone all of the detail, but it is important to work from a system that is part of what we’re already using, i.e. the Learning Progressions. This avoids coming up with a new system based on flakier measures of confidence that aren’t tied to actual learner performance of specific tasks.And then when it comes to reporting to employers or managers you can say things like this:

“We measure speaking proficiency and confidence on a scale of 1 to 6 steps with 1 relating to simple, formulaic interactions like greetings and 6 relating to more extended, complex work-related interactions like a short presentation.

When Jones started our training he was only able to handle low level speaking tasks at steps 1 and 2 with any kind of confidence.

In the last 6 months we’ve seen him develop his knowledge of work related vocabulary, express his own point of view about different issues, and speak about less familiar topics including health and safety concerns.

This means he’s now between steps 3 and 4 and can handle some more complicated work-related speaking activities with confidence.

By the end of the training he should be able to deliver a short formal presentation as well as give verbal instructions relating to some of our key standard operating procedures (SOPs).

At this point he will have shifted to step 5 and 6.”

Hat tip: Dave Curtis

4 Things I Can Do to Become Antifragile in Education


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Nassem Taleb is an expert on risk and probability and he recommends in his latest book that we become less fragile, more robust, and actually antifragile.

This is more than just Sissy Resilience… and this means that when the stuff hits the fan you actually bounce back stronger than before, and actually made stronger by the disorder around you.

Education is fragile. And working in education opens you, your career, your mortgage up to all kinds of fragility by implication. This is bad.

Education, of course, is good. But if we want to survive as educators in this increasingly fragile landscape we need to embrace the fact that it’s fraught with risks and randomness of all kinds.

And we need to do things to mitigate the risks to ourselves and our businesses where we can.

One of the lessons from Taleb’s Antifragile for me seems to be that rather than avoiding things like risk, uncertainty and variability we should be embracing them. And in fact, seeking them out.

With that in mind, here’s my take on 4 things I can do in education and in my work that hopefully increase my ability to be really resilient by intentionally playing around with risk, randomness, uncertainty, and variability.

I’m not saying that they’ll work for you… but if they work for me I’ll let you know.

1. Disrupt my education business model

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The idea here is that either I can wait for someone to disrupt my work or I can disrupt it myself and maintain some slight control (even if it’s illusory) over the disruptive factors.

Our education business models are pretty much a last century paradigm. Mostly the old-school business model goes something like this:

  • Someone pays a fee + I deliver training. I might possibly award some kind of credential if the stakes are a bit higher.

Leaving aside the problems with our current models of education, let’s focus on messing with the business model.

My real business model is the unique package of things that allows me to sell education and training and generate revenue. This would still hold true even if I worked for a non-profit or charitable organisation.

But consider the new business models though… They’re online. They require people to transact online. That either means a shopping cart or a subscription-based approach.

Bothered by that…? Me too. But disturbing thoughts like these have been nagging at me for awhile. It’s time to do something about it.

If you’re curious about business models Alex Osterwalder’s book really helped clear things up for me in term of what a business model is and gives some great examples. There’s also an iPad app you can play around with.

2. Open source my expertise and knowledge

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Am I the only one who has noticed that the world I live in is radically different to the one I grew up in, even the world I started working in…?

Everything is being disrupted and education isn’t any exception. Aside from firing middle management and cutting dead wood, I think we’re going to see changes everywhere in education resulting in education products for learners that are cheaper, faster, smarter, and more convenient.

What’s more, as we move forward, education will most likely become open sourced, and possibly crowd sourced. This will come at a cost, of course. Some of us won’t survive.

But one of the things that has changed for certain in my mind is that there is no longer a competitive advantage in sitting on any kind of “secret sauce”. The new secret sauce is open source.

And that has implications for my job. And my expertise. What I know and can do is not just information, but a big chunk of it probably is. And that information really wants to make itself freely available to others. This is just the nature of the web.

And the thing is, if I don’t open source what I know, then someone else will do it for me. Either they know they same stuff and they’ll open source that, or they’ll just upload what they’ve learned off me.

So I need to do it first. That’s why I’ve open sourced what I know about our approach to embedding literacy and numeracy via Pathways Awarua and through making our course content freely available to everyone.

Doing nothing is not an option. In fact, doing nothing while everyone and everything around you moves forward is pretty much the same as going backwards.

3. Design the way I want to work

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I think that another part of the solution is to design the way that I want to work. For me this means:

  • treating everything as a project
  • working on these projects with a small agile team
  • being mobile and “always on” (except when I switch everything off)
  • working from home (or anywhere)
  • having a team that is geographically dispersed,
  • and mostly ignoring conventional establishment wisdom relating to what I do.

To expand on these, everything in education can be a project. This includes training, resource development, writing and publishing, and running conferences. If I make everything a project then I can project manage. I use Basecamp for this.

“Always on” means that I can work on my projects anywhere. Most of my work is written on laptops and devices in various cities and towns in New Zealand. I now use cloud-based applications almost exclusively for this including Google Docs, WordPress and Evernote. I also use Dropbox and Google Drive to manage it all.

4. Look for new ways to do the same stuff

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Another part of the solution for me is to do education and training in new ways that meet the needs and demands of 21st century work and life. This is where expertise needs to collide with new opportunities and disruptive technologies.

And this is hard because it means I have to learn new stuff. And sometimes things don’t work out.

I’m not quite sure where to go with this in all honesty, but something that I’ve done intentionally is to mess around with different online platforms used for authoring education and training materials. I’ve tried a bunch of them, but the one that stuck was the Bracken platform that we used to write up our course and assessment modules.

Authoring software is kind of tricky… and it’s time consuming to learn how to use… but something that is a whole lot simpler and still incredibly disruptive is video and audio. The incredible success of Kahn Academy continues to testify to the disruptive power of video.

I’m hoping to make this year the year I really get serious about capturing much more of our training, resources, knowledge, and expertise via niche audio and video content.

What have I missed? What do you have planned for 2015 that is going to make you stronger, more resilient, resistant to risk, and ultimately more antifragile?