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American Higher Education in Crises book cover

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Join Keynoters Goldie Blumenstyck (Chronicle of Higher Education) and Phil Hill and Michael Feldstein (MindWires Consulting)

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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Competency Based Education: Insights From Leaders

Deb Bushway (Independent Consultant, USA)
Kara Van Dam (UMUC, USA)
Kris Clerkin (College for America and Southern New Hampshire University, USA)
Charla Long (Go Long Consulting, USA)
Kathleen Stone (Empire State College, USA)
Additional Authors
Laurie Dodge (Brandman University, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 8:30am
Learning Effectiveness
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Theory/Conceptual Framework
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Pre-Conference Workshop
Oceanic 5
Session Duration: 
3 Hours
Pre-Conference Workshop Session 3

There is a fee for this Pre-Conference Workshop: $195 Early Bird / $225 Full Price / $250 Onsite Price

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In this workshop, we will discuss quality dimensions in competency based education, with real, practical examples from leaders of operating CBE academic programs.

Extended Abstract

In the last five years, higher education institutions have been exploring and launching new competency based education (CBE)programs. CBE is not really new though. Modern competency-based education and training movements here and abroad began with U.S. efforts to reform teacher education and training in the 1960s (Brown, 1994; Hodges & Harris, 2012; and Tuxworth, 1994/1989). In today's environment, CBE programs vary greatly depending on university mission and purpose. CBE degree programs can be described as either evolutionary or revolutionary . Some universities replace courses with competencies and others plan full degrees with programmatic competencies. The use of direct assessment models that decouple the concept of mastery from the credit hour enable some students to complete their degree requirements sooner. Time is then variable rather than fixed for each student. For example, a student with significant accounting experience may already possess the knowledge and skill level expected of all learners at the end of accounting 101and can immediately move to demonstration of mastery through assessment.
The presenters from University of Maryland University College, University of Wisconsin Extension, and Empire State University will share insights about starting, planning and implementing new competency based programs. Participants will engage in discussions and activities designed to improve their own mastery of CBE.

Lead Presenter
Deb Bushway

Dr. Deb Bushway currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Undersecretary at the Department of Education in Washington, DC. Prior to this, she was an interim associate Dean at the University of Wisconsin – Extension and the Chief Academic Officer and Vice President of Academic Innovation at Capella University. She has long been interested in innovations in higher education designed to improve student success. Most recently, she pioneered the development and implementation of Capella’s new competency based, direct assessment program, FlexPath. This delivery model strives to improve transparency of learning outcomes while reducing costs and improving completion rates for adults working to earn postsecondary degrees. Deb has more than 20 years of experience in higher education, including 17 years with Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she held a variety of faculty and leadership roles.

Kara Van Dam

Kara Van Dam, PhD, serves as vice provost for The Learner & Faculty Experience at University of Maryland University College. In this role, she leads the Faculty Development, Learning Design & Solutions, the Library, and the academic technology experience teams to create an integrated approach towards designing optimum learning experiences for our students. She and her team take a life-cycle approach to the faculty experience, working with The Undergraduate and Graduate Schools both stateside and overseas, to ensure that UMUC recruits and retains highly qualified faculty who are supported in effective, innovative instructional methods and integrally involved in course and program development.

Dr. Van Dam holds both a master’s degree and a doctorate in linguistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also served as a graduate teaching assistant. She has an MBA from Kaplan University. Her linguistics research focuses on the way people use language as a marker of identity, analyzing issues in language contact situations, e.g., in multilingual communities, in immigrant communities, and in educational classrooms. She also regularly presents and publishes on issues of online pedagogy, adult learner theory, composition and rhetoric, general education, and assessment.

 Kris Clerkin is Executive Director of College for America (CfA) at Southern New Hampshire University. CfA partners with over 100 employers to offer a competency-based higher education degrees and credentials that help working adults gain valuable skills and advance in their careers. Kris has many years of experience in the higher education industry including roles as President of Houghton Mifflin’s Higher Education Division and General Manager of Wolters Kluwer Legal Education. She has a BA from the University of Wisconsin and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School.
 Charla Long is Principal, Go Long Consulting, Consultant to Public Agenda. In her role as Founding Dean of the College of Professional Studies at Lipscomb University, Long was responsible for designing three to four new academic graduate and undergraduate programs each year in response to time-sensitive workplace development needs. She was the creator of Lipscomb’s competency-based degree program. At the beginning of 2015, Long launched her own consulting practice and is working with a number of K-20 institutions, businesses, and internationally known foundations on competency-based education initiatives. Long serves as a consultant to Public Agenda, co-leading a multi-prong, multi-organization effort to create new resources for and to better understand growing interest in competency-based education (CBE).
 Kathleen Stone, Ed.D., CPP, Director of Curriculum and Instructional Design
Center for Distance Learning | Empire State College | State University of New York