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What are Competency-Based Education, CBE, OER, and Frameworks?

What are Competency-Based Education, CBE, OER, and Frameworks? KnowledgeToWork.com
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Posted in category Did You Know? by

KnowledgeToWork.com is centered on competency-based education or CBE, but what is CBE?

Competency-Based Education and Competency Frameworks

Competency-based education, or CBE, is a learning model based on competencies instead of courses or classes. Here is a classic story that I call the 4by5 example that I tell to help illustrate why CBE is a great learning model for students, employees, and employers.

Let’s pretend Sally is interested in a job at her company that requires knowledge of Microsoft Excel.

If Sally took a traditional class in Microsoft Excel, received a grade of a C, and shows her transcript to her employer, what does that grade mean to her employer? Most would assume that a grade of C means that Sally has an average skill level with Microsoft Excel. The problem is that no one but Sally and the professor knows which areas she was stronger in based on a traditional transcript.  

Let’s pretend there were 5 grades in the class of equal weight to the final grade. An A is 4 points, B is 3 points, C is 2 points, D is 1 point, and F is 0 points. Let’s see some examples of 5 grades that average to a C.

Ex

Grade 1

Points 1

Grade 2

Points 2

Grade 3

Points 3

Grade 4

Points 4

Grade 5

Points 5

Avg. of points

Average Grade

1

C

2

C

2

C

2

C

2

C

2

2

C

2

B

3

B

3

C

2

C

2

F

0

2

C

3

A

4

A

4

C

2

F

0

F

0

2

C

4

A

4

B

3

D

1

D

1

D

1

2

C

As an employer, how can I have any reasonable confidence that Sally has an average skill level with Microsoft Excel given that it is possible that she may have failed up to 2/5ths of the class or received a D or below average in up to 3/5ths of the class?

Now let us look at how this same situation would work with a competency-based approach. A faculty member will select a national competency framework that matches the objective. Frameworks are collections of competency statements grouped into similar subject areas that either list the knowledge needed to pass an exam or the skills required for a job role.

A CBE student will be presented with a list of competency statements from the framework and must meet each one at an 80% level or better based on an assessment designed for each competency in order to receive credit for having learned that competency. A competency-based transcript is a list of competencies the student has proven they know by passing the assessments. After passing the required competencies for learning Microsoft Excel, Sally can take her CBE extended transcript to her employer and it may look something like the following.

Sally knows:

Competency

Grade

Access and save Microsoft Excel files

PASS

Read and enter data into a spreadsheet

PASS

Set up page and print formatting

PASS

Find and replace text and formulas

PASS

Name cells

PASS

Use field references and understand $ references

PASS

Basic arithmetic formulas

PASS

Not only does Sally now have skills and abilities she can talk about on her resume, she can show employers exactly what skills she has in a way that is easy for them to understand with her CBE transcript. Employers now not only know exactly the skills that Sally has, they can also clearly see that Sally has proficiency in each of those skills. 

What is OER?

Open educational resources are openly licensed learning materials available in many forms. YouTube videos, Saylor Academy courses, OpenStax textbooks, peer-reviewed journals, and white papers may all be examples of OER. With the cost of college textbooks continuing to rise along with the cost of tuition, many college faculty members are turning to OER to lower the cost requirement for students while maintaining the same quality of learning materials used. Learn more about open educational resources or open licensing.

OER, CBE, and competency frameworks are what make KnowledgeToWork.com special and able to provide excellent educational tools at or near free. Sign up for your free account to get started learning today.

OER, CBE, and frameworks are what make KnowledgeToWork.com special and provide excellent education at or near free. Learn more about what these terms mean in today’s blog post.


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