The credit hour is still higher education’s gold standard, even after President Obama’s vague endorsement last month of competency-based education and its focus on “performance and results” rather than seat time.
It’s unclear whether Obama’s call could help open the door for competency-based approaches by spurring changes to the current system of accreditation or the rules governing federal financial aid. Even so, colleges aren’t waiting on the feds.
Several institutions have continued to expand competency-based offerings aimed at working adults. And while all but one are still grounded in the credit hour, these online degree programs are typically self-paced and emphasize the testing of competency, sometimes even of learning that occurs outside of the traditional classroom.
A notable example is the continued growth of Western Governors University, which is launching two new state-based versions of its online, low-priced model — in Missouri and Tennessee. Governors of the two states announced the new universities last month, and both said they hope to cover some of the start-up costs with money from state coffers. The two new WGUs will join similar branches in Indiana, Texas and Washington.
Other universities are getting creative as they try to work around the credit hour. One is Bellevue University, which this month introduced an online bachelor’s degree in business administration where students set their own pace. There are no predetermined dates for students to complete quizzes, papers or discussion board posts during the six-month semester, with the only firm deadline being the end of the term. (Students must hold at least 60 previously earned college credits to enroll in the program.)
An instructional team of four from Bellevue – including two faculty members, a student coach and a “reader” who monitors and grades work – will help students as they work through course material, ensuring that they’re making progress. The team will track students’ performance on a daily basis, according to officials at Bellevue, and will reach out to those who fall behind.
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/05/competency-based-education-continues-spread#ixzz2XmEI2W9P
Inside Higher Ed
A Disruption Grows Up?:
Competency-based education could be a game-changer for adult students, probably more so than MOOCs. Yet despite the backing of powerful supporters, colleges have been reluctant to go all-in because they are unsure whether accreditors and the federal government will give the nod to degree programs that look nothing like the traditional college model.
The logjam may be breaking, however. Southern New Hampshire University is poised to launch a $5,000 online, competency-based associate degree that would be the first to blow up the credit hour — the connection between college credit and the time students spend learning. A regional accreditor has signed off on Southern New Hampshire’s “direct assessment” method, and the university will soon apply for federal approval.
Meanwhile, about 20 institutions have joined Western Governors University with competency-based offerings that are linked in some way to the credit hour, many of them new programs, according to the Lumina Foundation. Another dozen colleges hope to get there soon.
Adding to the momentum might be a “Dear Colleague” letter the U.S. Department of Education plans to distribute this week. Observers predict that the letter, a form of regulatory guidance, would give accreditors and colleges some clarity about the department’s stance on competency-based education, and would increase confidence that those programs can be eligible for federal aid.
The academy’s nervousness about competency is understandable. Students learn at their own pace under the model — without guidance from a traditional faculty member — and try to prove what they know through assessments. If the tests lack rigor and a link to real competencies, this approach starts looking like cash for credits.
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/10/01/competency-based-education-may-get-boost#ixzz2XmEZRqBV
Inside Higher Ed
Credit Without Teaching:
Earlier this year Capella University and the new College for America began enrolling hundreds of students in academic programs without courses, teaching professors, grades, deadlines or credit hour requirements, but with a path to genuine college credit.
The two institutions are among a growing number that are giving competency-based education a try, including 25 or so nonprofit institutions. Notable examples include Western Governors University and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
These programs are typically online, and allow students to progress at their own pace without formal course material. They can earn credit by successfully completing assessments that prove their mastery in predetermined competencies or tasks — maybe writing in a business setting or using a spreadsheet to perform calculations.
College for America and a small pilot program at Capella go a step further than the others, however, by severing any link to the credit hour standard. This approach is called “direct assessment.” Other competency-based programs track learning back to seat time under the credit hour, which assumes one hour of instruction and three hours of coursework per week. (For more details from College for America, click here.)
As a result, direct assessment is the most extensive form of competency-based education. And it looks nothing like traditional college classes. Perhaps the method’s most revolutionary, and controversial, contribution is a changed role for faculty. Instructors don’t teach, because there are no lectures or any other guided path through course material.
Competency-based education makes many academics uncomfortable. For example, Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, worries that the rigor reflected in a competency-based credential would suffer if those competencies areviewed in isolation and not linked to a coherent curriculum.
June 11 CCCOER Webinar: Competency-based Learning and Open Educational Resources
May 27, 2013
Webinar on Competency-based learning and OER. Competency-based learning is gaining traction as institutions strive to personalize learning experiences and decrease time to graduation. Students demonstrate mastery at their own pace through e-Portfolio assessments or on-demand tests and institutions often recommend free or open educational resources (OER) along with prior learning as a source for learning materials.
Hear from several higher education experts on how OER and open courses complement competency-based learning to improve student outcomes:
Dr. Ellen Marie Murphy, Executive Director of Curriculum and Learning Systems, Ivy Bridge College. Ivy Bridge College is a two-year online institution that streamlines the transfer process to four-year degrees through personalized learning programs.
Dr. Chari Leader-Kelley, Vice-President of Learning Counts at the Council for Adult & Experiential Learning (CAEL). Learning Counts specializes in the assessment of prior learning for college credit. Currently working with the Saylor foundation to embed portfolio templates into open courses to allow students to demonstrate and reflect upon their learning.
Dr. David Shulman, Vice-President of the Virtual Campus and Instructional Technology at Broward College, Florida. Broward College is offering a competency-based MOOC this summer entitled “College Foundations: Reading, Writing, and Math” to provide students with skills to begin college or to prepare for college placement exams.
CCCOER Webinar Video:
CCCOER Webinar Presentation: