Sometimes there are special moments when you are very proud of where you work and the people you work with. This was such a week for me.
After more than six years of work, from conceptualization to development to implementation, Kaplan University has unveiled its three-way approach to competency assessment. This revised approach gives each learner evidence of their achievement in course outcomes, general education competencies (i.e. critical thinking, writing, etc.), and behavioral proficiencies that track the abilities that employers say make the difference between struggling on the job and being ready to work on Day 1. Combined with the modularization of its entire curriculum, the assessment of prior experiential learning, and the resources of the Open College at Kaplan University (OC@KU), this creates a better fit between the needs of the learner and our content.
This adds up to an overall redefinition of what “meeting the needs of the learner” actually means. From a curricular standpoint, Kaplan is now able to wrap its resources around the learner’s needs instead of asking the learner to adjust to the college’s programs. As Kevin Carey points out in his recent book, “The End of College,” we are entering a period of mass personalization where responding to the learner’s needs can lie at the heart of the educational endeavor. By giving learners the evidence that employers need and want to see, we are meeting their needs in a new dimension, linking explicit evidence of their knowledge and ability to standards that employers value.
This integrated approach to competency assessment also mines each learning experience far more thoroughly for value, extracting and measuring all three kinds of learning instead of just the traditional course outcomes. This has significant implications for reducing the time and cost of attaining a certificate or a degree. When Provost Dr. Betty Vandenbosch announced this new approach, she was heralding Kaplan’s emergence as one of only a few leaders on this new frontier of how we “do” higher education. And with the pride of the moment comes our responsibility to do it well and continually improve our understanding and capacity to do it better.
Read the Paul Fain article “Profit and Competency” for more information on this new approach.