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Consulting on revised standards for IT User skills August 28, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in goverment.
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E-Skills UK, the sector skills council for IT and Telecoms (!) have recently revised their standards and consultation is currently open until 26th Sept. Here’s a paragraph which came with the email:

Why is this so important?  Well, put simply, these Standards define the levels of IT skills relevant both for the workforce and those seeking employment. They underpin the majority of IT user qualifications and government funded IT User training.  Making them sufficiently comprehensive and ensuring they address the right skills means better IT skills for all and a better workforce for businesses.

Which is well and good….but…. My personal take on these standards and qualifications differ slightly to the direction E-skills are taking. I think there are problems with these approaches to such standards. The traditional approaches cannot keep up to date with the rapidly evolving world of IT. I think a different approach is required. An approach which doesn’t see progression getting bogged down with fussing over whether a user is competent at “planning and reviewing their use of predefined or commonly used IT tools for work activities most of which are complex and non-routine.” (taken from the IPU Improving productivity using IT, level 3). When the outcomes are so restricted and rarely allow for flexibility, users invariably see the task simply as that.. a task. They don’t question why or look at other options, and most importantly, they don’t follow their own routes and start using IT for their own goals. Such standards and qualifications restrict, they don’t allow freedom.. and they way the whole IT thing is changing so quickly, that freedom is essential to make the most out what’s going on today and in the future.

IT, and more specifically, the Internet, is fast evolving into a tool that seems to be transcending the shackles for standardisation and qualification, or perhaps it needs a different approach, possibly a more holistic approach, to recognise the skills gained.

There’s a lot of chat about the “digital divide” and so long as users continue to be assessed for being competent by demonstrating they can: ” Use correct procedures to start and shutdown an IT system” [UIS1:1.1] will only help deepen that divide.

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N/OCN centre recognition July 31, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in beginnings, Social Enterprise.
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In order to deliver any N/OCN unit or combination of units a provider has to become a “Recognised Centre”. Now, as yet, the project is not currently looking at becoming a “centre” as such, as we plan to deliver our training using existing providers. Just wanted to make the point that the organisation is looking to become recognised with OCR and there is not currently a physical “centre”. Anyway, with that in mind, here’s the process map of what we need to do. I have looked on the OCN sites for a link to the actual application forms but no joy as yet. It would of been useful to blog all of the requirements. For now, just the map and if we come across the forms, I’ll get it linked. No doubt, i’ll be blogging about the process anyway.

Notes from OCN meeting Friday 11th July 08 July 15, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in Informal learning, Meeting, NBSE, social media.
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I met with Sue Barton at OCN in Stoke last Friday to discuss the project and how OCN fits into the whole set up. Again, the project got the thumbs up from Sue and we found ourselves agreeing on many things specifically around the whole Adult Education / IT / Learning areas. Initially, I was keen to explore the potential of new courses / units based on our Web2.0 platform but found myself having a “a-ha!” moment when Sue suggested utilising the existing portfolio. Having looked at the unit requirements and outcomes I am more than confident that we can use their framework to deliver recognised and relevant qualifications. I am still keen to explore the development of a new course(s) but at this stage of the project, I think the OCN route seems feasible.

First thoughts are that the project aims to deliver the NOCN Entry Level Award for Progression (Entry 3). This qualification has a certain flexibility in it’s delivery options and can easily map the projects aims / issues such as engagement, worklessness and confidence. “These quals develop the skills and knowledge that will enable people to progress to further / higher education or employment” (OCN). Without going into too much detail, each participant would undertake a series of sessions totalling approx 30 hours. In these sessions, they would cover areas such as personal learning programmes, job seach skills, interview techniques, internet & email usage (There are many existing units to choose from and as a project, we need to decide which will be most suitable) but with our project twist of everything delivered using social media / web2.0 applications, including all the evidencing and reporting plus anything else we can think to chuck in to the mix.

So while we have that task to work through, we also need the project to become a registered OCN centre. So apart from the usual form filling stuff, this is actually taking us somewhat down the route of a real structure for the project..marvelous! These things obviously don’t happen for free, but we built in the centre recognition costs into our project startup bid through UNLTD, which we’re still awaiting news on.

Looking towards accreditation July 5, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in beginnings.
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The majority of training / learning programmes these days tend to require some form of qualification (to show knowledge) and /or progression path towards further development (further learning, employment etc). Our project too will need to show that it has been of use to the participants and if we are to secure any contacts or funding, we need to be looking towards some form of formal accrediation.
To begin this process, we initially talked to Tony Clabby of UNLTD, a startup organisation for ‘social entrepeneurs ‘. He suggested, the Open College Network (OCN) as their diverse mandate would probably suit our project idea. I have worked with OCN before in the past and I also had these in mind.
So after a brief telephone enquiry we have set up a meeting with OCN to look at the possibility of getting our project idea / course accredited and to discuss how it could work alongside other OCN courses, particularly for our potential participants. The meeting is scheduled for Friday 11th July and I will post any updates after then.