How to Contextualise Units of Competency

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Professional Development

In this bite-size tutorial, we’ll explain the process of contextualising units of competency to provide a more relevant and meaningful learning experience. 

So, what is contextualisation? Well, it's all about customising and presenting training content and assessment activities to reflect specific organisational or individual job role requirements. This means ensuring that the skills and knowledge learned are directly transferable to the workplace. 

Units of competency are written to identify the required skills and knowledge outcomes, but they don't dictate the details about how these outcomes will be achieved. This is where contextualisation comes into play. 

Let's look at a specific unit of competency called “BSBTEC101 Operate Digital Devices”. The “Application” section of this unit states that the unit describes the skills and knowledge required to start up and use a range of basic functions on digital devices. But it doesn't specify what those digital devices are. Now, this is because depending on the individual's workplace equipment and job role, the digital devices they use could be very different. It may include laptop computers, desktop computers, tablets, smartphones, or other emerging digital technologies.

The Performance Criterion 1.2 example for their unit of competency says “Activate digital devices and access, or log on, according to organisation policies and procedures”. This criterion contains many generic terms and doesn't identify any specific details. The process of contextualisation involves replacing these generic terms with details that are specific to the organisation and learner's work environment.

Let's say you're going to teach this performance criterion from the Operate Digital Devices unit to a group of people who are about to start work at an organisation called “Digital Media Solutions”. This organisation only uses laptop computers connected to the DMS network portal. All staff must sign into the network portal by following the procedures documented in the DMS Network Portal Sign-In Policy.

Let's look at the information we've gathered about the Digital Media Solutions workplace including the terminology they use, and match it to the generic terms we identified in this performance criterion…

Let's start with the term “Activate,” which means turning on the device. Next, the term “Digital Device” refers to the laptop computer, which is the specific equipment used at the DMS workplace. The term “Access or log on” is what they refer to at DMS as “signing into the network portal”, and that's the terminology they use. Finally, the criterion refers to the term “Organisation Policies and Procedures”, and at this workplace, it's the “DMS Network Portal Sign-In Policy”. 

This criterion can now be contextualised to identify what needs to be taught and ultimately assessed to meet the required outcomes related to the Digital Media Solutions workplace. 

The contextualised version of this criterion would now read “Turn on the laptop computer and sign in to the DMS network portal according to the procedures outlined in the DMS network portal sign-in policy”. This contextualisation ensures that the skills and knowledge learned and assessed can be directly transferred to the Digital Media Solutions workplace. 

It's really important to remember that any contextualisation of the unit of competency must maintain the integrity of the unit's intended outcomes, and there cannot be any additions or subtractions to the skill and knowledge requirements outlined in the unit. 

Contextualising the content of units of competency helps to ensure that the learners understand the purpose of the skills and knowledge they're learning and importantly, how it will apply to the context of their own workplaces. 

If you'd like to learn about what's involved in contextualising qualifications, watch our bite-size tutorial called “What's a Qualification, and What Are the Packaging Rules”. 

If you're interested in a career as a trainer in vocational education, contact Fortress Learning to see just how you can get started.

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