I don’t quite understand the lagging behind of competency-based programs in Higher Education, as here in Australia competency-based training has been in place for decades.
In Higher Education, many authorities had challenged if Competency based education sets a high enough bench marks or not in “education”, mainly because many competencies are set by the industry, not academics or education authorities.
Aren’t these different from the industrial based competency based standards – set by the industry, for the industry? People might often think that higher education is preparing people for jobs, so the emphasis in contemporary education would be to treat education similar to training, by equipping students with skills in schools, and making sure that they have acquired the skills for the job or profession.
That is both rational and pragmatic, as one principal goal of education should be to prepare people ahead of their career, so they are work ready, and become a valuable member of the institutions or community they would join in the future.
However, if we reflect on the focus of the educational ideal, vision and mission of higher education, we often find a different set of values being endorsed in the institutions. The education mission is about developing people to engage, interact with others, with the acquisition of social and interpersonal skills, metacognition and critical thinking, with digital literacies, and be connected to the global community.
Higher education institutions should educate students to become well informed and deeply motivated citizens, who can think critically, analyse problems of society, look for solutions to the problems of society, apply them and accept social responsibilities.
The xMOOCs are mostly related to “training” of certain job-specific skills (computer programming) or broadcasting programs similar to the TV distance learning, with the difference that it is now offered in short episodes (videos in short clips), with quizzes included in the video clip near to end to check and test understanding. This is merely automating the education and training with media and tools, with little to no input or contribution from the learners in return. Such consumption mode of learning would only add “information” into the brain of people, but not always leading to deeper mode of thinking or learning, even if the learners could pass the tests and assignments.
It could be argued that mastery of learning is based on passes on quizzes, tests and assignments. However, any machines (computers) which have been “taught” how to respond to questions could do better than a human in taking tests and examinations, and this doesn’t prove that the machine is in any way more intelligent than human as it has been taught, though again, there is artificial intelligence that could be built into a machine.
The question is: Do we want people just to “acquire” more information, or do we want people to know how to learn, and to become a more autonomous learner with self-directed learning?
Here in this post relating to a change in culture in higher education, I could sense the adoption of quality circles and Total Quality Management in place in those institutions. As shared in my previous post on quality matters, it seems that this pattern of embracing a TQM is gradually commonplace in community colleges and certain Higher Education Institutions. Mandatory personal learning plans, target and goals setting and performance reviews have been in place in industry for decades. Now it is transplanted to colleges of education, likely by the consultants, administrators and education authorities. To what extent would that change the quality of education?
Would the incorporation of MOOCs change the culture of those institutions further? I reckon certain Higher Education Institutions and authorities would still like to uphold their autonomy, in order to stay away from the noises and distractions of certain power imposed upon them from the social media, networks or communities. So, I could anticipate tensions in between the professional learning community and personal learning networks. May be it’s time to reflect upon what MOOCs really mean to people, and that we need to understand what a great MOOC would look like, and it should stand for LEARNING if it is to be meaningful and sustainable. It is about meeting and exceeding the needs and expectations of the customers, via Total Quality Management.