Literacy Research Matters

Looking for that critical research report, journal article or conference paper?

The VOCED & ALADIN online databases may help you.

VOCED is a free international research database from NCVER relating to workforce needs, skills development, and social inclusion. It encompasses vocational education and training (VET), higher education, adult and community education, informal learning, and VET in Schools. International in scope the database contains over 63,000 English language records, many with links to full text documents. You can easily search by keyword or ‘Browse’ by author, title, journal or subject.

Adult Learning Documentation and Information Network (ALADIN) , is an initiative of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. It was created to support networking and capacity building between documentation centres and libraries in the area of adult learning and literacy. Today it comprises of 96 documentation centres in 47 countries in all regions of the world, from complex university libraries and research units, to small NGO resource centres and some virtual collections. The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) is an ALADIN member organisation.

KEEP UP TO DATE: New research is collated into a bi-monthly ALADIN Online Alert located on the ALADIN News webpage – no ‘subscription’ or signup required. Find out about recent online and full-text information in the areas of adult learning, adult literacy, lifelong learning and technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

Jane Jones

PD coming up from December 2014

Teach Me Grammar 2015

Teach Me Grammar is available again for next year if you are interested in Teach Me Grammar checkout the GoogleGroup or visit Teach Me Grammar Program 2015 to get more information and the application form.

Collaborative numeracy: working together to build numeracy skills in adults

Collaborative numeracy: working together to build numeracy skills in adults is a program of  professional development for teaching numeracy to adults and young people in vocational training  and other adult learning contexts. For more information on this and application forms see the article that follows this one.

Applications need to be in by 5pm Monday 19th January 2015

PD coming up from November 2014

Webinar 28/11/2014

Coming up on November 28, 2014 (time  10:00am West Australian time 11:30am ACST, 1:00pm AEDT) there is an ACAL webinar. “A remote solution to strengthening workforce capacity in LLN”   For more information and to register your interest visit the ACAL website

The presenter is Ros Bauer was the 2013 Australian Training Awards Winner – Excellence in Adult Language Literacy Numeracy Practice. She is currently working with Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse learners in the remote Northern Territory community of Yuendumu where she is delivering the Develop Foundation Skills in Vocational practice Skills Set. Ros is delivering to 3 trainers in community, who work with Warlpiri adult learners and young people

Teach Me Grammar 2015

Teach Me Grammar is available again for next year if you are interested in Teach Me Grammar checkout the GoogleGroup or visit Teach Me Grammar Program 2015 to get more information and the application form.

CAVSS in the digital age

Technology has become an important component of adult education and training.

When I first started delivering the Course in Applied Vocational Study Skills (CAVSS) there was no computer in sight. Over the past decade I have seen an increase in use and need for technology. I teach with a number of lecturers in a variety of industries (Trades, Aged Care, Disability). Much of my work is with Cert III in Engineering (Fabrication). Many apprentices have unrealistic expectations of Engineering. They expect it to be a practical subject and are unprepared for the amount of theory and mathematics involved. And increasingly, we use technology as part of training and in the workplace. Technology has become an important component of their training.

Students access course information and assignments from Blackboard which also has web links, presentations and videos. They use the internet to research and access information and watch videos from web sites such as Miller’s welding video library and YouTube. Some of their assessments are online. They create workplace journals on the computer and upload photos from their mobile phones.

There are learning guides, charts, tables, manuals and drawings to read and interpret. A huge demand for literacy and numeracy skills.


FabricationToolbox 300px A good resource is theTotal Fabrication flexible learning toolbox

Each day, the apprentices use maths skills in their jobs in order to complete projects and other job duties. Maths is used to determine material requirements and costs, interpret drawings and specifications, draw using measurements, and read codes.

There are countless resources on the internet for maths. I will illustrate just one here.

Apprentices learn to draw using only a compass, straightedge and pencil (Construction in geometry). These construction techniques give tools to draw things when direct measurement is not appropriate.

These skills are transferred to marking out on sheet metal using, dividers, steel rule and scribe.

Many of the apprentices cannot understand the written instructions and find a demonstration of the steps easier to follow.

A useful site is: step by step instructions and animations.Example: constructing a 90° angle 90deg angle 300px

The apprentices are required to interpret technical drawings and sketch isometric projections. Many students find instructions in a book are difficult to follow. Students have found the following video useful and inspiring.


Apprentices use a number of Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD) programs. Autosketch is used to create precision drawings. See the simple example to the right. Autosketch eg 250px

Apprentices learn to construct templates using geometric development. They develop the templates on paper or on sheet metal. Lots of maths skills and knowledge required. Reading and following instructions on geometric development is quite daunting for many of the apprentices. The Total Fabrication Toolbox has a section on template making.

Constructing shapes using triangulation is particularly difficult for apprentices to learn. They find a demonstration useful.  I assist with each step, drawing, measuring and calculating. Another strategy is to watch an Animation. Follow link for demonstration on constructing transitional shapes.

 square to round 250px The apprentices use a program, Plate ‘n’ Sheet Development, to generate templates and check their layout and measurements.I needed to learn how to operate this program so that I would be of use to the students.There are a number of mathematical concepts, including geometry and measurement, which students need to know to be able to complete this task.


In addition to providing traditional literacy and numeracy support I am increasingly providing more digital literacy support.

Technology may provide the motivation to learn the theory and mathematics adults need for their training and in the workplace and it may facilitate more meaningful learning for them.

Lina Zampichelli

CAVSS Lecturer

C Y O’Connor Institute




Drowning in information?


How do you manage all those links to websites that you come across every day? Even if you don’t currently use very much digital or web-based content in your teaching you probably visit websites for printable teaching resources. There are many printable resources available from websites as well as the truly digital content. I know I was accessing (and printing) masses of such material some years ago, well before my face-to-face students had any computer access in class.

Information curation

Keeping the links that you need and want while discarding those items that are not useful for you is a big problem that is continuing to increase. Information curation has become a major issue for many people. This is compounded by the fact that most of us now access work related links and content on more than one digital device. In my own case I need to be able to regularly access links from at least three different desktop computers, my laptop and my iPad. This excludes classrooms and any one-off situations such as workshops or conferences. Browser “Favourites” are no longer sufficient to keep all those links especially when they are still often lost during updates.

As a general bookmarking tool I mostly use Diigo an online application that enables me to save and tag links and also to share with others. However this is not ideal for sharing links with students as it isn’t very structured (at least mine isn’t) and in my opinion links are easier for students to work with if they are organised in some way.

Using SymbalooEdu with students

My preferred tool for managing links that I use with students is SymbalooEdu. This is easy to sign up to and easy to use. The pages (“Webmixes”) can also easily be made public and shared.



Symbaloo is very visual using coloured “tiles” to which you can add icons and titles. In Symbaloo I create what are known as “Webmixes” groups of links that relate to particular topics. I can then share the “Webmixes” with students to use in activities.

Advantages of using Symbaloo:

  • enables me to give students a degree of ownership and choice in the links they access for activities;
  • allows me some control so that I can ensure that students visit websites which provide appropriate examples related to the activity concerned and are likely to be comparativley “safe”;
  • limits the websites students access for an activity (reduces the number I need to visit when evaluating work);
  • provides scaffolding opportunities from which students can progress to become more independent
  • I can use tile colour, page position and icon to provide clear navigation for students so that they can easily find the links they need;
  • colour and page position can also be used for level differentiation so that I can use the same Webmix for an activity that spans several levels – this makes it easy if a student needs to access higher or lower level links to meet individual needs;
  • I can give students access to the links they need for an activity without “cluttering” up their written instructions with a series of links in the text;
  • if a link becomes inactive it is easy to remove or replace without having to modify and re-upload the activity itself;
  • the visual nature of the tiles works well with literacy students.

This embedded Symbaloo page with groups related to career exploration and resume development is one I use online – the activity I use this with is similar at Certs I, II and III and, depending on standard of completion,  it may provide evidence for aspects of units on Learning Plan and Portfolio, Creating and Engaging with texts (Personal and/or Learning).


SymbalooEdu works well as a tool for managing links that are shared with students, it is easy to update links and manages student access reducing risk to students and potential for lecturer overload.

Jo Hart


Professional development news

Lots of PD news this time!

PD within the WA ALaN network

Firstly, within the ALaN network, some of this year’s projects are getting under way with webinars and workshops.

“What’s in a number!” has made a great start with the first webinar already complete. Webinars will be approximately fortnightly until mid 2014. This project is designed to help everyone teaching maths/numeracy to improve their maths skills and gather evidence for the numeracy core unit of the Grad. Cert. (soon to become Grad. Dip.)  of Adult Language Literacy and Numeracy Practice.

“Adult Literacy and Numeracy Professional Development Workshops” at  Kimberley Training Institute have been scheduled and start with “Teaching Numeracy” sessions in late July and August.

The “Digital Literacy in the CGEA” webinar series is underway looking at implications of, and strategies for encompassing, digital literacy/digital texts in CGEA delivery.

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.

New DTWD events management system

DTWD has a new PD calendar system and you will need to create a user registration before you can register to attend DTWD LLN sessions including.

CGEA part 1 on August 22nd

This workshop for new CGEA teachers is designed to help them orient themselves, and their teaching approaches, to teach literacy and numeracy skills to adults. The workshop will focus on finding ways to establish a teaching/learning environment that most closely reflects the way that literacy and numeracy skills are acquired in the real world, by all of us.

CGEA part 2 on 10th and 11th September

This workshop for CGEA teachers is designed to explore the aspects of teaching adult literacy classes that challenge teachers as they attempt to meet the needs of all their students. The workshop will focus on finding ways to establish a teaching/learning environment that most closely reflects the way we all acquire literacy and numeracy skills in the real world.

Department of Education PD

The “Tracks to Two-Way Learning Induction workshop – replacing the ABC of Two Way Learning and  Literacy workshop is on the 15th and 16th of August. Registration details available soon.

Expressions of interest

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

  • Face-to-face numeracy workshops with Beth Marr – coming up soon
  • CAVSS training later this year
  • Teach Me Grammar in 2014

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

Training rangers in the Kimberley: a WELL project

Over the past four years, Kimberley Training Institute (KTI) has delivered an innovative Conservation and Land Management (CLM) training program to Aboriginal rangers in remote areas of the Kimberley.

Over the past 18 months KTI has successfully used Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) funding to assist rangers in developing their literacy and numeracy skills,

resulting in improved completions of Traineeships, progressions to higher level qualifications, and increased employment opportunities.

Further one-on-one tutoring support is provided by KTI lecturers under the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme (ITAS).

This program is a great example of co-delivery between LLN specialist and vocational lecturers. KTI is currently in the running for the Premiers Award.

Good luck!


Reading during the International Year of Reading!

How better to celebrate the International Year of Reading than with something to read?

Pauline O’Maley, Victorian Adult Literacy and Basic Education Council (VALBEC) committee member and avid reader has been  posting articles about reading each month on the VALBEC website. This month’s offering is about multiliteracies.

Add your suggestions about things to read that are relevant to the Year of Reading in the comments section. 


Do you (or your students) Toon?


my students are all off-campus and so are using their own computers with widely varying software. Many of my students are also not particularly computer literate so expecting them to use sophisticated features of word processing or presentation packages is not an option. The strategy I adopt for a lot of work with my online students is to use mostly (though not always) online tools. This post is about using one of them – ToonDoo – an online cartoon making tool.

How do we use ToonDoo?

I have been using ToonDoo myself for several years to create occasional texts to engage student attention and to break up heavily text based resources.

Then about 3 years ago I first used it with online students when we created a cartoon together via virtual classroom (Elluminate). Each student was given control of my desktop in turn to add their own “bit” to the cartoon. These students then signed up to ToonDoo and made their own cartoons. I have also shared my use of ToonDoo fairly widely through webinars and associated blog posts.

Recently I have extended the use of ToonDoo with my students as part of my National Vocational E-Learning Strategy project Extraordinary Learning For A Digital Age (ELFADA) funded under the Partnerships for Participation initiative. This was part of a mini-project on digital safety. The students learnt about ToonDoo in a virtual class session through an Application Share demo and together we created a Toon. This was shared through the course blog in a post on visual texts.

The next step was for the students to visit a series of links to cartoons each addressing an aspect of digital safety. They chose some of these to review and evaluate.

Finally the students created their own cartoon choosing a topic from those they had learned about through our work on staying safe online, they then published a blog post with links to their cartoon, or with the cartoon embedded. These are two of the student posts,  Jordan’s looking at scams and some consequences and Meg’s with a warning to take care what you share.


I have found using ToonDoo to be a great engagement tool for students and will continue to use it with my own online students. I also find that ToonDoo is used easily by students across all three levels that I currently teach online. In common with many other online tools it is relatively simple to use – this is a huge bonus for online students who don’t always have a lecturer available for immediate help.

Please use the comments to share your own and your student experiences with ToonDoo or other cartoon making tools. Or if it is new to you let us know if you think you might try this with your own students.

Jo Hart

Conference updates

WAALC Conference • 11-12 July, 2012

Central Institute of Technology Perth

At the heart of the matter – identity and trust in adult learning

Program now released.

Limited funding is still available for travel to the conference. See the DTWD Adult Literacy Sponsorship Program on VETinfoNet for application forms.  Applications close 18/06/2012


ACAL Conference – Joining the Pieces: Literacy and Numeracy – one part of the picture

19-21 Sept • Hobart

Program will be available soon.


Australian Council of TESOL Associations International TESOL Conference (ACTA) •  Cairns •  3rd to 5th July 2012

‘TESOL as a Global Trade – Ethics, Equity and Ecology’

Pre-conference symposium Monday 2 July 2012 at the Cairns Convention Centre

‘Teaching and learning pronunciation: Local and global perspectives on research and practice’

A number of Western Australians are presenting at this conference on research connected to Two-Way Literacy and Learning.


International Conference of Adults Learning Mathematics

The 19th International Conference of Adults Learning Mathematics – A Research Forum (ALM19) is to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, from Tuesday June 26 to Friday June 29 2012.

ALM is an international organisation which brings together practitioners and researchers who are involved in mathematics and numeracy education for adult learners in order to inform policy and practice. Information about the conference and registration are available at: