Communicating in Community Services

Manager: Susan Monti – susan.monti [at]
Facilitator: Phillipa Bellemore – phillipa.bellemore [at]

Sponsoring RTO: Northern Beaches TAFE – Nth Sydney Institute

Target client groups: disability; community; disengaged

Project summary:
The project aims to develop Community Services teachers at NSI (Northern Beaches College) in:

- The use of a range of social software technologies such as forums, wikis, blogs and digital story telling and photography in order to create a teaching and learning community within the Section between both staff and students
- The range of eLearning resource sharing tools such as Sharepoint in order to develop a resource and assessment repository for staff
A learning management system, such as Janison, in order to develop a more flexible range of delivery modes to students

Online presence:

Postcard from the Field

Proposed LearnScope visit/s: Robyn (workshop) 27 July

Team events


Background to the project:
A need exists to provide more flexible methods of communicating with both students and industry in the area of Community Services. This project will introduce teachers to a range of technologies that will improve communication and training. The project will provide a model for staff and students to follow and will help establish a network of teachers who can share their teaching and learning experiences and support each other through a central resource repository. This will provide us with the opportunity to develop a best practice approach to the development of teaching resources and assessment validation.
The section works closely with industry in providing customised training, particularly in the area of mentoring and specialized skill development. The opportunity to incorporate eLearning resources into the delivery of this training will provide staff with a more effective and relevant teaching platform.
The additional skills developed will also enable teachers to integrate components of online delivery into their classroom and training strategies. A greater diversity of student learning styles can be catered for, thereby enhancing student satisfaction through the provision of increased flexible learning options. Staff satisfaction will be enhanced with the professional development and provision of specific hands on skills for staff.
The project will assist in meeting the Northern Sydney Institute Strategic Plan 2004-2006 KPI of “Increased number of products and services delivered with online support” by providing greater online and flexible learning opportunities for clients.

Proposed project outcomes:
§ Staff will develop skills in the use of the various online communication tools and develop an understanding of their how to apply them
§ Staff will be able to make decisions about the most appropriate and relevant tools to use with learners
§ Staff will develop their own eLearning strategies for the use of online communication tools that best fit their teaching area and develop implementation plans for the use of these tools
§ Staff will develop the confidence to use these tools and to develop teaching resources for their implementation
§ Staff will develop an understanding of the principles of eLearning and develop confidence in adapting delivery strategies to incorporate eLearning
§ Staff will develop an understanding of good principles and practice in blending online and face to face learning
§ The section will develop a sharepoint to improve the dissemination of information, resources and assessments

Benefits to client group:
Ø Students will be given the opportunity to engage in new, flexible ways of learning. Modules will be offered through an action learning approach and learner engagement will be measured through the use of a range of social communication technologies. These will include discussion boards, blogs and wikis.
Ø Students will be given the opportunity to engage in digital storytelling as a valid and legitimate method of presenting community concerns and engaging with the more disadvantaged groups within our society. This will also provide for a more creative assessment regime within the Section.
Ø The use of a Sharepoint within the Section will give students access to a range of resources and opportunities to take responsibility for their own learning. It will provide an effective and efficient mechanism for sharing resources, supporting peer learning opportunities and enhancing collaboration. It will become an invaluable resource for both the further exploration of online communication tools and eLearning technologies and the sharing of resources and assessments.
Ø Regular and ongoing contact between participants will ensure mutual assistance and skill development which will allow for an exploration of ways in which student learning can be enhanced.
Ø By providing students with these skills they will, upon course completion, significantly add to the skill pool within the Community Services Industry with respect to the use of new and emerging technologies.

Evaluation strategies:
The impact of the project will be evaluated using the following strategies:
Ø Retention in the course
Ø Attendance at workshops featuring these skills
Ø Use of the range of social communication software by students – this will be monitored through the sites established
Ø An evaluation survey of all participants at the end of the project to determine attitudes to the continued use of a range of social communication technologies
Ø Sharepoint established and in use

We are capturing our learning via:
The achievement of learning outcomes will be measured in the following ways:
Ø Skills audit given at the commencement of the project and at the conclusion
Ø Reports from individual learning diaries that include descriptions of various learning activities, insights and reflection into what has been gained
Ø Completion of evaluation forms after each training session
Ø Production of a digital story
Ø Use of range of social communication tools within the Section

We hope to share our learning :
The strategies for collaboration are designed to enhance the learning of team participants and are concerned with forging partnerships between participants and other relevant stakeholders that may assist in the development of a community of practice that supports team members upon completion of the project. The team may also collaborate with:
Ø Other LearnScope project teams and LearnScope champions
Ø Other projects of the Flexible Learning Framework

A workshop will be run showcasing the skills learnt to industry partners as a way of fostering social communication strategies with the community services Industry and in promoting the development of ongoing training partnerships.
The team will also use the NSI Knowledge framework strategies and tools to share project learning and outcomes
Showcasing the project and achievements at Institute staff learning and development forums. The project outcomes will also be shared through the Institute e-Learning showcase at the end of the year.

We’ll connect with others via:
Ø Promotion of the team Sharepoint and Blog sites
Ø Publishing reports on the NSI Good News web site
Ø Publishing reports in relevant newsletters
Ø Presentation by project team at senior staff meetings and section meeting
Ø Presentations at the LearnScope Showcase and Networking conference
Ø Articles in TAFE and industry publications
Ø Participation in the TAFE NSW Quality Showcase
Ø Presentation of project outcomes and activities at the LearnScope showcase
Ø Discussion of the project through online networks, especially EdNA websites

Proposed project products/outputs:
Ø Team members will maintain a learning journal (using a blog) that records and reflects of the learning activities undertaken
Ø At team meetings members will provide oral or written reports that share aspects of their learning journey
Ø Individual reports and Blog postings will be amalgamated to form a group report
Ø Learning evaluation tools shall be used and developed to measure the learning taking place
Ø A digital story will be developed
Ø A sharepoint will be established