Thursday, June 22, 2006

Determining Competency Requirements

My colleague Mike Grant led a webinar today on How to Develop Competencies for Effective eLearning. His main point was that we should be concerned about competencies because the knowledge, skills and abilities of those working on your eLearning projects will be the key determinants of success. Now, this is an oft-heard refrain from the eLearn Campus team, but Mike provided some frameworks for determining competency requirements and then laid out some simple do's and don'ts.

Competency Frameworks for eLearning

1. By Roles

This is the easiest, and probably most common, way to think of your organization's competency requirements. You can break down needs by roles that need to be filled. For example:
  • Project management
  • Instructional design
  • Programming / production
  • Graphic artists
  • Subject matter expertise
  • Technical support (IT)
2. By Management Processes

You can break down required competencies around your key processes for managing eLearning in your organization. As an example, Mike used the "5E" framework:
  • Establish value
  • Effect change
  • Engage stakeholders and learners
  • Experiment
  • Evaluate results
There are competencies that are essential for fulfilling tasks within each of these key process areas.

3. By Stage-of-Development

You could also think of competencies you need within the context of where your organization is in the stage of development with respect to eLearning. Mike outlined four such stages:
  • Dabbler: just experimenting on the edges of eLearning, not really sure of end goal, not really considering all the needed competencies to do eLearning well
  • Establish Value: starting to focus on the underlying value of eLearning to the organization, establishing a model for eLearning, setting up key metrics
  • Early Stage Committed: clear on internal vs. external competencies that need to be brought to bear on projects, have a process for managing competencies
  • Late Stage Committed: managing value and having processes for continuous improvement
Your organization's competency needs will vary depending on which stage it is in, as will the mix of internal vs. external competencies.

Finally, Mike laid out his five steps to good competency management as this relates to eLearning.
  • Determine a framework for your competency needs (see above)
  • Map out your existing internal competencies against the needs you have
  • Determine core versus external competencies
  • Create a competency development plan
  • Develop competencies within the framework you choose
Remember that this is a fluid process. You are always examining evolving competency needs against what you have, what you should get from elsewhere, and what you can develop internally over time. And you are always recalibrating to find the right balance to get the job done.

Here is a link to a recording of the webinar.