Competency Based Education in Higher Edu

I have been watching this topic gain momentum with interest.

As an educator in the Australian VET system for a long time, I have been involved in designing and developing resources and  assessments for competency based education.  Watching the  traps that educators fall into when implementing CBT and falling into them myself has changed my view of strategies for implementation.  Two of the main problems (although there are more) are over assessment and a lack of holistic approaches.  CBT tends to encourage modular approaches to education and aided by poor learning design and delivery through learning management systems (LMS), learners are often not exposed to authentic learning that prepares them for the workplace.

It is easier to assess each individual performance criteria instead of looking holistically at the course outcomes. The thinking around assessment approaches is mostly to blame. For example using the LMS to generate endless quizzes is less time consuming both in development and marking but really provides little or no benefit to the learner who will eventually need to use the knowledge and skills in the workplace. Is this approach to assessment valid and what does the learner really learn?  I suggest, not much that would be considered deep or rich learning.

What needs to occur with implementation of CBT in higher ed is also a full and open review of delivery and assessment approaches.  Learner-centred approaches will mean that higher ed is tipped upside down but this is necessary  if institutions are to remain relevant to today’s learners.  This is a total paradigm shift although the time is right and CBT in higher ed will be better for it.

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