Competency-Based Education: No More Semesters?

Anya Kamenetz, NPR Ed, Oct 31, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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OK, back in 1998 I said that time would no longer be used as a measure of learning, "that time in online learning ceases to be an objective standard." I said things like "learning will be measured by the amount of information accumulated, not the amount of time spent in a chair" (I was less precise back then). Though I supported such things as prior learning assessments I've never been keen on competencies. I learned working directly with teachers (eg. at the Brandon Adult Learning centre) that you can't just break down course content into a bunch of modules; more global variables come into play as well, and are captured by such artifacts as the term paper. Now where does that go on the test? Now in our current work we're deloping algorithms to detect competencies in expert performance. One perfectly acceptable result to me here is the null result, that is, a result showing that expert performance cannot be reduced to a set of necessary and sufficient competencies.

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