That can’t be the year 2012…

The Summer heat is taking its toll and now to begin the training year in the BCF at Gilles Plains, last years great results have spurred me on to better them this year.


To embed further the Assessment for Learning principles

Expand Self and Peer Assessment options

Make the Moodle site more than just an extra tool, to make it a core part of the communication cycle with students…

Improve access to ebooks and PDF’s as resources…

To complete the Learning Management Unit Mentoring project report on My Wikispaces…

That is a start for the year, I’m sure it will become larger as time goes by.

Happy new year…

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Merry Christmas

The Holidays are here and the year has past good luck to us all and here’s to a bright new year and more new students to engage with. Cheers…

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Response to a post in the CPSISC Forum about apprentices.

The following is my response to a post that says we need to change apprenticeships and training to cater for the school leavers that say a 12 months course is too long.  That have to look at it differently for today’s instant gratification generation.  See the rest of the post by  d:”john kirk.doc John Kirk, Representative at both state and national levels as a Director of ACFIPS Industry Training Advisory Board, contributor to Open Forum.com.au 


“Interesting concepts, though I do think that we have catered enough for the so called new instant gratification generation.  That fact is, to be a qualified competent tradesperson is not and never will be an instant gratification career. 

Untrained trade building workers as seen in other countries, build structures that fall down and kill people, they are unsafe and use unsafe work practices.  How can we expect a trade’s person to undertake structural work on an instant gratification basis, it is not possible. 

As far as I can see, and I train apprentices we have removed barriers from Training and Education to a point where even basic math, literacy and communication skills are not the norm for people entering the work force.  People can’t spell correctly; they have trouble calculating the simplest things and have limited hand skills. 

Schools have tried this easy way and are heading back towards basic skills to prepare students for life, employment and the work force (or as it is termed to make students work ready).  Universities, Tafe and Schools are recognising the problems that are discussed here. Employability Skills are recognised in the training package, these skills take time to gain competency in. 

A change in the way training is delivered, is needed not the length of that training as well as the wages of apprentices. I have seen articles that say, low wages are not the reasons for low retention and completion rates in apprentice areas. 

Though this seems to overlook the fact that over the years the age of apprentices has climbed as Governments sought to keep students at school for longer, for whatever reasons. 

The age of people taking up apprenticeships was 15 – 16 years and at that age a person can afford to live on low wages.

1) They still live at home

2) They can’t drive so have no vehicle expenses

3) They don’t have serious girlfriends or an expensive social life

4) They can’t drink and that make things cheaper too.


Now the apprentices are 18 – 20 years old with a year 12 certificate or completion.


They have


1) Girlfriends,

2) Cars,

3) A social life

4) Can drink,

5) They tend not to live at home

6) The have mobile phones (Expensive ones)


They run cars and have to travel sometimes great distances to get to work, this surely, has to reflect a need for a reasonable wage for apprentice workers. Even at the level of the basic minimum wage; which is what the Trade’s Assistant/Labourers on their job site is getting.

Their employers get large payments from the Government to sign them up, at completion and yearly to have apprentices, up to $20,000 in some construction industries, yet they pay their apprentices less than the minimum wage. 

These payments are meant to make up for apprentices being away at training and not initially being profitable on-site workers. Though this changes rapidly after the first 2 years.

As a lot of training is assessed on-site, RPL is given for prior learning and training is restructured to accommodate fast tracking, surely it is time for apprentices (or would be apprentices) to learn their craft or occupation, put in the effort needed to be a trade’s person and reap the benefits of a trade qualified career. 

They also have the opportunity of running your own business with minimal set up costs and earning a very good living in the skills shortage area of the construction industry. 

Oh and that should include a reasonable wage for apprentices, what about supporting the apprentices and the employers, not just the employers.

Well they are my thoughts and I have been training building apprentices for almost 7 years.”

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1st Year Apprentices Final

Confidence is high and it shows
Masonry Fixing Unit shots

It is hard to believe that the 1st years are at the end of their training for 2011.  Though looking at their progress I can see the growth in skills confidence and maturity.  Tasks that seemed miles away from their capabilities are tackled without fear and provided we handle them in the same way next year and introduce more engagement with their thinking and experiences at work I really feel the new delivery strategies are effective.

These are to be clad with plasterboard upright sheets and flushed with a 10mm gap in the centre

Ready for the project

Questioning and interaction has been increasing between the students, myself and their employers even.  The self and Peer assessment has meant that they are all looking at how everyone is doing things and making up their own minds on the way that suits them and get the best result.  So that is a definite win, win.

Measuring, Cutting and Installing as a team
Cutting a strip off

An amazing bunch of guys to work with and to watch achieve competency in so many units in one year.  They deserve a round of applause if only I could do it on here, I guess I could too..

As 1st years their flushing and fixing is up to Industry Standard, thought their speed is down but only slightly and that will increased rapidly for now on too.

Flushing up to Industry Standard and able to self assess
Almost done

Now as 2nd years we will begin to add the missing pieces to their guild knowledge and skills in more complex areas.  Wet Areas, Passive Fire Rated work, Grid and Screw up suspended ceilings, Partitions, penetrations and ornamental arches.

Cornice adhesive is applied to bondcrete patches on the walls
The adhesive goes on


This year has been a pleasure for me, great people to engage with who are willing to make mistakes and learn quickly from them.  They take direction and come to their own conclusions, perfect…

To finish off the year’s training, it has been a satisfying and rewarding experience and the usual displays of anti learning behaviour did not rear its ugly head.   No returning from breaks late, arriving late and wanting to leave early, that made a real change.

Adhesive is applied to the next sheet area as a team
Readying for the next sheet

So dramatic was the change that several times I had to send them home at the end of the day because they were still working.Now that is a real altering of the patterns of the past.  Now to get them more computer literate using spreadsheets to do quotes, more on-line research and learning units in our Moodle site and prepare for the second year of their and the arrival of the new first year apprentices.

Carefully positioning the first sheet
One down and 3 more to go

It all starts again

Stand up sheets dirct fixed to brickwork and flushed 1st year students

Touching up the finish

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CBA Orientation

The new CBA 2011-12 Program member are beginning their journey today. I sit and listen knowing the learning they will experience over the next 9 months.

Suddenly the thought occurs to me just how valuable these projects are not only for the project out puts but for the opening up of thinking and freeing educators to look at things from a better view or at least different view.

On top of that, there is the nurturing of experienced educators and providing the opportunity to spread there knowledge, project management and public speaking skills to other members of their organization.

Faces in the group move from frown to smile from deep though to realisation, reminding me so clearly of my own experience. The first real, time most of our group have had to research and discuss learning professionally with our peers.

Concentration of thought on assessment, it’s purpose, objectives and outcomes. The big question of “Why we are doing what we are doing and how.”


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Session with VET’s

Had a session with a few too many VET students with Jason at GP computer suites on Monday 17/10/2011, not sure what Jason thought the first session is always a bit chaotic getting, Moodle and email accounts set up, logins, and teenagers.

The outcome highlighted areas that need work and I have started to set down the process so others can read it and be prepared.

The fact that young students have to think for themselves can be challenging and tough to handle but as the session went on the uttering of “this is bullshit” die down . They began to engage and actually read what’s in front of them the results were good more than
75% finished, two or more units and assessment.

During the session Jason asked the students:

1) what they thought of online learning do far and

2) whether they would prefer a book or online

3) would it be easier on an IPad.

The responses were mixed but overall the iPad seemed a more popular option if there was an app or ebook option that was easier to use.

I have begun to put in place a course structured differently that could be adapted for iPad use and also as an ebook.

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Simple Video in Web Pages


As part of the Mentoring for elearning in the BCF this post show how easy it is to insert videos into content.

How they look, work and how easy they are to include them in your web pages and Moodle courses to show competency to students.

The “iframe tag”

This embeds your video as code and helps to save file size especially in Moodle which has a restricted file size of 8Mb. It opens up a frame in the web page and inserts the video into the frame.

CODE Example

Click on the link to go to YouTube.com and watch the video or click the Play triangle to watch video in the current page.

NOTE Remove the “Bold Red Characters” copy and paste code into a webpage to see it work

<!–iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/iRSVAf1o794&#8243; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>–>

The “youtube Link”

HTML5 Code Video

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Mentoring the BCF

Starting Out

Chat Session

CPC08 Moodle Course Screen Shot
Moodle LMS

     31st August. Andrew, Gabriele, Paul, Roly & I, 12:15pm with Moodle Chat, all attended, most had never used Chat as a medium of communication and apart from some slowish typing all got on well though reluctantly at first. Paul had to leave early to take a class but could see a use for it with students.

     One fault, I forgot to save the text after the session for reflection. That won’t happen again. Wasted opportunity and lost information. Gabriele and Andrew indicated possibilities and a willingness to submit content and look at examples of on-line content. They also saw possibility for use with country and remote students.  Roly has resources he would like adapted for the Moodle platform and Paul will be working with Andrew to come up with some opportunities to get their content up and running online.

The Moodle Chat room ready to go
Moodle Chatroom window open..

     The Chat format is easy to use and can bring people together from where ever they are.  Students can login from Home, Work, a Library or even their mobile Smart Phones.  Chat could allow students to discuss OH&S issues they see about them actually on site.

     Overall a good result and some thinking focussed on elearning and what they are looking to do and have..The next step will be a Centra Synchronous session to see what they think about that method of delivery.

Mentoring Wiki Home page

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eBooks and my BCF section

The Present

        I have been working on the feasibility of using eBooks for trade students and what form they should take.  The technical issues are not too daunting however the content is.      

Repairing a plasterboard Wall
Plasterboard Wall Repairs…

     These old unit books we have used for many years are not really designed to transfer over to eBooks, they rely on text-based information with a few pictures.  The challenge is to get the content right, images that directly relate to work situations, audio and videos to replace text, get the message across and keep the students interested and engaged.

     That seems like a nice challenge for my spare time.  The new SIEC site at Tonsley Park offers an opportunity to trial new equipment and resources for that equipment. (Ipads mainly, but other tablets are also being considered)   eBooks, Ebooks or E-Books whatever is the correct term fill what I perceive to be a need for this extra interactivity when accessing information for learning.

     Far from the parental cries of turn that music off, shouldn’t you be studying, (When I was studying) today’s students are quite content to have the Ipod/Iphone playing music, the laptop on chatting on Facebook and a Synchronous tutorial running.  Their used to stimulation from multiple sources and find it strange that people would wear a watch (a device) that only has one function, to tell time.

      So a book that has video, audio, images, links to google earth maps in real-time, a table of contents that links to pages is easy to read on various devices, fits the brief. 

     Putting in Video is not too hard, but the video needs to have the right information and techniques used to comply with our delivery and training package requirements.   I hope to preview the first serious one soon…Cheers rob



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Picture of Competence (Steel framing)

Where to check for the correct information and how to use it in steel framing practice.

(Session Objective)
Setting out steel framing

Steel stud work

    Curves and raked bulkheads in steel framing is a second year Wall and Ceiling unit I have been delivering today.  

    In the past we have laboriously slaved our way begrudgingly through the manuals and I have pulled what 

was left of my hair out while watching students drawing the details for the project.  This was always followed by endless questions of “what do we do now or next” and repeating the same replies over and over again in the workshop.

Different this Time

Steel Framed Curved Bulkhead

Curved Bulkhead

    Using my recent past experiences as diagnostic Assessment, Self-assessment, Reflection and Feedback I adapted and changed course.


1. I asked questions about and discussed experience in the group to establish levels of competence. (Gauging Guild Knowledge levels) 

2. The group was shown a very competent example of the project completed. (Not the Plans) We discussed issues that arose from the students viewing of that example, “their Assessment of it”, feedback and questions.  (Picture of Competence)

3. I gave the group the installation manuals and asked them to firstly collaborate for 20 minutes coming up with a drawing of details of how they proposed to build their project.   Not a scale perfect detail drawing but to include all details and names. (Discovery, Collaboration & Doing)


Formative Assessment

    The resulting drawings gave me a clear picture of their thinking, methods, experience and level of competence.

Feedback & Adaptation of delivery & content

Reflection    In this case it meant a group discussion of what was missing from their drawings, approaches, what they needed to look up and where the correct information was.

Outcomes   The outcome was to take, a lot of confusion out of the initial stages of the training.   I still had a barrage of questions but I could see the majority had a better understanding of the basic principles and could transfer what they had learnt more clearly.

     In past sessions I had used the manuals as a written text-based resource, confronting and confusing for non academic students that only read text messages and Facebook.

    Now with collaboration for the first time (though I am sure they thought they were cheating having the book) they started to think as a group, putting forward ideas communicating them, discussing their work experiences and then eventually looking it up in the manual. (men & Instructions)   That was, all along the objective of the session.  “Where to check for the correct information and how to use it in steel framing practice”.

Or any other practice…..

Final feedback and Validation

  • Standard of work was higher than usual.
  • Group participation greater
  • Achievements recognised in Self and Peer Assessments
  • Understanding and therefore competence picture clearer
  • General morale higher and
  • Work flow, attitudes and pace all better.

May be it was this group but as it has worked with several diverse groups in a wide range of Subject/Units at varying levels seems to indicate to me that it is more successful.

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