Education should be designed with flexibility at the core. This does not mean just scheduling settings. It should allow a person to decide a path that balances personal satisfaction and fulfillment, with skills that are necessary for the economic development of the society that enables it. This is something the Australian government understood before most. It is no coincidence the country ranks second in the Education rubric of the Human Development Index as of 2015.
A Moodlerooms’ E-Learn Magazine article features the case of the Challenger Institute, a first-hand witness of sorts of the sophisticated evolution of the Australian skills framework. The timeline also recounts the efforts of Challenger to strengthen a goal-based learning, where only what works is practiced and every part of the practice works.
What is known today as Challenger held its first class in 1900, with 116 all-male students. At the time, four state-run universities encompassed the whole of Australian higher education, accounting for little over 2,500 students. Education policy development commissions, following British tradition, increased the number of institutions, government offices and tertiary education population throughout the century. In the 1970s the figure of colleges of Technical and Further Education was born, which kept growing in students and capacities over the next decades, eventually gaining the ability to award bachelor degrees.
In the 1990s, the government created the AQF (Australian Qualification Framework) as an effort to consolidate existing standards. A key element in flexibility received attention when “Recognition of Prior Learning” (RPL) rolled over to the new framework, allowing prospective students many alternatives to prove their skills and get better placement accordingly. The AQF began implementation in 1995, and reach mandatory status by 2000. In 1996, the Challenger became a Statutory Authority for Western Australia, with a set of cross-sectional qualifications available.
In 2009, the government of Western Australia set up a training department to promote TAFEs that would become more autonomous and enjoy “greater scope for flexibility and innovation“, including a revised AQF. In December, the Freemantle TAFE finally settled on the name for which it was later known: the Challenger Institute of Technology. Today, the Challenger in Australia lives under the umbrella of WA’s South Metropolitan TAFE and offers services to other 9 countries in Oceania, Asia, the Middle East and South America.
The Challenger has been adept to elearning early on, and as it is often the case with pioneers, it was not easy. And while they are at the forefront of online offerings, ongoing efforts take place to keep up both students and teachers’ technical skills to optimize online education.
The Challenger has been adept to the RPL process outlined by Australian education law. Its system goes beyond certified qualifications and includes validation of a students’ relevant life experiences. Joining at an ideal level of training is as easy as stopping, thanks to a leveled, multi-certification scheme. Moodlerooms as the LMS allows students, particularly self-directed, lifelong learners, to keep track of their advancement, even if they have paused studies for a long time.