Is Competency-Based Higher Education The Wave Of The Future?

Next month, the University of Wisconsin will begin accepting applications for degree programs that give students three months of "all you can eat" access to online courses and allow them to earn their degrees by taking competency tests.

What's the Latest Development?


Starting next month, the University of Wisconsin will begin accepting applications for a number of degree and certificate programs that are based on the competency model: Instead of attending classes and accumulating (and paying for) a specific number of credit hours, students will pay a flat fee of $2,250 for three months of access to all of the university's online courses and materials as well as its advisors and other resources. They will then earn their degree by passing competency tests, which they can take as many times as they want. For the first rollout, spaces will be limited to 10 per degree program.

What's the Big Idea?

Wisconsin's initiative isn't the first to use a competency-based model, but it is the first to offer an actual degree or certificate. For that reason, it will be closely watched by many in higher education who are already nervous about the popularity of free online courses and the increasing need to justify the costs associated with getting a college degree the old-fashioned way. Among the challenges to using this model are quality and scalability, says Wisconsin chancellor Ray Cross: "Traditional higher education at this point is not scalable...and this has the potential to be incredibly transformative, if it is scalable."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at FastCompany/Co.Exist

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less

Vikings unwittingly made their swords stronger by trying to imbue them with spirits

They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.

Shutterstock
Culture & Religion
  • Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
  • To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
  • They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Keep reading Show less

Health care: Information tech must catch up to medical marvels

Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.

Photo: Tom Werner / Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
  • Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
  • As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
Keep reading Show less