Australia has one of the most liberalised economies in the world; yet, the international freight forwarding sector, an essential provider of trade facilitation services, lacked a specific course of study until late 2010. The introduction of a new Diploma in this area of study, offered on-line, by the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia, the peak industry body representing international freight forwarders, provides a forum that fosters a Community of Practice (COP) (Lave and Wenger 1991; Wenger 1998), between students, facilitators, government agencies, businesses and other services providers. Lave and Wenger describe a COP as being a situated learning context without boundaries, comprising a membership that is not clearly defined, with voluntary participation at different levels. Within the context of this on-line vocational learning environment, individuals gradually move from being a novice, to becoming more knowledgeable within their field, as they engage in a range of educational activities that are closely aligned to freight forwarding industry practices. This alignment between theory and practice provides a base for the forging of new identities, as participants gradually emerge as experts in their field of professional practice. This experience is likely to lead to continuing ties with the industry professional body, and the potential for these individuals, (as experts), to become a future resource for this online COP. This paper describes the fostering of a COP through a carefully designed on-line environment. The learning resources, including teaching methods; frequency of instructions; information technology platform; and student survey feedback are discussed from a multi-disciplinary perspective. The conclusion is that the structure and delivery of this course may serve as a model of good practice for on-line teaching and learning.
|Keywords:||Freight Forwarding Vocational Studies, e-Learning, On-Line Delivery, Remote Area Access to Education, On-Line Communities of Practice|
Senior Lecturer (Practice of International Trade) and Associate Researcher, Institute for Community, Ethnicity and Policy Alternatives, School of International Business, Faculty of Business and Law, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
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