ASQA, industry engagement and RTOs: what you should be doing

Allison Miller, eWorks Accredited ConsultantWhat is industry engagement, why should registered training organisations (RTOs) bother with this approach, and what does the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) have to say about it all? Allison Miller explains why this part of the Standards for RTOs 2015 is so important, and how to tick ASQA’s boxes without making life difficult for your industry contacts.

Industry engagement – why bother?

We all want our training, assessment and resources to be relevant to employer and student needs. It is therefore crucial that our trainers and assessors have the current skills and resources to deliver this training. But how do we ensure that our staff are well-trained and informed while being aware of the most recent developments in their specialist areas? Through industry engagement.

But what does this mean?

Clauses 1.5 and 1.6 of the Standards for RTOs 2015 prescribe how an RTO should undertake this practice. However, these clauses do not specify any particular method or approach. They do, however, specify that RTOs need to demonstrate how, on an ongoing basis, they:

  1. Utilise a range of strategies to consult with their industry stakeholders.
  2. Systematically use this information to determine the:
    • mode of the study, training and assessment strategies and resources, and
    • the currency of their trainers and assessors, as well as
  3. How these align with the current methods, technology, products and performance expectations in the workplace.

A generic template which can simply be signed off by an industry stakeholder won’t cut it to demonstrate compliance of these clauses. But businesses are busier than ever, so how can your RTO ensure that it engages with industry without making it burdensome on your industry contacts?

Here are some ways to make it easy:

1. Take a workforce development approach

We’ve acknowledge that people are busier than ever, so taking the time out of their busy work schedules without it being advantageous to them or their business can be hard to justify. So, approaching your industry contacts using a workforce development approach can provide an effective win-win situation. This approach is where you ask your industry contacts if they will meet with you to answer some questions about their business’s needs, in exchange for some workforce development advice through a training needs analysis.

This process may also lead to additional training opportunities for your RTO, but the workforce development advice shouldn’t only include information about accredited training, as this is only a small component of the training that a business needs in order to upskill its staff. Rather, it should include a range of workforce development strategies, such as work shadowing and coaching/mentoring, which will meet the business’s overall training requirements.

You could use your mobile phone audio app or an MP3 audio recorder to record these discussions as evidence of your industry engagement. To reduce travel time and costs, you could host these discussions in an online meeting room such as Google Hangout or any other online meeting room tool which also allows you to record the discussions.

2. Feedback through existing industry contacts

Every business is looking to work smarter and this is why they have their staff undertake training. This means that you can utilise the industry contacts that send their staff to your RTO for training, by asking them to contribute to a (hidden) course feedback discussion forum. This can be included within the online or blended course set-up in your learning management system (LMS) to help facilitate the training and assessment.

This approach also helps improve the business relationships between your trainers and the employers, as they communicate with one another through regular contact. This will give these employers more buy-in into the delivery of the training, by offering them the opportunity to have input into how their staff are being trained.

And, once all of the feedback is captured in the forum, your trainers can post the actions that will occur as a result of this industry engagement, and then post another response when the action has been completed. All of these posts will be date and time stamped in the forum as to when they were recorded. Trainers can even upload the audio recording of your workforce development discussions to this forum, so that all of the information is stored in one place.

Group discussionCredit: Volunteers by 1295178

3. Monitor trends online

Once you have established what your industry needs in the way of skills and knowledge for a particular qualification, skill set or cluster of units, you need to continue to monitor changes within this industry. A simple way to do this is by participating in industry online groups and forums through webinars, and by subscribing to industry e-newsletters and blogs.

Online professional spaces such as LinkedIn offer numerous industry-led online groups where people share and discuss latest industry news and changes. Industry and professional associations also host a range of online forums through webinars. In both of these spaces you can ‘lurk’ (aka look but not contribute), or you can ask questions or request feedback related to understanding whether your training, assessment, resources and trainers are all meeting your industry’s needs.

In addition to this, subscribing to industry and professional e-newsletters and blogs means that you will have current industry information delivered to your inbox on a regular basis. You then record how you will use this information to verify or improve your training and assessment practices by recording your ideas and actions in a note-taking tool such as Evernote or OneNote. You can even do this on your mobile phone and then upload these needs into the above discussion forum for continuity.

Pulling it all together

If you follow these strategies, you will have recorded you industry engagement through audio/webinar recordings, posts in online groups and forums, and recorded notes and actions. By saving all of these recordings into the one discussion forum within the online course where the training and assessment is taking place, you have now created a one-stop shop for tracking your industry engagement.

Here’s a table to summarise it all:

Engagement strategy Training & assessment Resources Trainers / Assessor currency How
Workforce Development X X X
  • Mobile phone/MP3 audio recorder
  • Online meeting room
Feedback X X  
  • Discussion forum (LMS)
Monitoring trends X   X
  • Online groups
  • Industry webinars
  • eNewsletters / Blogs
  • Note-taking tool

It’s not all about ticking the boxes

The Standards for RTOs 2015 outline the minimum that an RTO should do to engage with industry. This process should not just be about being able tick the boxes for an ASQA audit, however. Rather, we must ensure that our students are receiving the most current and relevant skills and knowledge required to be successful in the workplace and in business. Do you have other approaches to industry engagement that don’t make life difficult for your industry contacts? I would love to hear about them.

E-learning meets ‘The Block’

Lisa Wait

Lisa Wait, eWorks’ newest Accredited Consultant, has held key roles leading national digital education initiatives for government. Her passions include instructional design, educational strategy and digital resource development for schools, VET and industry. Earlier this month we heard about the importance of structuring an appropriate team when it comes to online course development, now let’s consider the best foundations on which to build our projects.

It’s all in the planning

Building a house or doing a renovation requires planning. Before the first ‘sod is turned’ much effort will have already gone into securing a budget, selecting the right builder and specifying the build so that it meets your needs. Months tick by browsing the Internet for ideas, reading decorator magazines, visiting show homes and meeting with bankers and builders. Yes, you guessed it – I went through all of this quite recently! In the process I have learned that an e-Learning project can be compared with constructing a house. The client and supplier work together to design, build and deliver a product within time, scope and budget.

Credits: Home Renovation Cupcakes, by Clever Cupcakes

Unfortunately, however, in the workplace we rarely have the luxury of long lead times to plan projects. Working on an e-learning project is fast paced with multiple technology, business and learner considerations. You can, however, make life easier for yourself. Even a little preparation before you meet with your e-learning consultant will lay solid foundations for your project and assist in building a program that meets business and learner needs. Here are just a few things you can do to get your e-learning project off to a good start:

Describe the e-learning environment

  • What are the educational drivers for your business adopting e-learning? Compliance training? Skills gap? Professional development?
  • Do you have a current technology platform and what are its specifications?
  • What technology access will learners have?

Define learner characteristics

  • Take the time to describe the profile of your learners, including their level of e-learning experience.
  • Will the learners have any special needs, such as language, literacy and numeracy (LLN)?
  • Will learners need technical support?
  • Is there a requirement for learner assessment or demonstration of competency?
  • Which learners will you access for user feedback and testing?

List business needs

  • What are the key business requirements? Demonstrating compliance? Improving productivity? Meeting legislative requirements? In other words, are the powers that be aiming to enhance the impact of training, or to save money, time or both?
  • When does the project need to be completed?
  • What logos/brand is required?
  • What image/key messages are important to the business?
  • And the all-important question – how much money do you have to spend?

Get your team/stakeholders on board

  • Plan how you will demonstrate ROI to management.
  • Agree who will sign off project milestones/final delivery
  • Identify the members of your internal team and their roles in the project
  • Negotiate access to other business units/specialist staff

Identify content sources

  • Source curriculum documents, relevant industry standards and so on.
  • Assemble any existing content
  • Identify style guides, glossaries

Check if there are any copyright or other restrictions to the content you plan to provide including text, graphs, videos, images

No excuses now – it must be time to get started on your project? Contact Lisa for advice.

Some great advice for RTOs – your learners need clarity!

John Collins

John Collins is passionate about cloud-based e-learning solutions which enable the delivery of online training anywhere and anytime. He also believes in keeping the learner experience front and centre when designing a digital learning strategy. How? Read on…

Learners come first

We all know that Australian education and training organisations are continuing to evolve their services to incorporate online and blended course delivery modes. This shift to a digitally-enhanced service has the potential to transform the businesses by delivering:

  • efficiency gains
  • increased profits
  • growth opportunities.

It’s important to remember, however, that consideration of the student learning experience should always be at the forefront of decision-making processes.

A considered approach

In planning your digital evolution, it is crucial that you consider:

  • how to balance online and face-to-face learning
  • the effect of a blended approach on students and staff
  • how your online courses will be designed (including assessment and learning activities)
  • how resources will be delivered and managed.

Standards for RTOs

Adherence to a client-centric approach to learning and system design is not only good business practice, it is in fact enshrined in the new Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s) 2015. Standard 5 (of 8 standards) is explicit in its purpose, “that each learner is properly informed and protected”. This standard defines the RTO’s responsibility to provide the prospective learner with clear information about:

  • where the training will be undertaken
  • where assessments will be undertaken
  • how long the training and assessments will take
  • the delivery mode/s involved.

This is especially important where new learners are trying to navigate their way through their online courses for the first time. With this in mind, and as the manager of an Australian cloud-based LMS, it has been really encouraging to watch the rapid uptake across our client base of a new version of a Moodle plugin – the Moodle progress bar. The plugin has been designed to specifically support learners to manage their learning activities and course assessments.

The Moodle progress bar

The Moodle progress bar was originally developed by Michael de Raadt, a development manager at Moodle HQ. Although this plugin has been available for a few years, the latest version is changing the way many clients are setting up their Moodle sites. We are seeing a strong shift towards using the My Home page as the default LMS landing page.

The My Home page is a personalised and customisable Moodle landing page for providing learners with links and information on their enrolled courses and activities. By adding the progress bar for each enrolled course, the My Home page is transformed into a personal, visual dashboard. The logged-in users can view required activities and assessments at a glance, across all of the enrolled units or subjects in a qualification.

Not just for learners

Overview of students with progress bars

Each course’s progress bar is colour coded so learners can quickly see what they have and have not completed/viewed. The teacher selects which pre-existing activities/resources are to be included in the progress bar and when they should be completed/viewed. Ordering can be done by times/deadlines or by the ordering of activities in the course. There is also an overview page, which allows teachers to see the progress of all students in a class and is helpful for finding students at risk. Furthermore, a course designer can authenticate as a learner to the My Home page to gain a holistic view of all required assessments in a qualification. This can be quite a revealing experience and may even prompt a change in the assessment strategy across the qualification.

How do you activate your progress bar?

Easy! Simply contact eWorks.

Workplace bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination

Marlene Liontis, eWorks Accredited Consultant

Marlene Liontis, Director of Lion Global HR Pty Ltd, has just joined eWorks’ team of Accredited Consultants. The Consultant Program allows us to work with industry thought leaders to champion our award-winning learning solutions. Below Marlene warns us of the implications of workplace bullying, and tells us how to avoid getting into hot water in the first place.

Let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen

No workplace is immune to workplace bullying, defined as “repeated and persistent negative behaviour, directed at an employee, that creates a risk to workplace health and safety.” [source] As well as having a detrimental effect on productivity and psychological health, it is extremely destructive to organisational culture. It is therefore critical that we do everything we can to minimise it.

Are you aware of the consequences?

Did you know that employers, supervisors and managers can be held legally responsible for acts of bullying against their employees, contractors and agents? This is known as vicarious liability, a legal term to describe being held responsible for the acts of another person.

It’s time to skill up!

Duty of Care Pty Ltd are specialist producers of workplace training programmes on the subjects of workplace bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, internet and email liability prevention. Written and produced by a senior business law specialist, these programmes have been designed to keep you and your organisation out of court and not out of pocket. They are based on overriding fundamental legal principles and can be used in most legal jurisdictions. Dedicated versions for supervisors/managers and employees are also available.

Where can you get your hands on it?

Lion Global HR Pty Ltd are the global master distributors for Duty of Care workplace training programmes ©. Our passion is HR best practice and we have dedicated the last twelve years to making these highly regarded programmes available all over the world. We do this via a network of distributors and agents in the UK, USA, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. We are very excited about joining the incredible team at eWorks and making these programmes available to a new audience.

Ask me today how you and your organisation can minimise workplace bullying and avoid liability.

Remember – Ignorance is no defence, training is!

Interested in becoming an accredited consultant for eWorks? The Accredited Consultant Program provides everything you need to start delivering eWorks’ e-learning solutions. Comprehensive training is provided, together with full eWorks Accredited branding.