Identifying New Virtual Competencies for the Digital Age: Essential Tools for Entry Level Workers

Identifying New Virtual Competencies for the Digital Age: Essential Tools for Entry Level Workers

Kathryn Gow
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-208-4.ch013
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This chapter focuses on the identification of a range of competencies that entry level workers, and thus graduating students, will need to acquire to be successful in the 21st Century of work. While core or basic competencies will still form the prerequisite generic skills that all entry level workers must demonstrate, as the first year progresses, depending on the field in which they are employed, they will be asked to utilise self management, entrepreneurial, and virtual competencies in order to maintain their employment status. Even if they have ICT skills, they will need to have the knowledge and ability in social software, as well as the ability to communicate across the Web, in order to succeed in the digital age. Other attributes, such as cross cultural and professional skills, along with an appreciation of Web ontologies will facilitate entry-level workers as they move into the world of international liaisons.
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Social software facilitates a number of actions within Virtual learning environments: creating, sharing and collaborating. According to Time Magazine (2006/2007), social software empowers people to: (i) make it; (ii) name it; (iii) work on it; and (iv) find it. The net generation swims through social software and becomes frustrated in school and university systems without appropriate resources and adequately trained teachers who can speak their language and engage with them in learning by breaking through the new digital divide. Teachers need sufficient knowledge to pick the right software for different activities and occasions. Later in the chapter, we return to the move to upgrade teacher education.

Social software can be “defined as a range of Web-based software programs .…… that allow users to interact and share data with other users.” (Wikipedia: According to McLoughlin and Lee (2007, p. 666) “Social software tools such as blogs, wikis, social networking sites, media sharing applications and social bookmarking utilities are also pedagogical tools that stem from their affordances of sharing, communication and information discovery. An affordance is an action that an individual can potentially perform in their environment by using a particular tool (Affordance, 2007).” Social software tools include: virtual conferencing; blogs; wikis; podcasting; moblogging; photo publishing; digital stories; and social bookmarking (Australian Flexible Learning Systems, 2007).

The type of virtual and digital competencies that are needed in the engagement with the social software environments include additional specialist competencies that are framed around human interaction and technology. However, an individual cannot engage in digital communities without a wide array of competency domains that might not be readily identifiable to those who have not been involved in discerning and enumerating, and then ascertaining the importance of such knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) with Web technicians, employers, teachers, students, guidance officers, and entry level workers. In other words, there are KSAs that underpin success in the digital world of work, and without careful delineation of such underlying KSAs (known in educational fields in the UK and Australia as competencies), it is not appropriate to speak of digital competencies as if they were stand alone “attributes”.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital: The representation of information in binary form (ones and zeros), discontinuous in time.

Entry Level Worker: Young person (or re-entering adult) joining the workforce.

Competency: A primary skill or ability that a person has which is required for a particular work task.

Virtual: A situation in which communication can be exchanged without being face to face, generally involving advanced technology.

KSAs: Knowledge, skills and abilities that a person possesses.

Generic: Basic skills or aptitudes needed in the workplace.

Transferable Skills: Knowledge, skills and abilities that are learned in one environment and then transferred to another context; e.g., from university to work.

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