:sync: How can Industry Initiatives Help Promote Open Education?

Author: Keiko Tanaka
Institution: The Kyoto College of Graduate Studies for Informatics / Information Technology Federation of Japan
Country: Japan

Topic: Global Collaboration, Strategies, & Policies in Open Education
Sector: Higher Education
UNESCO Area of Focus: Developing supportive policy
Session Format: Lightning Talk


Facing ever-widening skill gaps and labor shortage, Information Technology Federation of Japan, Japanese largest IT industry association, advocates competency alignment to formal education in the field of IT. By aligning i-Competency Dictionary (iCD), a reference framework for IT professionals in Japan developed by Information-technology Promotion Agency, it creates a ground for industry-academia cooperation, and opens validations from the industry about learning outcome from various education providers including MOOCs. This talk aims to briefly explain a model for promoting open education through industry initiatives in competency alignment without overhauling existing educational provisions.

The problem of IT talent shortage in Japan is not new. It is rather persistent one since the early 80’s, but has never been solved. Today, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry projects that Japan will face a deficit of 789,000 software engineers by 2030. To overcome such challenges requires a grand change in education system. However, it is difficult to meet with the scale and the speed of technological evolution.

Information Technology Federation of Japan, established in 2016 as an umbrella organization serving various IT-related industry associations, proposed in the February 2019, the competency alignment using iCD to education in the field of IT as well as expansions of online courses to develop more AI-ready professionals. While they aim for securing IT talents, it consequently opens education and create collaborations between training and education.

The iCD framework consists of the task dictionary and the skill dictionary. The task dictionary is the collection of tasks required for an IT business; the skill dictionary is the collection of IT skills required to perform specific tasks. Since it was published in 2015, iCD has been used IT user organizations, IT vendor companies and beyond. Already dozens of corporate education providers have linked their courses to tasks and skills. National qualifications in the field of IT have been mapped to iCD as well. The matrix of tasks and skills bridge learning activities to real-life jobs.

In the spring of 2020, Information Technology Federation of Japan has agreed with JMOOC, Japan’s largest open online course provider, to cooperate in improving the quality and quantity of IT talents in Japan. As more courses in the field of IT become available via JMOOC, Information Technology Federation of Japan prospectively push for competency alignment in course descriptions and learning outcomes, and promote validation among its member organizations.

//Keiko Tanaka is a secretariat of the Committee of IT education and human resource development at the Information Technology Federation of Japan.


Competency, MOOC, validation

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The soup slides are available at;

Session recording:

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Thank you for sharing the efforts to develop i-Competency dictionary associating with job profile. Qualifying OERs with iCD as a catalyzer is important to recommend appropriate learning materials to learners. Also I’m happy to hear the collaboration with JMOOC.

My question is - how do you connect the existing OER to iCDs? Curation of the contents and support of the professionals may need.

Thank you Prof. Shigeta for a great question. And thank you :blush: for giving me the fopportunity to explore Open Education back in 2014 with Innovation Nippon report via GLOCOM.

Unfortunately I don’t have a simple answer but here’s the long version.

To fill you in on the background,
iCD is a publicly available reference framework consisting of a matrix of tasks and skills in 4 layers developed by IPA, Information-technology Promotion Agency of Japan. Since 2018, the iCD Association (ICDA) [1] was established to promote the use of iCD. The iCD is primarily used among businesses. In implementation, the organization edits and update the dictionary and to meet their needs, and create their own version, often with consultations and help from iCDA.

Professional education providers align iCD based on a common guideline published by iCDA. You can go to iCD portal site [2] which aggregates courses of certified members and qualifications in the field of IT, and see how they correspond to task/skills.

Imagine having courses from JMOOCs listed in the portal like this, that’s my dream!! :star_struck:
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There are limited but good examples among higher education institutions applying iCD for their program [3], highlighted by Eiji Hayashiguchi

According to the iCDA educational guideline, educational resources (courses, books) are to be primarily mapped to tasks and their level based on how the resources builds capacity, with the purpose to;

  • show to what capacity (task) does the education improve and to which extend(level)
  • enable learners who wish to build their capacities to chose education more easily

The guideline suggests alignment of one or more Middle Task Category (the 2nd layer of tasks :タスク中分類) to a course description. So the partial answer to your question is to follow a common guideline.

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The problem is aligning competency is a manual labor and we’d have to assume that the competency alignment has the integrity. I’m looking to explore clues from Competency Based Education on this aspect. (anyone? :face_with_monocle:)

There’s an effort to automate the competency alignment with natural language processing and machine learning [4], but I don’t know how plausible would it be yet. Open Badge Network have explored the idea of competency alignment with badges, especially with e-CF [5] (iCD is kind of like the e-CF of Japan)

What I anticipate from iCD the most in comparison to Europe where they have two standard skill frameworks ( e-CF for ICT professionals and DIGICOMP for citizens),is that iCD can cover a full scope of ICT education: it can be applied not just to ICT professionals but to digital citizenship education.

iCDA certify organizations for its use [6] and there is a certification program for educational organizations[7]. However given the public and editable nature of iCD, I think it is not absolutely necessary to be a certified organization to utilize iCD.

I don’t think that IPA or iCDA, or businesses using iCD see themselves promoting any aspect of open education but I see it as an enabler for open recognition, because they are essentially using iCD as a tool to validate learning outcome.

English version of iCD (4 layers) became available for download from July 2020. :desert_island:

[1] About iCD Association
[2] iCD Portal Site | Search from Tasks
[3] Eiji Hayashiguchi, The “i Competency Dictionary” Framework for IT Engineering Education, 2018
[4] 三浦行揮,野寄祐樹,齋藤大輔,鷲崎弘宜,深澤良彰, “情報分野における教育講座と学習基準の自動対応付け”, 第82回全国大会講演論文集,2020
[5] Open Badge Network, Outcome 02-A3 – Competency Directory – Final Report,2017
[6] iCD Association| About Certification
[7] iCD Association |Certification for Education and Training Partners