Northern Metropolitan Region

(Note: this page needs updating to include the Western Metro areas of Melbourne.)
photo_-_gate_to_ceres_kingfisher_-_by_woowoowoo_at_flickr.jpgACFE-NMR has a strong history of supporting professional development and networks in the field of technology-enhanced learning. Back in the late nineties, the Northern Region was a real pioneer in the field of "NLT" (New Learning Technologies). There were many innovative projects, including:
  • an early attempt to bring ACE staff into an online communication environment / tool ("First Class", 1998);
  • a regional project to allow up to eight tutors each year to explore their own ideas with technologies in learning (1998-2000). This was like a smaller version of the (approaching) national 'Flexible Learning Leaders' project; each tutor received a laptop for the year and a budget of $1000;
  • involvement in two of the Flexible Learning Networks (NMIT and RMIT/ Learnlinks);

Recent developments (2008-10)

Following on from the Access ACE projects in 2007, the funding that has previously been tendered out as LearnScope, has been used since then to support regional e-mentor positions (support workers for e-learning across the region).
2008: Writer and e-learning specialist Paddy O'Reilly worked to build foundations for mentoring across the Northern region.
2009: The e-mentor project has continued into 2009, with Wayne Burrell of Werribee community centre and Michael Gwyther from YUM productions taking the double role for the newly expanded North + Western ACFE regions.
2010: Michael Chalk and Jill Koppel worked with organisations in the North-West, including Diamond Valley LLC, Carlton NLC, and Thornbury Women's NH. Details over on the e-mentor site.

AccessACE, 2009

Several organisations were involved in the AccessACE e-Learning Research Circles in 2009:
  • Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre - Manrico and Chiemi investigated the ins and outs of evaluating social networking tools.
  • Thornbury Women's Neighbourhood House - Ursula Harrison explored options for developing their organisational strategy for e-learning.
  • Duke St community house - Dale Pobega set up his worldwide Free ESL Club (using blogger and a range of other social networking technologies).
  • Werribee community centre - Wayne Burrell also explored options for developing an organisational strategy.

e-learning innovations projects, 2009 (Australian Flexible Learning Framework)

  • PRACE worked with Moreland Adult education and Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre (CNLC) to develop a series of video screencasts for ACE learners - in a project known as "flexivet" .
  • Werribee community centre explored the use of a moodle environment to enable social learning.

Technologies in the classroom

Several providers have delivered programs such as "Reading, Writing and Computers", "Literacy and Multimedia", "Newsletter Group", "English (ESL) and Computers", where technology is integrated within language and literacy learning. (Olympic, PRACE, Glenroy..)


Olympic Adult Education showcased their literacy-classroom-based use of Hot Potatoes software at a Statewide conference in 1998 (Michael Chalk). They went on to develop a staff intranet with the TafeVC system, and also to trial course delivery for ESL students, through the same system. Sally Thompson, Sue Chamberlain and Cathy Milesi provided the impetus for much of the innovation there. Glenroy, Olympic and PRACE have trialled inter-class communication projects more than once.

Games and audio technologies

In 2005, PRACE conducted a small research project into the use of games for literacy learning. "Play the Game" was a project which investigated games in a class of adult literacy learners with mild intellectual disability (MID). In 2007, PRACE developed a professional development program - "Can you hear me?" - to enable teachers to use audio technologies in language and literacy classrooms.

In 2008, the PRACE audio technologies classroom research was extended out to four more organisations, and a new wiki resource was developed. This year the project invited guest speakers to attend from interstate, via skype internet telephone. The expanded project became known as "Can You Hear Us?"

Networks and professional development

RMIT Learnlinks, aka the RMIT flexible learning community networks, has supported both professional development and flexible learning in the Northern Region; Moreland Adult Ed., Preston Reservoir ACE(PRACE), and Employment Focus have been the NMR partners in this network. Back in 2001, participants in the Learnlinks professional development project presented at the ACE-Net e-conference. (Olympic Adult Education and Glenroy NHLC were a part of the NMIT learning network ('99-02), which worked with libraries to provide public internet access.)

  • Paddy O'Reilly ran a project to encourage networking and collaboration amongst English as a second language (ESL) teachers in the region, using Elluminate (2007) - the project was set up by Northern Regional office together with Victorian Assoc. Teachers in Multicultural Education (VATME).
  • PRACE was involved in the ACFE-funded Access ACE project, run by Josie Rose from the Southern Region (2007). Michael Chalk investigated the use of technologies in a VCAL numeracy classroom.
  • Olympic, Glenroy and PRACE have each been involved with Learnscope projects, most recently using a resource-sharing approach which partly aimed to inform teachers about the very useful acebank resource site.
  • PRACE has provided some facilitation and hosting for a national network of Adult Literacy teachers who use technology in the classroom, known as the "AL-T" or Adult Literacy meets Technology network.
  • Three ACE flexible learning leaders have come from the Northern Region: Moya White and Michael Gwyther (2004), and Michael Chalk (2003). (Although technically Michael G was working for YUM rather than Yarra, and Yarra was not part of the Northern Region until 2006.)

Flexible Learning

David Cauchi worked hard to make the RMIT Learnlinks flexible learning systems (Cert ii in IT) work across more than one provider (Moreland and PRACE). Some resources and certification come out of RMIT, while tutors in the community support learners to study at their own pace.

Employment Focus has done considerable work to provide CD-based flexible learning toward certificates in information technology. Steven Fiyalko has been a driving force there.

Online Resources

Glenroy NHLC undertook a state project to develop a numeracy-learning resource focussing on water as a theme, known as "World Wide Water". (Surely there's a copy of this online somewhere? Yes, in the Framework Archives, and also on ATPL or the TafeVC. ) Lyn Bond and Ruth Godard combined forces to adapt these resources to the screen. (TafeFrontiers 2002)

Olympic Adult Education were responsible for the enormous and inspiring "Online Banking", a resource aimed at adult literacy learners. Cathy Milesi, Sue Chamberlain and Rachael Tempest worked together to produce the online resource; while .. another woman from Morrison House, Sue Chambers, produced a series of six booklets to accompany the site. (New Practices 2003)

PRACE has also produced a couple of online resources aimed at adult learners of low-level ESL and Literacy: "Snakes Alive!" ( - an online audio book, forming part of the Page Turners series, funded by Learnlinks), and "English at the Beach" (- a set of texts and activities based around the theme of the Beach). (2000-7)


Generally the levels of awareness have risen considerably, especially where VCAL programs are run. Many ACE providers have introductions to technology, and language/literacy programs are more likely to incorporate some level of technology. Recent developments in audio-visual web technologies should be making it much easier to engage teachers and learners in communicative and productive practices.


  • It is an ongoing challenge to retain the levels of knowledge within the field. Several of the people mentioned above have left the sector or the region.
  • Teachers in ACE did not benefit from the Laptop Libraries in the same way that teachers in TAFE did, without the compulsory training in using IT in class (?there were some PD programs though).
  • Web 2.0 has recently flooded the worlds of flexible and e-learning, however it is hard to say how much impact this has had on regional classroom activity.
  • With such rapid change occurring in technology use, it is difficult to devise coherent strategies at the organisational level, letalone regional.
  • Local libraries have developed their technological infrastructure and in-house e-learning programs, incorporating programs such as YourTutor and 23Things, but ACE providers have been slow to partner with them.

photo credit: (creative commons at flickr) Thanks: woowoowoo.