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 Feature
29 July 2009 | Shirley Lacy Blog
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Does the ITIL Qualification Scheme Work?
This week Shirley looks at why we need a qualification scheme that supports the adoption of service management standard practices across the global supply chain...

  Shirley Lacy

I have read some of the recent blogs on training and qualifications with interest. I would like to input my experience into the discussion - as a learner, trainer and examiner.

Before I explore this further, let us take a look at the expansion of higher education in the last 15 years. There are many debates about opening up university education and the challenges – finding tuition fees, taking out student loans, investing in the expansion of our colleges and universities.  I strongly believe that everyone has a right to a good education and we therefore need to solve the challenges.

Having trained people in ITIL V2 it was clear that the examinations were not scalable enough to meet the demand. We need the qualification scheme to support the adoption of service management standard practices across the global supply chain. Expanding the capacity and quality of the ITIL education and qualification schemes worldwide is vital. It will enable the IT industry to deliver transformation faster, delivering greater value and cheaper services. 

However, expanding the ITIL scheme globally does present many challenges. I believe that we need a system that is fair and one that really does test that a candidate has reached the required level of knowledge and competence. So does the ITIL qualification scheme work? Before I answer this question let us look at the existing scheme. ITIL is based on the Bloom’s taxonomy and levels of learning difficulty. So what is Bloom’s taxonomy? It is a reference model for everyone involved in teaching, training, learning, and coaching. It has the advantage of being widely used in education, industry and corporate training. It provides a scale of the degree of difficulty in the learning process and helps with planning, designing, assessing and evaluating training and learning effectiveness. The Blooms levels of learning are:

  1. Knowing
  2. Comprehending 
  3. Applying
  4. Analyzing 
  5. Synthesis 
  6. Evaluating

The premise is that people learn by first by knowing and understanding the basic concepts and terminology – the foundation level is an excellent starting level. Learners then progress to a level where they are expected to analyse and assess situations. For the ITIL intermediate qualifications, candidates are expected to be to be competent up to and including the level of Analysing and be able to:

  • Analyse situations
  • Apply the relevant ITIL practices and concepts in  new situations, both real (workplace) and imaginary situations (case studies, scenarios)
  • Separate concepts into component parts to understand the structure and distinguish between facts and inferences
  • Distinguish between possible solutions and decide which approach to take

When someone is starting out on their first Intermediate qualification they have to start with a basic knowledge and understanding of the foundation level concepts and terminology.  People that can apply the basic concepts to their workplace will develop higher level thinking skills and competence. This enables them to succeed in the ITIL exams. The advanced levels are applicable to the advance ITIL qualifications, ITIL Expert and ITIL Master.

So does it work in practice? I believe it does work but it depends on the whole learning experience, not just the exams. Everyone involved in the education plays a role.  There is also room for improvement.  The scheme does have the advantage of recognising that people learn in a variety of different ways. It ensures that the learner is taken through levels of learning difficulty that helps them to achieve a qualification that reflects their competence. 

So why do people think the ITIL qualification and examination scheme does not work? As part of writing the OGC/TSO “Passing your Intermediate Study Aid” I did some research into the use of Blooms taxonomy. One of the warnings was that if the educators do not adopt Bloom’s model properly then people will try to take the scheme back to the basic level of learning – level 1 and 2. This is just what has happened in some of the blogs that I have seen!

Learning is affected by a variety of factors. To improve we need to look at all these factors. More of this next week. 

Any feedback and comments are always welcome!

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5th August 09

Hi Shirley

In response to the higher education debate, I have developed a fully integrated Post Graduate Scheme (PG) for IT Service Management.  I have submitted the work to Rosemary Gurney for review and then (hopefully) approval to integrate into the APM Group scheme.  The intent is to complement (not compete with) ATOs and integrate the work into mainstream Higher Education (HE).

I have also included ITIL V3 Foundation into a "IT for Business" short course series which is undergoing validation at my University and geared at the Under Graduate (UG) market. The intention with this programme is to fast-track mature learners (and those with IT experience already) to work speedily towards a UG degree (one year) which includes "technology for business" and ITSM at its heart.   This is challenging but enjoyable work. There is funding council money available to support this programme and we hope to encourage people back into HE who have lost their job due to the recession. 

We are delivering both schemes from next month - academic year 2009-10.

At the UG and PG level we already have strict assessment processes which map into Bloom and (now) SFIA, due to pioneering work which has been done by the University of Northampton and taken up by e-skills in the UK.

Both Bolton and Northampton are working with e-skills to deliver a professional programme, the target date for this is September 2010.

So things are moving along nicely in the UK, part of my professional challenge will be to encourage other Universities to do the same.  Hopefully the melding together of Northampton's, Bolton's and e-skills work will be available to other Further Education (FE) and HE institutions before too long.

Through the e-skills driven "IT Diploma for 14-19 year olds" in the UK, we may yet see ITSM in schools; that would be a dream come true!

If you would like to contact me to discuss, please do so.

Kind regards
Sandra Whittleston

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