3 things to get right when designing CBE programs

Karen Yoshino, Blackboard Blog, Aug 19, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

One of the issues I have with competencies is that too often they are just a rewrapping of content knowledge in new terminology. Take this Blackboard post for example. The author begins reasonably: a competency requires "a clear understanding of (a) a summary of what the competency is about, (b) a specific definition of the competency, and (c) the associated topics that will help assess the competency." But then we get an example of a competency definition: "Describes, classifies and critiques the origins, actions and consequences of American civil rights," and as a subcompetency: "Political shift of south" and various others. This isn't a competency in any real sense. It's just some content the student is expected to know about. And we have no sense whatsoever about why students are expected to know this content, what would count as evidence they've achieved it, nor what they're supposed to do with the knowledge.

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