The Method in Detail
The methodical procedure adopted when developing the Competence Framework ensures that it maps the latest requirements needed for professional practice. Design work and modeling were based on a competence concept that views competence as the ability to perform tasks and execute activities. Because the requisite competencies, proficiencies and necessary knowledge were derived from tasks, it was possible, during modeling, to ensure that the Competence Framework was strictly task and action oriented. The Competence Framework therefore provides a solid foundation for practically oriented qualification in technical communication.
tekom’s Competence Framework for technical communication was developed adopting the same approach as the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). Knowledge, expertise, abilities, learning outcomes, qualifications and competencies are defined for tekom’s Competence Framework in accordance with the EQF:
- Knowledge and expertise are the result of accumulating information by learning. Expertise consists of a corpus of facts, principles, theories and practices that relate to an area of work or study. Expertise is described as theoretical and/or factual in the context of the EQF.
- Practical ability describes the ability to apply knowledge and know-how to complex tasks and to problem solving. In the context of the EQF, practical ability is described as cognitive skills (including logical, intuitive or creative thinking) or practical skills (including handicraft skills and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments).
- According to the EQF definition, the term learning outcome means the following: Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner knows, understands and is capable of doing after having completed a learning process. Learning outcomes are defined in terms of knowledge, practical ability and competence.
- The term qualification is also used in accordance with the EQF definition: Qualification is a formal result of an examination or a validation process that is achieved when a competent body decides that a person has achieved a learning outcome relative to a given standard.
- Competence denotes the confirmed ability to use knowledge, practical ability and personal, social and/or methodological skills in work or study situations and for professional and social development. In the context of the EQF, competence is paraphrased by the terms responsibility and autonomy.
Starting from this definition, it was obvious that the first step was to determine what are the concrete tasks and activities involved in creating information products in order to be able to determine, from these, the knowledge, practical ability and competencies anyone must have in order to successfully master them.
- Developing the reference process for creating information products
More than 15 experts, practitioners, heads of department and university professors from various disciplines attended a tekom open house meeting and together defined the process phases and tasks that are involved in creating information products. The result was the tekom reference process which is a generic model for developing information products. The tekom reference process was subsequently validated by other practitioners during a tekom symposium.
- Empirical survey of competencies
Based on the reference process, a comprehensive questionnaire was developed in order to survey which expertise (knowledge) and skills (practical ability) were necessary in order to accomplish tasks and/or activities in each task area and/or area of activity. More than 300 persons were involved in this very extensive survey. It provided input amounting to more than 5,000 entries regarding requisite knowledge and practical ability.
- Integration of tekom's Qualification Modules
tekom qualification modules were first developed in 2003 as the basis for tekom’s certification system. Renowned experts defined 18 qualification modules which have since been revised and updated (most recently, in 2013). tekom qualification modules have defined the competence requirements in technical communication up until now. The knowledge embodied in them was incorporated into tekom’s new Competence Framework and updated and revised together with it.
- Development of the Competence Framework for Technical Communication by the Technical Committee
In 2014 a new Competence Technical Committee was set up in the organizational structure of tekom’s Advisory Body for Training and Development. The members of the Technical Committee perform primarily management duties in Technical Communication departments and the 9-person team also includes representatives of further education institutes and university professors. In terms of methodology, the team is supported by tekom’s advisor for Training and Development who is also involved, as a project employee, in European Commission projects, ESCO and the DIN Standards Committee for the eCompetence Framework.
The Technical Committee’s remit and task are, building on previous results, to develop the Competence Framework for Technical Communication, further refine it in future and ensure that it is always a state-of-the-art framework. To achieve this, the reference process was converted into a taxonomy that could be used to systematize and categorize competence requirements.
The first taxonomy level, areas of competence, was developed and defined inspired by the reference process from the process phases for developing information products.
The second taxonomy level forms fields of competence which were derived and also defined from the areas of activity.
The third taxonomy level consists of thematic blocks from which task requirements were developed.
The fourth taxonomy level classifies teaching contents. Expert knowledge originating from the previous qualification modules was incorporated in the teaching contents. In addition, teaching contents were specified on the basis of comprehensive input obtained from the survey. The Technical Committee achieved this by sorting and classifying over 5,000 keywords for knowledge and skills for various task and activities. Above all, the expert and practical knowledge of the 9 members of the Competence Technical Committee of tekom’s Advisory Body for Training and Development was incorporated into the development of the entire taxonomy.