15 August 2011

LORN - ITYS

And we fought so many pointless battles with those who doubted the longevity of social media, and the value of open educational resource development. They wouldn't stop and reflect on the reliability of the Australian sector, from directories and actual educational content, through to public media initiatives like POOL.

The decommissioning of the Australian Flexible Learning Framework's Learning Object Repository Network (LORN), (at very short notice, and very poor timing for teachers I might add) comes as no surprise, and is another I-Told-Youz-So (ITYS) moment for those in the sector who have consistently questioned the wisdom of such expenditure.. but will the recognition come? Of course not. Will the same mistakes repeat? Of course they will. WASTE!

May I repeat the call (6 years on), for all Australian public investments in content, to adopt a Creative Commons Attribution copyright license regime (the only real inter-operability standard, and one finally endorsed by Federal Government) and fund a campaign to get that content distributed across targeted, popular, reliable and infinitely more useful media channels, like Youtube, Archive and the Wikimedia Foundation projects, and to lobby Australian libraries and archives to do more for capturing and storing Austalian content on its way out the door to these more popular and reliable channels, but in a way that compliments that trend...

Dear Colleagues,
Some sad new about LORN...


As you may have already heard...LORN is to be decommissioned from 31 August 2011.


From 31 August 2011 the Learning Object Repository Network (LORN) will be decommissioned.
This decision comes as the result of a recent review of the Australian Flexible Learning Framework and development of a National VET E-learning Strategy by the Flexible Learning Advisory Group (FLAG).


From 1 September 2011 users can:


1. Continue to browse and download free digital learning resources direct from the
Framework's Toolbox Repository - toolboxes.flexiblelearning.net.au/repository - which hosts the
Flexible Learning Toolboxes, E-Learning Innovations and E-learning for Industry collections


2. Cirectly access the jurisdictional repositories (TAFE VC, WestOne and Tasmanian Polytechnic)
subject to any access conditions placed on these by jurisdictions.


Skills Victoria has advised that access to the TAFE VC collection is limited to registered Victorian TAFE staff and RTOs only; please direct all enquiries to: enquiries@eworks.edu.au


In the interim enquiries regarding access to LORN and the downloading of learning objects book marked through the 'My LORN' function should be directed to: Helen lynch, ACT Toolbox Champion, 6207 4031 or lorn@flexiblelearning.net.au

09 August 2011

Adult and Community Education - CIT Solutions style


I was fortunate to meet Rob Howarth today - business manager of the Centre for Adult and Community Education, at Canberra Institute of Technology Solutions (CIT Solutions). I initiated the meeting as part of my effort to get to know existing community outreach work in Canberra, for the Access, Choice and Flexibility project I'm engaging in. 

Rob is one of those guys who just emanates enthusiasm for ideas and his work, tempered by experience and sensitivity. Rob and his team are responsible for an amazing Adult and Community Education (ACE) program, culminating in the well known booklet that comes out twice a year in Canberra, listing a very wide range of short courses people can do in anything from Social Ballroom Dancing (8 x 1 hour sessions with Naomi Nicholson for $175) to AutoCAD (7 x 3 hour sessions with Alan Perry for $350). 

Rob's team operate a privately owned company, coordinating some 800 short courses that enrolls around 8000 casual students each year. CIT Solutions emerged out of the ACT Aid Trust in 1983, and have successfully established and sustained a self funded ACE program for the past 18 years. Anyone in the community can approach Rob with an idea for a course, and if the proposal has a good looking plan, and 3 good references, Rob will post the course in the booklet and go from there. The teachers remain independent operators, working under the banner of CIT solutions, many running the courses at their own venues with Rob covering insurance. Others use CIT and partner venues. The program is interested in very broad ranging, introductory courses, leaving specialist tuition and consultation to businesses and contractors, many of whom run intro courses for the ACE program. 

The business operates basically on brokerage fees. The teacher sets their rate, Rob ads an overhead, and that determines the fee for the course. If the course doesn't get the baseline number of students, it doesn't run. Simple as that. The courses are non credited, offering only a statement of attendance, but in many instances they can lead into formal and accredited courses offered by CIT. CIT retains the credited training, such as what industry needs, and Rob tries to compliment that where possible. 

In one sense, CIT Solutions' ACE program is a community outreach interface for formal training, in another it remains financially independent and therefore free of such conditions. I wonder though, if the program might benefit from another layer of outreach, creating an even further distance from CIT and other formal stakeholders. I'm thinking along the lines of The School of Everything and their Illich inspired, smart use of social media to enhance face to face gatherings for learning. Or what about the Free University Movement (re emerging from the 70s), like Melbourne Free University. Might Rob's business model be something those initiatives could use? I'm also wondering about the nature and potential of a relationship between businesses like CIT Solutions, and large, more established volunteer organisations like Melbourne's Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (CERES), and other such community groups who even more clearly identify as community benefit initiatives. What if Rob's work interfaced more with those organisations, helping them to gain more traction and legitimacy in their wider communities, as well as interfacing with formal training and certification. And then there's the relationship that all of them might have with very large international projects like Wikiversity or Wikipedia...?

It was a very interesting, energetic, and refreshing conversation today, and frankly, a relief. Working full time in a place like UC can too easily prevent you meeting people like Rob, and the can-do attitude he brings to his work. I hope we will get a chance to meet and dream big and small again some day.