Competencies: The goal of most learning, education and training is to acquire skills, knowledge and ability, i.e. competencies. Recognizing and validating the competencies that individuals have or should acquire is also fundamental to staffing, recruiting, credentialing, personal advancement, workforce development, curriculum development and policy making. Competencies are woven into the fabric of education, training, talent management, economic competitiveness and military readiness.
Perhaps because of their importance and ubiquity, competencies have traditionally been expressed and exchanged online in human readable formats, often relying on implicit knowledge. But recent advances in learning technology and educational and training practices have created the requirement that competency descriptions be machine-readable and interoperable across institutions and systems. It is no longer an option to define competencies in an ad hoc course-by-course or program-by-program fashion and to communicate them only to the extent that they are implied by a course completion or credential. Distributed, cloud-enabled, analytics-driven learning systems ranging from MOOCS to interactive e-Books and intelligent tutoring systems cannot effectively process data, adapt to learners, or report results without a common language in which to communicate what a learner has accomplished at a granular level. The requirement for a common language to describe capabilities and learning objectives applies as well to employers who want accurate and fine-grained information on what job candidates and employees know and can do, and to job seekers who want to know what skills are in demand in the workplace and what schools and courses teach those skills. Competency-based education, training, development, staffing and recruiting have been around for years, but as technology and education move to the cloud and the workforce becomes less tied to single institutions or employers, competencies are taking on new levels of importance and, indeed, urgency.
Competency Standards: Two broad categories of competency standards support competency-based learning, training and education. The first standardizes taxonomies of competencies. Examples include common core standards, O*Net, Military Occupational Standards, and industry-specific lists of skills. The second consist of interoperability standards that define machine-readable representations and exchange protocols for competencies and for information that relates learning experiences, educational programs, tasks, jobs, learning materials, and individual accomplishments to competencies.
Scope of this RFI: This RFI is scoped to enabling systems that support learning, education, training and human resource development and management to securely and efficiently exchange detailed information about the structure of competency taxonomies, about individual competency profiles, and about evidence and validations used to derive such profiles.
Please use this Discussion Thread to express interest and to comment on this scope or any related matters.
Why this Scope? The scope statement was proposed based on three observations:
- Developing competency taxonomies is the job of subject matter experts, communities of practice, and government agencies, not a standards body. The scope is intended to enable communities of practice, government agencies, and industry organizations to define their own unique competency frameworks in an interoperable way, but the taxonomies are out of scope.
- The IEEE LTSC enters the picture when systems used for learning, education and training use standards exchange data and when information is needed to personalize learning and to analyze, articulate, and validate results. These functions require detail and more granularity than is needed for tasks such as tagging and matching jobs or describing training programs or an individual’s qualifications. Venues such as schema.org are better suited for creating lightweight standards for tagging and matching; the IEEE LTSC should focus on infrastructure to support the full range of existing and forthcoming learning technologies.
- Existing competency-related standards developed by the IEEE LTSC, the IMS Global Learning Consortium, inLOC, Medbiquitous, HROpenStandards (formerly the HR-XML Consortium), SIFA and others have seen limited adoption by learning management systems, authoring tools, content management systems, HR systems, MOOCS, intelligent tutoring systems, and related technologies in a significant way. The presumed reason is that there has not been an economic or technical driver for adoption. The Experience API, interactive e-Books, and the next generation of cloud-based HR systems may change this, but developing a standard without specific and pressing use cases in mind will not have an impact.
What is a Study Group? In the IEEE LTSC, standards are developed by working groups. Before starting work on a standard, a working group must have a project approved by the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA), and that requires identifying a need, purpose, and scope – which is the first step in working on a standard. Catch 22! So a Study Group is the formal mechanism by which a group of interested parties gathers to determine (a) if or what standard should be developed (based on an identified need or problem and adoption prospects) and (b) if and how a desired standard can be developed and supported (based on commitments from stakeholders). Signing up to participate in a study group means that you are willing to help answer these two questions. It does not mean that you already know your answers or “the answers,” but it does mean that you are willing to invest time in finding them.
What Level of Participation is expected? If formed, a Study group will meet remotely at least every other week. We will schedule a face-to-face meeting if and when it appears likely that a standards development project will result from the Study Group. If a project is initiated and approved by the IEEE-SA, the working group will meet remotely on a similar schedule and hold face-to-face meetings once every three to six months. In addition, companies involved will be asked to implement and test the standard as it is being developed, so that it works in practice and not just in theory.
What to do! If you are interested in participating, please add a comment to this Discussion Forum stating your interest or, alternatively, send email to robby <at> computer.org with a cc to avron <at> aldo.com. In either case, please include your name, organization, and email
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