Self-directed, self-paced competency-based learning – A self-fulfilling prophecy!

There’s a quiet disruption that is happening outside of the traditional higher education. Michael Horn’s recent article refers to the millions of adult learners who are undertaking unaccredited, affordable, self-directed, competency-based learning for professional growth and development. Many of these “non-consumers” of higher education don’t have the time or money to undertake a traditional degree program even when it’s offered online, so courses that offer self-directed, competency-based learning are a very good fit for these individuals needs. Much of these type of innovation is happening outside the realm of the traditional higher education via online learning platforms.
The motivation for many of these students is acquiring knowledge and skills, and it is the accreditation of these knowledge and skills (by achieving competency in them), which is often more important than the accreditation of an institution. In particular, the industry endorsement of courses and industry input into defining the knowledge and skills that should go into courses is of utmost importance.

Competency based learning is (and should be) the Next Big Thing!

Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been greatly hyped over the past couple of years, as having potential for disruptive innovation in the higher education sector. With hindsight it’s apparent that this disruptive innovation hasn’t been realised.

Michael B. Horn from the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation writes that online, competency-based programs have held far more disruptive potential. We wholeheartedly agree with this claim. In fact, that’s why an emphasis on competency-based learning lies at the heart of what we are developing for students at Acavista. We think that higher education shouldn’t be about how many hours you spend in class, or what prestigious or expensive institution you attend. Rather, we believe that it should be focused on what students can demonstrate they know and can do.

Horn argues that online, competency-based institutions represent the right learning model (focused on actual mastery of knowledge and skills), with the right technology of online learning, targeted at the right students (“non-consumers” of higher education who are over-served by current universities and are looking for an alternative that is aligned to their workforce needs), paired with a low cost, low-priced, sustainable offering.

We’re learning so much from going out and talking both to students and importantly, people who would like to undertake higher education but don’t feel able to because the current system is too expensive, too inflexible, and doesn’t always provide industry-relevant skills.

Listen up Mr Abbott and Mr Obama!

This recent article in the Times Higher Education Supplement is very supportive of our mission at Acavista. It mentions how new teaching and learning innovations offer the possibility to help resolve the challenges that are confronting the higher education sector globally, as well as catering to students needs for flexibility. It quite rightly points out that the debate is stymied by how much higher education should cost, who should bear the cost, and how those costs should be managed. Of course, they are important issues, but as the author indicates, we need to think beyond the limits of traditional learning.