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How Did I Get Here? Peter Holden of the Centre for Learning Innovation, NSW


Peter Holden is the manager of national and industry initiatives at the Centre for Learning Innovation in New South Wales, Australia. All the previous career profiles can also be seen on the How Did I Get Here? page.

How did you come to work in training?
I started out as a secondary school teacher, spent some time in theatre-in-education, tried to make a living as a songwriter and ended up a very good waiter, taught bar skills to long term unemployed people, became involved in adult literacy as both a teacher and protagonist, and then took a complete left turn and worked with a team developing training plans and curricula for the Sydney and Athens Olympic and Paralympic Games workforce.

Describe your role.
I’ve just started working for the Centre for Learning Innovation, which is the major resource development arm for the New South Wales Department of Education and Training in Australia. My role is to develop links with other government agencies, training providers, industry associations and businesses. Our aim is to form partnerships and develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

What activities do you spend most of your time on?
Reading and responding to emails, coordinating tender submissions, trawling the web, getting new ideas from our students, teachers and resource developers.

What are the best and worst aspects of your role?
The best aspect is being part of a team with a broad range of skills – web and instructional design, film and video production, subject expertise from primary to tertiary. The worst aspect is making sense of the jargon and keeping pace with technological developments.

What is your most over-used phrase?

What is the best lesson you can pass on?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be honest when you stuff things up – nobody benefits by hiding mistakes, especially not you.

What has been your worst training moment?
Toss up between teaching feral 15-year-olds, opening the CD case 30 minutes before a major presentation and finding it empty, and approving the printing of 100,000 Olympic training manuals knowing that despite all of our efforts, someone would find a typo on page 3.

What influences do you think have had the greatest impact on the training sector in recent years?
Software vendors and quality assurance auditors, governments becoming purchasers rather than providers of public education, outcomes/competency based training, the teaching and training profession becoming more casual.

Do you think that training professionals should have a greater say in planning national training policy?
Over the last ten or so years in Australia, government policy has strongly favoured industry-led training policy development. This has led to some industry areas doing a great job, some fighting over who should be the representatives, and others creating a virtual industry with little or no connection to the businesses they represent. Thrown into this mix are all the other players (employees, unions, management, professional associations, researchers, teachers and trainers, government agencies) who fight to protect their turf.

I think in some cases the training professionals have been mariginalised, much to the detriment of the whole training effort. However policy development requires quite different sets of skills and not all training professionals are ready to play a leading role.

How do you see your work changing or developing in the next few years?
I think a lot of us were significantly under-whelmed by the promises and reality of new technologies and their impact on teaching and learning. The students have been even more scathing and no amount of Flash or spinning logos will convince them otherwise.

In the last six months I think we are finally seeing true convergence and mobile computing will have a major impact on how people go about their work. This in turn will impact on how we keep them up to date with new ways of working and communicating.

We will also see a changing of the guard where those of us trained in the 60s and 70s move aside, however begrudgingly, and the computer literate generation take up the challenges.


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