Apprentices embrace new learning model 

Swinburne University Senior Educator Philip Morley

Building and carpentry apprentices in Central Australia will be able to fast-track their studies around their work commitments with a new blended learning approach adopted by Charles Darwin University (CDU).

The University’s Alice Springs campus has adopted a model used by Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

Students who traditionally completed two-week block intensives can now complete their studies on-line and attend training on-campus where they learn and achieve specific competencies.

CDU will soon build a $350,000 computer lab at Alice Springs to help support the students. Similar facilities will be built at the Casuarina campus next year as the program is rolled out across the Territory.

Swinburne University Senior Educator Philip Morley has spent six weeks in Alice Springs teaching students and helping to implement the new system.

He said it appealed to students and employers because it allowed both to plan studies around work schedules.

“It works very well in an environment like the Northern Territory where students are often out bush on contract and can complete their studies during the quiet times,” he said.

Mr Morley said some students were initially resistant to using computers, but soon realised the programs were easy to follow and user-friendly.

“Back in Melbourne we had students who didn’t want to use computers, but almost all made an easy transition,” he said. “With schools now pushing students to complete Year 12, most students are easy adopters.”

He also said the new program allowed lecturers to focus on students only when they needed guidance.

“With up-do-date, on-line learning tools and strong support from management, this is a much better way of teaching because we can focus on students who are struggling,” he said.

CDU Team Leader for Trades in Central Australia Justin Busse said he greatly appreciated Mr Morley’s efforts.

“Having him here has been brilliant for the campus and we are grateful to learn from someone who helped design this system and this strengthens the relationship between two dual sector universities,” he said.