Competencies

Validation session for our DM Team Competency Chart in Halifax

Held the last of our validation sessions for our DM Team Competency Chart in Halifax today. A foggy rainy/snowy Maritime day. But the warmth of the group which gathered at The Hub to give us their comments on the chart eclipsed the dreary weather!

As it turned out, this session included only creators. At every other stop we have had more producers, managers and educators in the mix. At our Halifax session we had, among others, Joel Duggan, a cartoonist, illustrator and podcaster who released his first published work today! (We bought signed copies :-))

The creator perspective on how a DM Team works is essential and integral to the whole. Our Haligonian creators offered up several adjustments to the chart that ensured that perspective. For example, the skill to “Write a proposal” which both creators and business people need on a DM Team should be described more broadly as “Create a proposal”. This change in verb will better reflect the approach to proposals that a creative person might take, while still applying to a business person.  A nuance – but one that enriches the DM Chart to apply to all three “functions” in DM content creation: creation, project management, and business.

Our task now is to compile the comments and critiques from DM workers across the country in a final DM Competency Chart. We have faithfully recorded what we heard and will review all suggested changes with our Expert Advisory Group. They will make the decisions on what gets incorporated into the final chart.

For example, we heard in several sessions that creators, along with project managers and the business people, should be able to “Determine technology needs”. All three functions need this skill. The draft chart associated this skill with the project management and business functions. The final chart will associate it with all three functions. 

What does that all mean? Well…. for example… an educator developing a curriculum for visual artists who want to pursue a career in the DM industry will want to ensure that their students have the ability to “determine technology needs”.

As our focus now shifts to the release of the DM Team Competency Chart and its uses, our CHRC staff are exploring ways to make this valuable tool easy-to-use. Given its complexity, we are looking at an interactive version rather than a print version. Seems to make sense not only in terms of the content, but also in terms of the target users!

We are also developing other related products – more on that in upcoming e-newsletters and future blogs!

Hitting the east coast and back to TO

We closed out last week with 2 great validation sessions for our DM Team competency chart.

In St. John’s we met with several DM industry experts, pulled together by Steering Committee member Deirdre Ayre of Other Ocean. It was a lively exchange from mostly “gamers”. They brought years of experience to the table, and a keen grasp of where the industry is going. Especially insightful were the comments about the ongoing nature of a DM “product” or “experience”. It is not necessarily a final piece of content that then needs to be “marketed”, but is often a work in progress that evolves with the users. So, “going to market” can have a different meaning in the DM industry. We also had strong and helpful comments from one who is a “programmer”. He felt he was not represented in the few high level technical “skills” currently identified in the chart – and we concurred. That is what we’re trying to get our heads around. How do we define and describe technology skills in balance with artistic skills? He has helped us grapple with this issue. His comments will find their way into the final chart.

(Note to File: Murray Premises is a great hotel and meeting place! And the Gypsy Tea Room around the corner is a very cool restaurant/bar. St. John’s is starting to dress up for Christmas – it was made for that :-))

Don Henderson and Interactive Ontario were our hosts in Toronto. As it turned out, building on our “take aways” from the St. John’s session, we got from this group our best understanding of how the chart must incorporate technology skills. While the participants were somewhat cool to the process as we began, they warmed up to it quickly and were fully engaged right up to 12 noon when everyone had to leave for other meetings!

Time now to identify the consensus and compile the learnings from across the country.  In early December we’ll hold one last session in Halifax to test drive the revised chart – then hand it over to our own technology wizards to turn it into an interactive tool.

A bold new step for CHRC.

Validation Session with New Media Manitoba in Winnipeg

Day 4 – Winnipeg, Manitoba

 

We were the guests of New Media Manitoba on Friday, in their bright and spacious Winnipeg Board Room at 1000 Waverley.

 

What felt good for us, at this the 4th time through the chart validation, was that the same changes keep coming up. It means we are on the road to consensus. It augurs well for the final chart.

 

We had a good discussion on the next steps of the project – turning the lists of competencies into courses certified by industry and delivered through education institutions. To be sure, there was skepticism: how realistic is partnership with academia which is so steeped in its own processes and hierarchies?

 

The concerns are fair, but our early conversations with a few innovative institutions of higher learning have identified potential partners with more flexibility than we usually encounter. They have led us to believe that our partnership model has a chance of success.

 

Another means of delivering and disseminating courses created from the competencies is through industry associations. For example, New Media Manitoba.

 

It’s a good model especially if we tie the certificate to a “practicum” in a DM company. New Media Manitoba already has training built into its mandate. It would be a natural to pilot course delivery and industry certification through its own members.

 

Concern was also expressed around keeping the courses up-to-date. That’s a challenge. An ongoing CHRC industry steering committee is certainly a way to identify necessary changes. A licencing revenue stream through training providers could help to finance the up-dates…

 

Finally, there was interest in the potential for an online interactive version of the chart which could, for example, allow students to identify their own skills gaps and tailor their own competency profiles and training plans. That is an idea that is gaining momentum.

 

It’s been a good week for the DM Team chart. It’s clearly on the right track, with well identified revisions. In the validation sessions to come (in Charlottetown November 1, Montreal November 2, St. John’s November 8, and TO November 9) we’ll continue to test drive it – and to explore its potential uses as we prepare to take it to the next level of “training tools”.

 

Validation Session with Software Developers, Gamers and Academics in Saskatoon

Day 3 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

 

Saskatoon was our biggest group so far (including 2 participants who drove in from Regina). A mix of software developers, gamers and academics – rigorous, with close attention to detail and process. They suggested good additions and changes to the chart, though grosso modo they agreed with its contents.

 

The computer science background of several of the participants slanted a lot of the discussion towards developers, a perspective that CHRC has been eager to capture. This was reflected in additional skills such as “conduct end user verifications or tests”; and “develop testing environment”.

 

One educator expressed frustration at the large gap between computer science programmes and creative arts programmes in universities. This is exactly what CHRC wants to address. How to ensure that students in the visual arts and writing, for example, have the technical skills they need to go into the DM industry? How to open the thinking of computer science coders and programmers so they can partake in a creative way on a DM team?

 

Some of the most dynamic discussion turned around the “Go to Market” series of competencies as participants underlined the importance of marketing skills – and how they are often lacking in a DM team.

 

There was also creative discussion on how the chart can be used and kept current. The point was well-taken that a competency chart for the DM industry shouldn’t be a print document  - witness the fact that several around the room were reading off their electronic versions of the chart – not the nicely coloured print versions we had carefully photocopied and stapled – old technology!

 

It got us thinking about how to disseminate the chart – and led us to imagine an interactive version to allow users to tailor it to their needs (whether you’re an employer, a worker, a trainer or a student). It’s a possibility we’re exploring along with a wiki-type gathering and exchanging of information and ideas on training needs and offerings.

 

Could be a very good way to keep the chart updated and useful, and let trainers know the immediate needs of industry.

 

This project keeps getting better…..