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Author: Tom Vander Ark

Khan’s Big Contribution Will Be Competency-Based Learning

June 22, 2012 by

Carrie Morgridge kicked off the 4th Sharefair at the University of Denver’s Richie Center with a description of the benefits of blended learning.  The Morgridge Family Foundation has been a big supporter of DU and the adoption of personalized learning technology by Colorado and Florida schools.

Carrie introduced Sal Khan whose videos have been an important contribution to global learning.  His 3100 videos receive about 6 million views (more…)

10 Must-Haves to Lift Us from the Grading Quagmire

June 5, 2012 by

Those of us that were at least moderately successful in the old system may find it challenging to participate in the design and development of competency-based environments.  As challenging as new school development is, converting existing schools to a competency-based environment can be a monumental challenge.  At the top of the list of controversial items is grading—the old A-F system imprinted in our brains.

During my first year as a public school superintendent my state introduced new standards.  My team immediately began planning for a standards-based grading system.  It seemed only logical that if the state was going to test our kids against the new standards, we should provide similar feedback on a regular basis.  The introduction of new standards-based report cards resulted in a teacher revolt and a ton of parent complaints.  Fifteen years later, the district is still fighting this fight.  (more…)

10 Elements Towards Eliminating the Batch-Print System

May 24, 2012 by

Competency-based learning (or standards-based or performance-based if you will) is based on two important ideas:

  1. Students should meet learning expectations—passing kids along with a weak foundation means they will never achieve higher level knowledge and skills and will be excluded from the idea economy.
  2.  Students should show what they know—it’s not about turning work in, earning point, or showing up to class, they should demonstrate in several ways that they have mastered important knowledge, skills, and abilities.

For most people that sounds logical and for twenty years we’ve been saying “it’s about learning not time” and “learning is fixed and time is variable.” Only it’s not—it’s all about time and the structures we’ve ensconced with policies, budgets, and contracts.  (more…)

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