ALaN WA Newsletter – December 2013

Welcome to edition 10 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 are interested in joining the GoogleGroup for our network, please visit our “How to join” page and complete the online form.


1. Shared links from the network this year

Some of the links to free learning resources shared this year through our ALaN network GoogleGroup

2. What’s in a name – PLN, PLE, CoP

Our Community of Practice – what is it and why you should be involved.

3. Last WA curriculum update 2013

Re-accreditation activities

4. PD coming up/continuing next year

PD available through the network

5. Some conferences next year

Update on conferences in 2014


Shared links from our ALaN network in 2013


As we come up to the end of year for our students and the holiday break for many of us I was thinking about our network and particularly about the links to free online resources for students that have been shared this year. So I thought it might make a good article for the newsletter to re-share some of these all in one place.

This is not necessarily an exhaustive collection of all the links shared. If you shared a link this year and it isn’t included it could be for one or more of the following reasons: I missed it; the link is broken, site moved, several links on the page not working & so no longer accessible; there is a cost associated with using the resource; it is a list of other resources rather than a resource itself; it is a link to a site for purchasing a book.


  • Levelled readings for adults – the source of these is the USA but nonetheless there are topics of interest to Australian readers

  • Easy to read stories for beginning adult readers

Reading and writing

  • An online graphical dictionary that shows relationships between words and their part of speech.

  • This resource has a focus on ESL learners but  nonetheless has content usable with a wide range of literacy students.

  • Language Garden uses colours to distinguish between parts of speech in sentences creating attractive visual representations of language.

  • A useful site if you have vocationally oriented students with an interest in hospitality/catering. The site provides introductory resources to the language of food safety introducing some of the more complex words and their meanings.


  • Numeracy resources from the Manufacturing Skills Australia website – MSA has developed a series of tool kits for VET Trainers to use. Great potential for use if you have students with interests in vocational areas.

  • The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has an extensive collection of downloadable resources related to money management on their MoneySmart page.

  • If you teach any statistics then this is a useful resource for information on sampling and on some of the ways we represent data graphically.

  • The updated version of the VALBEC “Building Strength With Numeracy” resource from Beth Marr has a great variety of maths activities and tasks including consideration of attitudes to maths and their impact on developing maths skills.

  • This site from Annenberg Learner has a range of information and activites about the use of maths in daily life.

  • A useful resource for algebra contextualised for electrotechnology

  • The MoneyBusiness Course has a great range of resources on managing money and also templates for recording savings and spendings. The focus is on Aboriginal learners but the content is much more broadly applicable. Some students might need help with the level of language used as some of this is a bit complex.

  • A downloadable financial literacy handbook from Canada focussing on Aboriginal learners and becoming financially “fit”

  • A range of practical problems using maths from the UK National STEM Centre.

Basic computer skills and digital literacy

  • This resource is more about computer skills than digital literacy and the focus is on assessment. One of the great strengths is that there is accompanying audio which explains how to answer the questions.

Across the streams!

  • These Health and Safety resources from Studyladder provide great potential for use across the CGEA streams.

  • The Goodwill Community Foundation has a wide range of learning resources including basic reading and maths as well as a variety of technology resources. Be aware that the counting change activity uses USA coinage!

  • A USA site which focuses on health literacy for ESOL learners – some of the information is USA specific but there is also more generally relevant information. The links here are for learners but the site also has educator links.

ACSF and similar “testing”

  • This bank of tasks has been developed by Precision Consultancy with funding from the WELL program.

  • The Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service has posted a variety of Practice Aptitude Quizzes that might help students in deciding on future directions


A lot has been shared this year! These links don’t include those related to professional development of which there were many. They are only the ones to free online (sometimes downloadable) resources. I would just like to say KEEP ON SHARING! Link up with colleagues to share and to co-develop resources. Online networks make this easier than ever before.


What’s in a name – PLN, PLE, CoP?

I posted in the last newsletter about what is a “Personal Learning Network” (PLN). There have been some discussions in my PLN recently about Communities of Practice (CoP) and whether they are the same as PLNs – this seemed a good time to talk a little about our own ALaN network and where it “fits” in to the scheme of things.

If you work for an RTO you probably have the perpetual problem of proving your industry currency and professional development actvities. This is particularly difficult for LLN practitioners like ourselves who have no “industry”. Belonging to and participating in a CoP is one way that you can provide some evidence that may be helpful in convincing employers and auditors of your currency and ongoing PD activities.

I agree with Steve Wheeler’s interpretation as given in his recent post PLN or CoP? For me the significant factors are:

  • that a CoP often has some form of facilitation/moderation which may be formal or informal, whereas my PLN operates largely though serendipitous interactions;
  • interactions in a CoP are almost entirely related to professional matters in a fairly narrow field whereas in my PLN they include personal and social interaction as well as a broad range of professional interactions not limited to a narrow focus.

I see the PLN/CoP as a continuum with the PLN at one end of the spectrum, and at the other, the very formal facilitated/moderated CoP with one or more managers having allocated time to spend fostering interactions between the members.

PLN or CoP

My personal perspective in seeing the PLN/CoP as a continuum is, of course, based on my own experience. I have a well established PLN that I began developing in 2008 and I have also been involved for about the same length of time in our very specific CoP made up of Adult Literacy and Numeracy teachers in Western Australia. As those of you in the network are probably aware I am a facilitator for this network/CoP which operates primarily through a GoogleGroup. My perception is that many of the aggregations formed on and through social networks are CoPs to varying degrees. For example on Twitter some of the #tag chats such as #kinderchat and #gtchat:

  • focus on professional practice;
  • are facilitated/moderated;
  • are at least semi-formal;
  • aim to share knowledge; and also
  • provide opportunities for both synchronous and asynchronous interaction.

Groups in Facebook eg “FacingIT” and LinkedIn eg “Australian VET Leaders”, and Communities in G+ eg “The Global Classroom Project” provide similar opportunities.

If you are not already a member of our network then consider joining (visit the “How to join” page in the newsletter to find out how to do this). If you are already a member of the ALaN network (especially if you mostly “lurk” – this means read the posts/emails but not participate much) then think about taking a more active part in the future so that you can add your participation in the ALaN network to your auditable records for industry currency and PD .

Last WA curriculum update for 2013

52426WA Certificate I in Entry to General Education will expire 30 September 2014. The Department of Training and Workforce Development has commenced the review.

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 Course Accreditation Application is in progress.

Course in Applied Vocational Study Skills (CAVSS) has been re-accredited with the current course also extended to April 2014. The Business Rules are currently being reviewed.

PD coming up/continuing next year

PD within the WA ALaN network

Project still in progress.

“What’s in a number!” has changed focus from webinars to blog posting and is getting some increased participation through comments. Pressure of work for everyone at this time of year has been a problem raised by several people in respect of finding time to take part. The current post is on “Time”  so if you can make the TIME please read the post and add your comments. There will be one more post before Christmas – intended to be about “Date”.

If you are interested in Teach Me Grammar checkout the GoogleGroup and even if it is past the deadline for applications register your interest because there may be the potential for additional “runs” if there is sufficient interest.

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

Please send a separate email to

Also watch out for more information on the GoogleGroup

Conferences next year

An online conference, 2014 OZeLIVE – Ed Tech Down Under. #OZeLIVE is happening in February 2014 and currently in the planning stage. This conference is cross-sectoral, designed to be at Australia friendly times and will be via BlackboardCollaborate.  Currently information and updates are available via the AustraliaSeries blog  this would be a great conference to be a participant in and also, if you are looking to “dip a toe” in the waters of presenting or moderating online, the organisers are currently seeking presenters and volunteers. Visit the blog for more information.

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

Few details on the website yet, but the next Australian WELL Practitioners’ Conference appears to have been postponed again and is now scheduled (on the website front page) to take place in Hobart on the 4th and 5th of September 2014. The theme is “Foundation Skills at Work”. However check carefully because the events  page has not been updated and still says March 2014 as the conference date.

Next year’s ACAL Conference “Literacy: a learning spiral for life” is on October 2nd to 4th at Surfers Paradise in Queensland. Keep up to date with call for papers and all other information by registering an expression of interest on the ACAL website.

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.