Latest update: March 21, 2008

Panel on Online Learner Competencies

International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
March 13, 2008
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya/Open University of Catalonia
Psychology and Educational Sciences Studies and International Graduate Institute
Ave. Tibidabo, 39 (Barcelona)
The above panel took place on March 13, 2008, in the framework of the International Seminar on Competencies for professionals working in learning environments: A perspective from different actors. The seminar was co-organizaed by the Open University of Catalonia and the International Board of Standards for Training Performance and Instruction (ibstpi®). Information about the seminar can also be found at the ibstpi Web site at
Panelists for the Panel on Online Learner Competencies were, on behalf of ibstpi, Jan Visser (Learning Development Institute) and Katzuaki Suzuki (Kumamoto University). They were joined by Tony Bates (University of British Columbia) and Federico Borges of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, as well as two students of that university, Desiderio Ferrer and Assumpta Bohigas.
Panel Description
The panel session on Online Learner Competencies had the following description:
In February 2004 the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (ibstpi) decided to embark on what was then a new project. The aim of the project was to identify and validate learner competencies in online settings. The board considered that most of the rapidly growing interest in online learning on the part of the research community focused on technology, management, or instruction in online environments, but rarely addressed the learner's experience. It was felt that this bias should be corrected. Online learning environments provide learners with a range of challenges and opportunities that are potentially more diverse than those that characterize face-to-face settings. Thus, establishing the set of competencies and typical performances that learners in the 21st century should master is hoped to contribute to changing learner and instructor behaviors in face-to-face learning settings as well and to provide guidance to educators regarding learner preparation in general.
The Panel on Online Learner Competencies will focus on getting panelists and participants from the floor to clarify for themselves (and others)
  • what they see as key competences for online learners;
  • how those competencies depend on the online learning environment;
  • how they depend on the competencies of other actors in that same environment; and
  • how they depend on the broader context of which the online learning environment is part.
The panel session will likely count with the presence of participants whose principal occupation is to study and others who are primarily concerned with teaching. It is hoped and assumed that those who teach are also active learners who are conscious of their lifelong learning experience. It is equally hoped and assumed that those on the panel and in the audience who study are aware of the crucial roles they often play in the learning environment as the way they act may either facilitate or hamper the learning of others.
At the start of the panel panelists will be asked to briefly (a few minutes each) reflect on the above questions from the perspective of their personal and professional experience after which the floor will be open for discussion, the outcome of the panel being entirely dependent on the involvement of all in the discussion.
Participants will come out of the session being better prepared as teachers and learners for making a conscious contribution to improving their own and other people's learning.
Additional Information
Preliminary conclusions resulting from the analysis of selected items of a recently conducted ibstpi® survey on online learner competencies were shared with the audience and panelists.
Audio File
An audio file in mp3 format of the panel discussion is available here.
Note that due to the distance between the microphone and some of those who spoke the sound is at times weak. However, turning up the volume to an appropriate level and listening to the conversation using headphones, it is perfectly possible to understand what is being said.