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Competency-Based Education: The Why, What, and How

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX

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Overview

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Many schools across the country are exploring competency-based education (CBE) as a pathway for transforming the school experience. In this course, instructor Justin Reich and the MIT Teaching Systems Lab team will help you develop an understanding of the characteristic elements of CBE and how schools are implementing it.

You will learn why so many educators are excited about CBE and its potential for closing opportunity gaps, as well as challenges and concerns. You will get a closer look at what the implementation of CBE looks and feels like for students, teachers, administrators, families, and community members. You will consider the kinds of system-wide shifts necessary to support this innovation in education.

By looking at research and hearing from experts and voices in schools, you will leave the course equipped to start or continue conversations about whether CBE is a good fit in your context.

Image: Garrett Beazley © MIT Teaching Systems Lab

Syllabus

Unit 1

We will consider the important question of why schools implement competency-based education (CBE). Not every school defines CBE the same way, but there are some elements that are included in most definitions. We will share these characteristic elements of CBE and discuss why there is more debate around certain elements. Learners will get an introduction to why educators are excited about experimenting with CBE, as well as concerns and dilemmas they are facing.

Unit 2

Ideally, experimenting with CBE forces schools to have conversations about what learning goals are most important and what performances of understanding best align, as well as conversations about traditional ways student progress is measured. Here we will focus on CBE at the classroom level, hearing from teachers and others regarding topics like pacing, pedagogy, curriculum, classroom organization, and assessment.

Unit 3

CBE presents specific implementation challenges for administrators in areas such as teacher training, technology, community outreach, infrastructure, schedules, transcripts, and standardized testing. In this unit, we will explore those challenges and how some schools are addressing them at a systems level.

Taught by

Justin Reich and Elizabeth Huttner-Loan

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