As student demographics have shifted, the cost of higher education has risen, and technology has changed the way we measure “seat time,” competency-based education models have begun to gain attention as an alternative to the traditional credit hour model which requires a set number of hours to obtain a degree. Competency-Based Education models, which require students to demonstrate mastery of a set of competencies rather than enroll in a specific number of credit hours, are set to disrupt the way we think about delivering education and awarding degrees.
In 2013, even the Department of Education began to recognize that achieving a set of competencies could demonstrate mastery of a topic just as well, if not better, than meeting a set allotment of time to degree completion. Since then, more and more colleges and universities are considering this model as a potential way of reframing the higher education landscape, and turning everything we know about how to design courses and programs upside down.
Ellen Marie Murphy, a long time educator and curriculum developer, has created the Online Learning Consortium’s workshop on this game-changing model in our traditional, asynchronous format. We interviewed Ellen to find out why this topic is so hot in higher education right now!
Why is Competency-Based Instruction an important topic to understand right now?
ELLEN: Competency-based learning allows students to progress at their own pace, while insuring students master the required skills and content. Competency-Based Education programs can reduce both time to completion and the cost of a degree, while ensuring mastery level learning. Competency-Based instruction may very well be the innovation that will drive education in the future.
What do you hope participants take away from this workshop?
ELLEN: Participants in this workshop will learn how to develop a competency-based assessment and rubric. We will look at a few different Competency-Based Education programs to understand how they are different, how they are the same, and how financial aid can be applied to Competency-Based Education.
Who should enroll in this workshop?
ELLEN: Anyone who is interested in learning about Competency-Based Education programs and course design.
For more information about Competency-Based Education models, read this great article, Competency-Based Education: No More Semesters? from the NPR Education Blog (October 2014)
Please visit our website to register for Exploring Competency-Based Instruction.
Ellen Marie Murphy
Ellen Marie Murphy has been an educator for more two decades serving both the K-12 and higher education sectors. She is a specialist in curriculum development (including competency-based learning), assessment, instructional design, and is the author of the Mahara 1.4 ePortfolio Book. She is currently a Senior Curriculum and Assessment Developer with Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America. Her previous roles include Executive Director of Curriculum and Learning Systems with Altius Education, Director of Online Curriculum at SUNY Empire State College, Director of Learning Technologies and Online Education at Plymouth State University, and Director of Instructional Technologies at The Sage Colleges. She recently received the honor of being added to Fulbright Specialist Roster for Curriculum and Instruction, with additional expertise in ePortfolios/Personal Learning Environments.