Learning towards a qualification
This page is set up to help you learn, gather evidence and demonstrate your skills as they relate to a particular qualification in your country. Learning to learn is a skill that we need to continue developing throughout life and the more that we, the learners, manage our own learning the better prepared we are for learning on job or at home!
This is not, of course, an excuse to let any classroom facilitators off the hook (if we are in a formal class)! It will actually make their job more challenging—but they'll be better off for it! They are there for a variety of reasons, such as to:
- support us in our learning (and especially developing our learning skills),
- help us understand and learn towards our chosen qualification or skill-set,
- provide exciting and relevant classroom learning experiences,
- teach us from their own professional knowledge where appropriate,
- connect us with real professionals in our industry where available,
- formally assess our skills (even though it's great to assess our own skills too!)
The key is, the more initiative that we take to manage our own learning, the better we will become at learning beyond our qualifications—which is one of the most essential skills for life!
The resources and tips below have been written to help you better understand your qualification and develop your skills of managing and demonstrating your learning towards a qualification. If this all seems a bit daunting at first, you might ask your classroom facilitator to ease you into the process over the first term of your learning.
Understanding your qualification
The most important thing is to familiarise yourself with your qualification! You should have access to a list of all the units (or subjects or whatever they are called in your country) that are included. At first, just read through the list a few times—you might like to highlight the ones that sound interesting, or mark the ones that you don't understand from the title.
Once you're familiar with the names of the units, choose the two or three that interested you and delve a bit deeper into what they are about. You will need access to information on the individual units or subjects to do this. For example, if you are undertaking an Australian IT qualification, you can browse all the units from the IT training package (or any other package) on the Training Packages Unwrapped website. Or alternatively, you can search for the unit using the official National Training Information Service's search functionality. Don't worry if you get lost in the details, the point at this stage is just to familiarise yourself with where you can find the information about each unit for your qualification in your country.
Finally, make sure that you have a list of all the required units for your qualification in a table with space to write when you start learning a particular unit as well as when you successfully demonstrate the requirements for that unit (create one yourself if you don't have one already.) This table is going to be your summary or roadmap displaying how far towards completing your qualification you are at any point. Grab a plastic-sleeve folder (or whatever is appropriate for you) and pop this in the front of you folder as your Qualification Summary page (we'll be filling in the details below).
Choosing a group of units to focus on
As you are probably new to the qualification that you are studying towards, it will be a little bit difficult for you to choose which units to focus on initially. Seek out some help from your facilitator or mentor or just a knowledgeable friend to identify two or three units to focus on initially. It's best if these units complement each other (i.e. they are best learned them together)
Once you have chosen your initial units, you'll need to find out more detailed information of what each unit is about. You might choose to read the official documents, but don't worry if you come away confused—in most countries the official documents are written not with the learner in mind, but the assessor (and it's often not easy even for assessors to understand!)
Learner guides... add to your folder for your reference.
Planning your learning with help...
Even though you might be focusing on a few units, good to get bigger picture with introductions to other areas bit by bit (especially the harder areas)...
Tips for gathering evidence to demonstrate your skills
The important thing to remember when gathering evidence is that the more evidence the better—that is, the more evidence you gather to demonstrate your skills (activities, small projects, journal/blog entries etc.), the more confident an assessor can be that you have learned the skills not just at one point in time, but are continuing to apply and develop those skills. Furthermore, it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to provide one piece of evidence demonstrates all the required criteria for a unit of competency, whereas multiple overlapping pieces of evidence will usually do the trick!
Creating or getting your hands on evidence sheets... (see picture). You should be collecting for each unit that you focus on a learner guide and an evidence sheet...
You've been learning HTML and CSS over the past few months by following some online tutorials (such as HTMLDog's tutorials) and applying your learning with exercises (such as the HTML Challenges or CSS challenges) and a small example website about your favourite band that you've created to apply your skills as you learn. You decide to start documenting your evidence for the Australian unit of competence ICAB4135A Create a simple mark-up language document to specification (official document for ICAB4135). On the Evidence Sheet, you list the HTML and CSS Challenges as one piece of evidence, and your small band website as another.
As you read through the individual criteria, you tick the boxes next to many (but not all) of the criteria indicating which piece of evidence demonstrates the criteria (with a brief notes of how/where your evidence demonstrates). Your website does not demonstrate any HTML tables or image maps (Criteria 4.1 and 4.2), but luckily you have demonstrated your ability to create both of these as part of the HTML Challenges. You've now got evidence for all the criteria except "Determine the uses and audience of the document" (criteria 1.1) and "Determine relevant document structure" (criteria 1.3). You're not sure whether the small band website that you've created really meets these criteria, as you didn't even think about the target user audience when you created it—you just wanted to demonstrate the things you were learning—so you put a question mark against these points.
You decide to wait until you've started your next small client project before taking your evidence for assessment, as this will definitely demonstrate the missing 2 criteria, and will provide even more evidence for all the other criteria.
Getting ready to demonstrate