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September 2005 News from WG20 - Competencies

by dray last modified 2007-04-05 18:29

The PAR for Reusable Competency Definitions (RCD) has been withdrawn and resbumitted with a narrower scope and purpose to better reflect the working draft. ~~ Call for a "meeting of the minds" to help formulate a general framework from which requirements for technical competency-related standards can emerge. ~~ The working group is trying to set up a conference call schedule to finalize the RCD draft and study the definition of additional competency related technical standards.

Please don't miss reading the action items at the end of this posting.


Following a number of offline discussions among various stakeholders, interested parties and the LTSC SEC (Sponsor Executive Committee), it was decided to withdraw the PAR for P1484.20 Reusable Competency Definitions (RCD), and submit an updated PAR with a revised scope and purpose for P1480.20.1 Reusable Competency Definitions. The new PAR is on the agenda of the IEEE NESCOM meeting on September 22, and we won’t know until after this meeting whether it is approved. In the meantime, Robby Robson, the LTSC Chair, has responded to several questions from members of NESCOM and it looks like we can stay the course.

The rationale for the PAR decision is as follows:

  • The P1484.20 PAR expires in December 2005. Based on experience with other LTSC projects, it was clear that the balloting process cannot be completed by that date.
  • The scope and purpose of the P484.20 PAR were too wordy and included features that were not included in the current working draft or in the IMS specification on which the current working draft is based.
  • It has become clear that the RCD standard is only one of the standards required for useful interoperable solutions involving competency data. It therefore makes sense to designate this as a part ".1", of a multipart standard numbered as ".20", with other parts to come as their scope and purpose is being defined. The easiest way to achieve this renumbering is to submit a new PAR numbered P1484.20.1, and withdraw the old one.
The submitted scope and purpose for the new PAR are as follows:

Scope of Proposed Project:

This Standard defines a data model for describing, referencing, and exchanging competency definitions, primarily in the context of online and distributed learning. This Standard provides a way to represent formally the key characteristics of a competency, independent of its use in any particular context. It enables interoperability among learning systems that deal with competency information by providing a means for them to refer to common definitions with common meanings. This standard enables information about competencies to be encoded and exchanged. It does not define whether a competency is a skill, knowledge, ability, attitude or learning outcome but can be used to capture information about any of these.

Purpose of Proposed Project:

The purpose of this Standard is to publish an IEEE standard based on the existing IMS Global Learning Consortium specification for Reusable Definition of Competency or Educational Objective (RDCEO). This standard is to be defined in such a way that implementations that conform to the IMS specification will be conformant to this Standard.

Reason for the Proposed Project:

This Standard will enable the coding and exchange of reusable competency data between various stakeholders such as designers of learning management systems (LMS) and their enterprise customers, users and designers of learning content, catalogers of learning content, educators, and human resources departments who need to track and exchange competency data for recruitment, staffing, assessments and training.

(Note that some minor changes to the final title and wording of the PAR may be required for approval by NESCOM. Approved PARs are posted on the IEEE web site.)


Various people have expressed that they are ready to start work, among stakeholders in the learning, performance development, HR and related communities, on a common framework to investigate standardization requirements and opportunities in the area of competency data relating to performance and learning applications. Such standards would be useful in applications ranging from tracking and auditing of competency evidence to building of competency models that support the automation of skill gap analysis and the automation or generation of personalized assessments and learning plans. The applications are vast but the enabling standards would be small and tightly scoped. While the LTSC keeps focusing on technical standards, it is clear that a broader community needs to be involved in defining the functional requirements and framework. If you or anyone who knows is interested in this, please contact or ask them to contact Claude Ostyn via email to Claude ~at~ Ostyn ~dot~ com.

One outcome of such meetings of the mind is expected to allow the technical participants to distill the requirements into recommendations for specific competency and learning technology related standards projects with a well defined scope and purpose.


Please see for information about how to join and participate in the IEEE LTSC working groups. Some of the information on the working group pages is only available to registered members. Membership is easy and inexpensive.


Assuming that the revised PAR for 1484.20.1 is approved, the working group can resume work again immediately after that. The intention is to use the existing working draft and just revise the scope and purpose portions of it in the front matter of the document.
  • We would like to schedule a weekly conference call time for the working group, with a recurring agenda that includes both finishing the RCD standard and the study of related standards for which members of the working group would like to submit a proposal, or for which the working group would like to submit a PAR. It seems that a one hour call should be sufficient, and in some cases it will probably be possible to dispatch the agenda in a shorter time than that. Special calls can be scheduled as needed. Now comes the hard part again: Finding a time that works for most interested people, considering that they are distributed around the planet. Please post on this WG list server the time slots that would work for you (or email to Claude Ostyn directly if you prefer).
  • In the LTSC group activities, we have been using a POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) conference call bridge that requires a call to a toll number in the United States. The LTSC has also been generously provided with a Breeze conferencing capability by Macromedia, which we have used in conjunction with the POTS conferencing. This has usually worked very well in terms of scheduling, call quality and reliability, but it can be very expensive for some people outside the United States. Any practical suggestions and offers that can reduce this cost without compromising the ability of the call to sustain group work would be welcome (e.g. bridging the POTS conference call with a free internet-based service like Skype, or with foreign call concentrators, etc.)
  • Staying current
    For the most current WG20 news and documents, bookmark this IEEE LTSC web site and join the LTSC-COMPETENCY mailing list. To join, send a plain text message to with no subject and the following in the body:
    Subscribe LTSC-COMPETENCY myname
    The message must be sent from the email address you intended to use for posting and reading messages. When your subscription is activated you will receive a confirmation message.
Claude Ostyn
Claude ~at~ Ostyn ~dot~ com
For phone or fax contact information, please see