Here I am at the Gibba Gunya Lodge in Picton NSW getting ready to give a networked learning presentation and wiki workshop to some of the best people in TAFE NSW – The Outreachers. (Note that Outreach does not yet have an entry in the real TAFE website).

Outreach, as its name implies is about reaching out to the disengaged in communities and bringing them into some form of education stream.

Derek Wadell kicked us of, raising the issue of Government clamp down on funding and staffing and introducing a list of interesting speakers. He announced the Federation has acknowledged that Outreach is a separate part of TAFE education. Nods of approval indicates that this is a good thing, and I tend to agree. This preserves the autonomy of Outreach and therefore the great things that they do! Now they just need to work hard to make sure they are not sidelined…

I believe that the Future of TAFE is Outreach. The Department has made some serious errors in judgment in their directions in online learning, commercialising education, spending way too much money on proprietary software and the unfortunate lock in in practice and staff PD, submitting to the IP culture, and basically doing everything they can do close down free and open access to public educational content – therefore making Outreach work very very important.

Outreach has been a little slow in its interest in ICT. That’s been a blessing actually, they have not been sidetracked with the Department’s directions. Now that the Department’s direction is floundering, dealing with the backlash and rebellion in the ranks – I hope Outreach will step into the breach and demonstrate better models for the use of ICTs in education, and help open access to public education opportunities.

So I’m looking forward to my opportunity to give this rant and rave to this welcoming audience, and I really hope I manage to inspire the group and get a spirit of free and open education back into online learning strategies and public education.

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