8 key considerations for competency-based education

How ready is your institution for competency-based education? Here are 8 questions to help get started

competency-based-educationWith the recent signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the popularity of jobs training programs across the country, and the recent surge in the offerings of digital badges, competency-based education (CBE) is becoming a must for any higher education institution looking to serve a broader pool of 21st-century students.

But competency-based education is about more than just offering digital badges for one-off skills–any institution looking to implement CBE knows that strategic planning for programs and credentials is critical…but where do interested colleges, universities, and institutions start?

According to Helix Education, a data and technology solutions provider for student life cycles, there is a list of key questions for institutions to ask themselves when getting started with CBE (created by the company).

The list addresses everything from models and academic strategies, to policies and regulations.

“CBE is disruptive, but in a good way–catering to students’ learning styles, allowing them to leverage prior knowledge and skills, evolving the role of instructors to act more as mentors, changing the way outcomes are measured, and even speeding time to degree completion,” says the company. “That said, careful consideration and planning must take place in order for each of these key stakeholders to reign in the full benefits of CBE. If you are thinking of making a move to CBE, we encourage you to ask your team and your partners these key questions before you get started.”

(Next page: The 8 key considerations for competency-based education)

1. Institutional readiness: Is your institution prepared and willing to take on CBE? Consider who should be involved in the planning from a leadership and academic perspective, participating on the steering committee, leading the change management, assessing risk, and managing the details and timing.

2. Model definition and selection: How will you define your approach to CBE? Various competency-based education models exist, but it’s up to the institution to define policies pertaining to credit hours, transfers, provisions for prior learning assessments, course requirements, course loads, pricing, and more.

3. Programs and curriculum: What is your academic strategy? Based on student demand and core competencies, you’ll want to assess whether or not to repurpose existing content and programs, or innovate from the ground up. You’ll also want to consider credit or non-credit qualifications, degree attainment levels, measurable competencies, and an overall assessment strategy.

4. Financial aid: Will you offer Title IV funding? With so many students today receiving financial aid, consider whether or not your team has the expertise, time and resources to support and process Title IV for both CBE and traditional programs.

5. Service model: What role will your faculty and administration have in serving CBE students? With the role of faculty evolving in a competency-based education model, explore opportunities for instructors to lead and/or support curriculum and assessment design, advising and retention strategies, and content mentoring. Additionally, consider where and how to divide the workload for your student services and financial aid teams when it comes to adequately preparing students from administrative, funding and academic perspectives.

6. Policy: How will  your rules need to change to accommodate a CBE model? Consider how you regulate admissions, academic requirements, student finance and student services, and assess whether or not the same policies can be applied to CBE and traditional programs.

7. Technology: How will your LMS integrate with your other platforms? Enabling your systems (LMS, SIS, FAM and CRM) to talk to each other will help you seamlessly manage important student information, including data and analytics necessary for federal reporting requirements.

8. Accreditation: How will you approach accreditation and other necessary approvals? Given this new approach to measuring a student’s success through demonstrated competencies, make sure you have thought through, and sought expert counsel, when it comes to accreditation policies, state and programmatic approvals, and other US Department of Education requirements.

For more information on the CBE process, as well as other considerations, visit Helix Education’s post.

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