Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 64 of 76

62 November/ December 2014 BizEd SH UTTE R_M /TH I N KSTOCK technology COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES are finally seeing the market recoil from year-after-year tuition hikes for four-year bachelor's programs. More employers are reporting that today's college graduates are under- skilled for the positions they have, which has left many college graduates out of work and deep in debt. Online competency-based education may be the phenomenon that reverses this trend, according to Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution, a new mini-book by Clayton M. Chris- tensen of Harvard Business School and Michelle R. Weise, senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute in San Mateo, California. In fact, Christensen and Weise believe that online competency-based educa- tion—which awards students course credit for skills they already possess and allows them to advance through their programs at their own pace as they demonstrate content mastery—could revolutionize the workforce and disrupt traditional higher education institutions. "Students are inevitably beginning to question the return on their higher education investments because the costs of a college degree continue to rise and the gulf continues to widen between degree holders and the jobs available today," the authors write. At the same time, traditional institutions are reluc- tant to make the transition to shorter, more specialized learning experiences. But that reluctance could back- fire, as the authors predict a growing need for targeted and affordable competency-based models that can be delivered to students independent of their educational background, income, or time zone. "No other existing form of higher education shows such promise in making the cost of a high-quality edu- cation affordable to more people," said Weise. "We see great disruptive potential in rigorous online compe- tency-based models that offer flexibility, affordability, and faster completion times." In addition, employers and competency-based learn- ing providers increasingly are collaborating to create these opportunities, she adds. If students emerge from these programs with the skills employers need, these employer-driven programs could override the importance of college rankings or even accreditation in the market. The mini-book includes six chapters covering compelling topics such as disrup- tive innovation and academic inertia, the changing value proposition of a college education, the modularization of education through competency-based models, and the new learning formats becoming increas- ingly validated by employers. Its appendices describe innovative approaches at Western Governors University, UniversityNow's Pat- ten University, and Southern New Hamp- shire University's College for America, as well as Northern Arizona University's per- sonalized learning pathway and the Univer- sity of Wisconsin's UW Flex program. Hire Education is available at www. Follow or join the conversation about its findings on Twitter by using the hashtags #HireEd and #competencybased. Will Competency-Based Models Revolutionize Higher Ed?

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of BizEd - NovDec2014