Unpacking the Assessment Guidelines in ASQA’s Distance Learning Resource

  • By: Jennifer Pazaratz

  • 6 May ‘20

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9 minutes read

During the the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many RTOs turned to distance learning to continue to provide training and assessment services for their students. ASQA was supportive of these adaptive measures and published a website section outlining compliance guidelines for these arrangements. You can access this resource here.

It’s fantastic that AQSA responded so quickly when distance learning became the new norm. Staying compliant will always be essential to the future of the VET sector to ensure students aren’t left disappointed.

Unpacking the Assessment Guidelines

In this blog we unpack some of the guidelines that were updated around assessment, you can access these guidelines here. While there are other considerations that will have to be made, we want to discuss what this means for your RTO moving forward and how Cloud Assess can assist in making this transition to online assessment as smooth as possible.

Conducting assessment using distance delivery methods

RTOs must ensure that assessments cover all requirements of a unit of competency. This does not change depending on the delivery of training and assessment. In some cases, assessment may not be easily developed or conducted via distance learning. RTOs must consider the specific requirements of a unit of competency when considering it’s suitability to a remote context.

Give consideration to the following:

Demonstrating practical skills and simulated workplaces

All performance evidence requirements must be demonstrated, and in the correct context and conditions. Assessment conditions detail mandatory circumstances or set up that must be in place during assessment, including details of required equipment and materials, contingencies, physical conditions, interactions with other people and timeframes. RTOs must consider how an assessor can gather the required evidence of practical skills and how to retain that evidence of assessment for validation and recording.

In some cases, assessment normally carried out in the workplace can be carried out in a simulated environment. It is imperative that when simulated assessments are conducted that the environment closely resembles a typical workplace.

All equipment and resources are required as mandated in the Assessment Conditions field of the Assessment Requirements. The activities must be realistic and reasonable.

When simulation is allowed, RTOs must review course requirements to confirm that the learner can accurately replicate a simulated workplace from a remote location. Cloud Assess can help you satisfy validity of these simulated assessments using video or online meeting technology to conduct the assessment. The evidence collected can be uploaded and retained.

For example,

You can gather practical evidence whether the unit requirements allow you to do this Face-to-Face, Online or Blended. An observation that would normally be conducted Face-to-Face like in SITHACS003 – Prepare rooms for guests,

2. Make up beds.

2.1.Strip beds and mattresses and check pillows and linen for stains and damage.

This could be carried out in a simulated context where the Student captures their evidence by video streaming live to the assessor. They can validate their ID through signing an electronic Statutory Declaration or by holding a copy of their licence to their web cam. It’s important to note though, no matter what tech you use, the unit requirements are the bible.

Workplace observations

Some units of competency require a workplace assessment by observation. Where it is not possible to have the student and assessor physically attend the workplace assessment, RTOs can consider real-time observation via technology such as video recordings and video conferencing software.

Assessors can view a students participation in the required activities remotely and, using the same checklists as if they were onsite, make the required judgements.

Using Cloud Assess, students can upload video as evidence with ease within an assessment and submit to their assigned assessor who can award a judgement. 

Trainers and assessors can also provide video tutorials via the Learner Resources Library or within a course feed. 

Using Posts, the assessor can also send a link to Zoom, or other video hosting software, to ensure the entire course cohort have the details of the lesson or webinar. It’s a great tool to ensure everyone has the same information at the same time.

A tool that supports Assessors more closely for Workplace Observations, is the range of Third Party Features, which are outlined in the next section.

Using third parties to collect evidence of competency

When assessors cannot directly collect all the necessary evidence to support a competency judgement, it may be appropriate for it to be gathered or reported by a third party, most commonly, a workplace supervisor.

With Cloud Assess you can create a third party login and issue them with a form where they can upload evidence and so on. This is then submitted directly to the assessor for their judgement.

To highlight how useful this has been for our customers of late, one retail customer recently reviewed their unit requirements, updated their tools, where the unit allowed and enabled their supervisory team to gather evidence. This transition was rapid with the use of the Deploy Function that swapped out thousands of records for learners instantly.

You can read more about ASQA’s guide for RTOs on using other parties to collect assessment evidence here.

Mandatory work placementASQA Distance Learning Assessment Gudelines Blog Featured UPDATED-02

One form of assessment in some qualifications and units of competency is mandatory work placement, which requires a learner to complete a set amount of time on the job before competency is decided. RTOs can record evidence of work placement using log books that are confirmed by a workplace supervisor. RTOs should maintain consistent contact with all workplace supervisors to keep track of student progress and maintain authenticity of assessment.

To assist RTOs with this element of work place assessment, we created Cloud Assess Log Books.

This feature enables you to create specific criteria per unit of competency for your learners to regularly record the exposure to those criteria they receive in the workplace, allowing you to track and report:

  • Durations spent doing a task
  • The number of occasions a task has been performed
  • How many occasions or hours vs target

You will see an upturn in efficiency as you save on processing tasks with unique workflows and processes linked straight to unit records.

Trainer to student ratios

Before deciding on the trainer to student ratios in distance learning, RTOs must consider the training being delivered and the learner cohort. For example, where all students are not required to be online at the same time, trainers may be able to support a larger number of learners than would be present in a classroom.

RTOs must ensure that all students are supported and have adequate access to their trainer to assist them in their learning. Cloud Assess Messaging allows students and assessors to contact each other privately. A meeting link can be provided this way too for one to one course discussions.

Authenticity of assessment

Before determining if a student is competent, an assessor must be sure that the evidence collected belongs to the student being assessed. This offers a particular challenge in distance learning, where there is more opportunity for students to submit another’s work than there is in a traditional classroom.

Delivering distance learning does not absolve RTOs from their responsibility to establish the identity of a student, and be able to demonstrate how this was verified. With Cloud Assess, learners can provide identity documents, photos, videos or audio straight from their mobile device. Gathering hand drawn electronic signatures is also easy using touchscreen devices.

Common complaints from students on ASQA’s website

The most common complaints relating to assessment that ASQA receives from learners who are undertaking distance or online learning are:

  • That online learning platforms are not adequate and do not allow for appropriate records to be retained. ASQA receives complaints that students have submitted assessments using the LMS, however the platform loses the record after being uploaded.

Cloud Assess have built a range of unique controls to protect and retain a Users work from a range of scenarios that would see work lost in less mature systems.

  • Students are told they can simulate an assessment at home using family or friends to role play. The student (and the role play participants) are not provided with sufficient instructions to guide how the role play should be structured or would be assessed in a manner that meets training package requirements.

When transitioning to different contexts for gathering evidence, instructions should be carefully reviewed to give consideration to the new proposed methods. Using videos to provide instructions are a great way to communicate requirements when face to face contact is no longer an option. This will help you to ensure the assessment instrument is fair and reliable.


Although the context of how we need to operate has changed, the unit requirements are still the same. Changes to assessment methods needs to be carefully considered as deviation from unit requirements will still result in non-compliance.

In relation to the Common Student Complaints, using a solution that is not fit for purpose will only cause you more problems in the long term. Although these changes have been thrust upon us, don’t rush into a solution without careful consideration. Making the right choice now will provide you with a great platform for exponential benefit when we are back to normal, whatever that is.

For further reading on ASQA’s compliance requirements, click below:

Principles of Assessment: What This Means for RTOs

What Are the Rules of Evidence and Why Are They So Important?

ASQA Explained: RTO Audit Process

ASQA Student Survey: The What, Why and How Explained

How RTOs Can Involve Other Parties in Collecting Assessment Evidence

RTO Standards Guide: Top Tips for Compliant Marketing and Recruitment Practices 

Volume of Learning Explained for RTOs

Accessibility for People With Disabilities in Vocational Education

The What, Why and How of the ASQA Learner and Employer Questionnaires

RTO Requirements and Responsibilities: Complying With Legislation

For more information on how Cloud Assess can offer total visibility, retention and compliance peace of mind when it comes to online assessments, click here.

Assessment Guidelines

UPDATED: 26 February 2021

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