Digital Competences (VIII). Cristóbal Cobo: e-Competences in the European Framework: literacies in the XXIst Century

Notes from the course Competencias digitales: conocimientos, habilidades y actitudes para la Sociedad Red (Digital competences: Knowledge, skills and attitudes for the Network Society), organized by the CUIMPB, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 16th and 17h, 2009. More notes on this event: competencias_digitales_cuimpb_2009.

e-Competences in the European Framework: literacies in the XXIst Century
Cristóbal Cobo

Europe is doing pretty well (in relationship with the rest of the World) in broadband adoption and Internet users. But… what do people do with broadband in the Internet? For instance, the Chinese blogosphere (with much lower Internet adoption) is larger than the US and EU blogospheres combined.

Social networking sites have become platforms where to informally develop digital skills.

Digital skills might be related with the educational level, but there is contradictory data to validate this statement. Indeed, we quite often find no relationship at all. What is nevertheless clear is that the digital divide and the e-competences divide have much in common with other development divides.

There’s been a huge concern to bring equipment inside schools, to bring computers and connectivity into the classrooms. The question being: are them students learning more? In general, we do not find any evidence between more access and usage of ICTs and higher performance in education. And not only this, but also ICTs haven’t brought any change at the methodological level, any pedagogical innovation. If any relationship was found, it is between performance at school and access and usage at home.

Indeed, beyond a specific threshold, more ICT availability does not imply higher ICT usage… but, quite often, just the contrary.

e-Competences are meta competences: a compendium of several competences, including their own framework: a long-term agenda, stakeholder partnerships, research and development.

Though youngsters show an apparent ease and familiarity with computers, the impact of ICTs in youngsters has been overrated.

e-Awareness as the most important of e-competences:

  • understand the importance of e-competences
  • promote a constant update of such competences
  • promote a professional use or application of them
  • promote the acquisition of such abilities

e-Inclusion: the Information Society does not work if we only support the ones that had the best chances to be educated, to have a good job, etc. And a good starting point is de-elitize the advanced ICT users.

Some proposals for e-competences acquisition:

  • Uniformity vs. consistency
  • Constant updating
  • Do not reduce them to ICT usage
  • Validate informal e-skills
  • Incentives

Some final thoughs

  • The impact of ICTs in education has not been the one expected
  • Integration of ICTs in education demands deep changes
  • The potential of ICTs to develop a continuous learning is huge

Proposals for policies in e-competences

  • Integral adoption of ICTs in education, including innovative pedagogy, teacher training, new learning environments, etc.;
  • Use ICTs to enrich informal learning spaces, contextual learning, collaborative learning, blended learning, innovative and continuous learning;
  • Forget about instrumental standards, but go in the direction of building principles and standards based on actualization and recognition, related with digital citizenship
  • Move towards e-maturity: find the proper application for ICTs. ICTs are not for everything and everyone and everywhere. And unlink e-competences with the number of computers and usage time.

[click here to enlarge]

Q&A

Q: The abolition of censorship and other restrictive practices, will it help in e-competences adoption? A: Yes, it would help, but we also have to forget about a 1:1 relationship between people and computers, or that ICTs are going to bring solutions to each and every problem (like lack of democracy). But, yes, of course, it is a necessary condition (not sufficient) that governments become e-aware.

Jordi Palau: sure the new generation of Web 2.0 technologies won’t help education? They’ll help, but the change, the real change, is at another level.

More information

Course on Digital Competences (2009)

Digital Competences (VII). Gerard Vélez and Laura Rosillo: La Caixa, from e-Learning to collective intelligence

Notes from the course Competencias digitales: conocimientos, habilidades y actitudes para la Sociedad Red (Digital competences: Knowledge, skills and attitudes for the Network Society), organized by the CUIMPB, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 16th and 17h, 2009. More notes on this event: competencias_digitales_cuimpb_2009.

La Caixa: from e-learning to collective intelligence
Gerard Vélez and Laura Rosillo

The Virtaula project was born in 1999 at La Caixa [one of the largest banks in Spain] as an e-learning platform to train the employees. But the framework has deeply changed: the Internet has moved form the Internet of enterprises to the Internet of people, becoming more social. The Internet becomes multichannel, user-generated, social networks based, etc.

The institution has also evolved and been restructured, from a hierarchic institution to a matrix-based management.

The new Virtaula implies savings in the field of collaborative work: meetings, work groups, professional development, training, etc.

Virtaula was born as an e-learning platform to reach 25,000 employees, all over Spain, without no boundaries of time or space, giving a quick response, in few time. It was intended also to transmit corporate values (especially to new employees) and to transmit corporate procedures. Training paths were followed by each and everyone, and these paths were generic and non-transversal.

The new focus is to give answers and solve problems that the needs of the business, of every day work, require. The idea now is to reinvent e-learning based on internal bi-directional communication. The new training design it not generic but segmented, needs-focused, applied, practical.

There’s been a shift from 100% employees following formal training courses to 40% employees following formal training courses. But employees keep on logging onto Virtaula looking for informal learning and knowledge sharing among peers. These open spaces are built on demand: besides formal training, the rest of the platform and the rest of training initiatives work on demand and to answer the needs and requirements stated by the employees.

Of course, a minimum of commitment is asked for: behind any demand made to Virtaula some requisites need to be matched: fora responsibles, online mentors, etc. that usually come from the same group of people that asked for a new virtual space.

The organization of virtual groups replicates the natural organization of groups within the firm, as it has been proved that it is also the natural unit of knowledge sharing. These units work as a top-down channel for information diffusion, and also as a bottom-up and peer-to-peer platform for knowledge sharing. In these units, the blog has been acknowledged to be the king tool.

Virtaula is full of “solutions” uploaded by the employees to give answer to the situations they find in their daily work, and everyone benefits from contributing to the knowledge platform, being trust in their peers the main value.

What has changed is not (only) the platform, but what people do in it. In Virtaula 1.0 people enrolled in a course, followed training paths, took part in fora by formal (organization- and hierarchy-based collectives), accessed materials and asked a tutor. In Virtaula 2.0, everyone manages their own training, generates content, write blogs and upload videos, lead and mentor virtual spaces, gather around interests (not organization charts), manage information and build their own networks.

Main changes from Virtaula 1.0 to Virtaula 2.0

  • Spectators became the starring characters. Knowledge shifted from being shared to being built;
  • And learning moves from autonomous learning to collaborative learning;
  • From consumers to prosumers;
  • Expanded authority: it’s better a shared collaborative document, than copies from the original; we have to compete outside, not inside (the firm)

In Virtaula 1.0 trainers were “real” trainers and were asked to answer the students back, mark them and lead a specific group. The new paradigm is that everyone can be a trainer provided they’re willing to lead a topic. People are now agitators, ambassadors, producers, turn tacit into explicit knowledge, share and collaborate, etc. And they are all volunteering to do it.

Main digital skills worked with the employees

  • Know how to search (e.g. Google)
  • Know how to read (e.g. Google Reader)
  • Know how to store (e.g. Delicious)
  • That should lead the employees to be able to publish whatever on Virtaula

Q&A

Mercè Guillén: why is it that the Virtaula platform has so little corporate imaging? Laura Rosillo: It’s made on purpose. The idea was that Virtaula were not an intranet but the Internet. On the other hand, the purpose was that it should not be a corporate space, but a place for the employees, for the people. La Caixa already has an intranet, and Virtaula should be detached form it.

Q: Have you thought about using already existing social networking sites for other purposes? Gerard Vélez: yes, and the work done in Virtaula should empower the employees to “colonize” other parts of the Internet.

Q: What’s the participation level? Is people aware that this way of working will have any impact on profits? Gerard Vélez: out of 25,000 employees, 15,000 have accessed the platform, 6,000 are in work groups and 1,000 are highly active users. And people do it because it has a positive impact on their daily work.

More information

Course on Digital Competences (2009)

Digital Competences (VI). Joan Torrent: Electronic skill-biased technological change (e-SBTC), enterprise and work

Notes from the course Competencias digitales: conocimientos, habilidades y actitudes para la Sociedad Red (Digital competences: Knowledge, skills and attitudes for the Network Society), organized by the CUIMPB, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 16th and 17h, 2009. More notes on this event: competencias_digitales_cuimpb_2009.

Electronic skill-biased technological change (e-SBTC), enterprise and work
Joan Torrent

The Knowledge Economy

From the industrial economy to the knowledge economy: Digitization and technological revolution, Globalization, and change in the structures of demand.

Globalization is the last stage of capitalism, understood as the maximization of profit in the market. Capitalism is led by an expanding trend, and always move towards no limits of time or space. And the difference between internationalization and globalization is the time factor.

The fluxes of information and knowledge will be the groundings for development in the next decades: for the first time in History, we’ve got now technology that helps human beings in their mental work, vs. other technologies (steam engine, combustion engine, etc.) that were applied to — and were substites for — manual work. Thus why now knowledge is becoming the booster of wealth, the asset upon which creation of wealth is leveraged. Though knowledge is not new in the production equation, it is new in a sense of magnitude and intensity, leading to changes in productivity, competitiveness, etc.

Implications of this new economic sphere that is the Knowledge Society:

  • Complementary effect: technology has an impact when used to achieve goals in a specific framework, but it has not an impact in itself — though it is the core for economic transformation. But technology biases skills: depending on the technology used, skills will be different: the skills required for working in an assembling line are different from the ones required for working with computers.
  • Synergistic effect: impact on competitiveness, productivity, salaries, etc. But only if there is an effect of co-innovation, of complementarity amongst organizational change, technology and skills.
  • Substitution effect: substitution of manual or mental work by technology
  • Expansion effect or spillovers: network effect or network spillovers among the infrastructure (Technology) with the structure (Economy) and the superstructure (Society). The inclusion of ICTs has affected all aspects of life, changing the Economy and the Society, and not only production itself. The Knowledge Society is a new economic paradigm and a Third Industrial Revolution.

Kinds of knowledge

  • Know what: observable knowledge, non-rival, ability of exclusion, high increasing returns, decreasing marginal utility, lock-in
  • Know why: observable knowledge, non-rival, medium ability of exclusion, high increasing returns, decreasing marginal utility, lock-in, network spillovers
  • Know how: tacit knowledge, low exclusion, medium increasing returns, decreasing marginal utility, low barriers of exit, network spillovers
  • Know who: tacit knowledge, low exclusion, medium increasing returns, decreasing marginal utility, low barriers of exit, network spillovers

The struggle of firms to turn tacit knowledge into observable knowledge will lead to the class war of the XXIst century.

Knowledge economy and enterprise

On a network for enterprises, there’s a process of decentralization, specially of external decentralization: e.g. providers are externalized. In the knowledge economy, also internal decentralization is made possible, leading to the networked enterprise.

And in the case of work, we also witness a transition towards the networked work: ICTs as substitutes of mental skills, production on-demand and differentiated, non-manual knowledge and work, continuous training and corporate training (i.e. There is no knowledge society without a learning society), innovation, flexible salary, self-programmable (i.e. learn how to unlearn), the networked enterprise as the new framework and networked organization, more commitment than the one agreed by contract (i.e. You cannot leave your brain at your workplace), individual relationship with the enterprise, flexibility as value (i.e. flexisecurity), health hazards related with mental illnesses (stress, burnout, mobbing, etc.).

Digital sills

Skills depending on routine vs. non-routine tasks; and depending also on analytical tasks & manual taks.

  • Enterprises that transform the competences base + organization on a flexible way of production and work + and development of work relationships that increase commitment = higher productivity.
  • New practices in human resources management + new organizational systems + intensive use of ICTs = higher productivity.
  • Delegation of responsibilities + lower levels of hierarchy + intensive use of ICTs + human resources management that leads to higher commitment + fostering innovation = higher productivity

Enterprises that are networked are more knowledge intensive, are more innovative, have higher skilled workers, etc. and, in general, are more competitive and have better work conditions.

Workers from the knowledge industry have higher wages; workers that have knowledge-intensive jobs have higher wages; workers that are in the knowledge industry and have knowledge-intensive jobs are the best remunerated.

Conclusion: we have to evolve towards a change in the competences of both workers and enterprises. And accompanied with investment in technology and a deep organizational change.

But the reality shows that most people are unskilled and, ever worst, do not follow continuous training paths, as do their highly skilled peers. Thus, the gap between the unskilled (or less skilled) and the highly skilled increases.

Q&A

Q: how is it that in this days of crisis we don’t see a debate towards knowledge? A: in a situation of crisis (and always) governments have to capitalize the economy, increase its amount of capital. But politically, this is not that easy; there are some economic trends (e.g. the building industry in Spain) that are difficult to stop; and there are some costs in the shift (e.g. several thousands of workers that are going to lose their jobs) that, politically, are unbearable.

More information

Course on Digital Competences (2009)

Digital Competences (V). Howard Rheingold: Participatory Media and Participatory Pedagogy

Notes from the course Competencias digitales: conocimientos, habilidades y actitudes para la Sociedad Red (Digital competences: Knowledge, skills and attitudes for the Network Society), organized by the CUIMPB, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 16th and 17h, 2009. More notes on this event: competencias_digitales_cuimpb_2009.

Participatory Media and Participatory Pedagogy
Howard Rheingold

It’s better to talk about literacy (or literacies) than skills, are skills are bound to the individual, and literacies have a social component: skill + community. There’s a social component to knowledge tied to the new media we’re witnessing.

For instance, we can buy a book online, but the fact that you can not only access the “objective” information that it’s online about the book, but also the opinions of others, this enriches the information. And the consumer more and more needs a context, a frame. And this frame heavily relies on reputation.

Thus, education also needs a context, a frame. Again — and especially in education — it is about reputation, and about the social factor.

Tools like Friendfeed just do that, letting people to follow people and know what they do. With social bookmarking and the help of tags, searching is more clever. You can browse several platforms following a tag. Searching through tags is a way of exploring another one’s knowledge database, see their rationale and, most specially, the collective rationale behind a specific thing, a specific concept, a specific tag.

All in all, these are several and alternative ways of storing, sharing and retrieving knowledge. And the good thing is that you can combine these several platforms.

Q&A

Ismael Peña-López: how big can the trusted network be? A: It depends on granularity and how much you trust who. You have to learn how to build your own filtering practices, how to attach different degrees of trust to people or platforms or feeds or tags. Indeed, you can have several networks you trust differently, depending on their composition. And the skills required to manage digital technologies can be learnt and developed.

Ismael Peña-López: where to begin with, for the newcomer, in network building? A: In a near future, family — parents — should encourage and train their kids to build their online identities and their own network, whatever it is and whatever the topic. It is likely, though, that at this stage it’s easier to begin with professional networks. In the end, it’s about creating trust around some interests one might have. To begin to create your network of trust, you should observe and find who’s building attractive knowledge.

Carlos Albaladejo: social media and communities of trust, is it for digerati? has it gone mainstream without anyone noticing? A: I don’t think it’s about digerati at all. The production of online content has boosted in the last years. Of course, there still is a lot of people unconnected or not wanting to connect at all. But the number of smartphones is climbing up, and these are phones intended to lots of uses beyond voice. On the other hand, and for the same reason, the digital divide is (in general terms) no more about access to technology, but about people being skilled enough to use it. So there is an increasing divide between the people that can use (and use) these technologies and those who don’t. We’re most likely seeing social media e.g. for political engagement in its early stages, but the trend seems to be that adoption will increase in quality and quantity.

Q: how will educational institutions use social media for education? A: Institutions are always slow in adopting new technology and, especially, new methodologies. We should begin to educate parents. And educate in what is accurate (information) and what is false. But we have to rethink about the whole educational process.

Q: how do we deal with information overload? A: We have to train our attention. Information overload is an information problem, but also an attention problem, and our attention — just like any other skill — needs to be trained, to learn what to do with the information that keeps coming, to learn what information needs to be managed immediately and which one can be just overridden. And along with training attention, we have to build attention filters.

More information

Course on Digital Competences (2009)

Digital Competences (IV). Jesús Martínez & Dolors Reig: Communities of Practice in Public Administrations. Compartim programme and digital competences

Notes from the course Competencias digitales: conocimientos, habilidades y actitudes para la Sociedad Red (Digital competences: Knowledge, skills and attitudes for the Network Society), organized by the CUIMPB, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 16th and 17h, 2009. More notes on this event: competencias_digitales_cuimpb_2009.

Communities of Practice in Public Administrations. Compartim programme and digital competences
Jesús Martínez and Dolors Reig

The Compartim programme

The professionals from the Catalan Justice Department are expert professionals that need no diffusion but working sessions where to share requirements of specific training and see whether any colleague might know or have a solution: the way to engage these professionals in training is, then, communities of practice.

On the other hand, the problem is that most of the times there is not a preset solution for many problems, as they are complex and need many approaches.

Technology enables a constant connection among peers, provided that everyone shares and collaborates and builds knowledge together.

A good thing about communities of practice (CoP) is that they can be shaped as needs require. The structure Compartim established has: an e-moderator that leads a working group, face-to-face meetings and online work, discussion, outputs, diffusion of these outputs (normally reports) and assessment of the whole process. The working group is smaller (+250 people) and its first approach to the problem is shared with the rest of the participants (+1300).

An external consultant provides seldom “knowledge pills” that feed a knowledge based, also fed by the library and the outputs of the CoP, which, at their turn, are provided by the employees.

Adaptation from face-to-face was tough: people used to sharing and participating in meetings, could dangerously evolve to the 1-9-90 standard: 1% heavy contributors, 9% intermittent contributors, 90% lurkers. With people overwhelmed with work, this could even get worse. The ratio they got was 16.17 active participation, rest lurkers.

One of the best outcomes was learning. From the 4 main components of the CoP (antenna, organization of know-how, production and learning), learning became the focus of the CoP and the main driver of satisfaction. And this learning has as origin tacit experts belonging to the CoP.

Digital competences at the Communities of Practice

At the Compartim CoP all kinds of digital literacies and competences were dealt with, specially Technological and Informational literacies, and much less (a “to do” for the nearest future) e-Awareness. But almost all kinds of tools, approaches and competences were dealt with, including digital identity/presence by means of LinkedIn.

Main characteristics of the learning process:

  • Viral design
  • Meetings and events with reputed people to trigger change and engagement
  • Short and really operative learning units, on a constant basis and always available
  • Presence and conversation, through blogs, contents on several platforms (podcast, vidcast, etc.), netvibes, etc.

Strucutre of the learning process

  • Specific courses for e-moderators
  • Specialized seminars on knowledge management
  • Good practices sessions
  • Conferences

The blog proved to be the best tool as it could be uses in many applications and levels of knowledge, including the training of several skills at a time.

Besides digital competences, of course collaborative work was highly treated and trained. And learning proved to be higher the higher was the engagement of the members to the Community of Practice.

What’s next? more processes on a peer-to-peer basis; reinforce autonomous learning and people oriented towards learning; more work with tools, specially when there are new tools every day; creativity and lateral thinking; creation of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and professional e-portfolios, both at the individual and the collective (CoP) levels.

Q&A

Ismael Peña-López: how much have been CoP mainstreamed or embedded in everyday’s life? Jesús Martínez: the CoPs that are useless, just fade away. The ones that are interesting, with the appropriate support and digital skills training completely succeed and are used on a daily basis. Dolors Reig: because people are absolutely engaged, which is one of the main goals: engagement. CoPs have to be useful for work but also for other aspects of life.

More information

Course on Digital Competences (2009)

Digital Competences (III). Ismael Peña-López: Goverati. New competencies for politics, government and participation

Notes from the course Competencias digitales: conocimientos, habilidades y actitudes para la Sociedad Red (Digital competences: Knowledge, skills and attitudes for the Network Society), organized by the CUIMPB, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 16th and 17h, 2009. More notes on this event: competencias_digitales_cuimpb_2009.

New competencies for politics, government and participation
Ismael Peña-López

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Q&A

Carolina Velasco: one of the problems with cyberactivism is creating buzz around some concepts or information or pieces of news that are not fully understood by who’s endorsing them. A: Agreed. Indeed, the fact is that there’s people that are highly technologically literate and master several tools, but lack other dimensions of digital literacy such as informational literacy or e-awareness, for instance, and have the ability to endorse but without a critical point of view.

More information

Course on Digital Competences (2009)