The number of students enrolled in competency-based education programs is expected to reach more than 500,000 by 2020–meaning it will have more than doubled from the roughly 200,500 enrollments in 2015.
By 2020, students age 25 and older will account for approximately 44 percent of the tertiary education student population, meaning the potential for the competency-based education market is huge, according to technology research and advisory company Technavio.
“Several higher education institutions will offer competency-based education programs and the market will grow as corporations and employers get involved to promote skill-specific education to close the widening skill gaps,” said Jhansi Mary, a lead analyst from Technavio specializing in research on education technology sector. “For instance, AT&T has been providing funds to Udacity and Georgia Institute of Technology for developing online programs, since 2013.”
According to Technavio’s research, four emerging trends are buoying the market for competency-based education.
The emergence of digital badges
Competency-based education has helped increase the demand for nontraditional credentials. Digital badges or microcredentials are emerging from an increase in competency-based education as a way to indicate skills or showcase accomplishments from a learning experience. They serve to validate skills and call attention to skill and concept mastery.
Changes in assessment methodologies
In short, competency-based education lets students learn at their own pace through adaptive, personalized learning paths with built-in learning reinforcements. As institutions move from traditional education models to competency-based models, they have to incorporate evaluation metrics and identify benchmarks in assessment methods.
Learning analytics software can help higher education decision makers outline and achieve strategic goals, and also collects, manages and analyzes data to improve higher education processes.
Because most competency-based education programs are self-paced and place students in an independent learning environment, learning analytics are necessary to track progress and performance.
The emergence of learning relationship management systems
These software tools measure student progress by tracking their real-time mastery and by facilitating communication between educators, students, and advisers or counselors.