Organisational capacity and educational reach

Organisational capacity

PRACE is a medium size adult education provider, based in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. It delivers quality Adult Community Education in Language, Literacy, and General Preparatory. It ialso providers extensive learning opportunties for Young people, Adult literacy, English as a second language (ESL) - accredited and vocational courses - using Computers, Gardening, Cooking, and much more!

educational__reach.jpgThe staff at PRACE were asked to plot themselves on a perspectives continuum that sought to plot their e-learning journey and give us two moments in time - before and after the project. The diagram on the right is a visual representation of the perspectives document and indicates where they placed themselves at the conclusion of their project.

(For more information about the research perspectives, visit the main research project site.

It indicates a commitment and readiness by the organisation to continue to develop ICT enabled teaching solutions for their community. It also shows quite clearly that PRACE has the capacity to do this, with considerable experience in this field.
PRACE has a strong commitment to the continued use of ICTs. They strive to develop dynamic, responsive and innovative educational programs, teaching and learning experiences. Although not explicitly articulated in their Vision and Mission, it is in the strategic plan and the business and operational plans as well as work plans. E-learning is very much seen as part of learning. They do not stress technology as separate. It is part and parcel of goals to design and deliver responsive, innovative programs.

Technology Infrastructure

PRACE is very lucky to have good technical support. The teacher commented that it was "brilliant to have a data show in the room - adds a lot to the session". It allowed him to present resources and learning materials to adapt to what the group is thinking. Can present visuals, music, videos etc...It made a huge difference in engagement and also allows for generational differences – it seems easier to get their attention. The teacher felt that that “he had more at his fingertips to engage them with”.
Technology adds a significant cost . The IT person is looking after 40 computers over 6 hours. He charges less than he could earn, which is very much par for the course for the community sector.

Teacher readiness / capacity

Did the project have any impact on teacher capacity and or teacher readiness in your organisation?
For the trial: Yes, as the class was not going to use much technology. It was an opportunity to try some new things. There was some initial nervousness about using technology because of what other teachers had said, but he did not find it as challenging as other teachers. Some students were quite resistant.
In a broader sense: most of the classes are integrating ICTs. Teachers are more aware and more open. Across the broader team there is a change over of staff. The new teachers come with more skills and more willingness to take blended learning strategies on board.Technology will become an integral part of the delivery.

Blended learning as a business option

PRACE feels that they cannot afford not to do it. It is critical. The community and their partners expect it. The culture at PRACE encourages teachers to put forward ideas, and innovative ideas are often pursued. They feel that it is critical to demonstrate that they are embracing ICTs and raising the benchmark, in fact, they have a commitment to it. They feel that they will go backwards if they don’t. Students have been expecting it and they are demanding it - beginner ESL learners will complain if they don’t get enough time in the computer room. For them the ideal situation would be that every classroom has computers in it, and they are currently investigating the use of laptops for this purpose.

Educational reach: after

Participants were asked to describe their organisation's educational reach after completing this project, particularly in relation to clever use of ICTs and learner outcomes: results, reach and retention, as well as curriculum.

Technology has been seen by the studetns and the teacher as engaging. For this cohort outcomes are a real issue anyway. For those who like computers it is fine. It depends on the students who attend on the days ast o how successful a computer based session might be. PRACE has not found a formula that will work for everyone every time.
Part of what PRACE tried to do with the VCAL group is to offer activities on either paper or screen; this was intended to extend the reach and provide broader access options, and to an extent this worked. Teachers know what resources are available. There are printed and a screen based versions of activities and the tracher can then adapt activities in either of the two modes.
Reach also relates back to co-operatvie initiatives like the Neighbourhood Renewal project and their use of digital technology and then in turn promoting those successes to the broader partnership groups.

PRACE offers a small amount of non- accredited delivery, and they do use technology in non-accredited courses. Mainly through the provision of video cameras and data projectors.