The Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), supported by Lumina Foundation and managed by Public Agenda, on Tuesday announced 15 new members that will join on March 3. The national group, comprised of 30 institutions and four public systems with 82 campuses, will then meet for a three-day working session in Austin.
Competency-based degree programs are promising approaches to education, because they hold potential as a better way to plan, organize, deliver, and support education for students who are not well served by traditional academic instruction. C-BEN was formed a year ago in response to clear demand from colleges and universities that had been building competency-based models in isolation. Today, these leading institutions are working collaboratively to accelerate progress on shared challenges around program design and integrity, business processes and systems, and vendor relations to build models capable of scaling to serve many more students from all backgrounds.
C-BEN, which has become a major voice on federal student aid issues and innovative program design, will now include: Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque; Concordia University Wisconsin; Danville (Va.) Community College; Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Kentucky Commonwealth College (a collaborative effort of Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University); Lord Fairfax Community College in Virginia; Los Angeles Trade-Technical College; Purdue University at West Lafayette; Rasmussen College; Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan.; the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, N.J.; and Walden University (Laureate Education). In addition, C-BEN will add the University System of Georgia and the University of Texas System, which represent 40 campuses.
“We are thrilled with the continuing interest in our network’s work and competency-based education," said C-BEN Chairwoman Laurie Dodge, vice chancellor of institutional assessment and planning at Brandman University in California. "This new group, as well as the institutions already involved, is dedicated to accelerating model development in ways that also help inform the field. The new members of the network are high-caliber institutions, and we are look forward to working with them.”
One of the new member institutions, Walden University, recently introduced Tempo Learning™, a self-paced educational experience for students who want to earn their degree on their terms. The initial program offered through Tempo Learning is the new competency-based M.S. in Early Childhood Studies. It is the nation’s first online competency-based master’s program in early childhood using a direct assessment model. The program is approved by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
“As a pioneer in online education, Walden University is proud to be part of this important alliance of institutions committed to developing and offering quality competency-based education programs,” said Jonathan A. Kaplan, interim president of Walden. “Our 45-year history of supporting the academic goals of working professionals puts us in a unique position to provide students with an innovative learning experience that creates a direct link between their education and the workplace. Now, through Tempo Learning, students can demonstrate what they know, take charge of their education and help their communities thrive.”
The addition of new members will strengthen the network, allowing more work to be undertaken in areas such as defining quality program outcomes and learning assessment, understanding which students are likely to benefit from emerging models, and establishing standards for back-office processes and systems affecting registrars, financial aid officers, and commercial vendors.
Changing student populations and calls for affordability and innovation in higher education have heightened interest among colleges and universities in developing competency-based degree programs. Since late 2012, more than 200 institutions have expressed interest in developing or implementing competency-based degree programs.