Posted by: crudbasher | June 25, 2012

University of Wisconsin To Allow Competency Based Learning

This is a fascinating development. According to my Theory of Disaggregation, knowledge organizations that are based on physical locations will be reorganized by other methods. It has already affected the music industry, the newspaper industry and the book industry. This will definitely include universities.

A university is basically a place where there is knowledge. People come to it because that is where the knowledge is. Of course with the Internet, now the knowledge comes to us so where does that leave colleges?

This week’s theme I want to talk about is what I think is going to happen to universities.

Exhibit A: University of Wisconsin is going to allow a new program that will be based on competency based learning. Usually you get a degree by accumulating a certain amount of credit hours and adequate grades. With the new system, you will demonstrate mastery of certain skills in order to get a degree. This takes the emphasis off of time. Instead you can take a long as you want to master a skill. Some people will do it fast, some will do it slowly but even so each person will master the skills. I like this better and seems to be a more natural way to learn.

Learning can’t happen on a schedule.


    • Students at the University of Wisconsin (UW) can earn college degrees based on proven competency in a subject, making UW the first publicly-funded school to launch a competency-based degree program.
    • Led by officials at UW-Extension, a continued learning program with offices located across Wisconsin, the UW Flexible Degree will let incoming students demonstrate their knowledge and cut down on the time it takes to earn a degree.
    • While competency-based learning isn’t new—Western Governors University (WGU) has used the model for years—UW’s embrace of the nontraditional online degree track is noteworthy because, unlike the private nonprofit WGU and for-profit online colleges, UW is a public campus.
    • About 20 percent of Wisconsin adults have some postsecondary course credit, according to state statistics. These adults, if enrolled in the new competency-based model, would not have to begin their higher education in the most basic classes, saving them money and time.
    • Sara Goldrick-Rab, associate professor of education policy studies at UW, wrote in a blog post that a competency-based approach was worth the investment, because “credit for sitting in a seat for a certain amount of time has never felt smart.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. Unmentioned is the quality of the measurement to see who is “competent” in what is learned and who gets to set the standards by which competency is assessed. The devil is in the details and Ms Goldrick-Rab’s belief that just “sitting in a seat” doesn’t “feel smart.” I would hope not. The questions unanswered include — what is learned by virtue of such sitting? Who is addressing whom? How useful are those sitting fore and aft of the so-called sitter? And how public are the measurements addressed to the sitter?

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