While the employers and academicians in India are contemplating about improving the rate of employable candidates, who are coming out from numerous educational institutions in the country, the surveys are not showing any positive signs. Regardless of the streams of studies, the rate of industry-unready professionals coming out from the campuses in India is still hovering somewhere between 70 - 85 percent, which indicates that the country needs a different approach to produce skilled workforce other than regular class room education. The introduction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) was initially considered as a remedy in this scenario. However, due to academics designing courses that correspond with their own interests rather than the needs of the workforce made MOOCs just an online version of traditional teaching methodologies.
When such crunch situations arise, it is obvious that the world will come up with a better solution to deal with it. Online competency-based education is one such innovative wave and experts in higher education sector believe that it is the next big thing in the world of education, which is going to revolutionize the workforce. The online competency-based learning providers have absolutely nothing to do with offering free, massive, or open courses, instead they are creating a whole new architecture of learning that has serious implications for businesses and organizations around the world.
What is online competency-based education?<\b>
Before going deep into this new wave of education, discussing about the mindset of new generation youngsters on their dream job will give a better clarity to this subject. Today, close to 4000 engineering colleges in India are churning out a mammoth number of engineers every year. However, many of them do not want to see themselves in the role of an engineerin the industry, as they were pushed to study engineering by their parents due to an illusion that this is the one and only career to earn good money and reputation in the society. Hence, many choose to follow their passion, which is totally different from the prestigious engineering degree that they have earned. For instance, a freshly minted computer engineering graduate realizes that in order to attain a dream job as a writer in magazines, he/she needs some experience in professional writing. Going back to school is not a desirable option, and many schools do not even offer relevant courses in professional writing. Where is the affordable, accessible, targeted, and high-quality program that he/she needs to skill-up?
Online competency-based education is the key to filling in the skills gaps in the workforce. Broadly speaking, competency-based education identifies explicit learning outcomes when it comes to knowledge and the application of that knowledge. They include measurable learning objectives that empower students: this person can apply financial principles to solve business problems: this person can write memos by evaluating seemingly unrelated pieces of information; or this person can create and explain big data results using data mining skills and advanced modelling techniques.
The most important characteristic of competency-based education is that it measures learning rather than time. Students' progress by demonstrating their competence, which means they prove that they have mastered the knowledge and skills required for a particular course, regardless of how long it takes. While more traditional models can and often do measure competency, they are time based courses, and students may advance only after they have put in the seat time. This is true even if they could have completed the coursework and passed the final exam in half the time. Therefore, while most colleges and universities hold time requirements constant and let learning vary, competency-based learning allows us to hold learning constant and let time vary.
Many of these education providers are consulting with industry councils to understand better what employers are seeking. Businesses and organizations of all sizes can help build series of brief modules to skill up their existing workforce. The bundle of modules does not even necessarily need to culminate in a credential or a degree because the company itself validates the learning process. For working adults who are looking to skill-up, the advantages are obvious. These programs are already priced comparable to, or lower than, community colleges, and most offer simple subscription models so students can pay a flat rate and complete as many competencies as they wish in a set time period.
Competency-based education has become a hot topic in higher education circles these days and it is becoming increasingly popular as the country searches for ways to improve college affordability and more accurately measure student learning. With wide adaptation of online competency-based education, overtime, employers will be able to observe first-hand and validate whether the quality of work or outputs of their employees are markedly different with these new programs in place. It is the time to pay attention this trending methodology as new world of learning lies ahead.