Making Connections - The Skills Recognition newsletter
Recognising informal learning – an interview with Denise Stevens, CEO of TDC Victoria
Denise Stevens, Chief Executive Officer, TAFE Development Centre (TDC), Victoria
Most adults acknowledge that formal learning is vital – school, college or university. But the majority would also agree that life and experience are great teachers and provide powerful lessons. For this reason, TAFE Development Centre (TDC) in Victoria is setting a high training standard for TAFE teachers in RPL assessment. Making Connections spoke with TDCs Chief Executive Officer, Denise Stevens, about Assessment in Informal Learning (AIL) 21812VIC – a fully accredited award for Victorian TAFE teachers.
What is your main role in TDC?
TDC was initially established to promote the development and raise the professional standing of people working in Victorian TAFE Institutes. My principal role is ensuring that the resources and programs offered by TDC meet the Centre’s aims and now support the work of VET practitioners.
What are the key objectives of TDC?
Our objectives include increasing the skills base of personnel, investing in reform (eg the AIL program), raising the capacity of the training system to meet industry and individual needs, improving choice, competitiveness and access to information and creating a stronger culture of lifelong learning.
How are you going about this?
We saw a need to provide for teachers in a systematic way to develop and deepen their skills in recognition of prior learning to enable them to find ways to include and embed recognition as part of their teaching and learning practice. For the RPL candidate, recognising informal learning builds personal esteem and employment capacity. It is an important element in encouraging learners back into formal training, which can be via workplace delivery or with formal classes.
What’s your definition of informal learning?
Informal learning is any learning that does not lead directly to a full qualification and occurs outside the formal education and training system.
What is the AIL program about?
The project was designed for teachers to develop skills in employing specific assessment methodologies to support a client in exploring and reflecting on their informal learning experiences. The course addresses the skills required for assessors in assisting the client to develop a plan to pursue further education and/or employment opportunities.
Why is AIL so important?
The program is important because it engages potential learners in new ways and it ensures that staff are skilled in reaching new learners in innovative ways. Assessment of Informal Learning is available to teachers to extend their skills in assessing the prior experience of learners unfamiliar with the training system. The program is supported by structured learning materials for learners to help inform their choice about further learning.
What was the overall motivation for the program?
Federal and State Government reports have highlighted the importance of raising adult educational attainment and skills levels to improve workforce participation in Australia – in particular adults with low educational attainment and skills levels.
The Victorian Government has released a discussion paper canvassing new strategies to encourage and support thousands of Victorians to take up training for the first time and attract thousands more to upgrade their qualifications.
Who were you initially targeting with this training?
We initially targeted teachers from any training area and also teachers in the Adult and Community Education sector. The project also supported registered training organisations with the Skills for Growth contracts. Currently the curriculum requires a teaching and assessment prerequisite but it has been recommended that this be removed. I see just as much application for the AIL program for front line staff (e.g. marketing) and also student support services.
What are the anticipated outcomes of the AIL program?
It is expected that over 850 TAFE teachers will be trained to teach Assessment of Informal Learning (AIL) by 30 June 2011, resulting in all TAFE Institutes being able to offer the course in Recognising Informal Learning 21896VIC to clients.
How important is RPL in your view?
RPL and programs like the AIL are incredibly important in addressing the need to up-skill people already in employment. Data indicated by reports such as those from Skills Australia, indicate high numbers of Australians in the workforce with no post compulsory qualifications. The Government push to increase the level of qualifications can be met if there is greater recognition of the skills and knowledge held by workers. We need to move away from the thinking that classroom based delivery is the only acceptable methodology and move towards greater use of RPL in conjunction with work based delivery.
Given the importance of RPL, what would you say to practitioners?
Firstly, it is important to recognise the whole person’s skill set, not just those relating to a specific job. Secondly, just use RPL more! Thirdly, introduce a pre-entry AIL/RPL on all students entering an Institute and then develop the individual training plan rather than placing them into timetabled classes and then worrying about RPL later. We need to put the student in the centre of the learning process! TDC is still conducting AIL programs until 30 June and further details are available on our website regarding dates and times of our remaining courses.
- Website: http://tdc.vic.edu.au
- Consider your competencies
- See qualifications that match
- Find an RTO to assess you
This tool can help identify skills of a large group of students or employees for RPL purposes. It is freely available for registered users. View the Guide to GSI.
Tel: Rajeev Arora 9266 8440
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