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Plumbing teacher taps top VU award

A plumbing teacher at Victoria University's Sunshine Campus has won the 2011 Vice-Chancellor's Award for educational leadership for designing and implementing a computer-based course that has transformed how VU's plumbing apprentices learn.

Scott Robinson, a VU TAFE teacher since 1999, received the peak University award for adapting an e-learning WebCT course that allows students to progress through their Certificate III in Plumbing at their own rate and enter the workforce sooner.

"WebCT has opened my eyes to the power of e-learning and e-teaching. To train 21st century plumbers, we needed to improve our delivery by allowing students to learn certain aspects from home or the workplace."

Robinson, a Murrumbeena resident, began to develop the program in 2009 with assistance from VU online learning system designers. It delivers theoretical information, assesses competencies, and records results so individual student progress is tracked in detail. It also lets students have on-line conversations with their classmates and teachers. The program has allowed VU to be the first training organisation in the state to simultaneously deliver six streams of plumbing specialties  – water, sanitary, drainage, gas, roofing and mechanical.

It was rolled out in 2010 with great success, allowing hundreds of plumbing students to complete the theory components of their qualification earlier than would normally be possible.

"Student motivation and accelerated completion are both aided by the WebCT, which ensures students can quickly move to a new competency as soon as they show competence in the units they're doing."

Robinson says that plumbers are part of a city's backbone and young people who learn the trade will have a job for life.

In September, Skills Victoria also recognised the value of Robinson's work, awarding him $10,000 as Trainer of the Year in the 2011 Victorian Training Awards.

The annual Vice-Chancellor's Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding work of Victoria University staff, their exceptional practice, and their outstanding contributions.

Scott Robinson is available for interview on 0404 200 163.

Media contact:

Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer,
Marketing & Communications Department, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 5487; mobile: 0403 556 001
Email: annmarie.angebrandt@vu.edu.au

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