Fostering On-Line Communities of Practice through a New Educational Program for International Freight Forwarders in Australia

By Roberto Bergami.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 12, pp.83-102. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.135MB).

Dr. Roberto Bergami

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

Roberto has over twenty years’ experience in the manufacturing industry, primarily within the pharmaceutical sector. He held a number of roles with an international focus in finance, sales, marketing, customer service and logistics. Roberto’s teaching spans over twenty years with experience in Higher Education, TAFE (VET) and private education providers. Currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of International Business at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, an Associate Researcher in the Centre for Strategic and Economic Studies and the Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing. Roberto holds a Master in Education, a Master of Business by Research (Applied Economics) and a Ph.D. Roberto is a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Economics, University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic. Roberto has maintained his involvement with industry through a number of peak associations where he enjoys various grades of senior level membership. In 2002 Roberto received the State of Victoria Quarantine Award for his efforts in educating students in quarantine matters. Roberto’s main areas of research interests in international trade focus on government regulations; delivery terms (Incoterms); international payment terms; and market entry barriers. Other research interests include professional development of academics/teachers, the development of communities of practice, online teaching and online communities, migration from Emilia-Romagna (Italy) to Australia and teenage/youth dialect.

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