ASET logo
[ OLNT'90 contents ] [ EdTech Confs ]

Opening panel session

Colin Latchem, Conference Chair
Kevin Woods, Wally Howse, Colin Sims and Rob Meecham

Colin Latchem, Conference Chair

May I introduce the panel to you. Kevin Woods, the Executive Director of the WA Department of TAFE, Wally Howse, Executive Director of the Western Australian Distance Education Consortium (WADEC), Colin Sims from Woodside Offshore Petroleum and Rob Meecham from the Trades and Labor Council of WA.

I shall invite each member of the panel to address the issue of open learning for five minutes or so, then invite comments and questions from the audience. This is really the point at which we set the scenario for the conference and try to establish a platform of ideas on open learning and new technology.

Kevin Woods is the Executive Director of WA TAFE. Kevin trained as a cartographer at Perth Technical College and worked as a consulting land surveyor for 15 years before joining TAFE as a lecturer in surveying and cartography. In 1969 he graduated in surveying from WAIT, now Curtin University of Technology, where he went on to take graduate diplomas in education and in science education. In 1984 he was awarded an MBA from UWA and since then has been pursuing a PhD. Kevin spent 20 years with TAFE as lecturer, as head of department and as the inaugural director of the Great Southern Regional College at Albany. Now, in his present capacity as Director, Kevin firmly believes that TAFE has to become more competitive. He sees industry challenging institutional educational programmes. The current restructuring of TAFE aims at making the organisation more responsive to the changing needs of industry.

Kevin Woods

I want to draw on some of my past experiences and philosophies to do with open learning and new technology, before I move into the second part of the brief. I've had several opportunities to look at the application of technologies in educational settings through a number of visits to other parts of the world[1]. While I was in Canada I had brought home to me very clearly the meaning of open learning, as distinct from closed learning where we have an institutional setting and an array of people in a captive audience. I was at a little place called Comox on Vancouver Island, which is off the coast of British Columbia. My itinerary included a visit to a college called North Island College. I had driven from Victoria, the capital of British Columbia along the coast to Comox and sampled some of the smoked salmon along the way. Given directions to North Island College, and expecting to see, as one would in Australia, a magnificent bricks and mortar facility (a monument to some past political campaign perhaps), I drove around for about half an hour looking for this college. I used to pride myself in being able to find any place anywhere in the world, because I'd been well trained as a surveyor and cartographer and I thought maps were something I could read well. In fact, I was reading the map extremely well. What I wasn't reading was the definition of "college".

The North Island College definition of college was a house. Inside the house there were about half a dozen people who serviced a region covered mainly by snowfields with a couple of planes and a couple of roving tutors. They provided a completely open system of education from a small house on the shores of a lovely little bay, with salmon jumping out of the water. They ran this entire system of some 10 000 students, using open education systems, technology based solutions, and "just in time" solutions. There were a lot of people out there who required education and training but you could not build a bricks and mortar institutional facility in the snowfields of British Columbia. For a start there are no roads. This showed me the differences between closed learning and open learning and how to use a whole range of strategies.

The Minister referred to some open learning initiatives that TAFE is currently implementing, where you look at who the client is, what the client needs in terms of the range of skills formation programmes and then look at the best way to provide for these needs. It may be necessary to build a magnificent building like this one we are using tonight, have people come to it between certain hours and thus supply a range of learning opportunities for students. On the other hand, it may not be necessary, or even desirable. One of the questions that TAFE is looking at in its long term planning is how we may move away from training location to learning enterprise. This is a fundamental shift in our thinking. For example, the Minister made reference to the college that was sought by one of our northern towns for 30 odd million dollars. If you were to commit that sort of funding to capital works, you would be locking out a whole range of learning opportunities that might be better provided by adopting a completely different mindset about education, training and skills formation.

If you think of training location, you think of a building. If you think of learning enterprise you think of a mindset. You think about how you can solve the problems of providing educational and training opportunities using whatever resources and technologies you have at your disposal. The Minister referred to the importance of not letting the technologies drive what you do, but using the technologies that are necessary when they are necessary. I am reminded of some of these "just in time" concepts. I was born and raised in Kalgoorlie and I recall visiting the School of the Air as a child. They used some "just in time" technologies to serve a wide range of students at remote locations who could not get to an institution. Pedal radios were around in those days and on the outback stations we used the pedal radio technology to help provide the service the clients needed. The School of the Air is still alive and well today. In the future they may be using technology based upon satellites and land based fibre optics systems. The point to be remembered is that there was a technological solution to an educational delivery problem and the educators and the technologists got together and helped to solve the problem. To me that is what open learning is about. It means taking yourself out of a closed system and opening up the way you view technology and how you might apply it in an appropriate sense.

The other part of the brief that I was given tonight was to canvas TAFE's role in serving retraining and continuing education needs, using new systems such as open learning and new delivery mechanisms. We think of skilled and we start moving that across to multiskilled. I was skilled in narrow band surveying and mapping. These days we talk about how to multiskill. With multiskilling we're talking about breaking away from a narrow band curriculum and thinking about the challenges that this places upon educators. You are then moving towards skills formation. Training is something narrow, but skills formation provides a whole range of skills around a complex area that makes people multiskilled. There are technological challenges and mind challenges moving us to training skills formation. TAFE is trying to shift in this direction, from programme autonomy to programme integration.

When I was one of the first students on this campus in 1968, we had a Department of Surveying and Mapping, which was a very good department. We had single programmes which were not integrated into, for example, the computer department or the accounting department. When I went from my training as a surveyor to do an MBA at UWA, I had to start multiskilling myself in human resource management, accounting, computing, and all those other areas which would have been very useful to me had we had programme integration back in 1968.

We start looking at forces that drive education to respond to clients' needs and we go from resource driven thinking to market driven thinking. Who are our clients? How do we satisfy their needs? What sort of education and training solutions do we choose? How can technology help us? We change from being a specific trainer to being an integrated provider. To illustrate my point, I refer to my days as Director of Great Southern College, where we used to provide specific training within TAFE. We also provided for eleven university programmes on that campus by integrating the TAFE component with the university component. The college became an integrated provider using a range of technologies and open systems, ensuring access to education that would not have been available if we had been confined to specific TAFE programmes.

We are moving from centrally managed systems to managed processes of change within TAFE. The whole idea is to set up a system that is highly responsive and not as bureaucratic as it used to be. The people who operationalise the policy, out there in the field, set the policy. We have to look at the processes that drive the organisation and make sure that our managers of those processes are involved. We move from inflexibility and rigidity to just in time concepts.

I mentioned moving from the concept of training location to learning enterprise. We are very much aware of the college without campus model within TAFE. We do not need campuses to have colleges. We need learning enterprise mindsets and the ability to solve problems with the aid of technologies.

Looking at the range of presenters at this conference, I am envious that I can't be here longer. There are a number of TAFE people in the programme and as the one who has prime responsibility to government to ensure that the TAFE system is alive and well, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to see that these staff have been encouraged and motivated to embrace new solutions. I commend them, as I commend all the presenters. I hope you have a successful conference.

Colin Latchem, Conference Chair

Colin Sims is Senior Training Officer with Woodside Offshore Petroleum based in Karratha. Before joining Woodside in 1982, Colin was involved in training at various overseas locations and in his current work is responsible for all Production Division technical, developmental and administrative training. He has a team of twelve training specialists working with him. I was particularly interested to note that Woodside has recently invited expressions of interest from organisations and individuals to work on the company's innovative offshore and inshore training programmes. I hope this intersector, consultative type of activity is going to be a growing trend. We felt it was particularly important to invite Colin to tell us about the kind of work he does, the needs of industry and the kinds of support that industry expects from those who would seek to provide open learning.

Colin Sims

A couple of days ago I was wondering why I had been invited to talk to you tonight. I looked at a paper by William Hall[2] and noted in it the table by Freshwater. I thought of our activities at Karratha in Woodside's Production Division and I started writing "yes", or "no", or "some of it" alongside his checklist on open learning. I thought, "We seem to be into open learning." Someone obviously recognised that before I did. Which really is the crux of the point I want to make tonight. I am not committed to any particular training or educational philosophy, or any particular technology. However, I wish to tell you the kinds of problems that we face at Woodside in order to illustrate our need for flexibility in training methodology.

The Production Division at Woodside in Karratha must continue to provide various topics of training to a diverse workforce in a changing organisational environment. Although development of production facilities continues with the construction of LNG Train 3 and the Goodwin Platform, the company's operations have reached a fairly steady state. For training, this means that personnel changes are due mainly to turnover, transfers or promotions. The result of this is that employee change occurs at a low volume. Additionally, it is not easy to release employees for training at times convenient to all participants and all supervisors. Another problem is the relative isolation of the Pilbara region. Obviously we do not have the density of services available in the city. Thus training resources often have to be transported to a site at mutually convenient times. Occasionally production imperatives occur at times which are not convenient to anyone and which cut across training courses. It can always be argued, and it often is, that if training were considered important enough to run in the first place, it should not be interrupted by unforeseen production needs. But in the real world it can, and does, happen.

Training is just like maintenance or toolbox meetings, or like production quotas or budgeting. These operations are all part of the same business and each one requires attending to. The fact is that as trainers who perform a service for other sections of the organisation, we must supply a product that fits each section's business.

The situations I have outlined require that the training service we offer must allow for the individual requirements of the student, satisfy the needs of the organisation for a skilled workforce and offers a well structured learning system that produces desired results. We can no longer manage our organisational affairs and persist with training methods which are best called traditional. The Production Division of Woodside has, and must continue to explore, various means of providing for its workforce with regard to training in the future. Our goal is simple - to supply good quality training economically to a workforce which requires a high degree of flexibility in the management of its learning.

Colin Latchem, Conference Chair

I now introduce Dr Wally Howse, the Director of the Western Australian Distance Education Consortium (WADEC). Based at Murdoch University, the WADEC is responsible for ensuring that the external studies courses provided by Curtin University of Technology, Murdoch University and the WA College of Advanced Education are complementary to each other and of a high standard. Dr Howse is experienced in secondary and tertiary science teaching. He was a TAFE Superintendent and later Director of TAFE in Tasmania; he has been a member of commonwealth and state commissions and numerous boards and committees, and he has also been a delegate for Australia to the OECD in Paris. He is a licensed amateur radio operator and has played a key role in establishing the Wireless Hill Telecommunications Museum at Melville. Those of us who have worked with Wally over the years, on the Western Australian Satellite Education Advisory Group (WASEAG), EdTV and many other committees, have a very high regard for his management skills and ability to find the way through the various bureaucracies that seem ever with us. He is interested in modern communications and progressive strategies in distance education and open learning.

Wally Howse

I shall talk a little about the Western Australian Distance Education Consortium (WADEC) to start with. It has three members, Curtin, Murdoch and the WA College of Advanced Education (WACAE), and TAFE is an Associate Member. I am very pleased to have Kevin Woods or his nominee on the WADEC Board of Management, and at the operational level we have the Director of the TAFE External Studies College working with us. The University of Western Australia is not a direct member as its policy is to not move into distance education. WADEC's funding comes from Commonwealth grants. These grants are for external students who are undertaking degree and other programmes at our member institutions. The role of WADEC is to identify external studies needs for courses from our institutions and to develop or revise the course materials that meet these needs.

Western Australia is the only state with a multi institutional membership DEC. It is a consortium, not a centre. This means we harness a great deal of expertise in distance education, which under our charter, the Memorandum of Understanding, is now available to the member institutions, government and other organisations. We offer about 840 units of study for undergraduate and postgraduate awards from the member institutions. We have over 4000 students enrolled in these units. The wide range of disciplines in Western Australian distance education gives us a good opportunity, matched perhaps by only one of the other eight national DECs established by the Commonwealth government.

To illustrate the expertise I referred to, there are a number of presentations at this conference by people who are involved with WADEC and WADEC related projects. WADEC secured some National Priority (Reserve) Fund Commonwealth grants in 1990. These include funding for an Interactive Video Disc for Japanese Languages and Computer Assisted Learning tools for Chinese languages. These are projects of national significance. Grants have also been made for video conferencing at Curtin and WACAE. You will hear presentations relating to these tomorrow.

I wish to give a few personal views on open learning. In 1974 I was a member of the Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education, which coined the name TAFE and brought the Commonwealth Government into technical and further education. We produced a report running to several volumes[3], in which we wrote about new directions for TAFE, including self paced learning, open access, equity, participation and facilities for the handicapped. The whole concept of open learning was pushed hard in the Kangan Committee Report[3]. So I don't need to be persuaded of the value of open learning.

The open learning philosophy, I believe, is brilliant. However, I should make reference to the fact that higher education's attitudes towards open learning need to change. For example, at the moment we force - I use the word force, a nice prejorative word - students to enrol at the same time and to sit examinations at the same time as internal students. Some institutions allow external students to take longer over their studies, but I don't think anyone allows them to cover the work in a shorter period of time. Self paced learning suggests that we need more in the way of challenge assessments.

There should be more recognition and acceptance of the experience and learning gained in the outside world. Educational institutions have no monopoly on the location of teaching and learning. And of course there is the issue of credit transfer. It is nonsense, I believe, that many faculties in higher education institutions will not accept a TAFE diploma for anything other than meeting the entry requirements for higher education. To give credit is meaningful because, in my experience in both TAFE and higher education, TAFE studies reach up well and truly into first and often second year university level work in many of its diploma courses. Credit transfer should be granted by our universities.

Finally, I would question why is face to face teaching so much more important than external studies in the ethos of academic staff? We have complaints of staff being overloaded. Many lecturers believe that learning can only take place if they talk and tell. Few, it seems, have heard of that new technology called built in orderly organised knowledge (the acronym of that I'll leave to you) or understand that the student is capable of using this knowledge. We need to look at ways in which we can change attitudes of staff in higher education and open up learning. Perhaps I am on dangerous ground, but after 18 months of recent work with the Ministry of Education on award restructuring for school teachers, I suggest that industrial awards might provide one incentive to change some of these attitudes.

Colin Latchem, Conference Chair

Rob Meecham is a graduate of the University of Western Australia. He became Assistant Secretary of the Trades and Labor Council of WA in 1983. He is responsible for the areas of occupational health and safety, the arts, Aboriginal and ethnic affairs, secondary education, economic development and administration of the TLC office. Rob has represented the TLC at several International Labour Organisation conferences and missions. He is the TLC representative on the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Commission, the State Productivity Council, the Community Liaison Group of the Industrial Relations Department at UWA and he is the alternate executive delegate to the ACTU. Having enjoyed and learned from John Halfpenny's views on distance education at last year's ASPESA conference[4], we felt that it was very important to invite Rob along to give us the employees' and the unions' views on the need for retraining and lifelong learning and how open learning fits in with these views.

Rob Meecham

I appreciate the invitation to be here. I wish I'd known about John Halfpenny's contribution a little bit earlier. I could have rung him and asked him what he said.

As you'll note from the list of areas that I cover within the Trades and Labor Council, it covers secondary education and I have been grappling with some of the issues there relating to the Secondary Education Authority and the future of the upper school curriculum. Higher education is normally the area of responsibility of the secretary, Clive Brown, but unfortunately when the conference organisers wrote to us they put my name on it, and in the true tradition of all great bureaucracies, that meant that I was going to deal with it, whether it was my area or not. Nonetheless we do have some views on the issue.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I thought that open learning was associated only with the Open University in Great Britain. I didn't realise that there are some fairly important implications of open learning for the trade union movement's agenda. There are concerns about leaping straight into learning without considering all the consequences. This is tied in with our award restructuring agenda. Award restructuring is going to require broad changes in training, particularly for workers currently in the work force. Restructured awards will have associated training levels that will need to be achieved by individual workers. They will then have rates of pay associated with the skills that they gain. This raises some very significant questions for us.

The questions relate to the skills that the worker is going to have and which the employer is going to use. Who is going to pay for the training? Who will pay for the worker's time while he or she is involved in the training? Is this training going to be in the worker's time, or is it going to be in the employer's time? How should this time be divided? Who is going to pay for the training that is received through institutions?

We can see that open learning will be a very effective mechanism for the delivery of training, but will the questions I've raised be answered? Currently we are looking at installing in the awards themselves paid time off to enable workers to obtain the training they need, so that it will be the employer who pays. We are encouraging employers to pay the institutions that are delivering the training, but open learning definitely raises the possibility that a lot of this training can take place in the worker's own time. We can see that the employers are going to welcome that possibility. This issue needs to be addressed.

The second issue concerns the industrial implications for the teachers and the deliverers of training. Does open learning mean that the teaching role is reduced? What is the impact on the teachers and traditional deliverers of these services? We believe that it is necessary to use work places as training institutions. We will not be able to afford to provide the resources to organisations such as TAFE to purchase all the equipment needed for training. It is just too expensive. Equipment used in the work place will have to assume a training role as well as a production role. Open learning offers advantages in ensuring that we can use live equipment and other resources on site in the training role.

The trade union movement is pursuing comprehensive training associated with the award restructuring agenda. The pressure from employers is often for short courses that target very specific knowledge issues. Employers prefer to have a two or four week course rather than the provision of broad training in all the aspects of particular occupations. We want to make sure that open learning does not increase the danger of us having a lot of short courses with workers acquiring very specific knowledge and then being able to do only specific tasks, losing the benefits of a broader background.

A related issue is transferable skills. We want to make sure that any of the knowledge that is gained is transferable, so that workers are not limited to work within just one organisation. The skills they gain must be able to be transferred when they leave a particular organisation. Open learning must not be used in such a way that it provides skills that are too narrowly defined.

The credentialling of courses is very important to us because it is associated with levels of pay under restructured awards. When workers have gained new knowledge or skills by completing a course, these must be recognised and the workers should gain formal certification. The issues of articulation and transfer of credit towards TAFE and even higher education qualifications also need to be addressed.

These are the areas of concern to us in the TLC. We are positive about open learning. We believe in encouraging open learning. We will have to move towards lesser reliance on institutional training. We do not want whiz bang technologies being introduced for their own sake. We want to see technology being used in a positive way to ensure that people have knowledge and skills that are worthwhile. We congratulate the organisers of this conference and wish everyone well tomorrow.

Questions from the floor

Kevin Chennell, SE Metro College of TAFE

I was interested in Wally's description of WADEC membership. It is great that TAFE is an associate member, but I wondered why it is not a full member. Are we eligible for Commonwealth grants for our TAFE external studies initiatives? Is that something we can address?

Kevin Woods

WADEC was an initiative to get higher education institutions to collaborate and be more cohesive in the provision of university external studies. Isn't that so, Wally?

Wally Howse

That's certainly correct. However, we are different from the other states in that WADEC does involve TAFE. However, full membership would require a contribution to the costs of WADEC. When I talked about WADEC being funded by the Commonwealth what I should have emphasised was that the government has funded it, not as add-on monies, but by taking monies away from the member institutions. Higher education certainly benefits from the WADEC association with TAFE. For example, one of the things in my charter is to look at credit transfer from TAFE into higher education in the external studies area.

WADEC is another of those Commonwealth resource driven models where they encourage people to do things, not by giving them money, but by withholding money. The Minister made reference to a new cooperative venture in telecommunications and education, Edtel. This is not a resource driven model, but a cooperative venture, encouraging higher education, TAFE, the school system and others, to apply their resources to satisfy a particular client need. In WA it is particularly pleasing to see the level of cooperation that exists between the institutional providers. I think we are unique, certainly ahead of other states in that regard.

Lyn Smith, Central Metropolitan College

I am manager of the Customised Training Agency at the Central Metropolitan College. Given that this country is experiencing economic doldrums and needs improved education and training, I wonder whether we need an institution similar to the UK Open University facilitating open learning, including television broadcasting?

Kevin Woods

If Australia sits back on its heels it could have an Open University from Singapore within five to ten years. Australia should do more in the direction you indicate. Our northern neighbours are very keen on education and training with technology based solutions and may try to provide such a service to Australia. At the moment, there is still the potential for things to be the other way around. There are precedents for us to follow. For example, in Pennsylvania there is a privately funded education dedicated television channel via cable. When cable television came in, the people who obtained the rights to cable TV had to pay an additional premium. That funds a community channel which is mainly dedicated to education.

Wally Howse

I will strike a more sobering and sceptical note. One hour is one hour and one channel is one channel and therefore it is difficult to envisage the scheduling of a wide range of teaching through television. There is a place for it, but I think that there is another, more fundamental, philosophical aspect. This is whether you want degrees which are separate and distinct as with Open University degrees, or whether you want degrees that are indistinguishable by the mode in which you have undertaken the instruction. A Murdoch degree, a Curtin degree or a WA College degree obtained through external studies is indistinguishable from that obtained by internal study. That is an important distinction between the UK Open University and our tradition in Australia.

Rob Meecham

I would be surprised if it is five years before the Singaporeans are able to provide that service. We were there last year looking at the National Productivity Board's 20 storey building, funded by the Japanese and complete with television studios and the latest electronic equipment. They were talking about the satellite training programmes they were going to start. Singapore is already moving in that direction and they are moving quicker than we are.

Patrick Guiton, Murdoch University

I would like to comment on the last question and the answers given. One of the aspects of openness provided by the system that Wally has described is having degrees integrated into existing conventional institutions rather than into an open university. When you have an open university, you have a separate educational system for your distance education students. Under the system that is characteristic of Australia, students get the same degree accredited by the same institution. Another aspect of openness is the flexibility to move between internal and external study. With institutions located in a city like this, many of the students mix their study modes and there is an openness of education which would not be available to them in a single open university. Last year at Murdoch we did a survey and found that over 60% of our graduates had at some stage mixed their modes of study and had taken advantage of flexibility of enrolment between on campus and off campus study.

Peter Forrest, Open Learning Agency

I would like to pick up something that Rob Meecham said because it is germane to the whole conference. What is going to happen to the teachers, he asked? He raised the issue of open learning and teachers. In this state we have some 20,000 teachers, lecturers and trainers. These are the people who should be contributing to open learning. But they won't unless they become aware of what open learning is. How are we going to inform these people? Unless they are informed they won't be able to practise open learning. Staff development for teachers is very important. If we are to use open learning effectively, perhaps we should direct it first of all to teachers. Maybe I can ask any of the panel members to comment on that because it really is important to the conference.

Kevin Woods

I made a couple of comments on the changes that TAFE is making. One change is from skill to multiskill. I include within that multiskill concept the training of our TAFE teachers to embrace open learning approaches. It is fundamental that if you do not have the appropriate training in open learning for the people who deliver education, it just won't happen. Amongst my reading for this weekend, I have the report on the restructuring of our TAFE External Studies College. I expect it to say something about TES becoming a focus for promoting the use of open learning by TAFE teachers. The college could become a resource centre for research and staff skills training in open learning. You are right. It is fundamental to any successful programme that you have people engaged in it who understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Wally Howse

I will comment on that from the WADEC point of view. I have already mentioned my experiences in award restructuring for school teachers in the Ministry of Education. I have had talks with the Ministry as to how we could help in the very big task of staff development that lies in front of them.

Mal Evans, Western Australian Police Academy

I would like to direct a question to Colin Sims. Colin, your area involves a wide range of skills training. To many people, open learning implies information sessions being conveyed by various media. But in your case, I am sure that you have a lot of hands on training. Are you using open learning techniques for hands on, practical training and if so, how?

Colin Sims

We look at a training problem to analyse what needs to be done before we look for the solutions. We don't walk into something and think, "What is the open learning solution to this?" There are practical skills components in a lot of the training we do. Open learning does not mean just technology. It means that you come up with a solution to a problem. That may involve some technology, or some computer based training or assessment. It may also involve instructions to the student on who to talk to or work with, for practical exercises in the plant. You can have guided practical learning provided you have someone close by to provide help should it be needed. Quite often we are training people who already have training in a trade. They are normally perfectly capable of picking things up providing that practical work is structured well enough. They receive feedback, because sometimes they get stuck. That is one approach, or the training may be partly technology based, for the theory information, and partly instructor based, for the practical work. Whatever works best is what should be used.

Christine Lawrence, Centre for Aboriginal Studies, Curtin University

Could anybody on the panel tell me please how open learning can benefit equity and access in education?

Wally Howse

Where open learning is provided, people can choose to study what, where, when, how and why they study. There is no limitation on geographical location. Open learning certainly is going to help those who are limited by economic, employment or other constraints which prevent their attendance at campuses. That is a major contribution to equity and access.

Rob Meecham

One of the benefits for disadvantaged groups is that open learning can relieve people from having to attend the classroom situation. They can tackle learning tasks by themselves without pressure from peer groups or others around them. People who have a poor self image, or poor self esteem, can learn by themselves without being put off the learning task by an inhibiting classroom environment or the ways in which others are performing.

I think that people who are not used to the traditional training institution will benefit from open learning.

Colin Sims

We are currently engaged on a major safety training project which involves aspects of open learning. We realised that we had to consider the question of reading age when designing these materials. Otherwise we might have prepared the package and some people wouldn't have been able to access it at all. It is obvious that things like safety bulletins must be easy for everybody to read. In the process of putting this project together, we had to think about open learning in a multifaceted way. The needs of minorities aren't always that obvious.

Wally Howse

Can I mention an initiative in the use of electronic mail in the Kimberleys, where my son is a computer consultant for the Ministry of Education. Using computers and the Telecom network, students in those remote schools can communicate with other schools via electronic mail. Thus the technology of open learning, from cassettes to satellites, can help achieve access and equity.

Colin Latchem

I hope that this session has whet both your appetite for our dinner and for the wide range of issues that will be discussed tomorrow. On your behalf I would like to thank the members of the panel for providing us with contexts for our thinking on open learning.


  1. Woods, Kevin J. (1988). Overseas travelling fellowship report. Perth: Office of TAFE.

  2. Hall, William. (1988). Open learning. Australian Journal of TAFE Research and Development, 3(2), 1-5.

  3. Kangan, M. (Chair). (1974). TAFE in Australia: Report on needs in technical and further education. Canberra: Australian Government Printing Services.

  4. ASPESA (Australian and South Pacific External Studies Association). (1989). 9th biennial forum: Distance education for training in business and industry, 10-14 July 1989, Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education.

Please cite as: Latchem, C. (Chair) (1990). Opening panel session. In R. Atkinson and C. McBeath (Eds.), Open Learning and New Technology: Conference proceedings, 15-27. Perth: Australian Society for Educational Technology WA Chapter.

[ OLNT'90 contents ] [ EdTech Confs ] [ ASET Home ]
This URL:
© 1990 The authors and ASET WA Chapter.
Last revised: 27 Apr 2003. HTML editor: Roger Atkinson
Previous URL 30 Apr 1998 to 30 Sep 2003: