Purdue University is launching a competency-based interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree, which will combine technical and humanities fields. It was recently approved by Purdue’s regional accreditor.
Purdue’s degree track is based on the credit-hour standard, in which the demonstration of competencies is linked to corresponding college credit. This approach differs from relatively new competency-based offerings from a handful of other institutions, which use a method called direct assessment. That model is completely untethered from the credit hour, and students can move on as soon as they demonstrate mastery of required concepts.
At Purdue, however, studio and seminar-style “learning environments” will account for 35 percent of students’ plan of study.
Fain, Paul. “Competency for the Traditional Age Student.” Inside Higher Ed, March 30, 2016.
EQUIP, or Educational Quality Through Innovative Partnerships, is a new program from the U.S. Department of Education. The department will provide access to Title IV funds to chosen partners (both traditional and non-traditional), while waiving the rules about the use of content from other entities.
The goal of this experimental program is to allow traditional schools to lower educational costs and increase access by partnering with nontraditional providers, such as MOOCs or code academies or boot camps, by creating hybrid programs that are eligible for enrolled students to access financial aid.
Introductory PowerPoint slides created by the Department of Education are embedded below:
Want to know more? Here are some starting points:
If teaching online is harder, takes more time, and even more disastrous if done poorly than face-to-face learning is, why should anyone launch an online program? Inside Higher Ed blogger Joshua Kim showcases how in spite of these challenges, developing new online programs can help grow institutional capacity and foster innovation. The comments on this post are also valuable!
Moving a program online is an opportunity to rethink the program.
Kim, Joshua. “3 Truths and 5 Recommendations for Online Programs.” Inside Higher Ed. December 15, 2015.
Op ed blog post commending a November 2015 report from New America entitled “Flipping the Paradigm: Why We Need Training-Based Pathways to the Bachelor’s Degree and How to Build Them” which advocates “flipping” the bachelor’s degree path to “start with applications and work upwards towards theories.”
We build degrees that move from the broad and general at the beginning — the theory, the survey — to the specific at the end. That structure pretty much guarantees that initial encounters with large and sweeping theories will be shallow at best, since they lack both context and a sense of why they matter. By the time students get to specifics, they’ve left the big questions behind. If they return to the big questions later, it’s despite, rather than because of, the way we’ve organized degrees. They rarely get the benefit of coming back to the big questions with the benefit of context, and that’s our failure.
Download the PDF of “Flipping the Paradigm: Why We Need Training-Based Pathways to the Bachelor’s Degree and How to Build Them” by Mary Alice McCarthy. November 2015.
Matt Reed. A Different Vision of the Bachelor’s Degree. Inside Higher Ed. November 12, 2015.
Straumsheim, C., (2014) An iPad in Every Home
Lynn U.’s tablet revolution marches on. Its next initiative: affordable online degree programs delivered exclusively through iPads — at tuition rates that are a fraction of what the university regularly charges.Since its moment in the national spotlight, Lynn has replaced textbooks with Apple’s iPads and iBooks, adopted iTunes U as its learning management system and built its own attendance and gradebook app. Its revamped distance education programs, launching next fall with seven degree options, will extend the tablet revolution to Lynn’s online students at a fraction of what the programs used to cost.
Read full article here.
The rapid growth of competency-based education programs has prompted concerns about academic standards and quality. Representatives from numerous institutions participated in the CBExchange, a conference designed to share ideas and information about leading efforts in the field.
The meeting’s agenda features speakers who are experts on competency-based education from various organizations — including some who are skeptical about the emerging form of higher education.
Fain, Paul. “Keeping Up With Competency.” Inside Higher Ed, September 10, 2015.
The most recent survey of faculty attitudes on technology produced for Inside Higher Ed details the 2015 responses to multiple aspects of educational technology use, online learning, and social media effects on academia. The responses come from 2,175 faculty members and 105 academic technology administrators.
Colleges and universities have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on technology they believe will improve student outcomes and simplify administrative tasks. Educational technology companies continue to demolish investment records on a quarterly basis. With all this money raised and spent under the guise of improving postsecondary education, the 2015 Inside Higher Ed Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology suggests that many instructors believe the gains in student learning justify the costs — even if the results are perhaps less significant than desired.
Fain, Paul. “Defining Competency.” Inside Higher Ed, June 17, 2015.
New letters from the U.S. Department of Education and the seven regional accreditors that make up the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions articulate a common framework for the assessment and approval of competency-based academic programs.
In addition to describing what, exactly, constitutes a direct assessment program — which has been an area of confusion for some — the department’s letter touches on the faculty role in competency-based programs, many of which are online only.