Transforming Vocational Education and Training in the Northern Territory

Earlier this year I took myself on a PD journey to Sydney to attend the Kaospilot three-day masterclass. ‘The Art and Craft of Designing & Facilitating Learning Spaces.  I had been reading about the Kaospilot approach and was intrigued to know more about their work.  What I saw and experienced was a catalyst to bring their program to Darwin with the backing of Northern Territory Government and in partnership with ACPET.   I was very confident this highly acclaimed international education design program would provide a much-needed reboot to delivery and assessment of Vocational Education Training (VET) in the Northern Territory.

This was to be the first masterclass in Australia with a targeted approach to VET.  The Darwin masterclass was skillfully facilitated by Ramon Marmolejos, a trained Kaospilot instructor and founding partner of Emzingo Group. The call for adventure was taken up by 18 participants from across NT who held a direct connection to the delivery of Vocational Education and Training programs and representative of different industry sectors.

The program began by learning who was in the room to commence building connections with each other through a series of ‘preject’ activities.  This scene was set early to ensure everyone shared learning intents and desired outcomes.  These were recorded to remind and keep all on track in terms of meeting the program agenda and the time allocated to complete this work.  Program time restrictions required that three full days were merged into a two-day program with participants working beyond what might be reasonably expected with a full 10-hour program day one that was achieved and a direct reflection of the active commitment by participants to this program.    

Kaospilot approach is to inform the design of learning programs through collaboration with others that is both challenging and fun but purposeful by using learning spaces to increase creativity and innovation in design. Participants learn about the important art of listening and creation of safe spaces through shared growth activities and development of practice.  They did this with trust in others present to be open to receiving from others, Picasso sketches in a moment of vulnerability whilst fully exposed to all and done so in an environment that will progress practitioner's forward.    

“Becoming aware that learning starts where the comfort level stops!”

Picasso Sketches Wall of Fame

Serious fun play activities followed, playing with Yo’s Yo’s to demonstrate individual skills that finished with a drama-filled team performance by all that then progressed to two small groups in a serious Lego play activity.  Ramon guided the group as they explored experiential ways of learning to inspire, facilitate and design for creativity, innovation and risk in learning spaces that are meaningful and fun, ‘checking-in’ with the group at specific times to explain the learning theory and respond to questions. The program is built around a rigorous training platform that combines practice, reflection and theory.

We soon moved to the next part where participants had the opportunity to pitch their vocational program ideas for design applying the Kaospilot Vison Backcasting technique.  Three projects were identified for practice throughout the remainder of the workshop. 

  • A program designed to target financial literacy skills.
  • A new course to build ASQA compliance skills in RTO administration
  • A vocational program designed to increase knowledge of networking and services for the Aged Care workforce

Each group identified leaders and with instructions from Ramon, how to lead through this process.  The three participants whose programs were being used in the design were asked to participate but do not take a lead.

It was not too long before participants became fully immersed in the process unfolding and through the application of ‘divergent thinking’ and applying Simon Sinek’s ‘Why’ methodology quickly moved into the collective design and construction of a new approach to the program they were involved with.  Aligned vision statement and visual collages were worked up to clarify the who, why what and how of projects coming together.  This was completed without too much overthinking about this process and critical at this late time in the day as we began the final step of day one over shared pizzas and a colourful array of one word descriptor post-it notes to explore what is needed in the current and future state of participants in this program and the skills, knowledge and attitude and mindsets that will be the required result based on what the industry needs and a vision to support each program in design.   Day one ‘checkout’ concluded with participants visibly exhausted and weary yet still engaged and excited to learn more about what would come next.

Following day two ‘checkin’, Ramon led the group through the Kaospilot theory and pedagogical experience and the move towards convergent thinking that would bring the final components of programs together.   Groups moved back around projects and with a change in leadership began to complete this work prior to presentation by all group members about each project.   

In a short space of time groups were asked to present the program they all took ownership of and whilst it was clear that the owner of the project would have more work to do in refining the program layout by taking away and continuing to use the Kaospilot Vison Backcasting Tool, a lot of thought and combined effort had been applied in the preliminary work, that showed great potential for each project progressing further by project owners.   

The Vocational Trainers were now openly speaking up about this new approach to program design and how they would use in individual workplaces and evidence of emerging transformative thinking occurring!   

Each member of the group was asked to provide feedback to each person on their team. This gifting of feedback is undertaken in a constructive, positive and useful manner informed by ‘Team Academy’ approach that allows each member to receive feedback that will assist individuals to grow and develop.  This is something we often neglect to provide when working with our colleagues or only undertaken at annual reviews.

To conclude the masterclass, participants were cleverly stepped back through the frameworks applied by showing the Learning Arches, how these had been set and importantly landed.  These new frameworks are provided by Kaospilot to masterclass participants to use and apply within their work and with the ongoing support and guidance offered by Kaospilot trained facilitators.  Participants are also connected to an alumni group that is building across Australia.   

Kaospilot provided the frameworks for learning and participants created the space through the art of hosting that was demonstrated through their willingness to take on the Kaospilot approach to rethink vocational education and training design by applying Kaospilot transformational methodology in the redesign of current and future programs.  

‘’Reimagined what we do as educators in a fun learning environment and something that has been lost in the ever-present compliance of ASQA, Auditors, Risk adverse approach by RTO’’. Participant Darwin 2018

Kaospilot refers to the creation of shining eyes and if words are used to describe what shining eyes mean, this was certainly the case as participants made their declaration of commitment for one thing they would stop doing and one thing they would continue to do at graduation.    

shining eyes!

In the plain words of one participant…‘It was really good and to be with talented people’.

My declaration at graduation from this program was to always be open to receiving sketches from others and to create more shining eyes in Vocational Education and Training Programs. I remain confident in the Kaospilot Transformational Design approach as a Framework to support this vision. If you would like to know more about the Kaospilot approach or how ISACNT can assist your workforce needs, please connect with us via our website or inbox through our LinkedIn accounts and we will happily connect with you to explore this further.