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Community of Practice Update: The First Six Months

In early 2023, the Open Skills Network launched a Community of Practice (CoP) to support and engage its members in championing open skills across the education and employment ecosystem.


In the last six months, the Community of Practice has been a catalyst for meaningful discussions, new learning opportunities, and a number of exciting projects transforming how open skills are leveraged. Participants in the CoP have gained the benefit of an intentional, member-driven network of thinkers and doers, driving at the forefront of global education and employment efforts.


A SOLID FOUNDATION

Early on in the Community of Practice, we engaged a broad community of both experts and beginners in the open skills space. Our first several calls were focused on level-setting and foundational education around open skills, Rich Skills Descriptors, tools for engaging with open skills, and more. We were joined by presenters from Education Design Lab and Credential Engine, who shared their prior work with OSN and new tools for storing, describing, and implementing open skills.


SOLVING PROBLEMS

Our next several Community of Practice meetings were more action-oriented, focused on identifying challenges within the open skills space, and self-organizing into groups to tackle these challenges. As a result, the CoP formulated two key projects: Artificial Intelligence and Credentialing.


The Artificial Intelligence group is focused on solving a key problem when using open skills: how can organizations quickly and accurately tag learning outcomes data and course descriptions with RSDs? This group is leveraging OpenAI’s ChatGPT to create a plugin that allows learning designers to input relevant course data and be returned with RSDs tagged to individual data points. By letting AI tools do the normally time-consuming work of associating human-readable descriptions with machine-readable open skills, this group will empower more organizations to implement RSDs in their course data.


The Credentialing group is tackling a similar problem from a very different perspective: how can the Community of Practice support organizations in tagging their credentials with RSDs? The approach is built around the assumption that by tagging a credential with RSDs, learners gain more utility compared to a credential without RSDs. This project has offered to tag an organization’s credentials with RSDs, document this process, and share the learnings with the broader OSN community.


OTHER LEARNINGS

In the organic setting of our CoP discussions, we’ve discussed a number of recurring topics:

  • Employers are not as engaged with open skills work as educators are. How can the CoP demonstrate the value of open skills to these stakeholders?

  • Many, if not most, institutions of learning have loads of rich yet unstructured course data. This is a goldmine of value waiting to be tapped.

  • Learners are ultimately responsible for communicating the value of their credentials. Linked skills data is key in empowering learners to do so.

  • From an institutional perspective, there is an intense appetite for open skills. The key barriers to entry are the knowledge and time necessary to implement. The CoP may be able to help lower these barriers.

As the CoP continues, new projects may arise that help address these topics through creating resources, developing technologies, and crafting communications that can educate and inform the broader education and employment community.


MOVING FORWARD

The Community of Practice meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at 1:30 pm Mountain time. Each session includes a presentation from an organization using skills in their daily work, followed by three breakout rooms: one for each of the projects, and one for ad-hoc discussion to extend the applications from that day’s presentation.


The Community of Practice will continue through the end of 2023 and into 2024. As we continue our project groups and discussions, we will provide tangible, useful outputs for the broader open skills community to leverage. The CoP has engaged dozens of organizations and community members in ideating around the future of open skills, providing cascading benefits and organic connections to all participants.


It’s not too late to join the Community of Practice. Register today to add your voice to these discussions and help drive the course of open skills initiatives across the globe.

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