A ‘disruptive’ look at competency-based education

I just read a fascinating report by a fellow at the Center for American Progress on how technology will likely transform the college experience. If you’re interested in this sort of thing (and I’m guessing you are, since you’re reading this site), I urge you to check it out. But don’t worry if you haven’t the time to read the whole thing, the following snippets from the report serve as a summary:

The existing model of postsecondary education relies on time-based measures to structure and fund learning experiences. But recent online efforts have put a public spotlight on alternative ways to deliver postsecondary education that not only document whether a student has achieved a level of competence but also validate the learning that’s occurred.

The question is, can these innovative learning initiatives scale effectively and disrupt the current model? The report looks at this question through the lens of “disruptive innovation,” a business theory that considers how technology can change an organization, sector, or industry.

The report concludes that competency-based education does possess the necessary interrelated elements (technology enabler, business model change, new value network, and standards) to be a potential game changer in the delivery and affordability of postsecondary education. It also provides recommendations to stakeholders (such as encouraging many experimental sites, so that different models can be tried out) to accelerate this process.

Update: A more thorough look at competency-based education can be found on the Online Learning Insights blog.