Societal issues and scientific objectives of the project

The aim of the COMPER project (for COMPetencies and PERsonalization) is to design and test open computer models and tools that will enable educational actors to implement a competency-based approach to support learning in a personalised way.
For several years, educational policies have been aimed at developing Competency-Based Learning (CBL) in initial and vocational training. The objective of this strategy is to facilitate the development of a better capacity for action and, in the longer term, greater autonomy among learners. In France, for example, it has taken the form of the design of tools for specifying and monitoring skills for different levels of training: the "common base of knowledge and skills" and the "personal skills booklet" for schools and colleges, or the "portfolio of experience and skills" for higher education.

This type of tool is useful during training, but also throughout an individual's professional life. Indeed, this type of approach is implemented in the industry by the Human Resources and Knowledge Management departments with GPEC (Gestion Prévisionnelle des Emplois et Compétences) applications to specify an organization's objectives in terms of skills and to supervise employee profiles in the form of indicators. These applications are used to organize training strategies. In the educational context, CBL has changed pedagogical forms, introducing more discussion and problem solving, and thus promoting more active learning, but training strategies remain disparate and uncorrelated to standards. Within the COMPER project, the objective is to think jointly about the specification and supervision of competency profiles with adapted training strategies.

Indeed, the objective of the project is to propose a meta-model to define competency frameworks in various domains and at various granularities, and to propose tools based on these frameworks to allow the personalization and regulation of learning. Personalized support for the activity requires

  1. to define customization models that link learner profiles, pedagogical activities and the assessment of learning outcomes in terms of competences, in particular with regard to exercise activities, and
  2. to propose principles for the evaluation of competencies that combine analysis of the activity traces and humans opinions to produce the competency profile of each learner. The principles of personalization and visualization of competency profiles will have to be more broadly articulated to design environments such as Personal Learning Spaces or PLS.

The COMPER project integrates three levels of complexity: competency-based PLS must be useful, i.e. ensure a benefit, in particular in terms of a sense of effectiveness in building competencies, for all actors involved in the learning process. They must also be usable and acceptable, i.e. they must propose intuitive interaction modalities adapted to the practices and values of the human and technological contexts in which they are implemented. In the context of the project, we assume that it is possible to integrate these three levels of complexity by considering that the processes of regulation and self-regulation of the activity are partly dependent on the evolution of skills and by adopting a user-centered design approach. The challenge of the project is therefore to define how to achieve this hypothesis, i.e. how to translate these principles into these PLSs in such a way as to support the perceived sense of effectiveness of individuals and thus promote both their motivation and their commitment to the activity, but also their ability to identify and specify how to build the targeted competencies.

Thus, the project's contributions aim to provide answers to three main research questions:

  1. Will having a competency framework improve the visualization tools proposed for regulating learners' learning objectives, the self-training activities they can use to achieve these objectives, the computer processes for diagnosing their skills and those for adapting learning?
  2. Will the exploitation of the learner's activity traces improve the whole learning process, by providing increased assistance to the different actors? What forms of support can be built from the traces to promote the understanding of learning processes, and the improvement of the proposed IT tools and processes (visualization, personalization)?
  3. What will be the benefit for learners of these different tools, in terms of learning and increased autonomy?