Outcome commencements

Under the Australian VET system (and particularly under state funding requirements) you are required to ensure students have commenced an outcome before reporting it as commenced.

Every VET manager seems handle this differently. Some keep a note of which enrolments to export and only export those for each funding cycle. Others manually set outcome start dates into a fictitious future date. And others turn off reporting of the enrolments entirely until they are ready.

The common thread is that I don’t like the way you are forced into workarounds. onCourse needs some sort of flag to say “this outcome has been commenced” just like we have a flag today for “this outcome is successful: make it a 20”.

This flag could then either suppress the outcome being exported or (better) move the start date a week into the future, just the way the end date is shifted until you set it as completed.

Possible solutions

I have some ideas.

  1. Outcome: Force users to set the outcome status to ‘commenced’ rather than using the date to export this status.
  2. Assessment: That is, add an assessment to the enrolment which you mark to prove engagement even if that’s just a record of participation.
  3. Attendance: That is, right now we assume “not marked” means that the outcome started (some of our customers do not use onCourse attendance). If we flipped this, you would have to mark the student as attended before we assume they commence.

While the first idea of using the AVETMISS outcome status appears the most obvious it has some downsides.

  • outcome status confuses progress (enrolled, started, finished) with result (success, RPL, etc). Yes, that’s the way AVETMISS is designed, but it isn’t great and it digs us into a corner (for example where ‘not yet competent’ means ‘in progress’ rather than a final outcome of ‘not competent’).
  • Tutors or an external LMS could be given access to the outcome status field to automate this progress, and that’s not really appropriate when you need tighter controls around final outcomes (results) than progression.

Assessments are a nice place to put this information since one assessment could map to one or more outcomes. Creating an assessment called “Initial participation” and marking it as done could be the trigger to commence the outcome. This has a few advantages:

  • You can attach documents (like a quiz) to the assessment submission
  • We are doing more work to make this available to tutors in the portal and to allow students to upload their own work (a valid way to show participation)
  • It ties in better with self-paced training
  • Assessment can link to exactly the outcomes which were commenced.

Finally, using attendance is the simplest idea. It is a really easy switch to go from “not marked” meaning assume they attended, to assume they did not. All the logic is in place already to move the start date of the outome when the student doesn’t attend. All the UI is already in place. The main downsides of this approach:

  • It doesn’t work for self-paced training (but that is quite rarely funded)
  • There is nowhere to upload a document
  • You assume that all outcomes linked to a session are commenced in that session.

So there are a bunch of ideas. What do you all think about the best way forward? onCourse needs to abstract the Australian VET system so that is works better for universities and other countries. We want to ensure we create a data model which maps to sensible workflow and ideas. The AVETMISS export should reflect those ideas in a way which is obvious and clear.


Hi Ari,
Thanks for looking at this as the work arounds are a nightmare.

I am just thinking aloud and would need to ensure no unintended consequences but I am wondering if it would solve most of the issues if we had a status on each enrolment - something like - enrolled, in progress or completed (Smart and Skilled have them as Notified, Data Submitted and Finalised so maybe consistent with that although it is not that intuitive).
This way each college that decide when to move from enrolled to in progress - some may be OK with attendance while others may want a written record of engagement or even a full assessment - but any process can be used.
It would create a manual process to move status from enrolled to in progress but given this would be the action that drives the commencement payment I think a manual check is OK. Similarly changing from in progress to completed would be a manual process but I would be OK with that as we could put it into the process of checking files and ensuring the reporting for completion has been done correctly.

The trade off of these two manual status changes (ideally able to to be done as bulk edit) would be that we can then just pick up all the in progress students and report them without significant work arounds.

Thanks for these thoughts Stuart.

I think the main problem of putting the status on enrolment is that it is possible to commence one outcome but not another in the same enrolment. It may be that you often commence everything at once, but that’s not the only possibility.

I amy be missing what some of the issue is but from our perspective (very much NSW Smart and Skilled reporting focussed) commencement of a unit is only a major issue on the initial unit as it drives a commencement payment.
We would still need to make sure the dates are correct for all units but all but the first unit can be changed after reporting without major issues.

Having a way to select all students that need reporting (i.e. those in progress) and none that don’t would be a huge benefit to us - although i acknowledge if the issues are broader than our problem this may not solve them all.

You are right. For S&S purposes today, commencement at the enrolment object would be enough. But we need to make choices in the design of onCourse that suit other states and indeed other countries. Or even what the NSW education department decides to do next week.

It feels that assessment is the right concept for this idea. You are assessing the student on their participation in the outcomes and need to record that fact somewhere. If we go this way, our goal would be to ensure its really easy for you to add those assessment tasks and mark them. Allowing tutors to mark them in the portal would be a big win.

The UI might look like this:

The new part is the toggle for “only assessed outcomes have commenced”. Then any form as assessment marked against the outcome counts toward that outcome starting. That could be one assessment linked to all outcomes in the enrolment, or an assessment linked to just one or a couple.

If the outcome isn’t assessed, we move forward the start date into the future just like we do for delivered.

Actually, I think I have a clearer UI. How about this.

I like this idea! As it stands we need to go through the whole process of logging into STSOnline to see a students smart and skilled status- Notified, Data Submitted and Finalised. It would be great to see these smart and skilled status’s somewhere obvious in OnCourse too.

The current enrolment status in Oncourse is not a true refection of where a student is at with their studies and it would be great to have more options than active/completed/credited.

For commencement we could change this status to ‘data submitted’ when we have evidence of the first unit being participated in and are ready to report.

Hey Shellie, welcome.

The main reason that putting this sort of status tracking at the enrolment level would cause problems for some people is that they might spread a single Smart and Skilled commitment id across several enrolments in onCourse.

For example, a Certificate IV might be delivered in a continuous fashion with one unit delivered per month, but students commencing at different places in the year. So one commitment id would be attached to 12 enrolments. There is not always a 1:1 relationship between the S&S concept of enrolment and the onCourse enrolment.

What do you think of the assessment marking idea of recording that an outcome has commenced?

Hi Ari and everyone,

Thanks for inviting feedback.

For us, we’re using option 1 but it has its pitfalls.

Option 2 sounds most suitable. How would we have visibility as to what the commencement status is of outcomes linked to an enrolment record? We’d want it to be as easy as it is now with option 1, where we just look at the outcome and see the 70 status - we know the student has commenced. One of the challenges we find with building these export rules in behind-the-scenes is that non-technical users can’t see, when looking in the system, what is being reported out to the government.
With option 2 also, in terms of terminology ‘commencing’ doesn’t equate to ‘assessment’ for us - we don’t assess a student’s initial participation activities, we just obtain a written record of their engagement. We’d hope to see options in the dropdown grade box that reflect that rather than ‘competent’ or ‘not competent’ - more like ‘done’ or ‘not done’, but better sounding…! Also although we’re not yet using Assessments (and apologies if this therefore doesn’t make sense because I don’t have full grasp of the setting options), in practice we don’t usually have a 1:1 relationship in both directions between assessment and outcome record and the competency decision is made as a whole against one UoC - so we wouldn’t describe an assessment as ‘competent’ or ‘not competent’, but rather ‘satisfactory’ or ‘not yet satisfactory’.

Option 3 doesn’t look like a good fit from our perspective, as we consider attendance to be separate from participation and we record evidence of participation activities, so being able to attach a document is useful.

We do S&S reporting but also need to take into account CSO funding where commencement of each individual unit in the enrolment has equal value in terms of funding.

Hi Kathi

Thanks for that feedback. Really useful.

Our grading options can do exactly what you want. There are two choices, depending on how you want to record “engagement”.

  1. Make an assessment task with no grading. Then we take “submitted” as an indication that the student has engaged. I think in most cases that is enough.
  2. Add a grading to that assessment task. You might have two grading options “engaged”, “did not engage”. You can name these anyway you want. I’m not sure what it means to submit an assessment and then mark it as not engaged. But that could be your process if you preferred a more explicit ‘mark’, for example if students had the ability to upload on their own and you wanted to check they really completed something.

Either way, it will be [1] one or two clicks to mark the assessment task for an entire class in one go.

[1] We’ve identified today some improvements to the UI and will try to get them into the next release.

Hi everyone,

Thanks all so much for you valuable feedback - it’s been really great to have you all come together and share with us your ideas about how we can beter present outcome progression in onCourse.

I just wanted to share a preview of something the team are working on at the moment to help with being able to better visualise outcome progression. Below is a screenshot of the outcome edit view, and you can see there’s two graphs on it. These are tracking both the attendance and assessment progression per outcome.

This is just a work in progress mock up, and we’ve already got a few improvements in the works for it. We’ll also be looking at extending this out into Enrolments as well, where these graphs would cover the full progression of an entire enrolment’s worth of attendance and assessment progress. Here’s how it might look when viewed in list view:

We hope you like what we’re working on. And of course, feel free to leave any feedback you may have here, or in a new thread if you have ideas about other features.

Hello again!

Just a quick note to you all to say thank you again for your feedback and participation in this discussion. We’ve implemented this new outcome progression feature in the next release, and have just written a new post covering everything you need to know right here.
Thanks again for all your discussion. We’re still looking at adding more improvements so I’ll be back asking for more feedback in another discussion soon.

Thanks again!