ALaN WA Newsletter – October 2013

Welcome to edition 9 of the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Network of Western Australia Newsletter!

Views expressed by contributors to the newsletter are their own and, unless expressly stated, do not reflect the opinions of their employers/organisations.

This contents page links individually to each article enabling you to go immediately to those of your choice. Alternatively, if you go to the main blog link, you can access the articles by scrolling down the page.

We welcome your comments and contributions to our newsletter. If you are an Adult Literacy/Numeracy practitioner in Western Australia or indeed, anywhere in the world, we invite you to subscribe and comment. If you interested in joining the GoogleGroup for our network, please visit our “How to join” page and complete the online form.


1. Where do you get these sites from?

A Personal Learning Network is a great source of useful links, resources and ideas

2. WA curriculum update

Re-accreditation activities

3. Updates on available PD

PD coming up in the near future

4. Conferences coming up

Conferences in the early part of 2014

5. Foundation Skills Workforce Development Project – Professional Standards scoping.

A summary of some WA feedback.

Where do you get these sites from?

This post will be cross-posted to my personal blog so apologies if you have seen it twice.


This question was posed in response to a recent post by Phil on the ALaN GoogleGroup – Phil shared a site called Visuwords, a visual dictionary that gives a visual representaion of associations between words. Phil’s answer was that he gets many of these kinds of links via his Personal (Professional) Learning Network (PLN).

Like Phil I have an extensive, global PLN – mine is in excess of 4,000 educators globally with fewer than 20% of these in Australia and less than 10% in WA. I find this network invaluable in helping me to stay up to date and innovative in my teaching and learning. The inevitable next questions are of course “What is a PLN, how do I get one, and what are the benefits?”

A PLN is …

A PLN is a network of people often, but not always, with similar interests to your own. We all have a PLN of some sort even if it is just the network of colleagues we meet through our daily work. However the most useful and effective PLN is one which extends outside our own day to day physical environment, outside our own specialist teaching area and outside our particular educational sector.

My own PLN is global, cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral. It makes considerable use of social media and online tools in general. So my Personal Learning Environment (PLE) through which I access my PLN is largely electronic. The main point here is that no two PLN’s are the same! We all have our own preferred balance of people and communication environments/strategies. Mine (like most others) has evolved over time and now looks something like the diagram below.

PLN PLE 500I expect that my PLN will continue to change and evolve – I currently use a variety of platforms so that I don’t miss out on posts from people for whom I have enormous professional respect but who don’t use my preferred platform for the majority of their interactions.

Getting a PLN

There are many different strategies for developing your own PLN. Mine started inadvertently, when a fellow e-learning enthusiast who was also a TAFE lecturer but in a different college introduced me to Twitter. This is still my “favourite” PLN environment although I now use many other social networks as well. Many members of my own PLN have been introduced to the concept and started developing their own PLN through PD activities. If you are thinking about building your own PLN there are a few strategies that can be particularly useful:

  • Start with one social media platform – find a mentor on that platform who is very experienced and has a medium to large network of their own.
  • Sign up to the platform – make sure you complete your profile and have an avatar, many potential followers/friends won’t connect with you unless they have a little information about you
  • Don’t rush it – allow your contacts to grow fairly slowly at least initially
  • Give as well as taking – join conversations, make comments, share resources and links
  • Be social, be human – the social interactions are important despite the derision you see levelled at some platforms regarding the triviality of some posts, social interaction – the personal relationship “oils the wheels” of the professional relationship.

If you are interested in PD to help you get started with developing your PLN then leave a comment here in the newsletter or in the ALaN GoogleGroup because if enough people are interested we could do one or two webinars on this. If you are going to take the plunge anyway and your chosen first platform is any of: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn then please feel free to follow/friend, or whatever the connection label is, me. You can find me as follows:

I do check out profiles before I connect back (because like all online contexts there are plenty of “black hats” out there) although if I already know you from another context I may not. I will usually connect back within a few days.

What are the benefits?

The benefits are many! The list below is just a few of the positive gains shared by members of my PLN:

  • Keeping up with innovation in education
  • Links to great tools and resources
  • Instant help with tech problems and other questions
  • Learning, learning always learning!
  • Support in coping with issues
  • Sharing, sharing and sharing again!
  • Opportunities for global collaboration on projects
  • Opportunities for PD through online discussions
  • Overseas “e-visitors” to classes (via Skype or similar)
  • Broadening perspective from local to global
  • Learning about other cultures
  • Never feeling isolated at a conference (someone from your PLN is almost certainly there!)
  • People (that you feel you already know) to meet up with when overseas/away from home
  • Someone to “talk” to in the small hours – there is always someone awake

Some members of my own PLN have become good friends without us ever meeting! When chance gives us opportunities to meet there is none of the awkwardness of strangers meeting for the first time. This is a huge benefit for me as, despite my advanced age and years of teaching, I am quite shy when meeting strangers.


For more ideas about PLN’s checkout this post “What the heck is a PLN?” by a local West Australian teacher, with a global presence, who is part of my PLN and is now a good “real face-to-face” friend that I first “met” online via Twitter.

For me personally the global nature of my own PLN and the opportunity to be involved in learning from such a diverse group are the “icing on the cake”! I have been immeasurably enriched by many people in my own PLN and can only hope that I am able to “pay this forward” in some way.


WA Curriculum Update

52426WA Certificate I in Entry to General Education will expire 30 September 2014. The Department of Training and Workforce Development will commence review in October 2013. Contact

52379 Course In Underpinning Skills for Industry Qualifications (USIQ) will expire 30 April 2014. The Course Concept Proposal has been submitted to TAC and approved by them. The Department is seeking feedback to inform preparation of the Course Accreditation Application which it is hoped will be finalised in November 2013. If you deliver USIQ yourself please complete and return the questionnaire to by Friday 8th November 2013. If you have any queries, please contact Margaret McHugh, Senior Policy Officer, Literacy by  email

Course in Applied Vocational Study Skills (CAVSS) has been re-accredited with the current course also extended to April 2014. Business rules will be reviewed soon.

Update on available PD

PD within the WA ALaN network

Project still in progress.

“What’s in a number!” is changing focus from webinars to blog posting. Input requested due to low webinar numbers has indicated that time pressure is too great at the moment for people to commit to webinar participation hence the change to blog posts and comments in order to keep the conversation going. The first topic is “Number”

“Adult Literacy and Numeracy Professional Development Workshops” at  Kimberley Training Institute are continuing through September, October and November with sessions focussing on the TAELLN401A, and on grammar (strategies for teaching, and enhancing business writing skills).

For more information, or to become a participant in any of these, visit the network GoogleGroup (if you aren’t a member see this page on how to join) and check out the posts.

Course in Applied Vocational Study Skills (CAVSS) Training – the next two day workshop has now been scheduled for  November 21st/22nd. Applications close on 14th November. Please visit the network GoogleGroup (if you aren’t a member see this page on how to join) for more detail and the application forms.

Expressions of interest

Expressions of interest are still being sought from those interested in attending any of the following:

  • Face-to-face numeracy workshops with Beth Marr
  • Teach Me Grammar in 2014

Please send a separate email for each one of the above that you are interested in attending to

Also watch out for more information on the GoogleGroup

Conferences coming up

No details on the website yet,but the next Australian WELL Practitioners’ Conference this has been postponed from November and will now take place in Hobart on the 19th, 20th and 21st of March 2014. Watch the events page on the WELL website for further updates.

The National Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy Assessment Conference 2014 will be held in Melbourne on May 1st and 2nd 2014

The next Western Australian Adult Literacy Council state conference is planned for April 2015.  That’s a different time of the year than usual and there won’t be one in 2014.


Foundation Skills Workforce Development Project

This article has also been submitted to ACAL so apologies if you are reading it for the second time!

Here in WA we have had some consultation workshops relating to “Scoping a foundation skills professional standards framework” which is one of the facets of the Foundation Skills Workforce Development Project. As well as the more formal workshops (both online and face-to-face) the topic has been raised and discussed (over recent weeks) more informally with a variety of stakeholders. This article relates to the Perth (face-to-face) and online workshops and to informal conversations.

FSWD wshp image

There have been some strongly recurring points and concerns raised by practitioners as well as some disconcerting opinions expressed by program managers.

Recurring themes and concerns from practitioners

  • There is concern that as with TAE, there will be an ongoing requirement to revisit qualifications (especially if they are vocational ones) and this wastes time that could be better spent on meaningful professional development.
  • A progressive career pathway to higher level skills and knowledge could have a positive impact on practitioner credibility, however there is a risk that the required skills and knowledge for a literacy and numeracy specialist teacher will be “watered down”.
  • Foundation skills is NOT one entity however the basis for delivering foundation skills lies on the existing specialisations (language, literacy and numeracy teaching – with the possible addition of digital literacy/citizenship).
  • Existing membership organisations could potentially play a significant role in implementing and maintaining a professional standards framework but would need to be funded for this.

Misapprehensions expressed by non-practitioners

  • A qualification is not needed to deliver literacy – particularly at the lower levels.
  • The TAELLN401 or TAELLN411 is a suitable “qualification” for those delivering foundation skills.
  • Continuing PD should be organisation based and managed.

The concern looming largest for most practitioners was that of ending up in a situation similar to that with the Cert IV in Training and Assessment with a requirement that they continually re-do the qualification. It is also perhaps significant that the worries relating to the risk of lowering standards expressed by practitioners seem already to be mirrored by the opinions of some managers.

Jo Hart