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Communities of practice

Communities of practice

What is digital workshop

What is digital invite?

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has been talking to people across academia, industry and the APS about a digital profession – what it should involve, what would be most meaningful to them, how it should be structured.

One thing that has become clear is that without a clear definition of what ‘digital’ means, you cannot design a profession for it.

Everyone it seems has their own version of what ‘digital’ means, and this has a huge impact on our ability to design services to uplift digital capability, to enlarge the digital footprint of government or to develop digital services for all Australians.

The DTA invites you to participate in a workshop to co-design a definition and shared language of digital – one that is fit for purpose for the APS but also resonates with industry and academia.

The workshop will bring together people from the APS, industry and academia to build this new language together.

Event is taking place Thursday 6 February, 1pm-3pm at the DTA Office in Canberra. Spaces are limited.

To register, please book a ticket via Eventbrite.

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For those of us that are unable to go along, I assume that there will be some way to participate or at least for the outcome to be published somewhere?


We’ll be using this to help us develop the digital profession. The work will be published as part of that. If you are unable to come along and want to participate, you can email and we will work with you to contribute.

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It will be interesting to consider if there is such a thing as a digital professional, and what they are.

I helped the Australian Computer Society (ACS), define what a computer professional is, and what knowledge and skills they require, how to teach and test them, in Australia, and internationally. This included writing some of the tests to decide who gets a work visa for Australia as a computer professional.

Deciding on technical skills is relatively easy. The difficulty comes with so called “soft” skills, of communication, teamwork, and design. Last year I designed a learning module for the Australian National University (ANU) capstone for software engineering students. The last task before they graduate is for students to explain what they learned, and how they worked together.


Hi Tom. We’ve been doing a lot of user research around this. We’re running workshops and doing interviews and getting a lot of information that we’re really looking forward to analysing.


I am curious as to what the distinction is between Information Technology, Digital, and Computer Science from your perspective. I assume that there is some federal level of information management/classification scheme like they do at the state level?

Looking forward to hearing about Nicole’s research on what is the digital profession. The people I teach come from mostly from computer science, business information systems and software engineering. I see Computer Science as one of the academic bits of computing (with Information Technology and computing used interchangeably). There is overlap with librarians and archivists in the information professions, and various forms of business related information disciplines. But there are new fields emerging all the time, such as data analytics. I am not familiar with the term “digital” for describing what people do. Some terms last, and others come and go, such as “technology evangelist”: I wish it would go. :wink:

Hi Tom - a little OT but re: ‘so-called soft skills’ very agree, and from your qualifier I can see that you’re not convinced by the ‘hard’ vs. ‘soft’ skills framing either. :slightly_smiling_face:

I saw a tweet a couple of years ago that I think offered a great alternative and I’ve been evangelising it ever since: not ‘hard’ vs. ‘soft’ skills but rather ‘technical’ vs. ‘professional’ skills. Unfortunately the ‘hard’ vs. ‘soft’ framing has become embedded in IT.

If you work in UX design then aren’t the technical skills in fact the professional skills…?

I think there are skills that have a specific and definable level of competency, and then there are skills that are either a combination of those aforementioned skills or not easily definable or assessed (because it can vary depending on the person that you apply those skills to).

As Alan Kay said, we should try to: “make simple things simple , and complex things possible”.

I hope that’s the outcome that can be achieved with this workshop.

Jessica, yes, I like to refer to “professional skills”, rather than “soft” skills. The irony is that many of computing students, who are highly skilled in technical areas find so called soft skills very hard. The next soft skill I am tasked with is teaching post-graduate students, and working IT professionals how to tutor students. This could be made doubly difficult in the next few months, if the students can’t come to class, and we switch to online education.

Are we talking about creating a profession that restricts entry to practice such as accountants and doctors?

I’d like to see some discussion about how we make it more inclusive rather than exclusive. Almost anybody delivering a government services these days needs to consider themselves a digital practitioner.

Hi Lisa. We’re doing a lot of user research around the model of the profession at the moment and one of the things that we are talking to people about is what exactly a profession means and what it means in the context of digital. We will be developing prototypes to test and doing a private beta in a few months, so keep an eye out for that.


For those who participated in the workshop, any thoughts, feedback and output from the workshop that can be shared here? Thanks :slight_smile: