Context is Key: Harnessing the Potential of Contextualised Learning Materials in RTO Education and Training Leave a comment

In the rapidly evolving education and training landscape, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) play a crucial role in equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge they need for a successful career. As technology continues to reshape the way we learn, providing learners with contextualised learning materials that align with real-world scenarios is becoming increasingly important.

This blog post explores the potential of contextualised learning materials in RTO education and training, highlighting their benefits to learners and educators.

Harnessing the Potential of Contextualised Learning Materials in RTO Education and Training

Contextualising a unit of competency is necessary for RTOs to ensure that their learners experience the highest quality of training. This process involves adapting the material provided to each learner’s individual professional environment and cultural background so that they can apply it successfully in practice after leaving the classroom. Contextualising helps create content that resonates with students, rather than simply providing generic information and industry guidelines which do not apply in every situation or workplace setting. Through this process, an RTO is able to provide content that encourages students to think critically about how best to use the skills they have acquired in their future employment.

By letting learners actively engage with the material presented, contextualisation allows them to make better connections between theoretical knowledge, practical understanding and real-world application while giving them greater confidence when entering a job role outside of RTO training. For an RTO to deliver high levels of training quality, it is essential that all learning materials are properly contextualised – taking into account the individuals involved and any statutory regulations or work-relevant conditions specific to their industry and position.

Why is it important to contextualise your RTO training resources and assessment tools?

Contextualising training materials and assessment tools is an important step to ensure that the qualification or endorsed course provides learners with the skills required for their industry of choice. When contextualising materials, it’s important to consider the practical and theoretical elements while also examining the professional attributes that learners will need in the workforce. It’s also necessary to recognise any legal requirements specific to each industry when capturing the information that needs to be included in the qualification or endorsed course.

The process of contextualising can be complex and time-consuming but is essential in ensuring your materials are up-to-date with regard to content, relevance, and accuracy. To assist you, we’ve created a comprehensive RTO materials contextualisation guide containing detailed advice on how to modify your existing materials and recognition tools for your qualification or endorsed course. The guide explains what needs to be done during each step of this process, giving you an efficient system that ensures all content is tailored correctly for each sector. Our dedicated team is always here if you need further support throughout this process.

  • Step 1: Identify your students’ needs
  • Step 2: Know the industry and work role
  • Step 3: Understand the learning environment
  • Step 4: Pinpoint the unit requirements
  • Step 5: Review your learning resources
  • Step 6: Check your assessment tools
  • Step 7: Modify your training materials
  • Step 8: Modify your assessment tools

For a detailed overview of the step by step process, read our blog A Comprehensive Guide to Contextualising Units of Competency.

Contextualisation – Why you must contextualise the training and assessment resources.

Contextualisation is an important part of training and assessment resources. It involves tailoring the learner materials and assessments in ways that make them relevant to the specific industry, context or setting in which they are being used. This process should take into account the learner’s individual circumstances, as well as the current industry and market conditions for that particular area. Contextualising learning material can be presented in a way that resonates with students to help them achieve better understanding and performance.

RTOS must get contextualisation right when developing their training and assessment materials; otherwise, they risk being deemed non-compliant by regulatory bodies such as the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). Unfortunately, many organisations fall into this trap due to confusion over what actually constitutes appropriate contextualisation. Contextualisation should not simply be a way of making a piece of material more interesting – it must be based on practical examples from within the industry and up-to-date information about emerging developments to make relevant connections for learners. The wrong approach to contextualising will lead to irrelevant material which has little chance of engaging trainees on a meaningful level.

The Power of Contextualised Learning Materials:

Traditional approaches to education often rely on generic and abstract learning materials, detached from real-life situations. While these materials may cover the theoretical aspects of a subject, they often fail to bridge the gap between knowledge and its practical application. On the other hand, contextualised learning materials are designed to immerse learners in relevant, authentic scenarios that replicate the challenges they are likely to encounter in their future workplaces.

Enhancing Engagement and Relevance:

Contextualised learning materials have the power to capture learners’ attention by presenting content within a meaningful context. By relating the subject matter to real-life situations, learners can better understand its relevance and develop a deeper level of engagement. This approach fosters active participation, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, making learning more dynamic and enjoyable.

Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice:

One of the primary challenges in education and training is ensuring that learners can apply their theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios. Contextualised learning materials help bridge this gap by presenting content in a practical context, allowing learners to explore the application of concepts and theories in authentic settings. This application-based approach facilitates a deeper understanding of the subject matter and better prepares learners for the challenges they may face in their professional careers.

Promoting Skill Transfer:

Contextualised learning materials are particularly effective in promoting skill transfer. By presenting content in context, learners can better understand how different skills and knowledge areas intersect and complement each other. This approach encourages learners to transfer their newly acquired knowledge and skills across various situations, improving their adaptability and problem-solving abilities.

Implementing Contextualised Learning Materials

To harness the full potential of contextualised learning materials, RTOs need to incorporate them strategically into their curriculum design and delivery.

Here are a few key considerations for implementing contextualised learning materials effectively:

Identify the Learning Outcomes: Clearly define the desired learning outcomes and competencies. This will help align the contextualised learning materials with the specific skills and knowledge learners need to acquire.

Analyse Industry Needs: Conduct thorough research on industry trends, job requirements, and emerging skill demands. This analysis will guide the selection of appropriate scenarios and ensure that the contextualised learning materials reflect real-world challenges.

Collaborate with Industry Partners: Foster collaborations with industry partners to gain insights into their specific needs and requirements. By involving industry professionals in the design and development of contextualised learning materials, RTOs can ensure their relevance and effectiveness.

Leverage Technology: Embrace technological tools and platforms to deliver contextualised learning materials efficiently. Virtual reality simulations, interactive videos, and online platforms can create immersive and engaging learning experiences, further enhancing the effectiveness of contextualised learning materials.

Suggested Read: A Quick Guide to Contextualise Classroom Assessment to Online Assessment


What is the best starting point to conduct contextualisation?

The best starting point for contextual learning is by understanding student’s needs, and industry requirements.

Example of student’s needs:  Student cohort needs require additional support, such as those with learning difficulties, disabilities, or language barriers. Services like tutoring, language support, or disability services can help these students succeed.

When considering contextualisation for any assessment process, starting with the underlying goal is important. By understanding why, the contextualisation task is being undertaken in the first place, it would be easier to design effective strategies and develop practical solutions which are tailored for specific objectives. Once this critical point is established, one should proceed by being aware of certain ‘rules of don’t’ associated with contextualisation. This includes avoiding situations where assumptions or biases about a given population may not be accurate or worse, when these factors are used to shape or judge performance subsequent to assessment outcomes.

Another important step in initiating contextualisation is creating a panel that can effectively evaluate the assessments taking into consideration all relevant elements such as industry currency and authenticity of subject matter experts. It’s necessary to ensure that the team created for this purpose is diverse and inclusive, comprising people from different backgrounds who hold different opinions and perspectives, which enhances successful outcome of assessment tasks. Furthermore, involving the end-users can prove useful in terms of getting essential input on the design approach adopted.

When is the best time to contextualise your resources?

Contextualising your resources is an important part of teaching and learning, as it enables learners to make better sense of the materials and helps create a clearer understanding for both student and teacher. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your resources are properly contextualised at the right time in order to provide students with the optimal learning experience.

When considering when to begin contextualising resources, the earlier you start the better. This allows any inaccuracies or inconsistencies in content to be spotted and rectified immediately instead of waiting until nearer your lesson delivery date. Even if you have all the relevant information and are confident in what you’re teaching, contextualising too early can potentially limit creativity by stifling creative mindsets which may also hinder the discovery process. Therefore, while beginning contextualisation as soon as possible will assist in ensuring that courses deliver quality training on time, proper timing could play a critical factor in obtaining optimal results.

What learning resources are included in the process of contextualisation?

In the process of contextualisation, Training and Assessment Strategies (TAS) are essential for RTOs. They provide important guidance to both students and trainers on how to approach learning material effectively in a way that is appropriate and relevant. The TAS must be tailored to the needs of each student and focused on the specific context within which they are learning. It should also reflect industry best practice and any changes that may have occurred in recent times.

Furthermore, in order to adequately contextualise learning resources, assessment tools including RPL kits should also be included. The purpose of these kits is not simply to assess a student’s level of knowledge or skills but to capture evidence from their workplace activity so that it can be used as part of the contextualisation process. Furthermore, RTOs must also ensure they include Learner Guides as part of the contextualisation process too. These books will aid students in getting an understanding of the topics covered and provide insights into how best navigate them. Ultimately, contextualising all resources will contribute greatly to improved ‘learnability’ allowing students a far greater chance at succeeding in their studies.

What is contextualisation in the context of training resources?

Contextualisation is an important process in the context of training resources. It involves making learning and assessment tasks relevant to a person’s specific experience in their workplace, job role, and industry sector. It means adapting resources purchased from an RTO provider such as units of competency or qualification packages to meet the needs of a given environment or enterprise. This requires tweaking and modifying generic resources so that they are suited to the social, cultural, business requirements in addition to any specific legislative and regulatory aspects related to that industry sector.

For instance, resources designed for use in one industry setting may not be suitable for use in another – say, information technology versus community services – due to different types of work performed by employees in each sector as well as different language usage and regulations applicable within that industry. Reworking these generic training products available from an RTO provider makes it possible to adjust them to fit various industries without compromising the quality of the materials provided.

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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