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Aurora Institute

Are You Launch Ready?

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, How to Get Started

next gen learning challengeEDUCAUSE’s Next Generation Learning Challenge is looking for institutions of higher education that are ready to create a “launch-ready” plan in 2015. They are looking for models emphasizing competency-based education, which they describe as models that “reward students for the skills they acquire rather than the time they spend in class, combined with new technology to deliver and assess learning, represent a potent mechanism that can trigger broad, fundamental transformation of systems, policies, structures, practices, and the student learning experience.”

If you are interested, here are the Breakthrough Models Incubator (BMI) application materials. There is also a pre-application webinar on January 6, 2015, and you can register for it here. Final applications are due February 4, 2015.

For those of you trying to understand how all the pieces of different initiatives are fitting together, you might find BMI’s description of their own criteria for success to be helpful:

  • an expanded field of institutions launching technology-enabled, CBE business and learning models collaborating with each other to advance their common needs;
  • creative, performance-focused business models that are institutionally sustainable and that enable the redesigned learning models’ prospects of succeeding and  expanding;
  • strategic use of information technology, including analytics and performance management systems, to provide continuous quality improvement and customized supports, and to optimize retention and completion efforts;
  • development and dissemination of documentation on best practices supporting the transition to CBE;
  • a constructive, informed dialogue with accreditors and other agencies resulting in clarity for regulators and flexibility for innovators;
  • degree programs signaling an institution-wide commitment to CBE progression rather than a seat-time/credit hours progression through the program of study;
  • embedded assessment within the curriculum and summative assessments that demonstrate both depth and breadth of learning;
  • learning science research to develop effective, targeted, and personalized learning environments;
  • blended learning and/or supported online learning environments to increase effectiveness while improving affordability, particularly for underserved learners who benefit from combinations that provide interpersonal interaction with flexibility; and
  • strategies to bridge the gaps between high school and college and accelerate high school students’ progression toward high-quality postsecondary degrees.

What’s missing from this list is ensuring that we are designing for our most vulnerable students – students who did not receive an adequate education in K-12; low-income, first-time college goers; and single parents. If they aren’t at the core of our designs, then higher education will continue to reinforce inequity rather than be a powerful catalyst in overcoming the inequity that is getting bigger and bigger.

(Disclaimer: I have been a reviewer for EDUCAUSE for K12 proposals.)