E-Skills: Competencies and Learning in the 21st Century

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Note from the Editor: A few days ago we talked about the necessary qualities for a transformative leader in the 21st century in this article by Virginio Gallardo. Today, we would like to study in depth the subject of necessary skills every professional of our time needs to have with this article published by Ignasi Alcalde in his blog, of which he has given us today in order to open the debate here.

The society of networks that we are immersed in determines a new global space in which businesses that want to be competitive in this new context and explore the potential of the digital revolution in a global society, interconnected and interdependent, must strategically use ICT (information and communication technologies) and train their staff, from the base of employees to top executives, in digital skills.

In line with this reflection, I read recently in the e-Skills Manifesto by Don Tapscott, author of the famous book Wikinomics, that writes about manifesto as the importance that e-skills has and the digital competencies to propel competition, productivity and innovation, thus facilitating professionalism and the ability to employ.  E-skills or digital competencies are keys not only for coping in a global digital environment, but also they facilitate the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies the directors and employees of the business must have in order to modernize a permanent and effective learning process.

Training in these new e-skills facilitate a rise in a new area within knowledge management, called PKM (Personal Knowledge Management). Depending on Wikipedia, the personal knowledge management is a collection of processes that one person uses to gather, classify, store, find, recuperate and share knowledge in his/her daily activities and the way in which these activities are done, facilitate work processes.

This view promotes the notion that workers in the information society and knowledge each time have to be responsible of their own growth and learning and responsible for knowledge management with a focus from bottom to top. In other words, don’t wait for the hierarchy to dictate training.

If we go a step further, we must integrate these competencies in school, in a network society that allows individual empowerment. Unlike the business world, where companies spend millions of euros in market studies, social network analysis…educational institutions provide little active listening so that students think in how they are taught. Additionally the majority of students are native digital users, accustomed to “continuous partial attention” (CPA).

Connecting with others in the modern world requires a special skill for social networks and text messages, that is a basic norm of any native digital user. We must educate and train students (from an early age) in “being an active node in networks” where the teacher proposes and stimulate learning, and make students stewards in their own learning process. A learning process that implies training in basic competencies such as gathering, classifying, storing, finding, recuperating and sharing knowledge in their daily activities.

It is all a challenge if we apply e-skills in an effective way, we can begin to see an “empowered” society in constant training with the ability to investigate, document, analyze, synthesize, contextualize, critically evaluate, collaborate and apply this knowledge to solve problems.

Ignasi Alcalde (@ignasialcalde) has a degree in Multimedia UOC and Master in Information Society and Knowledge. He is a consultant at IA  and an educational consultant at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. His reflections about collaborative work are shared regularly on his blog and twitter.