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Ask the CBE Experts – Part 3: The Tech to Support CBE

  • 3 Min Read

“…We believe CBE has the potential to offer our students an alternative model that can shorten time to degree, increase retention, and reduce cost for adult students…” – Wendy Lampner, Manager of Design & Development Services, University of Akron


In the first part of this series, competency-based education (CBE) experts Michael Moore, Senior Advisory Consultant at D2L and Ryan Anderson, Director of Instructional Design & Development at University of Wisconsin-Extension addressed some of the top questions that we received during our recent webinar. They went over the basics of the competency learning model, both in theory and in practice. We then followed up with a second round of questions on how to get a CBE program up and running.

In the last installment of our “Ask the CBE Experts” series, we’re focusing our questions on the technological requirements for running a successful CBE program.

How does LeaP and Adaptive Learning relate to CBE?

Moore: “LeaP is a great product that fits into the CBE solution really nicely. It provides personal and adaptive learning. An important component of CBE is customizing the content delivered to a student based on their masteries. LeaP is a great tool for that. It provides personalized content to achieve learning outcomes. It’s all automated – the instructor doesn’t have to manually define the alignments. The learning engine pulls up content based on where the student has shown a lack of mastery for those outcomes. There are a number of different configurations for test prep or overall content delivery. It’s a great way to provide personalized content, especially in a self-paced learning model.”

Is digital badging a part of your CBE program?

Anderson: “I can tell you right now that badging is something we’re looking at but not actively building into our model. There are lots of ways in which we can extend and grow our CBE model and badging is one of them. The whole notion of CBE is still evolving. There aren’t standard definitions of what CBE means yet. One of the things I’ll share is that it’s part of an ongoing discussion. The federal government (Department of Education) is trying to work with a number of schools to create a structure in which we’ll have a common definition. When that happens, I think we’ll see badging and other various enhancements rolled up into the larger CBE model.”

Moore: “From the Brightspace product platform side we do have a new badging and award tool that’s part of the Brightspace continuous delivery release. For some clients it’s the core element of their CBE program. Others see it as a gamification aspect of their course. There are a lot of ways to integrate it. It’s integrated with the Mozilla backpack, so students have those badges or micro credentials to take with them.  Students can also share or present their badges to others to make them visible.”

Can CBE only be run with the competency tool in Brightspace?

Moore: “We get a lot of questions about that. Just because the term CBE has competency in the name, doesn’t mean that you have to use the competency tool within Brightspace. The competency object structure is built into a course in order for these CBE concepts to work. There are a number of course level CBE concepts we support in the Brightspace learning platform. You can look in the Brightspace Community for full documentation about them. Some use the competency tool, but most don’t reference it at all. For example, some things could be variable intake, flexible pacing, personalization, or remedial content. Some of those concepts don’t touch the competency tool at all.”

That’s it for our series! The focus here was to address the top questions we received during the webinar, but if you’d like more insight into how to set up your own CBE program, watch this webinar to learn how the University of Wisconsin did it!

Want to learn more about Competency-Based Education? Here are some additional resources

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