Online and Blended Learning

An overview of competency-based education in schools: presenting ideas, inspiration, strategies, and challenges.

About this course

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

What you’ll learn

  • Characteristic elements of CBE and debates over those elements
  • Why CBE is an innovation some schools are embracing, as well as concerns being voiced by educators and other stakeholders
  • Examples of approaches and strategies schools are using to implement CBE
  • Resources for experimenting with CBE in your own context

Course Overview

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.

Contact us about this project!

  • Elizabeth Huttner-Loan
    Elizabeth Huttner-Loan Senior Manager, Online Course Development

    Elizabeth develops and manages massive open online courses (MOOCs) on educational technology.  Previously, she was an Instructional Developer for the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program. While at Gordon-MIT, she collaborated with the company AMD to create a text-based simulation related to engineering leadership. Prior to her time at MIT, Elizabeth worked at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She holds a B.A. in Government from Claremont McKenna College and an Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

     

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