DEVELOP team creates tools to support personal career development

Monday, 12. June 2017

By Uta Schwertel, IMC AG, Saarbrücken, Germany

The DEVELOP project delivers new methods and tools for career development and talent management, targeting medium and large companies with comprehensive career paths. The project team met on 22nd and 23rd May 2017 to demonstrate recent progress and plan the next steps. The meeting was kindly hosted by project partner INTRASOFT International in Athens, Greece. A major outcome of the meeting was the demonstration and discussion of an initial prototype of the DEVELOP Personalized Learning Environment, which will be the project’s major solution to offer career guidance.

What is DEVELOP Personalized Learning Environment?

The Personalised Learning Environment (PLE) is an online software tool which provides integrated services to support a person’s lifelong career development. The environment offers services such as the assessment of transversal competencies (e.g. leadership and collaboration) [1], the analysis of social capital [2] based on an employee’s virtual social network, career path propositions and related learning activities (both calculated by DEVELOP’s integrated AI planning service). Personalised visualisations of potential career paths inform and guide learners towards realistic and attainable careers. During the meeting in Athens, DEVELOP team members, TCD, demonstrated a visual design of the PLE showing several of the integrated services depicted in Figure 1.

Services provided by the DEVELOP PLE

Figure 1. Services provided by the DEVELOP Personalized Learning Environment

The system calculates the competency profile of a user based on several factors, most importantly on the results of assessments that a user completes in the system (e.g. personality assessment or general mental ability assessment) and on learning activities a user successfully takes part in. The user thus gets a better awareness of his or her strengths and weaknesses. In the next step a user can define potential career goals (e.g. becoming a senior software developer) and the system will automatically recommend suitable next steps, e.g. courses to take to acquire competencies necessary for the new job role. The system also monitors and displays a user’s progress towards his or her career goals. A user can discover all steps through a personalized dashboard as depicted in Figure 2.

A user's dashboard in the PLE

Figure 2: A user’s dashboard in the PLE

Before and during the implementation phase the project conducts a systematic user experience design [3]. The process and its results were summarized during the meeting in Athens. To calculate career path recommendations the system uses data which are sensitive and private (e.g. results of assessments). To respond to this, the DEVELOP team is conducting a privacy and ethical impact assessment (PIA+) [4] throughout the project. The initial results and implications were explained during the meeting and will guide developers throughout the implementation process and help companies that will later use the DEVELOP system.

How to assess and develop transversal competencies?

The project team develops several innovative tools to assess and train transversal competencies. At the meeting in Athens a demonstration of two of the tools was given: The Leadership Game and the Social Learning Tool.

Leadership Game. For the assessment of transversal competencies DEVELOP integrates Serious Gaming into the PLE. The concept of a serious game is to capture behaviours in a gamified setting, in such a way that it is sufficiently related to actual behaviour, but digitally measured in an entertaining and cost-effective manner. Such a method has proven to be valid, especially when the more traditional methods suffer from social desirability and faking. The project team is currently finishing the development of a serious game which trains and assesses leadership competencies. See [5] for more details and a sneak preview of the game.

Social Learning Tool. Transversal competencies are not solely developed by participating in online courses or classroom trainings since transfer of acquired knowledge into practice is not ensured. Embedding learning activities into the employees’ everyday working processes and social interactions is crucial for the long-term success of workplace learning. Learning in social groups towards common goals, and providing and receiving feedback from peers is a new trend in corporate training. The project team therefore develops and integrates a Social Learning Tool which facilitates self-directed informal learning and competency development supported by a learning community. An extended demo was presented during the meeting. See [6] for more information about the Social Learning Tool and its usage scenarios.

What’s next?

Currently, the DEVELOP team is working towards a first fully functional version of the PLE system to be finished by August 2017. This version will be demonstrated to interested stakeholders and feedback mainly on usability will be collected by the end of 2017. A second extended version of the system will be piloted with end users in large companies of the IT and business consulting sectors starting in 2018. If you are interested to get involved into one of our pilots or if you would like to receive more information about the system or the project don’t hesitate to contact us.


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[1] Why Transversal Competency Assessment is Important for an Employee’s Career Development, Mirjam Neelen, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (DEVELOP Blog Article, September 2016)

[2] Analysing Social Capital for Career Development, Kevin McAreavey, The Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland (DEVELOP Blog Article, September 2016)

[3] Perfecting the DEVELOP User Experience Through User Testing, Fiona Mc Andrew, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (DEVELOP Blog Article, May 2017)

[4] Telling stories about privacy and ethical risks in learning technology development, David Barnard-Wills, Trilateral Research Ltd., London, UK (DEVELOP Blog Article, May 2017)

[5] Assessing Effective Leadership, Alec Serlie, GITP, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (DEVELOP Blog Article, February 2017)

[6] Potential of Social Learning for Career Development Diana Dikke, IMC AG, Saarbrücken, Germany (DEVELOP Blog Article, April 2017)