D2L Announces New CBE Solution Aimed at Helping Millions of Nontraditional Learners Achieve Their Degree | Press Release | D2L
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  • Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario

D2L Announces New CBE Solution Aimed at Helping Millions of Nontraditional Learners Achieve Their Degree

Press Release

The University of Wisconsin System Graduates CBE Students Using D2L's Brightspace Platform

D2L, the edtech company that created Brightspace, today announced a new Competency-Based Education (CBE) solution for schools that incorporates Brightspace Learning Environment, strategic consulting, domain expertise, and a CBE community. Today, there are more than 30 million adult nontraditional learners in the US who have started a post-secondary education but haven’t completed it. This solution allows higher education institutions to launch CBE today, making a degree more accessible and attainable for nontraditional students and underserved populations.

“When most people think of the path to a college degree, it’s a fairly traditional scenario—four years of high school then off to campus for four more years of dedicated, on-campus study, graduating with the promise of a good job and a decent salary. Instead, this pathway is becoming increasingly atypical,” said John Baker, CEO of D2L. “We built our CBE solution to address peoples’ needs and fill the gaps in the educational system. By helping institutions implement CBE, we’re helping millions of students attain the degrees they want to earn.”

CBE is a learning model that focuses on the outcomes of education, including what students can do rather than simply what they know. This has become increasingly important as more students take time off to work in between years of school, attend classes while working full time, or often leave their universities without completing their degree program. Additionally, the greatest increase in higher education enrollment today is among historically underserved populations, which creates a more diverse collection of students with equally diverse needs.

According to Eduventures, CBE has gained momentum in recent years because it precisely meets the needs of unique student populations. “Every time we survey nontraditional students and ask them what would compel them to go back to school,” says Principal Analyst Jeff Alderson, “time and time again they describe precisely the characteristics that define CBE.” These include “not just lower tuition costs, which CBE makes possible through various subscription-based pricing models, but also access to academic programs that are readily aligned with the needs of employers and that take into account the knowledge and skills adults already bring into a program.”

The Brightspace Competency-Based Education solution includes offerings such as:

  • THE BRIGHTSPACE COMMUNITY: D2L connects CBE clients with other customers operating and developing CBE programs. The company also offers self-serve content on how to set up Brightspace for CBE as well as resources on how to pursue innovation and funding.
  • CBE CONSULTING SERVICES: D2L offers three levels of CBE consulting to meet every school’s needs.
    • CBE Getting Started Service: Institutions will learn how to use Brightspace tools to implement CBE programs.
    • CBE Strategic Planning Service: D2L’s CBE experts will help schools build a CBE strategic plan. This includes communication planning, business processes and practices review, pedagogy/andragogy review, technology review, and a Plan/Achieve/Measure implementation plan.
    • CBE Monthly Change Management Service: A one-year service to assist schools as they roll out their CBE programs.
  • CBE COURSEWARE DEVELOPMENT: Using CBE best practices and methods, D2L can help schools transform their courses into CBE offerings, ensuring competencies are aligned to content and assessments.
  • BRIGHTSPACE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT: Brightspace is a CBE-ready learning management system (LMS) and offers a variety of assessment types, an adaptive learning engine, an ePortfolio tool, and a badging tool. The platform is cloud-based and built for online and mobile learning.

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN ROLLS OUT CBE PROGRAM TO SERVE ~650,000 NONTRADITIONAL STUDENTS IN THE STATE

In addition to unveiling its new CBE solution, D2L also shared that the University of Wisconsin System (UW System) has become its first statewide CBE customer. The UW System is one of the largest systems of public higher education in the country, serving more than 180,000 students annually. In Wisconsin, more than 650,000 nontraditional students have completed some post-secondary education but lack a degree. The UW System’s CBE program, the UW Flexible Option, has been designed to meet the needs of those students.

“UW Flex is built to provide a high-quality UW education to adult learners who are working full-time and supporting families. After only 22 months in operation, UW Flex is flourishing—enrollments are strong and our students are moving through their programs successfully. About a dozen have already graduated. The availability of technology for online learning, coupled with the competency-based education model, offers our students access to an education that simply did not exist before,” said Aaron Brower, Provost and Vice Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Extension.

For more information about Brightspace, its capabilities for CBE, and how higher education institutions are using it, visit www.brightspace.com/solutions/cbe.

About D2L

D2L is the software leader that makes the learning experience better. The company’s cloud-based platform—Brightspace—is not a common one-size-fits-all learning management system (LMS). It’s easier to use, more flexible, and smart. With Brightspace, you can personalize the experience for every learner to deliver real results. The company is a world leader in learning analytics: its platform predicts learner performance so that you can take action in real-time to keep them on track. Brightspace is used by learners in higher education, K–12, and the enterprise sector, including the Fortune 1000. D2L has operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil, and Singapore. | www.brightspace.com

Press Contacts

Virginia Jamieson
Head of Global Communications, D2L Ltd.
650-279-8619
Virginia.Jamieson@D2L.com
Twitter: @D2LNews
© 2015 D2L Corporation.
The D2L family of companies includes D2L Corporation, D2L Ltd, D2L Australia Pty Ltd, D2L Europe Ltd, D2L Asia Pte Ltd, and D2L Brasil Soluções de Tecnologia para Educação Ltda.
All D2L marks are trademarks of D2L Corporation. Please visit D2L.com/trademarks for a list of D2L marks.

Fueling up:

Upskilling to grow careers

Name: Zaria
Age: 27

Policy prescriptions: Invest in a Learning-Integrated Life; Transform the learning of today with new partnerships; Accelerate the shift to skills-based learning and hiring

Zaria has five years of work experience and is ready to change jobs and enter a field that has high growth potential in her region. The national government has been investing in collecting better skills-based labour market information for years and has developed a public platform to offer individuals specialized tools to assess their skills against current market needs, and to locate employers that are currently hiring.

On the employer side, the human resources team is closely examining a recent internal skills audit done at their organization and determines that the organization needs additional digital marketing specialists. They initiate a search for individuals with the skills they will soon need and spot a strong candidate in Zaria who requires only light training on regulatory issues regarding the sale of electric vehicles, along with some formal skills development courses on social media marketing strategy. After a successful interview, Zaria is offered the job.

Upon joining, Zaria will receive an educational benefits stipend from the company, and access to a company-provided platform of curated programs for skills building from approved providers. Upon completion of a set of courses, Zaria will receive a credential from a company approved program verifying her technical knowledge and marking the end of her probationary period at the company. To ensure she continues to build her skills, she will move into a formal mentor program with one of her colleagues to receive continual peer-to-peer feedback on her demonstration of skills and knowledge. information

This affordable and accessible learning through employer-funded training has enabled Zaria to begin working while also upskilling to ensure her long-term success in the company and growing industry. The employer is investing in its employees, and company leaders are thinking further into the future about the skills the company needs, and the types of job candidates who will succeed. This match, based on skills potential, was made possible because of government investment in high-quality labour market information and a national platform that matches job candidates with career opportunities based on the candidates’ skills and the identified skill needs of a given job.

Taking the road less travelled:

A networked postsecondary education

Name: Sam
Age: 18

Policy prescriptions: Transform the learning of today with new partnerships

Sam is a prospective postsecondary student who has always been interested in pursuing a global and interdisciplinary education. Sam’s siblings have all instilled in her the importance of studying abroad, having spoken fondly of their academic exchange semesters, field research trips, and intensive language immersion programs. She is inspired, but unsure whether this pathway will be available if she chooses not to complete a four-year degree at one institution.

Sam is interested in understanding how emerging technologies can be used to modernize and improve government services—an area in need of talent not only in her home country of Canada but also abroad. She could take on a general political science, public administration, engineering, or computer science degree at the university close to her home, but none of those degrees feels like the right fit to build the skills she needs to pursue this career interest.

While researching options, Sam learns of a new degree completion pathway that allows students to take courses from a network of universities, colleges, and polytechnic institutions throughout Canada and stack them for skills-based  credentials that are recognized by major Canadian employers. A set of four of these credentials grants an individual a degree-equivalent endorsed by each institution. Sam identifies the skills and knowledge she wants to work towards and charts out four credential pathways:

  1. Service delivery design
  2. Change management
  3. Applications of emerging technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence)
  4. Machinery of government

With this customized learning pathway, Sam has full flexibility to decide how she wants to structure her courses, the institutions within the network she will study at, and the format and model of courses she prefers—whether live in-class instruction or online courses.

Cost flexibility is built in as well—students pay a standard fee based on the number of competencies they intend to learn rather than the normal standard of ‘credit hours’. The province in which Sam lives has endorsed this networked model of  postsecondary education and adjusted its financial assistance program to better support students. Grants and other non-repayable assistance take into consideration the number of courses the student is taking across all institutions when assessing financial need. Previously, Sam would have been required to be a full-time student at every institution to receive support.

Sam also has the option of starting with foundational courses or applying for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) information so her existing knowledge and skills can be tested and she can move on to more advanced topics.

Sam completes her first three credentials in three years and uses her certifications to apply for a one-year work-integrated learning experience with the federal government in Germany where she can learn first-hand about the applications of artificial intelligence in government. When she returns home, she applies for PLAR to certify her learning on the machinery of government and is granted a degree acknowledging her four-part customized education.

The collaboration between universities, polytechnics, and colleges to create a networked approach to degree completion, and its endorsement by the provincial government, allowed Sam to graduate as an alumnus of multiple postsecondary education institutions. Her exposure to different thought spaces and networks was highly valuable for ensuring she was engaged throughout her education and set up for post-graduation success. In the rapidly evolving field she has chosen, she understands how important it is to continuously upskill, and is prepared to return to formal education for more stackable credentials as she continues throughout her career.

Route guidance:

Personalized professional development

Name: ZheYuan
Age: 33

Policy prescriptions: Prepare teachers for their own lifelong learning journeys; Accelerate the shift to skills-based learning and hiring

ZheYuan is about to join Marama’s school as a new secondary school teacher. He completed his professional teacher education a decade ago, and teaching looks a bit different today than it did when he was studying. With the incorporation of learning technologies in the classroom, and expectations of teachers delivering competency-based education information, he needs personalized professional development to feel comfortable and supported in this new opportunity.

The school district has been on its own learning journey since shifting to a competency-based education model, and has had some growing pains. Over time, the district has come to recognize that success depends on school administrators working closely with teachers to co-create systems of instruction, and pathways to professional development. The district has its own online learning management system (LMS) for teacher professional development, with a catalogue of content covering a range of subjects including:

  • Strategies for student-centred instruction
  • Design thinking—how to prototype and iterate on solutions to test new approaches
  • Online content—using learning management systems to advance competency-based education
  • Data analysis—interpreting student progress

ZheYuan is excited that he can take on professional learning to suit his needs on his own schedule. He recalls an earlier time when he had to spend nine hours a month in-person taking the same professional development courses as his peers who were teaching very different subjects and had varied skill levels and pedagogical needs than him, which was less than effective.

ZheYuan can also take advantage of his teacher community in the LMS, connecting both in asynchronous chats and in live discussions with other teachers and experts from across his region to ask questions and share his experiences. He sees some upcoming dialogues hosted by his school district to share learnings and signs up for those sessions, knowing he will get a valuable peer perspective from other teachers. ZheYuan is thankful that his school leaders recognize and value professional learning and provide the supports and the time needed for improvement.

D2L Whitepaper Contributors

Lead Authors:
Malika Asthana, Manager, Strategy and Public Affairs
Joe Pickerill, Senior Director, Strategy and Public Affairs, International

Contributors:
Jeremy Auger, Chief Strategy Officer
Mark Schneiderman, Senior Director, Future of Teaching and Learning
Brendan Desetti, Senior Director, Strategy and Public Affairs, United States
Mike Semansky, Senior Director, Strategy and Public Affairs, Canada
Nia Brown, Senior Manager, Strategy and Public Affairs

In the driver’s seat:

Owning the personalized learning journey

Name: Marama
Age: 14

Policy prescriptions: Prepare teachers for their own lifelong learning journeys; Accelerate the shift to skills-based learning and hiring

Marama is enrolled in a school with a competency-based education model information. Students are responsible for owning the personalization of their learning pathways, making choices alongside their teachers in how and when they learn.iii Teachers play a central role in guiding and validating all learning, regardless of where it takes place—offering formative assessments to evaluate a student’s mastery of skills and knowledge. Teachers use data from these assessments, gathered through an online learning management system (LMS), to differentiate instruction and provide targeted supports so that all students progress toward graduation. As a student diagnosed with a learning disability, Marama is supported in her education by this personalized learning pathway.

All students complete an assessment in ninth grade to identify their natural strengths as a learner. Their teachers use the results as inputs to design tailormade educational pathways with learning materials and activities that suit the individual students’ learning needs. In Marama’s case, this includes:

  1. Supplementing lecture-based teaching with structured but independent reading
  2. Shadowing professionals who work on the concepts she is learning about
  3. Taking the stories and lessons she’s learned and sharing it back with classmates by designing a creative and interactive presentation

Over the course of the school year, Marama spends a third of her time in live lectures (sometimes online) with her teacher alongside other classmates—but the rest of her time is spent learning in the ways that suit her best. She can log into her online LMS from her mobile device to access her school resources and complete on her own schedule before the assigned deadline. When Marama finds a concept that interests her, she can ask her teachers and counsellor for support in finding a working professional to speak to, or work alongside for a couple weeks, from the network her school has curated over time. And when she has learned something, she is encouraged to reinforce her learning by applying her skills and developing content to share back with her classmates.

Marama’s personalized learning journey empowers her to own her education by learning in ways that are effective for her, with the support that allows her to be successful. Her teachers have high-quality data about student strengths and performance they can share with her parents to show them how she is mastering specific skills, and where she may need extra support. Her school experience empowers her to embrace her subject interests very early on, and she advances to deeper topics quickly as she submits evidence of learning that demonstrates her proficiency. She graduates having cultivated a mindset for self-directed learning early in her education.