A Proposed Conceptualization of How Competencies may be Represented in a Standardized Electronic Way

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Competency/outcome-based education is common in health care education and assessment. National and regional health education governance bodies are publishing competency frameworks for broad implementation, while delivery organizations are developing bespoke frameworks. Currently, there is no technical specification to facilitate the exchange of competency frameworks or competency-related data. The MedBiquitous Competencies Working Group is an international group of health educators and technologists, accredited by the American National Standards Institute. Its goal is to develop a technical specification for competencies, competency frameworks and associated data. The goal is not to develop a single canonical competency framework but rather to develop a standard way of electronically publishing competencies and frameworks. Since 2005 the working group has used literature reviews, cases, discussions, surveys, reviews of published frameworks and expert consultations to conceptualize a standard way competency data may be represented electronically. This conceptualization forms the basis of the MedBiquitous Competencies Specification. The specification provides a standard way competencies, frameworks and associated data can be expressed electronically. This will facilitate rapid and broad dissemination of published frameworks, the importation of frameworks into learning or content management systems, the mapping of competencies to educational or assessment objects/activities, the cross-mapping of various competency frameworks, competency-based searches for learning events or materials, the sharing of competency-based portfolios, and other similar educational functions. In conclusion, it is feasible to standardize the electronic representation of competencies and competency frameworks without standardizing the competencies themselves. This would facilitate numerous competency-based education functions.


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This paper was presented at 2011 International Conference on Residency Education, Quebec, Canada September 23-24, 2011.