Thursday, August 8, 2013

Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

Today I received my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40110) from Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) in the mail. This does not have quite the gravitas of being handed a certificate by the ANU Chancellor a few weeks ago, but in may ways is a lot more useful.

Recognition of Prior Learning

Of the ten courses I was required to undertake for the Certificate IV, I was able to obtain eight by Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). This was made a little easier by having just completed the equivalent university qualification, a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education.

Having prepared open on-line course material also made it much easier to provide the evidence needed for RPL. This still was not an easy process, requiring me to find people to attest to my teaching experience along with evidence.

On-line Courses

Two courses I could not obtain RPL for and I had to complete on-line assessment (Workplace Coaching  and Learning in the Workplace). CIT use the same Moodle Learning Management System I am used to at ACS, ANU and USQ, which simplified the process.

CIT has very standardized, carefully designed and consistent on-line documentation, as is common in the vocational sector. However, this was not without problems. The very modular nature of vocational courses meant there was a lot of repetition and the emphasis on standardization meant for some very long winded materials.

One glitch with on-line access is that CIT does not permit students to change their password remotely.  I was required to travel to a CIT campus to change the password. As a result I suspect that many student never change their password from the default. This is a serious security law in the CIT system.

Lack of e-Portfolio System

One surprise was that CIT does not use an e-Portfolio system for the student to collect their RPL evidence in.

ACS and USQ both use the Mahara e-portfolio software. This allows the student to collect materials and then submit them for assessment on-line.

CIT uses Moodle's submission system for on-line assessment tests, but not for RPL evidence, which is tracked using a paper form, with photocopies attached. This made the process cumbersome and error prone (added to the fact that I could not read the hand-written notations from the RPL assessor).

Vocational Standardized and Work  Relevant

The CIT certificate arrived about two weeks after I completed the program, whereas the ANU certificate took four months to arrive. The Cert IV T&A is recognized nationally and required for teaching in government TAFEs and private Registered Training Organizations (RTOs). Many universities run graduate certificates in higher education, but these are not mandatory for  university teaching staff and no standard syllabus. Presumably an ANU certificate will be well regarded nationally, but there is no guarantee it covers what is needed at another university.

Need for Mutual Recognition of Vocational and University Teaching Qualifications

While the RPL process allowed me to gain the qualification for teaching in the vocation sector largely from my university qualifications, this should not be necessary. Apart from the terminology used, there is no real difference in teaching between the vocational and university sectors. This is particularly the case with universities catching up with TAFEs in the use of on-line technology and practical work-orientated assesment.

There is no reason why vocational and university teachers could not undertake the same training. Currently postgraduate university students may receive some ad-hoc training to help them tutor, but in general will graduate and go into university teaching with no formal teaching qualifications.  It would make sense for higher degree students to obtain at least a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Previously when I suggested university postgraduates should have vocational qualifications my university colleagues were shocked and suggested I did not know what I was talking about. But I am now more qualified than most of them to express an opinion. ;-)

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