A Comprehensive Guide on How to Contextualise Units of Competency in RTOs Leave a comment


In the world of Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), making your training resources and assessment tools fit the unique needs of your students is key. This process, known as contextualising units of competency, is not just about tweaking a few words here and there. It is about reshaping your RTO training materials so they speak directly to the challenges and situations your students will face in their careers. Imagine you are teaching a customer service unit; it is much more effective to use real-life customer service scenarios that your students can relate to, like dealing with tricky customers or selling products.

But why is this so important? If your RTO learning materials do not resonate with your students’ real-world experiences, they might find the lessons irrelevant or hard to apply. This could lead to them losing interest, and even worse, it might mean trouble for your RTO during an ASQA audit. How you contextualise depends a lot on how you teach – whether in a classroom, online, or at the workplace. It is all about making sure the type of questions, length of time, and delivery of training are just suitable for your student’s learning style preferences and the different learning environments they are in.

Understanding Units of Competency

Units of Competency – The Building Blocks of RTO Training:

  • Definition: A unit of competency is a component of a qualification within the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) system. It represents a discrete learning outcome tied to a specific skill or knowledge area.
  • Structure: Each unit comprises several elements and performance criteria that outline the expected abilities and knowledge.
  • Application: These units are used across various industries and form the basis of RTO training resources and RTO training materials.

The Framework of Competency in RTOs:

  • National Standards: Units of competency are designed to meet the National Skills Standards Council guidelines, ensuring a consistent quality of Australian education.
  • Qualification Packaging Rules: They adhere to specific qualification packaging rules, which dictate how units can be combined to form a nationally recognized qualification.
  • Customisation: While the core content of a unit of competence is standardized, RTOs have the flexibility to contextualize them to meet specific industry needs.

The Importance of Contextualising Units of Competency

Enhancing Relevance and Engagement:

  • Learner-Centric Approach: Tailoring units of competency to the learner’s environment increases engagement and makes learning more relevant.
  • Real-World Application: Using examples like customer service scenarios in a customer service unit helps students understand how their learning applies in the real world.

Meeting Industry and Learner Needs:

  • Industry Relevance: Customising RTO learning materials ensures that training is aligned with current industry practices and expectations.
  • Learner Diversity: Recognizing different learning environments and learning style preferences allows for more effective training delivery.

The Basics of Contextualisation

Understanding the Need for Contextualisation:

  • Purpose: The main goal of contextualising units of competency is to adapt RTO training materials to learners’ specific needs and contexts.
  • Compliance: It is crucial for meeting the rules of evidence and principles of assessment as mandated by regulatory bodies like ASQA.
  • Regulatory Standards: Adherence to codes of practice and codes of conduct is essential in the contextualisation process.
  • Fairness and Flexibility: Ensuring that the principle of fairness and the principle of flexibility are upheld in all RTO materials contextualisation

Contextualising for Different Modes of Delivery

Training for Classroom Delivery:

  • Interactive Methods: Utilizing group activities and discussions tailored to the group of mechanics or customer service unit.
  • Resource Adaptation: Modifying RTO training resources to suit classroom dynamics and different learning environments.

Training for the Workplace:

  • Real-World Scenarios: Incorporating standard operating procedures and risk management matrix relevant to the industry.
  • Third Party Evidence: Using third party evidence and recognition of prior learning to enhance workplace-based learning.

Training for Online Delivery:

  • Digital Adaptation: Tailoring RTO learning materials for digital platforms, considering the type of questions and length of time for online engagement.
  • Interactive Technologies: Leveraging tools like Didasko learning resources for interactive and engaging online training.

Deep Dive into Contextualisation

What Contextualisation Is and Is not:

  • True Contextualisation: Adapting RTO training resources to meet specific learner and industry needs while maintaining the integrity of the unit of competency.
  • Misconceptions: Contextualisation does not mean altering the core outcomes or number of elements in a unit of competence.

Starting Points for Effective Contextualisation:

  • Learner Analysis: Understanding the different learning environments, learning style preferences, and educational support services
  • Industry Requirements: Aligning RTO materials with current industry standards, including national skills standards council

Timing and Planning for Contextualisation:

  • Scheduling: Determining the length of time needed for contextualisation based on the type of assessment and training delivery modes.
  • Resource Allocation: Planning using RTO training materials and subject matter experts for efficient contextualisation.

Contextualisation of Training Resources

Identifying and Utilizing Appropriate Resources:

  • Resource Selection: Choosing relevant RTO learning materials and contextualising assessment tools for each unit of competency.
  • Expert Input: Involving subject matter experts in developing and reviewing contextualised materials.

Adapting Materials for Diverse Learner Needs:

  • Customisation Techniques: Modifying content to suit different modes of delivery, such as customer service phone calls in a customer service unit.
  • Inclusivity: Ensuring materials cater to a wide range of learners, including those from diverse backgrounds like Torres Strait Islanders.

Practical Steps in Contextualising a Unit of Competency

Guidelines for Contextualisation:

  • Adherence to Standards: Ensuring compliance with qualification packaging rules and national skills standards council
  • Balancing Flexibility and Integrity: Maintaining the core objectives of the unit of competency while adapting to specific contexts.

The Five Key Steps in the contextualisation Process:

  1. Assessment of Needs: Analyzing the specific requirements of the learner group, including different learning environments and learning style preferences.
  2. Resource Selection: Choosing appropriate RTO training resources and contextualising assessment tools.
  3. Expert Consultation: Involving subject matter experts to ensure relevance and accuracy.
  4. Customisation: Tailoring content and methods to suit different modes of delivery and learner needs.
  5. Review and Feedback: Continuously evaluate the contextualised materials and incorporate feedback for improvement.

Modifying Units of Competency in RTOs

Understanding the Scope of Modifications:

  • Extent of Changes: Determining how much alteration is needed without deviating from the unit of competence’s core outcomes.
  • Documentation: Keeping a detailed version history document of changes for audit and review purposes.

Ensuring Compliance with National Standards:

  • Audit Readiness: Preparing RTO materials for scrutiny under ASQA guidelines and codes of practice.
  • Quality Assurance: Regularly reviewing and updating materials to align with the evolving quality of Australian education standards.

Challenges and Solutions in Contextualisation

Common Obstacles in Contextualising Units:

  • Diverse Learner Needs: Balancing a varied student body’s different learning environments and learning style preferences.
  • Industry Specificity: Ensuring RTO training materials are relevant across various sectors, such as the information technology sector or customer service

Strategies to Overcome These Challenges:

  • Inclusive Design: Creating RTO learning materials that cater to a broad range of learners, including scenarios like a customer service phone call or group of mechanics.
  • Continuous Feedback Loop: Engaging with students and industry professionals to refine and update contextualising assessment tools and content.

Conclusion and Call to Action

Summarizing Key Takeaways:

  • Emphasize the importance of contextualising units of competency in providing relevant and effective RTO training.
  • Highlight the role of different assessment methods and training delivery modes in successful contextualisation.

The Future of Contextualisation in RTOs:

  • Discuss the evolving nature of RTO materials contextualisation, keeping pace with changes in industry and education standards.
  • Anticipate future trends in different modes of delivery and educational support services.

Call to Action: Explore VET Resources for Comprehensive Support:

  • Encourage readers to utilize resources like Didasko learning resources and free demo today to enhance their contextualisation efforts.
  • Promote the exploration of VET Resources for further guidance and support in contextualisation of RTO materials.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What are the ‘rules of evidence’ in the context of RTO contextualisation?
  • The rules of evidence refer to ensuring that the assessment evidence collected during training is valid, sufficient, authentic, and current. In contextualisation, this means adapting assessments to be relevant while still meeting these criteria.
  1. How does the ‘principle of assessment’ apply to contextualising units of competency?
  • The principle of assessment involves fairness, flexibility, validity, and reliability. It is important to maintain these principles when contextualising units by creating equitable assessments for all learners adaptable to various contexts.
  1. Can the name of an RTO influence its contextualisation approach?
  • While the name of the RTO does not directly influence contextualisation, the RTO’s reputation and specialisation might shape its approach to tailoring training and assessment materials to specific industry needs.
  1. How does the training delivery method affect the contextualisation of materials?
  • The training delivery method (e.g., online, face-to-face, workplace-based) significantly impacts contextualising materials. Each method requires different approaches to ensure that learning is effective and engaging for that particular mode.
  1. Is there a guide for RTO materials contextualisation?
  • Yes, an RTO materials contextualisation guide typically includes best practices and steps for adapting materials to different learner needs and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.
  1. What are some examples of documents used in contextualising units of competency?
  • Examples of documents used include learner profiles, industry standards, curriculum guidelines, and feedback forms. These documents help in understanding learner needs and industry requirements.
  1. How many activities should be included when contextualising a unit of competency?
  • The number of activities depends on the unit’s complexity and learning outcomes. It is important to include various activities that cater to different learning styles and reinforce the learning objectives.
  1. What are the most important things to consider in RTO contextualisation?
  • The most important things include understanding learner needs, maintaining compliance with the rules of evidence and principles of assessment, and ensuring that the contextualisation aligns with industry standards and enhances real-world applicability.
  1. Can you use various assessment methods in contextualised units?
  • Absolutely, using various assessment methods like practical demonstrations, written tests, and portfolio submissions can cater to diverse learning styles and provide a comprehensive evaluation of competency.
  1. How often should RTOs review their contextualised materials?
  • RTOs should regularly review their materials to ensure they remain relevant and effective. This includes updating content to reflect industry practices, technology, and learner feedback changes.

The information presented on the VET Resources blog is for general guidance only. While we strive for accuracy, we cannot guarantee the completeness or timeliness of the information. VET Resources is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Always consult a professional for advice tailored to your circumstances.

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