Technology surrounds us in our daily lives and it makes sense to incorporate it into a VET classroom. As adult students today see technology as a critical part of their learning (Jelfs & Richardson, 2013) it’s important to choose technology that’s easy to use and learners are familiar with (Luckin et al., 2009). The choice of technology and effectiveness of activity design are critical for remote learners to prevent students disengaging from the content (Hai-Jew, 2011).
Design of activities for adult learners needs to be authentic, active learning tasks which include scaffolding. Tasks using technology that are linked to the workplace, as in VET, allow for transference of skills into the ‘real-world’ tasks, allowing a deeper understanding of the content (Herrington & Parker, 2013). It’s critical to for teachers to be aware of their content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and personal level of technological knowledge, which forms the TPACK framework (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). A teachers TPACK will change depending on what curriculum and class cohort they teach. A TIPS process can help the teacher utilize their TPACK for designing an e-learning augmented program (Roblyer, 2013).
Being able to evaluate the technology using the affordances empowers a teacher to ensure technology being chosen links to curriculum. Technology use should be driven by the curriculum and design and not the other way around (Bower, 2008). Many Western Australian VET practitioners work in enterprise government agency Registered Training Organisations delivering training and, from time to time, are told a specific technology to use for delivery with no consideration to curriculum. Technology used goes through a stringent approval process in government, which does not guarantee access to technology requested for training, due to ICT department restrictions (Bigum, 2012). Using Bower’s affordance framework to outline specific needs for technology, such as the use of mobile technology or social media, means that ICT are informed regarding educational use.
Mobile technology and social media is starting to have a greater impact in the classroom. Many educators are harnessing Web 2.0 technologies to create engaging and student centric learning environments (Cochrane, 2010). There is a misnomer that all ‘digital native’ students (Prensky, 2001) know how to use mobile technology and social media to manage information for education (Callens, 2014). In her 2014 article Callens outlined Bloom’s Digital taxonomy in relation to social media and provides lessons on how to utilize social media in a classroom to augment students learning and exploration of content, which can be transferred into any adult training situation. For example a State Training Provider in Western Australia implemented LinkedIn as a key technology for their training (DTWD, 2014). As part of implementing technology an audit and quality assurance process to select the right technology is very important.
When choosing a technology it’s useful to implement a ‘use audit’ to understand technologies that students are familiar with for ease of integration into classes (Lukin et al., 2009). O’Brien & Maor (2013) concluded that teachers focusing on transferable knowledge by structuring authentic activities and using appropriate technologies enable adult learners to achieve deeper understanding of content and apply to their workplaces smoothly. A lofty ideal for VET, but one individual teachers can work towards.
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