She has a reputation for thinking outside the box, especially when providing opportunities for those living in rural Western Australia to pursue their vocational education and training (VET) dreams.
As an Advanced Skills Lecturer in Language, Literacy and Numeracy, Jo uses innovative technology as part of her school kit for teaching face-to-face and online.
“Living in a regional or rural area shouldn’t stop people from going to TAFE,” Jo said.
Jo was instrumental in the implementation of E-solutions at Central Regional TAFE, a public VET provider formed through the amalgamation of several campuses.
“E-solutions are essential for students scattered around the Wheat Belt and for teachers who had to do a lot of travelling to get to students,” Jo said.
“I secured local project funding and later national funding, to develop various platforms, including virtual classrooms, Learning Management System, blogs and other Web tools. I also facilitated internal projects with subject specialists to develop interactive e-learning content for blended learning solutions.”
For Jo, e-learning enables students in geographically isolated areas to progress their education.
“In WA, we dealt with a huge catchment area and the diversity and range of literacy levels meant we had to be smart about how we taught learners,” she said.
“There were never enough students to make a class at one level and so we ran four levels in one class at a time—from students who couldn’t read to those needing to develop academic writing skills for uni.”
Jo was proud of the number of students who started out unable to read and who then moved through the VET system to pursue interesting careers.
“It was just brilliant. They absolutely loved their work and could never have achieved it without VET.”
One of Jo’s home school students, who was very shy, completed a Certificate III in Childcare, then completed a Diploma and moved on to further studies at University.
“She was extremely bright, and VET gave her the confidence to carry on,” Jo said.
Jo continues to work in foundation skills, and online e-learning development and integration, but as a consultant/tutor at Synsols.
Jo was named the Western Australia Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practitioner of the Year, was their finalist in the same category at the 2013 Australian Training Awards, and is a member of the Australian VET Alumni.