Contextualisation is a crucial part of any RTO’s operations and processes. It refers to the ability to tailor training materials, such as units of competency and qualifications, to suit the needs of students. Without contextualising learning materials, there is a risk that students will be unprepared for their coursework and may not have the exposure required to gain necessary skills in a particular area. By contextualising learning resources, RTOs can ensure their students have access to relevant material that makes full use of an individual’s time by providing them with specifically tailored information relevant to their abilities and interests.
At VET Resources, we strive to provide RTOs with the best tools necessary for delivering quality training programs. With this in mind, we have created a comprehensive Contextualisation Guide for RTOs who are looking for advice on how to best utilise their training materials for maximum effect. Our guide provides insight on topics like how to research and select appropriate contextual examples, how to embed semi-performance tasks or demonstrations into context-specific content and materials, and more. Following our guide allows RTOs to confidently deliver meaningful training experiences that align with the Australian Skills Quality Authority.
Understand why you’re contextualising
Contextualising assessment tools and training materials for a specific group of learners is crucial in order to ensure the quality of education and meet the needs of your students. Knowing why you are contextualising can help to ensure that what you provide targets the specific desired outcomes that are important to reach in their chosen field.
When contextualising learning materials or assessment tools, consider the objectives, work environment, industry, and work roles. Focus on developing assessments and lesson plans which align with their goals as well as touch upon necessary skills and knowledge they will need to progress in their career paths. Taking into account the individual dynamics of each learner also provides an enriching experience tailored specifically for them. Overall, understanding your purpose when contextualising makes it easier for you to deliver quality training resources which are personalised enough for everyone to truly benefit from them.
Find out what you can and cannot do
RTOs should always be aware of the rules when it comes to contextualisation in order to remain compliant. This includes engaging in learning activities such as modifying units of competency that need to fit the outcome requirements for both the learner and the organisation, they are a part of. Additional information can also be added that fits a learner’s profile, or is tailored to specific needs of an organisation. It is also possible to package units of competency into qualifications with elective options, if this doesn’t affect the integrity of the outcome from endorsed units. However, there is an obligation for RTOs not to remove elements and performance criteria, distort or reduce competency outcomes, or limit its application through using it for less portable purposes. Making sure these limits are respected will enable compliance with national regulatory obligations for RTOs.
Contextualising for different modes of delivery
When designing a training program, context is key. Contextualising training material can help improve learner engagement, and increase the chances of successful learning outcomes. But taking this extra step to ensure learners are fully engaged in the content is not always easy. That’s why it’s important to start by considering the best delivery method for your training cohort before you begin contextualising your materials.
- Training for classroom delivery: Training for classroom delivery is an important step to ensure that students truly understand the material they are studying. In order to provide the best learning experience, instructors should consult with industry professionals and check that their content is up-to-date and reflects real-world experiences. Not only can these experts provide valuable perspectives on the current market environment, but inviting them to appear in class allows students to glean insight from people who work in the field every day. Through interactive conversations and presentations about relevant workplace stories and experiences, participants will be able to learn more about roles, careers, and necessary skills in their respective industries. Ultimately, faculty members have a responsibility to include key industry actors when delivering instruction materials so that learners understand what they need to know in order to succeed after graduation.
- Training for the workplace: Training for the workplace can have numerous benefits, particularly when it aligns with an organisation’s objectives and culture. Training activities should be meaningful in terms of both the business involved and also the learners themselves, providing them with useful skills regardless of their level of ability. Practical training in a working environment can provide real-world problem-solving opportunities; having a mentor or supervisor to guide these activities or seminars is beneficial to ensuring knowledge retention and useful implementation of new skills.
It is important to discuss any proposed workshops or sessions with the employer beforehand in order to ensure that their goals are accounted for in the training and subsequent learning outcomes. By incorporating real work tasks or activities into the technique, learners will better understand best practices and how policies are implemented within that specific organisation. This method allows them to handle situations as they would naturally appear in relation to their role. Learning this way helps participants retain knowledge more effectively so they can use all information received while onsite – potentially improving overall productivity and workflow.
- Training for online delivery: Training for online delivery is an effective way to make sure that learners are properly equipped with the skills they need for a successful career. By providing an authentic simulated work environment, learners have a better chance of properly understanding their task before actually entering the workforce. This simulated environment also serves as an effective method of digging deeper into topics and allows learners to apply their knowledge and practice different scenarios that may arise in real-world job sites.
In addition to this, workplace centric quizzes and games can help to boost knowledge retention. Developing game-like activities surrounding certain subjects can be extremely beneficial and engaging for learners who may not be looking forward to specific tasks or learnings. Similarly, hosting webinars with industry experts allows students to gain invaluable insights from people who have been in the field and understand what works best in the real world. The combination of theoretical knowledge complemented with expert advice provides the best opportunity for students to be efficient when performing certain tasks demanded by employers.
Contextualising learning materials
Contextualising learning materials is an important part of the instructional design process. By replacing generic terms and general descriptions with specific ones, instructors can make the material more relatable for their learners. This helps them understand the information more effectively and be able to apply it in their day-to-day roles.
- Step 1: Replace generic terms and general descriptions: The process of contextualising learning materials involves a thorough analysis of the content. This helps you identify which generic terms and generalisations should be replaced with job-specific or industry-specific phrases. You may choose to mention brand names, regional jargon, processes that are particular to that field, as well as technologies or tools used in that particular profession. It’s a good idea to research what’s current so your material doesn’t become quickly outdated – for example, if there have been any significant developments in legislation or regulation related to your discipline since the curriculum was published. You may want to update these aspects before delivering the course. Contextualising learning materials also encourages learners to think about how they can adapt new concepts and ideas into their professional environment, helping them become better prepared when they enter the workforce.
- Step 2: Identify the criteria for evidence of competence: When it comes to assessing evidence of competence, it is important to identify the criteria which must be met in order for learners to be classed as competent. This process involves looking at each performance criterion outlined in the competency unit and considering what actions or evidence a learner could provide to demonstrate their competence against that particular criterion. It is essential to consider any circumstances where there would be mitigating factors that could affect a learner’s performance ability such as language, literacy, health issues or disabilities.When identifying the criteria of evidence of competence, it is advisable to set achievable and measurable goals that are relevant across different contexts. Acceptable types of evidence may include observations from workplace assessors, job shadowing logs, transcripts from recent qualifications or ‘real life’ documents such as project plans, photographs and invoices developed in response to an activity performed by the learner. Once the criteria have been identified they should then be included within the Evidence Guide outlining expectations and consequences relating to how this evidence has been gathered and assessed.
- Step 3: Add or modify information: Adding or modifying information is an important step in ensuring the learning materials are comprehensive and accurate. When there is missing information, it can be supplemented with resources that are relevant to the industry or organisation’s desired outcome. This involves researching current resources on the subject matter, such as articles, journals, and other forms of text-based content. It also includes seeking out professional expertise if necessary, such as consulting experienced practitioners in the field.
What’s more important than just adding new information is making sure that it serves its purpose effectively. The newly added material should provide depth to the existing teaching materials and deepen their value for those studying them. In order for this to happen, it must link well with what has already been taught in regards to concepts and real-world situations. Good practice involves further developing any area of knowledge which provide a greater level of understanding or offers new strategies for learners on how they will apply skills they learned during their studies.
- Step 4: Review the materials: The fourth step of the review materials stage is particularly important when it comes to any alterations or changes to existing industry skills or portability requirements. This means that any and all modifications must ensure that the integrity of these elements are maintained while also taking into account the privacy, safety, and wellbeing of others. At this stage, it is critical to double check documentation, operations manuals, research, and technology to guarantee that only changes which are beneficial for all stakeholders rather than a select few are implemented.Moreover, during this phase it is essential to acknowledge and validate protocols which will affect outcomes by determining if they fit in with an operational framework or area of expertise. As such, recognising the risks associated with certain decisions and activities as well as implementing safeguards against potential abuse is a necessary task and should not be taken lightly. All in all, careful examination of materials at this stage can save hours later on ensuring smooth day-to-day operations and execution by helping us leverage our strengths while minimising our weaknesses in order to achieve our maximum potential.
Contextualising assessment tools
Contextualising assessment tools is an essential step to ensure successful training outcomes. Clearly understanding the purpose of an assessment is key for curriculum designers to create meaningful and valid evaluations, as it helps identify both specific and general skills or knowledge areas that need to be tested and measured. A thorough analysis of the assessment context should involve detailed conversations with industry or subject matter experts in order to ensure clarity within all assessments. Through this process, a better understanding of the test objectives can be developed which will help reduce any misalignment with other parts of the program.
In addition, when engaging an industry contact’s perspective during the contextualisation process, it provides further insight into what is expected from trainees upon completion of their course. The feedback from these experts may provide additional information regarding commonly used terms and methods employed in their related industries, which can then be used as reference points when creating questions for assessments. By taking advantage of this opportunity to consult with relevant stakeholders, this will guarantee more accurate levels of assessment and lead to a greater overall comprehension of the topics being tested on.
Step 2: Review the assessment resources:
The assessment resources used at any stage of the assessment process should be carefully reviewed to ensure that they complement the unit of competence for which learners are being assessed. All assessment materials should reflect and measure a candidate’s progress towards achieving their qualifications or competencies. Whether the assessment material is an online or paper-based exam, project report or practical task, it should be structured to accurately analyse and evaluate progress but also be appropriate for the target audience so as not to create undue stress or distraction from the learning objectives.
When modifying your assessment tools, always refer to your training materials to ensure internal consistency. This will help you create assessments that are meaningful and relevant to each unit of competence, while ensuring that they follow accepted industry standards. Proofread questions for grammatical errors as well as accuracy and understandability in relation to specific competencies. Furthermore, if using multiple choice questions, determine the correct answer before committing it to paper which will help learners identify their strengths and weaknesses more effectively than if all answers were randomly presented in no particular order.
Step 3: Follow the Principles of Assessment and Rules of Evidence:
The Principle of Assessment is an important guideline that must be followed when creating contextualised assessments. It ensures fairness, flexibility, reliability, and validity in the assessment process. Additionally, the Rules of Evidence must also be followed which may include items such as validity, sufficiency, authenticity, and currency. Following these guidelines allows assessors to quickly modify and adapt their learning resources to meet the needs of learners.
Success begins with great training materials so it’s essential to find a reliable RTO resource provider with a robust catalogue of quality resources available. Some leading providers offer extensive ranges with various specialised material suited for different levels and learners’ capabilities. Any successful contextualisation journey should start by researching these resource materials in order to ensure the best possible outcome for all those involved in the assessment process.
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.