Support for competency-based education gaining momentum in Australia

It was great to see a discussion of competency-based education in The Australian Higher Education supplement this week. It mentions that this is a real disruption to the higher education system. The focus is on outputs (demonstrating competency) and not on inputs (the amount of hours a student is in class). It acknowledges that students are different (is learner focused) and has a heavy emphasis on rigorous assessment. We agree totally! This competency-based approach is at the heart of our venture.

We particularly like the last quote “CBE is a disrupter to the industry, but not in the way MOOCs was proclaimed to be. This new approach to higher education is a model that can help universities cut costs while delivering qualifications that better serve students”.


Competing models of higher education

An interesting new report from the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative discusses the barriers facing higher education. The challenges of “competing models of higher education” is considered daunting.

It states that the challenge to traditional Higher Education “is becoming less about brick-and-mortar institutions feeling threatened by free online educational resources (e.g. MOOCs) and more about the traditional approaches of these institutions no longer appealing to students. Universities are being challenged at all angles (including by the [U.S. Department] of Ed and their move to redefine the credit hour to include amount of work represented by learning outcomes) to update their degree programs & curriculum to embrace more unconventional practices, such as competency-based and flexible degree programs and more”.

This concurs with our view that higher education needs to move beyond outdated notions of seat time and credit hours and focus on what students can demonstrate they know and can do as measured by learning outcomes.

Join our team and help redefine higher education!

HEDventures is an ed-tech startup that aims to democratise higher education. We’re looking for people who share our vision to redefine higher education, are excited about taking on a massive challenge, are highly productive and work well within a small team. You’ll be willing to work for vested equity (i.e. nothing initially) in order to realise this vision.  Please contact us to discuss this opportunity further  Email: [email protected]

Great opportunity for a technical co-founder

HEDventures is an ed-tech startup that aims to democratise higher education. We’re looking for a Technical Co-Founder that shares our vision to redefine higher education, is excited about taking on a massive challenge, is highly productive and works well within a small team. You’ll be a development guru who either knows or is keen to learn and use Scala and functional programming (the Akka stack) to build the next generation online university, and is willing to work for vested equity (i.e. nothing initially) to realise this vision. Please contact us to discuss this opportunity further  Email: [email protected]

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.

In debt-ed to Higher Education

A university education is getting more and more expensive. Many students are beginning to question whether it is a good investment. Outstanding federal and private loan student debt is approaching $1 trillion in the US.

Online learning isn’t a panacea for lack of choice

Students are seeking much greater choice in higher education, at a time when the number of courses in universities are being reduced for efficiency reasons.  Universities are putting courses online BUT not all students learn best from online learning and not all courses are suited to online learning.