Enhancing Employability and e-Business Capacities for Arabic-Speaking Residents of Australia through START Online Training

  • Amelie Hanna Flinders University of South Australia
  • Lindsey Conner Flinders University of South Australia
  • Trudy-Ann Sweeney Flinders University of South Australia
Keywords: Arabic-Speaking Migrants, START e-Business Online Training, Translanguaging Approach, Unemployment, English for Specific Purpose ESP, Design-Based Research DBR, Instructional Design ADDIE


Background: Arabic minority groups in Australia face language barriers and shortage of computer skills, which cause unemployment and/or an inability to establish their own businesses. The unemployment rate for this group is ~ 20.5%, which is 3-times higher than the average unemployment rate in Australia (~7%). The unemployment will get worse due to COVID-19 pandemic. The current provision of computer and language training in Australia is in English, which results in longer training times and higher chances of non-completion.

Objective: The Smart Training for Arabic Residents on Technology (START) is an interventional online bi-lingual training that assists Arabic-speaking residents of Australia to establish an online business with minimum resources (money, space, and infrastructure) or at least help them find suitable employment.

Methods: START uses Design-Based Research DBR, as it has its own progressive refinement approach. Both qualitative methods (skills assessment interviews, semi-guided observation, and final follow-up interviews) and quantitative methods (practical tests, log analysis/learning analytics, feedback surveys) contribute to evaluation and improvement cycles.

Discussion: DBR has not been applied to vocational immigrant education previously. This research project contributes to a better understanding of the relationships between educational theory, designed learning and outcomes, to help advance learning and teaching environments by refining critical factors that lead to success for trainees. Practically, Arabic residents are provided opportunities to master computer and English skills for establishing their own online businesses. This research, however, has some limitations. Usually a team of teacher, learning designer, and researcher is recommended for DBR, but that is not possible in this PhD study. It is also acknowledged that although this study aims for optimal refinement of the START program, through multiple cycles of improvement, realistically it will be difficult to “recreate” the exact learning environment in future programs.

Author Biographies

Amelie Hanna, Flinders University of South Australia

Dr Amelie Hanna (PhD) has 25 Years of Academic & Professional Experience in Public & Business Administration and Information & Education Technology. Amelie Hanna has received a number of awards during her professional & academic lives. Amelie is Egyptian by birth and Australian by citizenship and speaks Arabic & English. Amelie Hanna has Postgraduate Qualifications in Public & Business Administration and Information & Education Technology from Egypt, USA and Australia. Amelie Hanna has taught different subjects in different fields: Information Technology, Education Technology, Management & Administration, Migration & Multiculturalism. Amelie Hanna has the experience of working in Professional & Academic Organisations in Australia and Egypt including Researcher, University Tutor, Website Developer and e-Learning Designer. Currently, Amelie Hanna is interested to teach Arabic migrants to Australia to establish their own e-businesses.

Lindsey Conner, Flinders University of South Australia

Prof Lindsey Conner is an internationally renowned education expert who is known for her research on innovation in Education and teaching. Her commitment to social justice and prioritisation of specific actions (in a creative frame of "what else can we do to make a difference?") underpins her philosophy and leadership to empower people to stretch their potential for social mobility. She strongly believes that it is through education that people can achieve great things and have greater life chances.

Lindsey was previously the Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), Associate Dean Postgraduate Research and Dean (Education) at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

Prof Conner has a can do attitude and a passion for leading change. Her leadership in Education is drawn from nearly 26 years as a researcher and teacher educator in science education, including research on the application of technologies within disciplines and in cross disciplinary contexts. Prof Conner has also led an international partnership project on implementing ICT in schools and was Director of the Science and Technology Education Research Hub which has had international aclaim.

Prof Conner has a strong international profile and led the 7 country Pacific Circle Consortium research project on Teacher Education for the Future. In 2013 Prof Conner was an invited consultant to NIER (Japan) working with the Ministry of Education Japan on infusing competencies across curriculum. Prof Conner was also a funded visiting fellow at SEAMEO RECSAM, Penang (2013) and a consultant in developing science teaching standards for the South East Asian Ministries of Education (2014) which have been implemented in 11 Countries. Prof Conner has developed courses and supported researchers from universities in Bangladesh, China, Malaysia and Korea.

Previously, Prof Conner was the New Zealand coordinator for the OECD Innovative Learning Environments Project and Commissioner for the New Zealand Olympic Education Committee.

Trudy-Ann Sweeney, Flinders University of South Australia

Dr. Trudy Sweeney is a senior lecturer in digital media in the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work. She is passionate about transforming learning with innovations in educational technology. Trudy worked for the Department of Education and Children's Services for 17 years as a primary school teacher, ICT Coordinator, Assistant Principal (Teaching and Learning), and Education Consultant and Leadership and ICT Project Coordinator at the Technology School of the Future. Trudy completed her PhD in 2002 focused on understanding teachers' work in a context of global and local school reform. Her research investigated issues related to local school management and organisational change. Trudy was previously the Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) and the Director of Initial Teacher Education.

Study Protocols