New infographic represents the significant changes education is experiencing due to competency-based learning

badgeresizedI tend to see competency-based courses/alternative credentialing like solar energy: They both sprang from urgent need; they are practical, yet challenge the status quo; and both were technically around long before now.

Believe it or not, solar energy was actually discovered in the late 1800s and had a practical application as a power station that pumped water into the Egyptian desert for crops. It worked, and was hailed as a miracle that could essentially change the entire landscape of arid regions…that is, until WWI broke out and oil was cheap and readily available, nixing solar energy until its revamp in the 1970s when it became more apparent fossil fuels weren’t going to last forever and pollution was becoming a problem.

Like solar energy that was developed earlier than you might have thought, competency-based learning was essentially the apprenticeship of the late middle ages. In apprenticeship, a new generation of practitioners are trained in competencies through a set of skills towards a career. Sound familiar?

As today’s students and higher education institutions realize that the need for competency-based learning is becoming critical—thanks to student loan debts and lack of trained professionals in scientific and skill-based careers—mainstream education, just like the energy industry, is fundamentally changing.

Soon, seldom-used one-off alternative credentials in education will become less oddity and more necessity; and the changes are already becoming apparent, says one infographic.

The infographic, created by Rasmussen College, uses data from third party analytics companies, as well as the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), and defines competency-based courses as those that “allow modern college students to earn credit quickly for existing knowledge and deeper learning with new information valued in today’s workplace.”

Class time becomes variable, says the College, as student pace as quickly or slowly as necessary through course material to master the required concepts.

(Next page: Infographic: How competency-based education is changing mainstream learning)

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