Currently potential students live up to four hours away from Bairnsdale. This means that access to training is very restricted. Yet these community members have the same training needs as people living in the major centres. By offering training either completely on-line (if appropriate) or in a blended form of delivery which combines face to face and on-line sessions training becomes accessible to all - without additonal costs to the College and / or to the students. The high cost of fuel at this time can have considerable impact on the additional costs associated with providing training whether the trainer travels to the students or vice versa.Map_with_arrows.jpg

Community members who currently have limited access to accredited training due to distance from RTOs responded to an online survey regarding the role of ICTs in extending the reach of training to remote communities in Gippsland:
There is an increasing number of requests from community centres for Community College East Gippsland to deliver training on-line – especially Safe Food Handling and some IT courses:
“On-line delivery will be very valuable for those wanting to pursue education particularly as attendance at compulsory classes has been a major deterrent in the past…. a very exciting development.”
Community Centre Co-ordinators have seen the value of using a medium such as Live Classroom for meetings – both within their communities and with each other.
“Yes. There is potential use for on-line conferencing and Live Classrooms as we are a very remote community".
“Virtual conferencing will be very valuable as our isolation is a major issue for this community”.

Our biggest achievement is that people in every corner of East Gippsland are now excited about the prospect of being able to overcome some of the tyranny of distance using on-line technologies. We have also established or strengthened relationships between all of the participating organisations.
This has also resulted in an increased level of confidence in the use of Information Communications Technology in general and an acceptance of the place of ICT in society in the 21st Century.

Community Centre co-ordinators have all expressed (via survey responses and incidental conversation) an excitement about the potential use of ICT / Web 2.0 tools in many aspects of community life – this ranges from accessing formal education to researching family history, to creating podcasts of information about local heritage sites for tourists etc.

Here are some more comments from community participants:
Participating in the project has shown me the potential for web 2.0 technologies to facilitate the delivery of educational courses, with particular relevance to remote area learning centres. The project has helped my personal educational development and will become an important consideration in the in delivery planning at the remote learning centre where I am employed. Yes it was fun and educational and switching on the computer to enter a virtual classroom is obviously more convenient than driving to college for the day, and far fewer carbon emissions!

I was roped in by our coordinator to travel with her to (Bairnsdale). I did not think I would be interested but I have surprised myself by completing my project, doing so with much enthusiasm. I enjoyed it and learnt a lot. Through this we have now been doing Live Classroom which will be a great asset to many people who are in areas of remoteness, no public transport and low incomes for traveling long distances for education.