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Distinguishing binary and rankable definitions is key to structuring competence frameworks

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Distinguishing binary and rankable definitions is key to structuring competence frameworks

  1. 1. Simon Grant Distinguishing binary and rankable definitions is key to structuring competence frameworks
  2. 2. What is the difference between binary and rankable? • try touch typing as an example • can think of many more examples in areas such as – playing the piano – swimming – coding – playing chess – martial arts
  3. 3. A binary competence definition • (or, more fully, binarily assessable) • does it make sense to ask – “are you as good as this?” – “have you attained this level?” • needs detailed description, like – “can touch type in English at 60 wpm with fewer than 1 mistake per hundred words” • people could be divided into just two groups – those who have that level of ability (or greater) – those who do not yet have that level of ability
  4. 4. A rankable competence definition • (or, more fully, rankably assessable) • does it make sense to ask – “how good are you as this?” – “what level have you achieved?” • needs less detail, like – “can touch type” • people could be put in rank order of their ability – along a single scale • (and more complex definitions are certainly possible)
  5. 5. What if you only have binary definitions? • some may subsume others • if you have an ordered set, you can abstract a rankable ability definition • typing 30 40 50 60 etc wpm: general typing ability • e.g. piano grades 1 to 8: playing the piano • chess, with Elo ratings: playing chess • Judo (etc.) belt level definitions: martial art ability
  6. 6. What if you have a rankable definition? • you can set criteria for each level • each level subsumes the levels below it • (same examples as before, the other way round)
  7. 7. InLOC has key advantages • InLOC (2011 to 2013) took up the challenge – work started by IEEE under the title • “Simple Reusable Competency Maps” – which stalled around 2006 • InLOC created a robust approach for levels • see
  8. 8. How does InLOC do it? • InLOC treats binary and rankable "definitions" similarly • maybe a rankable definition "hasDefinedLevel" a binary definition • that binary definition "isDefinedLevelOf" the rankable definition • with each of these relationships, a "number" is attached • the numbers define which levels are higher and which are lower • the number relates a binary to a specific rankable • binary may have different level numbers in different frameworks • rankable has just one set of levels in any particular framework • (see much more in the InLOC documentation)
  9. 9. Do we really need this? • yes, really • this is (I think) why competencies have been so difficult to do properly in the past • the team and I tried many different approaches, and this one seemed to be the simplest one that works • if you think you've found a simpler way, let me know! – I'll take a good look and offer a comparative evaluation
  10. 10. Implications for referencing • you can refer to a full binary definition with one IRI / URI / URL without great risk of ambiguity • or, if you know you can retrieve other details from the URL, then just one may still be OK anyway • but to be sure, you may want to refer at the same time to the structure (framework etc.) in which it sits • there are other possibilities using more than one URI • see extensive discussion at
  11. 11. Summary • levels of competence were a real conundrum • InLOC found a good way to deal with these • understanding “binary” and “rankable” definitions and their interplay makes things much clearer and easier • please feel free to use that approach
  12. 12. References • • • (items in the series ) • paper, “What is a level of competence?” – • InLOC – Information Model – treatment of levels – InLOC explained through example • (uses the example of the European e-Competence Framework, which has levels)
  13. 13. Thanks: here's your sharing licence This presentation “Distinguishing binary and rankable definitions is key to structuring competence frameworks” by Simon Grant (asimong (gmail etc.); @asimong) of Cetis is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence