What Do You Know? The Next Big Thing – Competency Based Education

Competency-based education appears to be higher education’s “next big thing.” Yet many academics aren’t sure what it is. And that goes double for lawmakers and journalists. A new group is stepping in to try to clear up some of the confusion. The nascent Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) will include up to 20 institutions that offer competency-based degrees or are well on their way to creating them. Inside Higher Ed

Competency-based education relies heavily on assessments since completion is contingent on demonstration of knowledge. With education transitioning more and more into the online world, maintaining the integrity of these assessments, regardless of the learning environment, is vital.

Competency-based education turns the notion of credit-based courses on its head. Rather than measuring time, as in traditional courses that take a set number of months to complete for all students regardless of learning speed and abilities, competency-based education measures learning.

Students must demonstrate a set of competencies that prove they have mastered the knowledge necessary to complete a course. Students can master these competencies in their own time, whether that be more quickly than traditional courses, or more slowly. This opens up the world of higher education to students with non-traditional time constraints and learning processes. It also allows students to apply real-world knowledge and experience to an academic environment. Competency-based education accounts for all types of learning, not just the education that takes place in a classroom.

This style of education can improve the quality of learning while cutting costs. However, for it to work, adequate, fair testing is vital. Students have to be able to consistently demonstrate their mastery of skills and knowledge necessary to the course. When it comes to remote learning, protecting the integrity of these assessments is crucial. Students must be on equal footing regardless of location for the assessments to provide an accurate view of their learning outcome.

As higher learning institutions develop and promote this new style of education, protecting the integrity of their degrees is a foremost consideration. Secure online proctor solutions are needed to hold all students to a high standard of testing integrity. Software Secure client Brandman University is developing a competency-based degree that incorporates our proctoring solutions. These proven solutions allow the university to protect their name while exploring the potential of this new style of education. The university’s Bachelor in Business Administration degree is paving the way for a more affordable and accessible learning environment.

Looks like The Sloan Consortium is offering a free webinar on this topic on January 29, 2014. Check it out here.

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