Originally published in Interiors & Sources

02/01/2004

Trading Faces: A Technological Makeover

Arlene Dougall

Using technology to improve service.

 

In last month's column NCIDQ president Derrell Parker talked about NCIDQ positioning itself for growth as the organization turns 30. With age comes wisdom, and the technological wisdom we have acquired over the last several years indicates it is time for a change. You will begin to see myriad technological upgrades at NCIDQ this year. I am particularly excited about the makeover in store for our Web site. There is good information at www.ncidq.org, but it needs to be better if we are to serve our constituents effectively and efficiently. The good news is that NCIDQ has plans for creating an interactive, informative Web site in the coming year.

Jeff Kenney, our executive director at NCIDQ, recently shared with me his plans for technology improvements. "Our technology systems include our database, our Web site, our e-mail system and our local area network," he explained. "We previously had three consultants each handling a piece of these systems. One of the key moves we had to do is to create a fulltime director of information technology. Joshua Prentice, our new director of IT, will one be our single point of contact to integrate our systems and guide us through the major changes we need to make."

Technology changes will allow NCIDQ to more efficiently implement new programs, expand the number of people we serve without expanding staff significantly, reach wider audiences and be more open. The future Web site will contain significantly more resources dealing with licensure and certification. Examination applicants will be able to complete forms and pay on-line. Most candidates will get instant preliminary approval (or rejection) to sit for the exam. Test candidates will also be able to select the test site they wish to attend—all on-line.

NCIDQ has several programs and services it offers, in addition to our well-known exam: record maintenance, CEU tracking, publications and our Interior Design Experience Program (IDEP) will all be more accessible to our constituents. Perhaps most importantly, internal and external communications will be enhanced dramatically.

We have a large volunteer network—interior designers throughout North America that we rely upon heavily to investigate new initiatives, write material for the examination and mentor IDEP participants. Our new Web site will allow committees and task forces to share documents, participate in on-line discussion groups, streamline schedules and report to the board of directors. Our 19-member Council of Delegates will benefit by being able to participate in on-line discussion groups, and read board of director meeting minutes. External communications will be improved by electronic dissemination of newsletters and press releases and the creation of discussion forums. NCIDQ's goal is to create discussions for students, IDEP participants, IDEP supervisors and IDEP mentors, as well as examination candidates and certificate holders.

As an NCIDQ board member and as a member of the IDEP taskforce for the Association for Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO), I am most excited about how these technological improvements will expand the support and information we share with IDEP participants. IDEP was introduced in 1999 as a way for recent graduates of FIDER-accredited programs to participate in a monitored experience program. Interior design graduates pay a modest fee of $75 to enroll in IDEP. They receive a log book in which they record hours worked in various task areas related to the design, development and delivery of interior design services. The experience embodies the specific knowledge and skills considered most crucial and valuable during the early years of a practitioner's career, including those tested on the NCIDQ examination. Half-way though their experience, participants pay another $75 to NCIDQ, with a final $75 due at the completion of their program ($225 total).

Participants are responsible for maintaining a continuous record of work experience and supplemental education activities. The IDEP Log identifies areas where work experience has been acquired and where deficiencies exist. IDEP participants document weekly hours in a log, obtain supervisor verification and submit summary forms to NCIDQ. Work experiences are listed under the following major categories to accrue 3,520 hours of documented experience:

    w Programming
    w Conceptual/Schematic Design
    w Design Development
    w Construction Documents
    w Project Administration
    w Post Occupancy Evaluation
    w Business Practices
    w Additional Experience (optional)
Two additional people have a role in an IDEP candidate's experience: a mentor and a supervisor. Mentors provide entry level interior designers with the best possible advice on the activities of daily practice for the development of competence as a professional. A mentor, not connected to the firm where the IDEP participant is employed, is selected by the participant and acts as an advisor. Participants meet with mentors periodically to review experience and discuss career objectives. Mentors must be NCIDQ certificate holders or licensed/registered/certified interior designers.

The supervisor is responsible for guiding the daily activities of the participant. This person coordinates work experiences and periodically verifies the participant's documentation of the hours and tasks performed. Supervisors must be NCIDQ certificate holders or licensed/ registered/certified interior designers. It is also acceptable if a supervisor is an architect.

The technological improvements at NCIDQ will allow each of these persons, the mentor and supervisor, a way to encourage development of budding interior designers. While supervisors must be in close proximity to IDEP participants, it is possible that mentors can be far-flung geographically from an IDEP participant. NCIDQ needs more qualified mentors. We encourage interested interior designers to contact us if they want to enroll as a mentor. There is no cost—only a modest investment of your time to ensure future practitioners are prepared to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.

With the advancement of technology and the efforts of NCIDQ's superior staff, you can count on an improved Web site that meets your needs. Unlike those quick-fix makeovers we see on television, this will not be an overnight job. It will take some time, but in the end the results will be worth the wait.

  • Arlene Dougall, is a member of the NCIDQ Board of Directors. To contact NCIDQ, visit www.ncidq.org or call (202) 721-0220.

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