A Drivers License for Wireless Engineers (or Where Are My Gaps?)

A Drivers License for Wireless Engineers (or Where Are My Gaps?)

By Tom Carpenter On 11/18/2020

In Europe, they have the ECDL (European Computer Drivers License), which evolved to the ICDL (International CDL). It specifies a minimum knowledge base (or body of knowledge) one should have to be an effective user of computing systems. ECDL has been around for more than 20 years. In Australia, they have the ACS (Australian Computer Society) Core Body of Knowledge for ICT (Information Communication Technology) Professionals (The ACS CBOK - 2016). This blog post provides an overview of both and asks, "As a wireless professional, how are you doing in these knowledge areas?"

The ECDL defines a Digital Competence Framework (DigComp), which provides baseline capabilities a citizen should have in the computer world to participate in a digitized society. It defines five competency areas. Twenty-one individual competencies are defined within these five areas (source: ECDL and DigComp: Describing, Developing & Certifying Digital Competence):

  1. Information and Data Literacy
      1. Browsing, searching, and filtering data, information, and digital content
      2. Evaluating data, information, and digital content
      3. Managing data, information, and digital content
  2. Communication and Collaboration
      1. Interacting through digital technologies
      2. Sharing through digital technologies
      3. Engaging in citizenship through digital technologies
      4. Collaborating through digital technologies
      5. Netiquette
      6. Managing digital identity
  3. Digital Content Creation
      1. Developing digital content
      2. Integrating and re-elaborating digital content
      3. Copyright and licenses
      4. Programming
  4. Safety
      1. Protecting devices
      2. Protecting personal data and privacy
      3. Protecting health and well-being
      4. Protecting the environment
  5. Problem Solving
      1. Solving technical problems
      2. Identifying needs and technological responses
      3. Creatively using digital technologies
      4. Identifying digital competence gaps

Remember, this is the list for non-IT professionals. Start here. These are competencies that most children are learning now as they reach the end of primary school (or at least, I hope they are in most areas). To function well in modern society, this is the starting point. Many of my peers in the IT profession lack basic knowledge in some of these areas because, well, they are as old as me. When we started in the IT field, many of these items were non-issues. Today, they are essential. In each of these competency areas, they recommend learning the following (they offer certification programs in all of these areas):

  1. Information and Data Literacy
    • Computer essentials
    • Information literacy
  2. Communication and Collaboration
    • Online essentials
    • Online collaboration
    • ICT in education
  3. Digital Content Creation
    • Word Processing
    • Spreadsheets
    • Presentation
    • Using databases
    • Advanced word processing
    • Advanced spreadsheets
    • Web editing
    • Image editing
    • Project planning
    • 2D CAD
    • Advanced database
    • Advanced presentation
  4. Safety
    • IT security
  5. Problem Solving
    • Computing
    • ICT troubleshooting

When I look at this list, the greatest weakness is probably in 2D CAD. Maybe I should look into that.

Next, we turn to the ACS CBOK (source: ACS CBOK 2015). This body of knowledge is focused specifically on the IT professional. It defines two essential core knowledge areas:

  • Professional Knowledge
    • Ethics
    • Professional expectations
    • Teamwork concepts and issues
    • Interpersonal communication
    • Societal issues/legal issues/privacy
    • Understanding the ICT profession
  • Problem Solving
    • Modeling methods and processes used to understand problems, handle abstraction, and design solutions

In addition to the two essential core knowledge areas, they define three knowledge areas related to "ICT as a broad discipline":

  • Technology resources
    • Hardware and software fundamentals
    • Data and information management
    • Networking (wired and wireless)
  • Technology building
    • Human factors
    • Programming
    • Systems development and acquisition
  • ICT management
    • IT governance and organizational issues
    • IT project management
    • Service management
    • Security management

The ACS CBOK (linked above) provides references to other knowledge specifications and how they relate. I'll leave it to you to browse the document and learn more. My point here is to bring focus to the possible need for knowledge gap analysis in our careers. If gaps exist in fundamental areas of knowledge, we should seek to fill those gaps to be more effective and efficient IT professionals. BOKs like those referenced here are a good place to start that analysis. One thing that stands out to me is the lack of programming knowledge many IT professionals have and the inefficiencies in their work methods because of this - and they don't even realize it. Yet, few computer science degrees or BOKs omit programming skills from their syllabi.

Take some time, look over these lists and possibly some university course plans for computer science degrees today, and find those gaps. Then create a plan to fill them so you can be the best wireless professional you can be.

Success Stories

I literally just came out of the testing centre having taken the CWDP exam. The certification process opened my mind to different techniques and solutions. This knowledge can only broaden your perspective. Great job, CWNP, you have a great thing going on here.

-Darren
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Working through the CWNP coursework and certifications helped not only to deepen my technical knowledge and understanding, but also it boosted my confidence. The hard work it took to earn my CWNE has been rewarding in so many ways.

-Ben
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I want to commend you and all at CWNP for having a great organization. You really 'raise the bar' on knowing Wi-Fi well. I have learned a ton of information that is helping my job experience and personal career goals, because of my CWAP/CWDP/CWSP studies. Kudos to all at CWNP.

-Glenn
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