Is this the “dark horse” of online education?

Disruptive innovation experts say online competency-based education is a quiet revolutionary

competency-online-higher“Disruptive innovation” is a catchphrase making the rounds in higher education circles, and is often applied liberally to many recent trends, such as MOOCs and blended learning. But according to the Institute that actually coined the phrase, there’s a movement that’s building momentum behind the scenes; the “dark horse of online education” that will change everything.

It’s a perfect storm of economic factors and available technology that’s making competency-cased online education the real disruptive innovation for colleges and universities, say Michelle Weise, senior research fellow of Higher Education for the Clayton Christensen Institute, and Clayton Christensen, co-founder of the Institute and the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School.

“Workforce training, competency-based learning, and online learning are clearly not new phenomena,” explains Weise. “But online competency-based education is revolutionary because it marks the critical convergence of multiple vectors: the right learning model, the right technologies, the right customers, and the right business model.”

Weise and Christensen note in their new mini-book, Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution, that unlike other trends like MOOCs that have received “tremendous fanfare,” online competency-based education stands out as the innovation to most likely disrupt higher education.

(Next page: Why online competency education has the most disruptive potential)

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