Author: Kristi DePaul

Competency-Based Education Gains Momentum

March 8, 2017 by

This post first appeared in the EDUCAUSE Transforming Higher Ed blog on Febuary 6, 2017.

We’re examining competency-based education (CBE), an approach that has been celebrated for its customization and modularized structure, enabling students to demonstrate mastery and move at their own pace through academic programs. Beyond its timing advantages, CBE also has been cited as a means of supporting student equity, and encouraging knowledge transfer—in order to sufficiently educate kids as well as adults for roles that are currently evolving, or perhaps those which have yet to be created.

While CBE remains somewhat nascent across K-12 districts and postsecondary institutions, it has gained a foothold and interest in it continues to grow across the United States.

I spoke with educators, academic experts and institutional leaders to learn more about the ways in which CBE is serving students of all ages, grades and skill levels, and to better understand existing collaborations or points of intersection between schools and academia.

The approach is currently bridging gaps between employers and aspiring college graduates; there appears to be significant potential for CBE to also positively impact younger students.

Embracing the Real World

Matthew Prineas, Vice Provost and Dean of The Undergraduate School at University of Maryland University College, agrees.

“The promise of competency-based methodology is its power to create new connections and seamless pathways between K12, higher education, and the workplace,” he said.

“At UMUC, we are developing competency-based learning experiences that connect the real-world skills employers are asking for with the intellectual abilities our students need for academic success. We believe that competency-based approaches are equally adaptable to the needs of our adult students, who are looking to connect their prior experience with a college credential and a profession, as they are for high school students, who need to develop the foundational skills and behaviors necessary for success in college and beyond.

The emphasis is, of course, on demonstrated mastery rather than rote memorization.

“By putting the focus on what students can do, not just what they know, competencies give us the means to construct learning experiences that are more relevant and engaging—and that is to the benefit of all students, wherever they are in their educational journey.” (more…)

Alternative Credential Adoption in Higher Ed

August 31, 2015 by
Kristi DePaul

Kristi DePaul

This post originally appeared at Next Generation Learning Challenges on August 21, 2015.

Nanodegrees. Microcredentials. Digital badging.

Whatever you might call them, various types of alternative credentials have gone mainstream in many areas outside of academia. Professional associations, industry organizations, and nonprofits have embraced them as a way for members and patrons to demonstrate participation in certain activities or in completing training modules. They are a visual, verifiable answer to “show me what you know,” as employers increasingly seek out hires whose skillsets can be proven rather than merely listed on a résumé.

Many discussions have arisen regarding modularized education and the technology required to support it, such as those resulting from the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment report, which was released by EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative this past spring. Institutions that offer alternative credentials would allow individuals to show knowledge acquisition in niche areas, codifying achievements that previously went unacknowledged as part of a greater whole (the ‘traditional credential’).

Earning an alternative credential, however, remains a bold new frontier for many traditional degree-granting institutions. (more…)

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