Dean Florez - Bakersfield College

Will Competency-Based Education displace
the college degree?
2015 BC Conference on Learning Technologies
February 5, 2015
Presentation by:
Dean Florez
Past Senate Majority Leader
Member, CA Higher Education Innovation Awards
Slide Content Creation Collaboration: A. Sasha Thackaberry
District Director, eLearning TechnologiesCuyahoga Community College
Office of eLearning and Innovation
2 events: 1 possible outcome
College and University Chief Academic Officers Study: only 11 percent of
business leaders—compared to 96 percent of chief academic officers—believe
that college graduates have the requisite skills necessary for the workforce.
An expansion of the educational technology sector promoting these offerings
centered learning tools geared toward the realization of creditable outcomes
and demonstrable competencies.
The collision of these two events—technology’s ability and promise to bridge the
skills gap, commingled with higher education institutions’ aloof unawareness or
inattention to any perceived gap—forms the underlying basis for higher education
innovation in 2015.
What is Competency-Based Education?
Competency-based education is based on
the concept that learners can demonstrate
what they’ve learned to obtain credentials,
instead of earning credentials (primarily
college credit) through “seat time” based
on the credit hour and is therefore selfpaced.
It is modular, and often (though not always)
involves elements such as Prior Learning
Assessment (PLA), partnerships with
employers, subscription-based funding, and
student success coaching.
The Differences
CBE allows students to work at their own
pace, flexibly through the content. This
can result in a shortened time to
Benefits of Competency-Based Education
Shortened time to degree
Less costly for student
Get to higher level content sooner
Online, largely asynchronous
Usually accompanied by support
Institutions You Need to Know
Competency-Based Education
Network (CBEN)
Council for Adult and Experiential
Learning (CAEL)
Colleges and Universities Engaging in CBE
Western Governors’ University
This online university uses
competency-based degree programs
that map to credit hours. Their cost
model is subscription-based, and
students can accelerate their degree
“Flexible Option” at University of
Wisconsin System
The Flexible Option provides selfpaced, competency-based degrees
and certificates that let learners work
at their own course, including PLA,
military experience, and other noncredentialed learning. Academic
success coaches support students’
“Personalized Learning” Northern Arizona
Personalized Learning enables
students to transfer credit in and
leverage a subscription model to
accelerate their online degree.
Students can use PLA and also
interact with NAU faculty mentors.
College for America (Southern New
Hampshire University)
College for America is an initiative by
the nonprofit Southern New
Hampshire University that works in
partnership with employers through
competency-based learning in the
form of project-based learning with
the support of Learning Coaches.
Capella University
Capella markets their degrees as
wholly competency-based, t
Currently, the majority of those
degrees map to credit hours.
Their new competency-based
degrees have set “proficiency levels.”
“Learn on Demand” at Kentucky
Community & Technical College System
Learn on Demand is a modular,
anytime/anywhere learning option
which is competency-based.
Students can test out of modules.
Students pay only for modules that
they take.
It was developed 5 years ago in
response the needs of nontraditional
Pennsylvania Community Colleges:
College Credit Fast Track Program
College Credit Fast Track is dedicated to
assisting current and prospective students in
obtaining college credit at one of
Pennsylvania’s Community Colleges based on
prior work or life experience.
Credit can be awarded for knowledge gained
while living your life… whether it be by
working, participating in employer sponsored
training programs, military service,
independent study, community service,
volunteering or even completing open source
PLA Consortium: The Pennsylvania Consortium
on Prior Learning Assessment
It’s actually nothing new.
The Carnegie Unit
Carnegie Units never intended to
measure student learning.
Originally to measure faculty
workload and pension eligibility.
Credit hours are now basic building
block of degrees.
Used for federal financial aid.
Credit For Actually Learning—Not Time In
Class—Is Shaking Up Higher Education
Does anybody really believe that counting
instructional hours as a prerequisite for
learning is rational and sustainable in the
Internet era?
Educators do facilely acknowledge that
students learn at different paces—yet our
higher education institutions continue to
measure learning in credit hours and
instinctively choose uniformity over
diverse learning delivery methods.
Trade Certifications and CBE
Trade groups and professional
organizations have used certifications
and skill-based credentials
Higher education is looking at CBE in
response to:
Graduates with inconsistent skill sets
Accelerate degree completion
Changing demographic of college
Formalized CBE in the US from early
CBE 2005 - 2013
Higher Education Act of 2005 enabled
colleges to offer competency-based
degrees as long as they were mapped
directly to credit hours
2013 the USDOE provided guidance
as to how to do this
In 2013 DOE enabled 2 experimental
sites to use federal financial aid for
competency-based degree bearing
programs: Capella University and
College for America.
Getting “THE CREDIT”: Other Ways
What are other ways to earn college credit based on my work or life
Standard Exams
College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
You may receive college credit if you have achieved at least a mean
(average) score on any College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
exam. Learn more about CLEP testing opportunities from your
community college.
Advanced Placement (AP)
If you took college-level courses in high school, or gained educational
experience from other sources, you may be able to take an Advanced
Placement examination and receive AP credit as long as you earn a
score of 3 or higher to receive your degree. Learn more about AP
Credit at your community college.
Other standard exams used by colleges to evaluate prior learning
include DSST (DANTES), NYU Language Exams, Excelsior, and ACTPEP. Check with your advisor to see if one of these is right for you.
Expanding Federal Aid for CBE
In July of 2014, the USDOE
announced plans to expand
experimental sites for colleges
and universities wishing to explore
competency-based education
Four Focus Areas:
“Traditional” CBE
Hybrid models with combination of
regular “credits” and CBE
Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)
Federal aid for work study students
in near-peer counseling
Higher Education Implications
Increased $ investment in online learning
Discussions about student success coaches,
role of case management of student
Proctoring/authentication infrastructure
ePortfolio analysis processes
Increased use of adaptive learning
technology, big data, predictive analytics
Increase in “exit funding” as opposed to
paying upfront for credits
Connections to PLA, Digital Badges, Microcredentialing, OER, MOOCs and More
Expect a competency-based framework to
drive innovation
• Higher education innovations will continue to
modernize learning; challenge, and append,
higher education’s legacy systems.
• Each innovation will effectively demonstrate
an ability to break the constraints of the
“course” with next-generation online
competency-based educational outcomes
that employers value.
Digital Badges
A digital badge is a virtual and visual
representation of a competency, skill,
achievement, or membership.
Digital badges can be verified by the
issuing organization, and used as
micro-credentialing for lifelong
learning and workforce skill
Massive, Open, Online Courses
Free, can enroll tens of thousands of
Online (though blended/hybrid
models are being used more
Courses, not just resources
Two primary kinds:
• cMOOCs
DOCS: Digital Open Courses at Scale.
Open Educational Resources (OER)
“Open Educational Resources (OERs)
are any type of educational materials
that are in the public domain or
introduced with an open license. The
nature of these open materials means
that anyone can legally and freely
copy, use, adapt and re-share them.
OERs range from textbooks to
curricula, syllabi, lecture notes,
assignments, tests, projects, audio,
video and animation”
from the UNESCO website:
Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)
Obtain credit for existing
Often from work, military, or lifelong
Most frequently conducted via:
1) Direct Assessment
2) ePortfolios
What Do You Think?
Today, do skills matter more than
how or where they were acquired?
Will ed-tech innovators are create
Internet-driven online educational
programs aimed at solving a growing
skills-gap deficit before colleges get
Who can provide a more affordable
and measurable path to
competencies that bring value to
employers and to students looking to
justify their costly diplomas?
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