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Wally Boston competency-based education

Postsecondary Competency-Based Education: Scalable or Not?

Among the many panaceas touted by policymakers to improve graduation rates of adult students, Competency-Based Education (CBE) may be the innovation most often cited but not yet widely adopted. Eduventures’ new study, “State of the Field, Findings from the 2018 National Survey of Postsecondary CBE,” includes responses from leaders at 500 schools with existing CBE programs or future plans to add them. With approximately 5,300 postsecondary institutions in the U.S., that number represents slightly less than 10% of all providers.

Among the study’s findings:

  • 50% of institutions with CBE programs enroll less than 50 students. Schools were asked what factors either helped the growth of their programs or hindered their growth and the top responses for undergraduate programs were: demand from students, CBE program start-up costs, evidence about CBE programs’ potential to reduce cost for students, and Federal Student Aid regulations and processes.
  • Of these four top responses, program start-up costs and FSA regulations skewed negatively (hindering) and demand from students and evidence about CBE program potential to reduce costs skewed positively (helping).
  • Despite the current low enrollment for many schools, more than 75% of all respondents believe that CBE will grow significantly over the next five years.
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Wally Boston competency-based education

The Outcomes Imperative for Adaptive Learning

When I first joined APUS, conferences were an easy way to get up to speed on many issues. Similar to other industries, there are many different higher ed conferences whose agendas reflect member needs. There are events for college presidents, financial officers, enrollment management and student services staff, academic advisors, accreditation leaders, chief academic officers, faculty, etc. Over time, I’ve reduced my conference schedule as I feel more comfortable with the relevant issues in a given area.

One conference I consistently attend is the Higher Education Leadership Conference at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE). The event is unique in that only graduates of Penn’s Executive Doctorate in Higher Education program are invited. Alumni organize the agenda to address some of the current issues in higher education. Because graduates are administrators at colleges and universities (including more than 50 college and university presidents), the dialogue between speakers, panelists, and participants is as stimulating as the presentations.

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Cali Morrison technology-driven learning

APUS Leaders Discuss the Value of Technology-Driven Learning in Higher Education

APUS Associate Dean of Alternative Learning Cali Morrison and APUS Provost Dr. Vernon Smith were each recently appointed to new leadership positions with the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), one of the leading authorities on the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. Cali recently sat down with Dr. Smith to discuss the value of APUS's long-standing relationship with WCET and their respective new advisory roles.

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Vernon Smith

The Provost Challenge: Driving Innovation to Enhance Student Engagement and Learning Outcomes

Something about a challenge motivates us. Whether it’s the first transatlantic flight, landing on the moon, or taking on one of numerous YouTube challenges going viral on smartphones everywhere, there is something about challenges that creates energy, creativity, and innovation. Even the U.S. government has harnessed the power of challenges, from using RFID to locate items on the International Space Station, launching payloads into space within a matter of days, or helping to prevent opioid misuse in expectant and new mothers. Challenges with cash prizes are available from various agencies on Challenge.gov, which reports awarding over $250 million in prizes to creative individuals, small business owners and academic researchers.

One of the wonderful aspects of the challenge process is that you don’t have to do the challenge to participate; you can learn from the process itself and even assist in judging entries for which you have expertise and interest. However, if you have a unique approach or an innovative idea, you can join the students, entrepreneurs, technology-inclined, and academic researchers in the challenge to be the first and best.

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Wally Boston competency-based education

The Future of the Digital University

I recently participated on a panel at the University of Pennsylvania’s Future of Higher Education conference. The text below is excerpted from my prepared remarks.

It’s no surprise that we have both digital-only universities and universities that offer digital classes. However, you may be surprised that in the U.S., we have 140 digital-only universities and 3,338 universities and colleges offering online courses. The latest Babson Survey Research Group online learning survey found that approximately 6.4 million students attending U.S. universities (representing 31.6% of all students) took at least one online course in the last year. Almost half of these students attended one of 235 institutions representing 5% of U.S. higher education institutions.

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Cali Morrison technology-driven learning

Revisiting the CBExchange

I recently attended my third CBExchange and this year, I had the pleasure of serving on the program and welcome committees. The number one benefit to being a Competency-Based Education Network (CBEN) member and/or attending CBExchange is learning from the experiences of those who participate. The community is open in sharing the good, the bad, the challenges, and the triumphs of starting, fostering, and scaling CBE programs. While I wasn’t around at the beginning of the online education movement, the comradery I’ve seen forged in those who built online education is reflected in the relationships established through CBEN.

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Vernon Smith

The Horizon Report: Leveraging Technology to Enhance Student and Institutional Outcomes With an Eye to the Future

We operate in a turbulent higher education marketplace. Many forces are impacting the foundational pillars of higher education, from economic and demographic to social, cultural, and, especially, technological. Knowing how these forces will impact higher education helps leaders adjust, adapt, and plan for the future. This awareness can help an institution to survive or even flourish.

One established source for understanding trends has been the New Media Consortium’s (NMC) annual Horizon Report, which assesses  short-, mid-, and long-term trends in the adoption of technology in higher education. The report also looks at the anticipated timeframe for the adoption and the challenges that might impede the adoption of that technology. Over the last 16 years, NMC has used the Delphi Method, engaging industry experts like consultant Bryan Alexander to develop, discuss, and forecast the likelihood and strength of these trends. I have used the report as homework for my academic leaders and it has been suggested reading for all university leadership for many years.

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Cali Morrison Credential Finder

Discover Your Career Path on Credential Finder

Our core mission at American Public University System is to provide quality higher education to our military and public service community to prepare these learners for service and leadership in our society. One way we fulfill this mission is through our participation in the Credential Engine, a nonprofit with the complementary mission to enhance credential transparency and literacy to empower learners to make more informed decisions about credentials and their career value.

In 2016, APUS joined the Credential Transparency Initiative (CTI), a collaborative project to research and develop a centralized registry of credential information, a common credentialing language and supporting search engine. In January 2017, APUS became a founding member of the newly-formed Credential Engine to contribute more substantively to the development of this organization and its first offering, Credential Finder.

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Lamar Burris Commencement

My AMU Commencement: A Full Circle Moment

I attended this year’s Commencement ceremony by earning my B.A. in English. Let me explain what Commencement meant to me.

I flew from Okinawa to participate in a weekend of fun. First, I attended the food drive and met some great people. Whoever came up with this idea deserves more than a pat on the back. It brought the graduates together, in a way that removed the feeling of not knowing anyone amongst so many new faces from all walks of life. Afterwards, I attempted to make the social events, but due to traffic I did not make it although my hotel was only seven miles away. No problem, because nothing was going to dampen my spirits. The coup de grâce was happening June 2nd at 3 p.m., and I thought gracing that stage as my name was called would be the cherry on top. It was not.

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