It is no secret that the influence learning material developers has on the industry is vital but to what extend can we as roleplayers tolerate personal views instead of sticking to plain definitions and SAQA guidelines.
The alarming fact is that it slips through SETA processes and learners accept the course outlay and content as absolute truth.
We can however blaim the SETA's but there must be a way of influencing the developer directly by highlighting the fact that SAQA guidelines and definitions is sufficient and important and any other "agenda" whether it is political, personal or social is irrelevant.
If there is no sollution to this problem then I guess the line is drawn.
Des, I fully concur with your view. My sense is that if a course developer develops courses in a field in which he has studied and is knowledgable, he will of necessity develop views that may NOT always follow the 'meanstream' or template, but express personal views based on supporting research. The notion that there is somehow a common 'line' just seem unrealistic.
Hi to all, thank you for an interesting - an very important - discussion. If I understand the original issue it concerns developers writing material from a particular political point of view. It would be helpful for us non-developers following the discussion to know: what are the guidelines from SAQA on this subject? You could attach a document or include a SAQA website link - or quote a specific passage. What does SAQA have to say about explaining political approaches - for example, is balance required? Or is the material to be neutral? Or is there a requirement for the developer to state their bias?
Recently I read through a Unit Standard on Business Administration NQF 4 and clearly I could see that the developer is anti-government. It is all about corruption and white-collar crimes and topics that we know have been cut and paste but in such a way that the poor learner will have a weak image about government and conditions in South Africa.
There is where I say that the Developer has crossed the line since clearly the content indicates the developer feelings or maybe it was not read during the "cut and paste" phase.
Write material in such a way where your own feelings and biasness does not apply since material should be objective and not subjective - hence my belief of believing in a more passive voice, where the objective is on the topic and not on the doer...
Or material directly attacks the government and current systems and procedures ... we suppose to uplift, not depressed.
Sylvia, I will say that material should be neutral and balanced... that is my view. Only when something is objective and based on the topic, nothing else... it can be seen as the starting point of quality development within education and training.
Myself I am pro-government, but I don't write it in all policies and procedures I have to do, I don't slip it in learning material, I don't try to influence anyone...I just write it purely according to what it should be. But I will have a more possitive approach. Even with subjects I don't agree - I just write what I know is the guidelines and the correct approach according to set criteria.
Then you do get a view jokes in material such as .... to sell sick leave ... it was written in that employers should buy sick leave from employees to motivate them not to be absent .... REALLY! I laugh and then realised this is what is going out and it is not funny - it is actually illegal. Or ... talking about correct spelling and then the developer write "mis-spelling" - I tend to laugh about it and then just correct it but maybe there is not another Bianca and a learner gets that material. Then no-one will be smiling...:)
The point I am trying to make is that learning material that contains "personal opinions" can be classified as outside the scope of the guidelines provided by SAQA.Whether it takes you 1 day or 10 days to develop a learner guide is irrelevant or whether you sell your product for R10 000 or R50 000. Just stay in line within the guidelines.
I agree the responsibility lies with the accredited provider to make sure the material is of good quality but if you are dealing with an emerging provider surely the responsibility falls back on the developer.
Flood the market with good quality learning material and focus on the implementation of it and let the best man win in the implementation arena.Let's focus on quality and all will benefit in the long run.
In response to Sylvia's question about specific guidelines on political views included in learning material: I do not think that there are specific reference to this aspect anywhere - but I stand to be corrected. I believe that this is rather one of those implied aspects of professional conduct. One could certainly go back and find guidelines in the constitution to justify whatever you would like to prove as a point, but is it not common expectation that a suitably qualified programme developer would understand the ethical conduct required on such topics? After all, the outcomes and purpose of the design brief (or unit standard requirements) will be interpreted and unpacked before material gets sourced and packaged in whatever mode of delivery is chosen. And here again I need to refer to the economics and quality assurance aspects pointed out by other responses. It cannot be ignored in terms of what finally ends up in a training room. If a developer comes up with rubbish, who needs to chuck it out? I fail to see the relevance of pursuing the argument of 'personal opinion'. Then where do you draw the line in terms of 'personal experience' built into the programme? If the programme and it's content is not suitable - and there are many criteria that should determine that - then the system should not allow it to be used. Where is the Moderator, the person or body who gave the brief for the programme, the feedback from the Facilitator, even the Assessor? I prefer to develop within a team so that we can cross-check each other all the time for balance in all aspects...
There is enough room in the system to identify such unsuited material and get rid of it. The developer will eventually realise that his opinion is not relevant and makes his offering unsuited.
It seems to me that the Molls have identified such material and I suggest that they appeal the approval of the material by the SETA that allowed it. Let's try out the mechanisms that is supposedly meant to quality assure. If you feel strong enough about this, you will bite the bullet and put in an appeal. I am sure that there must be a way where there is a will.
Prevention is beter than cure.Other sectors where human life is at stake know this beter than we do. Appeal processes is there if there is no other option.
Internal moderators, assessors and FACILITATORS plays an important part in the implementation of learning material and are not consulted before - that is why I am challenging learning material developers to focus on quality by following straight forward guidelines contained in the SAQA documents.
I have heard all the business talk before and unfortunately it creates problems in the system right through the training phase.
Development of learning material became an exercise that is forced to happen very quickly due to demand but I am still asking the question if we can focus on SAQA guidelines and leave the personal issues out of training. SETA's focus on assessments and I have rarely seen any SETA reading page for page to quality assure. So the obvious phase to address is the development process.
I am in full agreement with you that the developer is probably one of the key impact areas in eventual results, and I am also in agreement that nowhere near enough focus is on the skills and expertise of the developer as a minimum requirement - one of the downfalls of the system in my opinion. I cannot for the life of me understand how more bureaucratic measures in terms of assessment and moderation will ensure better quality learning, as the logic action would be to spread the effort of control all over the process - starting with the development. But so much for the system currently in place....
The reality is that learning experience design cannot be regulated and stripped of its own 'personality' - which shouldn't be that of the developer necessarily. But we do strive to bring a competitive edge to the playing field - which determines who picks our product for their particular need. Certainly you are not implying that all learning programmes aligned to the same unit standards must be exactly the same? Methodology, context, budget all influence the end-product. As long as the outcomes can be measured and meets the required standards, it actually doesn't matter what the programme contains or not. Should we not rather be more focused on the standardisation of the assessment and the integrity of the assessment practitioner then?
The sad/good news is that the QCTO system is even much less going to look at quality assuring every aspect of training delivery. The crux of a good provider will lie in the results in terms of meeting the final assessment standards. One could only hope that providers will understand that they must employ the best skills across the spectrum of provision to ensure that their end-product meets the national standards. And of course some learners will be collateral damage, but hopefully that will not be too many for too long.
I still think that it is more a question of re-establishing ethics in the 'trade' and less trying to enforce regulations.
The main issue is to ensure Quality Learning Material - not only to get it through Accreditation - but the improve the quality of learning for learners.
All my processes in the Seta's are successful since I evaluate the material prior to the actual site visit and yes, I correct the material, even the learner Guides that has been cut and paste and totally missed the point. Even though I do this service free of charge for my clients. This is not the topic at hand but the ethics and the responsibility that developers has.
We are seeing the signs where the developers have developed according to their feeligns and not to the SAQA documents, material that has no academical base whatsoever, that are the collection of Internet aricles - where no proper research has constituted to an academical value. The EEK's that forms the embedded knowledge is not the embedded knowledge, but embedded feelings with the "correct headings" - telling a learner in a learner guide that should abusive calles continue (when it is aimed at people working with clients querries) to get himself a better job?!!!
I have seen how poorly written material that has gone through accreditation with flying colours since the evaluator was so focussed on the Assessments or the Quality Management System that the actual content of the learner guides was never really reviewed - content of learner guides is hardly viewed during site visit by the Seta's. I know the quality has been compromised. I think the topic is more broadly as just accreditation and correcty material.
Developers focus should be on quality material, not getting the material through accreditation. The clients that paid R20 000, R156 000 or whatever price is not at a position to repay for rectification and most of the time accept the material as it is, when it has been accepted by the Seta.
The issue Manus raised was the ethical side, as Tass spoke about. About when does a developer cross the line of writing accordingly or writing accordingly with biasness. We are the builders of Education and Training - should it fail the blame should be directed at the builders. Not goverment.
When I assist client, I will just change it, will correct the assessments to the set criteria of the SAQA document - I just do it. I have written several learner guides over that has been approved by the Seta - just because it was badly written and it could not be facilitated or implemented.
But somewhere we need to stop and say what is required from a Developer? Where is the invisible line of morals of ethics. This is not an industry that we can built just on the open market system, on pure and simple capitalism since this is a playfield were we are shaping our leaders of tomorrow. It has a social and cultural backbone. We need to take out money out and view it holistically and forget to use this as a way to promote our own business interest. But to review it in this manner: The material I have written do I feel that it will be suitable for the education and training of my child, my grandchild and am I willing to send my child into the International arena with that...?
Ethics...ethics....ethics... that is the question.
For this discussion we focus on the developer.Training providers are not innocent.They are the ones that actually want the best for less andthey are my clients :).
Developing can not be regulated by ethics due to the many faces ethics have in the industry.All claim to be ethical. Regulation can not be enforced due to the lack of development expertise and experience.But development can be improved by only taking out personal "opinions" within learning material.
As long as the outcomes can be measured and meets the required standards, it actually doesn't matter what the programme contains or not. Should we not rather be more focused on the standardisation of the assessment and the integrity of the assessment practitioner then?
The SETA evaluation process focus on assessments and the outcomes - that means the area is covered.Because of this reason is the content an open door for "it doesn't matter what the programme contains or not"Because of this, learning material with poor content slip through the processes.
There was a debate quite some time ago to name and shame the guilty parties.I didn't agree on the fact to name and shame then and don't even now.But if "opinions" and "facts" can be published, I am sure all will be amased what comes out.Maybe then the authors will not find excuses but rectify mistakes willingly and might do it free of charge.
We all working to better the industry or do we?
One of the issues that you do not mention is the poor quality or absence of unit standards. As things stand, the SGBs have failed in many instances to identify training needs upon which unit standards, skills programmes and qualifications can be built. Look at the most generic occupation of all - that of the supervisor. Every industry has them but little has been done to identify what knowledge and skills they actually require.
For example there is no unit standard for how to handle an employee complaint or grievance, no unit standard for how to coach and do one-on-one training, no unit standard for how to interview and select an employee and unit standards that exist in the IR area are all geared towards officials of the CCMA, bargaining councils or the Dept of Labour, not the actual target population that needs the training - line managers and supervisors. It is no wonder that 90% of disputes going before the CCMA are unfair dismissals and unfair labour practices.
The proprity should be to improve people handling skills in the workplace but nobody seems to give a hoot!
Well I guess it depends whether you think everything SAQA says and does is gospel - experience and hindsight show this is not the case....... the best results always come from many minds and skills working together in my view