D2L launches CBE solution for nontraditional learners

Experts say CBE meets the needs of an increasingly diverse student population

cbe-adultD2L, the ed-tech company behind Brightspace, has launched a new competency-based education (CBE) solution for schools that incorporates Brightspace Learning Environment, strategic consulting, domain expertise, and a CBE community.

Today, there are more than 30 million adult nontraditional learners in the U.S. who have started a post-secondary education but haven’t completed it. This solution allows higher education institutions to launch CBE and make a degree more accessible and attainable for nontraditional students and underserved populations.

“When most people think of the path to a college degree, it’s a fairly traditional scenario—four years of high school then off to campus for four more years of dedicated, on-campus study, graduating with the promise of a good job and a decent salary. Instead, this pathway is becoming increasingly atypical,” said John Baker, CEO of D2L. “We built our CBE solution to address peoples’ needs and fill the gaps in the educational system. By helping institutions implement CBE, we’re helping millions of students attain the degrees they want to earn.”

CBE is a learning model that focuses on the outcomes of education, including what students can do rather than simply what they know. This has become increasingly important as more students take time off to work in between years of school, attend classes while working full time, or often leave their universities without completing their degree program. Additionally, the greatest increase in higher education enrollment today is among historically underserved populations, which creates a more diverse collection of students with equally diverse needs.

According to Eduventures, CBE has gained momentum in recent years because it precisely meets the needs of unique student populations.

“Every time we survey nontraditional students and ask them what would compel them to go back to school,” says Principal Analyst Jeff Alderson, “time and time again they describe precisely the characteristics that define CBE.” These include “not just lower tuition costs, which CBE makes possible through various subscription-based pricing models, but also access to academic programs that are readily aligned with the needs of employers and that take into account the knowledge and skills adults already bring into a program.”

The Brightspace Competency-Based Education solution includes offerings such as:
• THE BRIGHTSPACE COMMUNITY: D2L connects CBE clients with other customers operating and developing CBE programs. The company also offers self-serve content on how to set up Brightspace for CBE as well as resources on how to pursue innovation and funding.
• CBE CONSULTING SERVICES: D2L offers three levels of CBE consulting to meet every school’s needs.
o CBE Getting Started Service: Institutions will learn how to use Brightspace tools to implement CBE programs.
o CBE Strategic Planning Service: D2L’s CBE experts will help schools build a CBE strategic plan. This includes communication planning, business processes and practices review, pedagogy/andragogy review, technology review, and a Plan/Achieve/Measure implementation plan.
o CBE Monthly Change Management Service: A one-year service to assist schools as they roll out their CBE programs.
• CBE COURSEWARE DEVELOPMENT: Using CBE best practices and methods, D2L can help schools transform their courses into CBE offerings, ensuring competencies are aligned to content and assessments.
• BRIGHTSPACE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT: Brightspace is a CBE-ready learning management system (LMS) and offers a variety of assessment types, an adaptive learning engine, an ePortfolio tool, and a badging tool. The platform is cloud-based and built for online and mobile learning.

In addition to unveiling its new CBE solution, D2L also shared that the University of Wisconsin System (UW System) has become its first statewide CBE customer. The UW System serves more than 180,000 students annually. In Wisconsin, more than 650,000 nontraditional students have completed some post-secondary education but lack a degree. The UW System’s CBE program, the UW Flexible Option, has been designed to meet the needs of those students.

“UW Flex is built to provide a high-quality UW education to adult learners who are working full-time and supporting families. After only 22 months in operation, UW Flex is flourishing—enrollments are strong and our students are moving through their programs successfully. About a dozen have already graduated. The availability of technology for online learning, coupled with the competency-based education model, offers our students access to an education that simply did not exist before,” said Aaron Brower, Provost and Vice Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Extension.

For more information about Brightspace, its capabilities for CBE, and how higher education institutions are using it, visit www.brightspace.com/solutions/cbe.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione