Here we are in the final month of the Harnessing Rural Skills projects across the NE Victorian towns of Beechworth, Corryong, Mt Beauty, Tallangatta and Yackandandah. The race has been a fast one and one that faced lots of hurdles. To continue with my metaphor I’d like to think about what has been the winner here, not who has won the race. We had different starting times for the program in each town, and we had different objectives in each place. Therefore it would not be appropriate for us to compare and contrast the achievements of each in the context of a competition. They have all been engaged in a similar ‘race’ or ‘journey’ and have reached their own finishing posts in their own ways. The winner is ‘e-learning’!
Each facilitator has a different story to tell about the success or challenge of the experiences in the People, Place and Pastimes project. Some would also wish to report that they had a completely different perspective to their participation in the project. For some it was another way to engage with reluctant learners; for others it was an opportunity to experiment with elearning strategies. The project steering committee had clear purposes and expected outcomes for the program and it was most evident that these have not always been the purposes and outcomes experienced by the participants in each centre.
The learning from this, for me, has been that it is crucial to ‘unpack’ the purpose of the program in consultation and collaboration with the centres. This will enable them to place it within their local environments and modify to ensure its correct fit for their participants.
We have progressed a ‘very’ long way in our program and it has opened the opportunities for elearning as one of the many they choose from for their local communities. We have news from the ‘front runners’ that some participants have completed their program and have their digital story ready. We have feedback from others who are still participating and learning and creating, but wanting to tell you about the absolute ‘power’ to enable them to achieve that this program has provided. We have centre facilitators, wanting to progress to another level with their elearning endeavours next year; we have tutors who have been inspired and are now incorporating their elearning techniques in other parts of their teaching landscapes. We have communities who are ‘talking’ about the innovative ways of learning on offer now in their towns, and the pathways to other learning along with the motivation to pursue life wide learning opportunities. We have program managers who wish to pursue further programs in the new year to enhance learning in other facets of learning such as those initiated to deal with folks struggling with existing businesses affected by the droughts in the region. We have other community learning centres eager to join in with elearning events and we have others looking on who are celebrating the successes of their colleagues.
All of this does not happen in a vacuum – it is influenced and affected by the cultures, the economics, the climate, the experiences, and other community criteria – and will certainly be a model to be examined and restructured for future implementation.
The next and final stage for this project is the celebration of successes and the showtime for viewing the stories. Stay tuned.