September 13, 2017 |Author: Paul Vadas
Professor, lecturer, writer and consultant in education for higher education institutions in Brazil and the US
“What matters, essentially, is not what the school teaches, but rather what the learner learns in or out of it. What counts, effectively, is the competencies developed. Skills developed in out-of-school activities, in the world of work and in the social practice of the citizen should be constantly evaluated by the educational institutions and used for the purpose of continuity of studies, in a perspective of permanent education and continuous development of the capacity to learn and of learning to learn, with an increasing degree of intellectual autonomy.
The new emphasis proposed is for the result of learning and not simply for the act of teaching.” (CNE/CP 29/2002, p. 24 – Approved on 12/13/2002).
The above quotation, stated in 2002 by the CNE/CP MEC (National Council of Education of the Brazilian Ministry of Education), clearly synthesizes the trends of higher education, especially in the United States, where the process of evaluating and recognizing work related learning and self-learning is already a fact in several renowned institutions of higher education.
The new model of educational individualization (better known as Competency Based Education – CBE), flexible, multi-mediated, which has learning as the focus of the process, which concentrates on the learner’s educational capacities, talents and vocations, and which certifies the skills already developed by her/him, no matter when, where, or how it was learned/developed, is what I call the Results Oriented Learning (ROL) model. This flexible, multimediated, personalized, learner-centered model eliminates the often redundant, if not irrelevant, processes of the current highly structured, unimediated pasteurized/massified, teacher-centered, Process Oriented Teaching (POT) model.
The CBE model, based on ROL, creates a new educational paradigm that recognizes and relies on multiple sources of information (multimediation), based on the use of new information and communication technologies (especially online), changing the essence of the learning processes away from the traditional teacher (unimediated) sourced, classroom-tied information delivery system by recognizing that learning is a constant, pervasive process and that the learner is continuously exposed to information of all sorts, 24/7.
Moreover, and this is most important, the CBE model recognizes what I call the First Law of Education: The process of teaching can be ubiquitous, but learning is always a personal process. Anyone can teach (transfer information), but only the learner can learn (transform that information into knowledge and understanding).
CBE, as a results oriented process that recognizes what the learner has already learned, is, in many different formats, already being implemented in several higher educational institutions (HEI) in the United States and, to a much lesser degree, in Brazil.
In the past 10 years, public HEIs such as Western Governors University, Southern New Hampshire University, College for America, Kentucky Community and Technical College System, University of Wisconsin, and private universities such as the DePaul University School for New Learning, Alverno College, Westminster College, among others, have already, in many ways, “adopted” the 29/2002 opinion of the CNE / CP, implementing systems of assessment and certification of competencies, effectively eliminating the “butt chair time” in classrooms, and valuing self-learning and educational flexibility.
More recently, Degreed.com has introduced a certification system that, in their own words: “…finally makes it possible to prove the skills you have in a (sic) universal, up-to-date, and accurate way. Get your skills certified and show the world what you can do.” This skills certification system is the essence of the ROL model, and it points to a new trend that is gaining traction, especially in corporate education.
Soon, a student’s personal talent/vocation will enhance another trend that is in the horizon: personalized degrees based on the students’ talents and vocation differentials.
ACCESS TO CBE
In general, the process of access to CBE in the still somewhat traditional schools, is simple: each HEI determines the access criteria, which in most cases are based on the candidate’s professional experience and the letters of recommendation. Once accepted, the student can apply for credits related to the competencies already developed, thus shortening his/her educational process and, having mastered the required professional competencies, his/her certification/diploma for the program as a whole. Requests are evaluated by examination boards composed of teachers and/or professionals who are masters of the particular field of study. The examination board, in most cases, has the authority to grant credits and, even, certificates/diplomas requested by the student.
By eliminating redundancies, and thus unnecessary costs, as well as reducing student training time, CBE/ROL promotes something that has never been a focus of HEIs: productivity in the formal educational system. Moreover, CBE/ROL brings with it the embryo of practical education and the valuing of self-learning relevant to the educational needs of the individuals, especially in relation to the development of their potential according to their respective talents and vocations.
But, as much as CBE/ROL is transforming education, as it moves away from mass to personalized education, it is still far from being the disruptive trend that will change substantially how visionaries are to revolutionize the system in the near future. The radical transformation of the traditional schools will be the topic of my next articles.