This little resource is about how to turn free endorsed units into materials. It's about turning what you can easily get for free into what you want.
Units are themselves just standards for work tasks with some regulations on how people might be assessed. They don't give instructions on how to do something. On the other hand, resources (a.k.a. materials), explain how to do or understand something. Materials have examples and something extra to make them interesting and attractive.
When you have a topic, you can choose the relevant units and download them for free from training.gov.au. (Link opens new window) You can choose mutliple units on the same topic, and you will find that they hold different information. If you choose multiple units, you can "cluster" them; that is, combine them.
- You might have to download the whole package, or most of the package.
- training.gov.au has a search capacity, but you can sometimes get more results more efficiently through Google.
- Get units as pdf files.
- On your computer, create a new folder for your materials.
- Copy units from pdf into word processor files.
- Delete returns at ends of lines when they aren't ends of paragraphs.
- In the newer units, you only have to copy out things that are actual requirements. For example, you can omit some of the preliminaries and the explanations of "element", "performance criterion", etc.)
Save these files in their own new folder. Translate them into simple plain English that suits your specific context. (Just type over text in soft copy.) In particular:
- Performance criteria are now mostly in imperative voice, which makes them sound like instructions on how to do something.
- If you find two performance criteria lumped together, you might need to separate them.
- Make sure that performance criteria are in short enough sentences to be sensible.
- Use the normal vocabulary of your workplace or context.
If you have a training package in a word processor format, you might have to do a lot of tidying up. Tidy up page layout (tables, fonts, headers, footers, etc.). Some word files are bloated with lots of coding junk under the surface, which makes them clunky to transmit over the Internet. You might benefit by putting files though a .txt file or a skinny html format, especially if you want to transit them over the internet later. Delete redundancies so everything is explained only once. In fact, you might need to check for redundancies many times throughout the process. Rearrange the whole text into an order following a Simple Sensible Sequence (e.g. chronological steps of the actual job.) This usually takes a lot of work, but you need to make your notes understandable to others. Determine your chapter and section headings. These will often be using unit titles for chapter headings, and element titles for section headings. Use performance criteria for your main explanatory text, although some criteria work better for this than others.) Look at the required knowledge and explain it, if not already done so.
So far, you will probably have a text that explains all the requirements very precisely. But it's pretty boring and doesn't do much to help your students.
Now you should work on it by:
- adding any necessary "how to" explanations
- add any general workplace requirements
- adding "living" examples (e.g. stories of hypothetical cases)
- add illustrations (e.g. pictures and cartoons) that illustrate your point very aptly.
As you go, you might want to add some items for teaching, such as lists of discussion questions and class activities. You can identify issues about which students will have various opinions and conundrums that are difficult to resolve satisfactorily. These will be good for discussion, essays, student debates, etc.
The following stages
Get someone else to check them. Get someone else to read them and say what are the better and weaker points of your notes. If you've been through these steps yourself, you won't be particularly objective. You know what you meant, but do other people understand it? You'll probably come up with lots of things that need improving, and that's not a bad thing because now you know. When you've made the improvements, you're ready for the next step.
Decide on presentation. Decide how you will present them, usually on paper, but perhaps by website. Aim for a consistent, attractive layout.
Field-test them. As you use field-test the materials with students, make additions and changes based on student feedback, questions they ask in class, your Professional Development, extra explanations you give in class, and diagrams you draw in class.
Go through subsequent editions. Your materials should be subject to continual improvement, which means that you should regularly edit improvements into them. Once a year is usually adequate. Make sure you give them a version number (e.g. date or edition number).
Here's a unit that I picked out of an older package that was issued in MS Word.
- The original unit (in MS word)
- The same unit with stuff selected to delete
- Now those bits are gone
- After that, I tidied up the language and put it into a much slimmer html file.
- Then I changed the layout and ordering.
- I edited that into a draft textbook. I'd like to add some realistic examples, and be more concrete about specific kinds of information and the criteria used to assess it. Otherwise, it's nearly ready for a test with students.