Callan, V. (2009) How organisations are using e-learning to support national training initiatives Canberra: Australian Flexible Learning Network

This project, funded by  the Australian Flexible Learning Framework, has investigated how organisations are using e-learning in innovative ways that support national initiatives by providing more responsive, flexible and effective approaches to training, particularly in the areas of skills shortage.

Key conclusions (extracts only: LOTS of really good stuff in this report)

e-learning is finding its niche in particular stages or aspects of training, and in particular trade qualification areas that are encountering skills shortages. E-learning is proving to be an excellent tool for the delivery of underpinning knowledge and theory in many trade qualifications, for example, as well as in the delivery of modules that are required for licensing and up-skilling in specific qualification areas.

At least from this project, it is clear that trade teachers in the areas of building and construction and bakery in particular, are leading the way. The plumbing industry is still examining its options for more innovative ways to deliver training. However, it stands as an exemplar in how to explore what is required and what is available with e-learning and other solutions to meeting its skills shortages. Major drivers in each of these industries are the need for more flexibility and the desire for these industries to have more workplace training and assessment.

Trades are using a wide range of e-learning tools up-front at the pre-apprenticeship stage or at the initial stages of the apprenticeship training. They are exploring innovative ways to assess competency for tasks completed on-the-job. E-learning is integral to redesigning training so that less time is spent at the training provider and more time, or even all of the time, is allocated to on-the-job skills development.

E-learning is seen at its best where it exists in contexts that encourage collaborative learning and interaction. There is a need for continued efforts at engaging learners, their teachers and their employers as joint collaborators in the learning experience. The development of social networking tools will assist here. In addition, most see huge potential for the use of virtual environments for training in the trades and related areas. These tools will assist in allowing better designed learning tasks to assist learners to conceptualise their practical experiences. It is expected that technologies of the future will provide more 3D, more immersive forms of tasks, and more use of animation. New technologies will allow better replication of the
actual workplace environment in which the learning occurs, with all of its interrelated and multiple demands.

My comments

Australia is clearly a leader in the use of e-learning for vocational training, and Australian employers have been quicker than most in seeing the value of e-learning.

Thanks again to Richard Elliott’s eLearning Watch for recommending this.


  1. Hi,

    Yes, a pretty comprehensive document, but, for me, two things were missing:

    Firstly, although the term e-Portfolio was mentioned many times, there was no description, illustrations or links provided to the software used and what tools/functionalities were included and, for that matter, how much the provision of such software cost.

    Secondly, despite the general approval of the educational benefits of e-Portfolios, as a teacher I would like to have seen how they were used. I would have liked to see the evidences of what processes such as collaboration, peer assessments, formative assessments by tutors and mentors, reflection and presentation were used.

    Perhaps we could ask for a supplement?

    Best Wishes
    Ray T


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