VET students and financial capability

Ben LawBen Law is a Financial Education Officer for the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). His main role is developing online professional development for teachers to assist in effectively teaching young people about money. In this blog post Ben tells us about an online resource for students, teachers, trainers and community educators, to assist in developing and teaching critical money skills.

Financial challenges for students

For students personally and those considering self-employment or starting a small business after finishing school, understanding money and finance is vital. The financial decisions young people need to navigate are becoming increasingly complex and the money choices they make now can have a real and lasting impact on their futures. ASIC have therefore developed an online resource for students and a complementary professional development module for teachers, trainers and community educators, to assist in developing and teaching of these critical money skills.

What does the research say?

Research undertaken by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) in 2012 informed the development of the Be MoneySmart Certificate III unit of competency FNSFLT 301, which aims to build financial capability in students completing a trade qualification.

The field research included:

  • an online survey with over 1300 apprentices, trainees and field workers, and
  • phone interviews with key stakeholders including Industry Associations, Group Training Organisations, Business Enterprise Centres and Industry Skills Councils.

The research found that most apprentices and trainees want simple, clear and engaging online learning delivered in sessions of less than one hour. Access to a mentor was a consistent message that came out of the study as well as the need for the information to be kept current and relevant.

ASIC’s Be MoneySmart online training resource

Following on from the research, ASIC worked with a steering group with representatives from the Australian Taxation Office, Group Training Australia and Innovation and Business Skills Australia to develop ‘ASIC’s Be MoneySmart, an online training resource to help VET students (including apprentices and trainees) develop money management skills.

ASIC’s Be MoneySmart offers five video-based online modules:

  • Saving, budgeting and spending – Students establish savings goals, create a budget and a savings plan.
  • Personal tax – Students establish a system for storing receipts and work through tax topics so they can prepare a return.
  • Superannuation – Students compare super funds, work through a super statement and learn how to keep track of their super.
  • Debt management – Students compare debt products, learn to manage credit cards and find out what to do if debt becomes a problem.
  • Insurance – Students investigate car, home and content insurance and learn how to choose the right type of insurance and level of cover.

Each module features real life examples and video case studies of young people from a range of occupations, and a mentor who provides information and money management tips on key aspects of each topic. The modules support one hour of online activity and two hours of offline study. Each module includes a student workbook and there is also a trainer/assessor guide for the entire resource. The resource can be delivered as an accredited elective unit of competency or as individual modules as part of non-accredited courses or training.

Delivering ASIC’s Be MoneySmart

ASIC has developed an online professional development module to assist teachers, trainers and community educators in using ASIC’s Be MoneySmart resource with learners. It is designed to help trainers gain a detailed knowledge and understanding of ASIC’s Be MoneySmart resource, consider strategies to deliver the resource in both accredited and non-accredited settings, and understand how the program aligns to the unit of competency FNSFLT301 Be MoneySmart, which is part of Financial Services training package.

Want more information?

For more information, contact us at, and have a read of our previous blog post.

A collaborative approach to adult learning

Will Law-DavisWill Law-Davis is a Senior Program Officer (Foundation Skills) for the Western Australian Department of Training and Workforce Development. One of his main roles is to promote good practice in adult literacy and numeracy. One approach has been to develop a newsletter and online platform to support practitioners to share and develop good teaching practice.

Adult Literacy and Numeracy Network

This year the Western Australian Department of Training and Workforce (DTWD) Development Foundation Skills team had the exciting challenge of developing an email newsletter, ALaN News, and an online community, the ALaN Network . Together these resources aim to support specialist adult literacy and numeracy practitioners to share and develop good teaching practice.

Professional isolation

The overarching goal of developing an online community was to ensure that teachers of adult literacy and numeracy remained continual learners who worked to improve their practice, skills and instructional strategies to successfully help others. With the knowledge that many teachers had a sense of professional isolation, there was the need to develop an online community of like-minded individuals who could:

  • continue their learning,
  • improve their professional practice, and
  • build a professional learning network that would provide quick access to relevant information, resources and connections to expert individuals.

Collaborative opportunities

In the development of the ALaN Network resrouces, the DTWD team had to address three key challenges:

  1. To gain a better understanding of the professional needs of the learning community
  2. To select the correct online platforms
  3. To create a space which would engage and motivate teachers to ask questions, share resources and learn from other members.

To find out what teachers wanted from the newsletter and online community, a survey was sent out to adult literacy and numeracy teachers and managers. The data collected set the format for both the newsletter and the online community. Teachers wanted to stay up to date with new information through articles, blog posts and updates from websites. They also wanted social networking tools to connect to other professionals. To keep the online community engaged and motivated it was important that the members could contribute to the collective knowledge, and also help others through features such as:

  • a discussion board
  • emailing other members
  • accessing and developing resources
  • establishing special interest topics
  • problem solving, and
  • having access to professionally respected educators who contributed to the newsletter.

Teachers are motivated to engage with the online community because they can get help and support, demonstrate their knowledge by helping others, and interact with their peers about new information and feedback.

Filling the need

Developing AlaN News and the online community – ALaN Network – has required energy, time and commitment from all members of the Western Australian Department of Training and Workforce Development Foundation Skills team. The slow but steady professional interaction and the connection of the growing membership in the network indicates the relevance and need for this type of informal virtual space learning. It has provided the Foundation Skills team with the opportunity to make a difference by providing collaborative opportunities in adult literacy and numeracy.   For more information please visit the ALaN Network online community, and subscribe to ALaN News.

Facebook groups: A great way to build language and literacy

Allison MillerAllison Miller is a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog who is passionate about engaging learners, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the world of work. Today Allison teaches us how you can use Facebook to build student language and literacy skills.

A Facebook group provides a great place to build students’ language and literacy through a blended methodology. This is done by posting information / images / videos and getting students into the Facebook Group where they can interact with it. This model involves class discussions about the topic, which helps students build their understanding, and then having students write replies to posts which allows them to build their language and literacy.

Here are the steps on how to do this.

Getting started

  1. Set up the Facebook group

Set up the Facebook group as an ‘Open Group’ and invite students to be members.  Once all students have joined the group, change the group settings to make it a ‘secret’ group. This way any interactions the student have in the group will not show up on their Facebook timeline or be found by anyone outside of the group.

  1. Lay down the guidelines

Students use Facebook a lot, but that doesn’t mean that they have very good online etiquette (or netiquette). So ensure you have a discussion with your students about what is appropriate behaviour and what isn’t when using the Facebook group. Summarise these and put them in the ‘Description’ of the Facebook group as a reminder to everyone.

  1. Make your first post

Now make your first post which introduces you to the group and ask your students to do the same eg Hi – I’m Allison – the Facilitator for the “Deliver a service to customers” training program. I live in Adelaide. Please introduce yourself.

  1. Start the training

Make the next post about training such as finding a video online about your topic. Then add the link to the video and write something appropriate to generate an in class discussion, eg What is customer service? View this video and think about what customer service is.

The students then watch the video individually.  This allows students to replay the video if they need more time to understand the content. Students are encouraged to write their own notes.

Then as a group, discuss the video and the question. Throughout this discussion, write the students’ responses on the whiteboard and have the students type the group’s work as their reply to this post. For those students who are a little more confident with their writing, encourage them to type the summary of responses in their own words.

  1. Rinse and repeat

Now put up the next post while the students are writing their replies to the above post.

As Facebook is quite visual, consider things like:

  • Saving each of your PowerPoint slides as a ‘JPG’ format and uploading each one as an image as individual posts. This way the students will have ongoing access to the course content from their Facebook account
  • Getting the students to find relevant online images and video, then getting them to post these as a reply with an explanation of why they chose the image/video and how it relates to the topic
  • Getting the students to work in groups to brainstorm their ideas/responses on butchers paper and then getting them to take a photo and uploading the photo to the group

You can even upload workbooks or PDF files which students can download.

Consider all of the facts

While Facebook group offers many great features to build students’ language and literacy skills, there are some things you need to consider all of the facts:

Pros Cons
A lot of students are already a Facebook user

Evidence of student learning is in one place

Students can easily edit their posts

Students can access the information as long as they’re a member of the group

The approach allows you to ‘chunk’ up the training

Those students who finish their post quickly can ‘surf’ the net

You cannot make students join Facebook due to privacy reasons

You will need a classroom with internet connected computers and headsets

Students need to remember their Facebook login and password

Students may not feel comfortable about having their work seen by everyone

There are alternatives

If you cannot access Facebook at your organisation or you prefer not to use it, consider Yammer or Edmodo, which are very similar to Facebook, but without the ads, and with more control of content and privacy.

Online assessment validation tools and VET

Allison Miller, eWorks Accredited ConsultantAllison Miller is a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog. Passionate about providing learners with the knowledge and skills that they need in order to succeed in the world of work, today Allison discusses the role of validating online assessment in ensuring the ongoing quality of the Australian VET sector.

Issuing a vocational education and training (VET) qualification or a statement of attainment for a unit of competency (UoC) or skills set requires the careful assessment of a person’s skills and knowledge. This means the assessment process plays an important role in ensuring the ongoing quality of the Australian VET sector.

To support this, the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 (Standards) (Clauses 1.9-1.11) outlines what a training organisation must do to undertake ongoing, systemic validation of their assessment practices and judgements, also known as assessment validation.

Assessment validation is a two staged process:

  1. Validation of the assessment tools and practices before any assessments are undertaken
  2. Validation of assessment judgements after assessments have taken place and the decision about of a learner’s competency has been provided by the assessor

Stage 1: the validation of the assessment tools and practices

  1. The beginning of a quality assessment process requires the validation of the assessment tools and practices of a unit or cluster of units by ensuring that they meet: Training package requirements – this is done by ensuring that the unit’s assessment tools and practices map to the UoC, and that assessment practices are conducted in accordance with the principles of assessment (Clause 1.8-1).
  2. Industry requirements – this is done through regular industry engagement to ensure that assessment tools and practices align with the current methods, technology, products and performance expected in the workplace.

Online tools and processes to support stage one

Once this has been done, the perfect place to store and manage a unit’s assessment tools and practices is via the learning management system’s (LMS) Grade Book/Centre. The LMS Grade Book/Centre allows students to upload their assessments into one location. This provides an easy and cost-effective way to store and retrieve students’ assessment evidence and grading decisions ready for stage two of the assessment validation process.

Stage 2: the validation of assessment judgements

Following a period of assessment, RTOs need to schedule the validation of their trainer/assessor assessment judgements to ensure they are complying with the rules of evidence (Clause 1.8-2). Clause 1.10 states that each training product must be “validated at least once every five years, with at least 50% of products validated within the first three years of each five year cycle”.

Stage 2 involves:

  • Determining the random sample of assessment evidence and judgements which has been undertaken in the six months prior to the validation process occurring;
  • Having one or more assessors/validators who were not involved in the training or assessment for those units where student assessment evidence and trainer/assessor judgements is being reviewed;
  • Assessors/validators using a checklist to determine whether they ‘agree’ or ‘do not agree’ that:
    • the assessment activity adequately meets the unit of competency requirements; and
    • with the original assessment judgement.
  • Recording reasons why an assessor/validator does not agree with an assessment activity’s adequacy/assessment judgement;
  • Recording and actioning any recommendations for continuous improvement; and
  • Examining the RTO’s whole assessment system to ensure it continues to meet training package and industry requirements (Clause 1.4) ie Stage 1.

Online tools and processes to support stage two

Some great ways to support stage two of the assessment validation process are to:

  • Set up an LMS course which outlines the RTO’s assessment validation polices and processes that validators can refer to before undertaking any assessment validation processes. This LMS course should also have discussion forum so that validators can participate in an online Q&A about assessment validation.
  • Use a webinar room or virtual meeting tool to conduct validation workshops, especially when involving assessors from other RTOs/locations.
  • Create an assessment validation discussion forum in each unit’s LMS course, placed in a hidden/orphaned section so students cannot see it, where assessment validation discussions can be record, such as:
    • how random samples of student assessments were selected
    • which student assessments were selected
    • validation process outcomes
    • recommendations for improvements
    • when/how improvements are made

Posts to the forum are date/time stamped and clearly show the validators involved for future reference and the ongoing continuous improvement process that an RTO has in place.

Assessment validation can be an emotional process

Evaluating someone’s assessment practices and judgements can be a very emotional process, invoking fears of incompetence among trainers and assessors. Being sensitive to the way information is communicated about the quality of people’s assessment judgements is very important.

This process should be viewed as an opportunity to have professional discussions about the continuous improvement of an RTO’s assessment processes, and not used as a finger pointing or brow beating exercise. Recommendations for improvements should be clearly articulated, and all trainers and assessors should be encouraged to be active participants in how these improvements will be implemented.

If you’re not sure whether your assessment practices are adequate, eWorks is happy to help.