The online, competency-based certificate Bellevue College offered last year was a hit with students. In fact, the certificate in business software was so popular that the two-year college in Washington State decided to drop its conventional online version.
The degree will be a transfer credential, meaning students should be able to move easily to four-year institutions.
And Lumen Learning, an Oregon-based company, is designing the material to be adaptive, meaning it will respond to each student’s prior knowledge.
It has begun marketing the degree, which, although linked to the credit-hour standard, includes elements of self-pacing.
An example of a hybrid program (I like to call them fusion CBE programs to avoid the online versus onground connotations of hybrid) that mixes credit-hour courses and self-pacing, and – as it looks like here – direct assessment.
Seven other two-year colleges in Washington, including Bellevue, plan to sign on and begin offering the competency-based associate degree later this year, according to Broughton.
Washington’s two-year colleges have joined more than 200 other institutions around the country that are giving competency-based education a whirl.
Karen Strickland, president of the American Federation of Teachers of Washington, a faculty union, said administrators have not always acknowledged the new responsibilities competency-based credentials create for instructors. She also said faculty members were concerned about how the programs "disaggregate" the faculty role. They break apart the degree track with a canned curriculum and modularized course content, she said, which can be offered by a different college than the one where instructors work.
The project in Washington began with a hand from Western Governors University, a pioneer in competency-based learning. The nonprofit university in 2013 began working with 11 community colleges in 5 states — including the 4 in Washington — to help those institutions design their own competency-based credentials in information technology. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Department of Labor chipped in funding for the project.
Three days into offering the certificate, Bellevue had enrolled 104 students in the program, said Marks. Another 107 or so enrolled during the second quarter.
“Students voted with their feet,” she said. In particular, Marks said students like the self-pacing, the flexible due dates for work and the program’s “high-tech, high-touch” approach.
Other faculty members at Bellevue were less enthusiastic. And some have expressed concern about the college’s attempt to join the Columbia Basin pilot group. Several signed a letter expressing concern about who is overseeing quality control for the degree.
The eight participating colleges in the consortium contributed a total of $1.4 million for the creation of the online transfer degree.
Tuition is a $2,667 flat fee per six-month term. There is a $40 assessment fee. The program includes 18 courses, all competency based and online. Students must earn at least 20 credits per term, but can earn more at no cost. Cummins called this an “all you can eat” model.
Columbia Basin’s role is about social mobility, he said. And the competency-based degree will allow "distant students to move at their own speed as well as their own time and place while ensuring a greater level of rigor across distance learning offerings.”
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.