Hacking the Economic Future of Educational Markets

According to Michelle R. Weise and Clayton Christensen, modular competency-based learning is bringing about “tectonic shifts” in higher education. If so, what are the implications for K12 to remain relevant to contemporary learners? What will be the impact on teacher preparation?

In an earlier post, I examined the lessons that K12 could learn from MIT’s report The Future of MIT Education. Outlined in the report’s seventh recommendation was the growing importance of curriculum designed in modules, which the report defines as “breaking a subject into learning units or modules, which can be studied in sequence or separately.”  The modular design provides a foundation for online competency-based models that are aligned to meet workforce needs.

In Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution, Michelle R. Weise and Clayton Christensen observe that post-secondary is “structurally incapable” of adjusting to student needs in learning new skills necessary for “jobs emerging on a day-to-day basis” forcing the consumer to question the return on college investment.

Weise and Christensen contend that modular design, coupled with online competency-based approaches, will become the more valued option for targeted skill attainment that employers are seeking. They write:

An examination of online competency-based education unveils the tectonic shifts to come to higher education. Over time, the industry-validated experiences that emerge from the strong partnership between online competency-based providers and employers will ultimately have the power to override the importance of college rankings and accreditation.

While this economic trend of “purchase for skills” (not degrees, courses or classes) may seem applicable only to higher education, think again. K12 public and private education has some skin in the game. I’ve written before about how an Educational Debit Card will provide learners (and families) more choice and the popular rise of micro-credentials (badges) to acknowledge informal but powerful learning. As modular competency-based education catches on in higher education and the demand for post-secondary diminishes, K12 must revamp the curriculum and experiences for students by providing more pathways for learners to access passion and interests.

K12 must revamp the curriculum and experiences for students as the demand for post-secondary diminishes, giving way to passion and interests of learners.

In coming posts, I will examine the impact of modular competency-based education on teacher preparation, liberal arts, and cities of learning. Meanwhile, how is your learning organization revamping curriculum and pedagogical designs to meet the needs of contemporary learners? How can your learning organization prepare to compete in an expanding market of educational choices?

Running the Digital River of Learning with You,

Emily Vickery

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