Training Packages aren’t Curriculum: avoiding tick and flick


copyright-symbols-and-rules-you-need-to-know-04 2015

Intellectual Property of Dr. Bruce D. Watson, DEd Melbourne and attributed authors as noted.

For Private individual use. All rights reserved.


1. Training Packages

Attribution: Service Skills Australia

“A training package is a set of nationally endorsed standards and qualifications for recognising and assessing people’s skills in a specific industry, industry sector or enterprise. They are developed by national Industry Skills Councils (ISCs). Service Skills Australia is an industry skills council.”

“Training packages are a key feature of Australia’s national vocational education and training (VET) system. They are used as the basis for most of the programs delivered in the VET system, including Australian Apprenticeships, training courses offered by TAFE and private training organisation, VET in schools programs, recognition of existing skills, and occupational licensing.”

“Training packages are designed to enable diverse and relevant vocational learning outcomes, and to regulate training outcomes through nationally recognised qualifications.”

“Despite the name, training packages do not describe how people should be trained. Rather, they provide the nationally endorsed industry standards against which training can be developed and flexibly delivered to meet particular local, individual, industry and enterprise requirements.”

“Training packages are developed with industry and are not owned by an individual training provider.”

The aims of training packages are:

  • To help the VET system achieve a better match between skills demand and supply
  • To encourage flexible and relevant workforce development and learning
  • To provide for the national recognition of the vocational outcomes of learning
  • To guide and support individuals in their choice of training and career.

2. Curriculum

Attribution: adapted from The Glossary of Education Reform

The term curriculum refers to the presentations and knowledge content taught in a in a specific course or program. In Vocational Education and Training (VET) curriculum is required to be based on Training Packages. As mentioned above,training packages do not describe how people should be trained. Rather, they provide the nationally endorsed industry standards against which training can be developed (curriculum) and flexibly delivered to meet particular local, individual, industry and enterprise requirements.

Depending on how broadly VET educationists/trainers/facilitators define or employ the term, curriculum typically refers to the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn, which includes the Units of Competency in Training Packages they are expected to attain.

Curriculum documents what VET educationists/trainers/facilitators teach/demonstrate/present; the assignments and projects given to trainees; the books, materials, videos, presentations, excursions and readings used in a course of training; and the tests, assessments, and other methods used to evaluate student learning.

An individual VET educationist’s/trainer’s/facilitator’s curriculum, for example, would be the specific presentations, assignments, and materials used to organise and teach a particular program.

When the terms curriculum or curricula are used in educational contexts without qualification, specific examples, or additional explanation, it may be difficult to determine precisely what the terms are referring to—mainly because they could be applied to either all or only some of the component parts of a school’s academic program or courses.

VET educationists/trainers/facilitators are required to develop their own curricula based on Units of Comptency in Training Packages, often refining and improving them over years, although it is also common for VET educationists/trainers/facilitators to adapt presentations and syllabi created by other VET educationists/trainers/facilitators, use curriculum templates and guides to structure their presentations and courses, or purchase pre-packaged curricula from individuals and companies.

Curriculum may also encompass a training organization’s academic requirements for graduation, such as the Units of Competency they have to attain and other requirements. Generally speaking, curriculum takes many different forms in training organisations.

It is important to note that while curriculum encompasses a wide variety of potential educational and instructional practices, VET educationists/trainers/facilitators often have a very precise, technical meaning in mind when they use the term.

We would expect that VET educationists/trainers/facilitators spend a lot of time thinking about and developing curriculum, and many VET educationists/trainers/facilitators have acquired a specialist’s expertise in curriculum development—i.e., they know how to structure, organise, and deliver in ways that facilitate or accelerate trainee learning.

To non-VET educationists/trainers/facilitators, some curriculum materials may seem simple or straightforward (such as a list of required reading, for example), but they may reflect a deep and sophisticated understanding of an knowledge/academic discipline and of the most effective strategies for learning acquisition and trainee group management.

3. From Training Packages to curriculum

Attribution: ABC Curriculum Resources

“There are several concepts that can guide the development and review of all types of curricula at both the program and course level.”

“Alignment and Coherence – all parts of the curriculum must be logically consistent with each other. There must be a “match” or a fit between parts.”

“Scope – the range or extent of “content” (whether information to be learned, skills to be acquired etc.) that will be included in a course or program. It must be sufficient to lead learners to achieve the program or course outcomes. However, there is a constant tension between breadth and depth when considering scope. In general, when deep learning is required, “lean” is best.”

“Sequence – is the ordering of learning experiences so that learners build on previous experiences and move to broader, deeper or more complex understandings and applications. Common ways of sequencing content within courses include simple to complex, wholes to parts (or part to wholes), prerequisite abilities, and chronological.”

Continuity – refers to the vertical repetition of major curriculum elements in different courses over time (also known as vertical organization or articulation). It is important to identify the themes or skills that need to run through a program and to map how they will be addressed at each level.

“Integration – refers to the horizontal relationship among major curriculum components at any given point in time (also known as horizontal organization). Integration fosters reinforcement of key learning and is needed to promote application of learning across course boundaries.”

“Those who adopt an inquiry approach to curriculum recognize that there is no single recipe for developing an effective curriculum. They realize that curricula are living, dynamic entities in constant flux. They use strategic questions and a variety of people and other data sources to collect information that will help them make curriculum decisions that are best for the learners, for the context and for the curriculum purpose. They investigate curriculum options then critically explore and assess their findings.”

“Here are examples of some questions that might be asked when developing or revising a program. These are simply examples—not a comprehensive list of questions to be asked.

  • Why is this program needed? What is the rationale for the program?
  • What are graduates of this program expected to know and to be able to do?
  • Are there standards or expectations from professional associations that need to be considered in this curriculum?
  • What credential is appropriate for this program?
  • How does this program relate to others in this college? Elsewhere?
  • Who are the learners likely to be attracted to this program?
  • What abilities will students entering the program need to be successful?
  • Who are the groups and individuals that should be consulted as we develop/revise this program?”

4. Death by Powerpoint

5. Contentions

1. I contend that, many VET educationists/trainers/facilitators (with only Certificate IV Assessment and Training) are so untrained in educational/training/curriculum methods, inexperienced or are so worried about being able to demonstrate the direct link to specific Units of Competency and Training Packages, that it is “easier” to just “teach” Units of Competency as they are (then ‘tick’ and ‘flick’), without any regard for synthesis of the content between Units of Competency. This often leads to the trainees being given the same material multiple times.

2. I contend that, auditors of VET training programs are not necessarily trained in educational/training methods, inexperienced or so intent about being able to demonstrate the direct link to specific Units of Competency and Training Packages that the needs of trainees are over-looked entirely.


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