Developing and implementing competency-based education (CBE) programs involve more than just curricular considerations and changes; they impact and can change both the academic and non-academic policies and practices across an institution. Today we are taking a look at understanding the impact that CBE can have on an institution, later posts will focus on the need and complexities of determining a business model for the CBE program and managing the change that CBE brings to institutions.
Earlier this week Blackboard joined together with eight other organizations committed to distance education to co-sign a letter to the Department of Education on proposed regulations that could impact distance education programs. Collectively we represent over 3,000 colleges and universities, all committed to providing students with access to high quality distance education programs.
One of the prevailing and unfortunate myths surrounding competency-based education vs traditional education is that faculty are not as important in competency-based education and the role of the instructor is de-emphasized. Some faculty fear that CBE will be used as a way to minimize the role of full-time faculty and lead to a further adjunctification of higher education. Closely related is the fear that the quality of student learning in a CBE program is less than that found in more traditional programs because the role of the instructor has shifted from being the primary conveyer of knowledge to that of a guide helping students navigate mastery. These myths and fears are just that, though – myths and fears. The strongest CBE programs still rely on faculty to be at the heart of the program, responsible for the development of the competencies and curriculum, and providing students with critical input as they develop knowledge and mastery.
For decades higher education has been inundated with calls for change; the most recent ones being driven by a national conversation on making higher education more affordable and expanding access to quality programs that prepare graduates for the workforce. Many of these institutions are turning to competency-based education as a way to answer these calls for change.
We believe that despite the challenges that an institution might face while developing competency-based education, the rewards are so much higher. Institutions, though, are discovering that the most difficult piece of CBE program development is not curriculum and assessment development, rather it’s all of the myriad pieces of program development unrelated to the curriculum. CBE uses an andragogical model of student learning and support that places the learner rather than the teacher at the center of the learning paradigm, and it creates a similar shift in administrative functions and offices across the institution.
On November 8, 1965, surrounded by faculty, lawmakers, and former teachers on the gymnasium floor at his alma mater, Southwest Texas State University, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Higher Education Act of 1965. At the time Johnson claimed that the bill would “swing open a new door for the young people of America… [T]his means the path of knowledge is open to all that have the determination to walk it.”
Competency-based higher education—which is built on the idea that degrees should be awarded based on a student's demonstrated mastery of knowledge, skills, and abilities as opposed to time spent in a classroom, or “seat time”—is a key topic of discussion especially as Congress works to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the key piece of legislation that dictates federal policy over higher education.
We live in a society awash in a sea of data. The collection and use of millions upon millions of data points allows for an unprecedented level of personalization when we log into service providers like Amazon, Netflix or iTunes. Our data, the record of the most personal and private parts of our lives, fuel the algorithms that order our lives.
But, there is a darker side to the ubiquitous presence of our personal data.
We decry the ability of the National Security Agency to access phone records. Librarians staunchly advocate the right of patrons to keep borrowing histories private. We monitor our credit after massive data breaches stretching from national consumer outlets to the federal government. But we reserve our most critical and contentious conversations around data and privacy for discussions of student data usage and privacy.
Clay Christensen is well known for his work on the impact of disruptive innovation on a variety of industries and fields, including higher education. According to Christensen, higher education is at a crossroads that leaves it “both at great risk of competitive disruption and potentially poised for an innovation-fueled renaissance.” How higher education leaders respond to this crossroads seems the stuff of almost daily discussion. One response in Texas is the partnership forged between the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the College for All Texans Foundation, South Texas College, and Texas A&M University-Commerce.