Monday, February 27, 2012

On-line Education Solution to Australian Skills Shortage

In "Professional work experiences of recent Australian information technology graduates" (Thesis, UTS, 2011), Srivalli Vilapakkam Nagarajan presents a very detailed case for work placements and “real life like” projects as part of the training of IT professionals. They argue that some professional skills must be developed outside university studies and must involve employers and professional associations to have "work ready" IT graduates. The Australian Computer Society (ACS) Computer Professional Education Program (CPEP) is mentioned as ways to provide a bridge between academia, employers and students.

What the thesis does not point out is that the ACS uses on-line teaching so that the student does not need to be taken out of the workplace for Work-Integrated-Learning (WIL). This constructivist approach to learning through an Outcomes Based Education (OBE) model is detailed in "The role of ePortfolios in mentoring adult learners seeking professional certification" (Jones, A., Barnes, P., Lindley, D., & Steinberg, A. 2010).

The academics, employers and students can work together to deepen the student's experience, through educational exercises which have workplace value. This approach should be broadly applicable for other professions and jobs. Industry can have a productive employee who is improving their skills at the same time. However, this will require retraining university academics in how to do this. How to re-train academics in this using those same on-line techniques is something I am looking into.

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