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Thursday, November 7 • 3:00pm - 3:25pm
Breaking through to Open Learning Potential by Unbundling Learning Achievements

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What happens if/when courses are no longer the coin of the realm, and increasingly learners acquire skills and demonstrable knowledge through individual learning activities from multiple providers that have been unbundled/disaggregated from traditional educational frameworks? Clay Shirky has argued that MOOCs are the MP3 of higher education, threatening to disrupt current business models when consumers expect easier, cheaper access to individual components of education, rather than being forced to buy the whole ?album? from a traditional provider (?Higher Education: Our MP3 is the MOOC?). Whether or not you agree with Shirky, we are already seeing unprecedented shifts in higher ed that support this unbundling.
Innovative institutions are beginning to respond to this demand through a variety of approaches:
? Credit for completing MOOCs.
? More robust and flexible ways of providing prior learning credits.
? Competency-based learning outside and across traditional courses.
Can we position the phenomena driving changes in education to unleash even more progressive open learning opportunities?
? Traditional degrees and certificates that are composed of traditional credits, but the credits are compiled from courses plus a variety of other sources, such as prior learning credits, community service, and badge frameworks.
? Alternative credentials that substitute for traditional degrees or certificates, composed of demonstrated/validated competencies tailored to the desired outputs. Examples are emerging in vocational areas, such as specific manufacturing skill sets, where the source of the learning is insignificant in comparison to the verified ability to perform a job. The evolution of partnerships between educational institutions and employers, unions, and industry associations is changing this arena to provide more effective academic to workplace transitions.
? Fluid, lifelong engagement in learning communities that provide reputation frameworks for peer validation, with badging and other designations of achievements. As these communities evolve, they integrate with ecosystems for employment, civic engagement, and other contexts outside traditional educational institutions.
The capabilities to realize these possibilities already exist. Emerging technologies make it increasingly easy to track and aggregate learning activities, as well as provide assessment and human/social validation. Data visualizations from learning analytics make it easy to find and develop learning connections (human and intellectual), formulate alternative learning paths and track progress, gather evidence of learning, and combine achievements for a variety of purposes. Badge frameworks are being integrated into many different types of learning environments.
None of us will pretend that there are not significant barriers to these opportunities, including ponderous institutional infrastructures and attitudes, inflexible policy and regulatory frameworks, and centuries of ingrained expectations about what it means to be educated. But we should expect that learners will increasingly demand flexible learning achievement environments, and by providing them, we can contribute to changes that fire learning enthusiasm, improve learner success, and ultimately increase human potential.
This presentation will provide concrete analysis of recent examples that are breaking barriers and unbundling learning achievements. The speakers will demonstrate the immediate and emerging impact of changes in government policy, civic/educational partnerships in badge frameworks, and breakthrough implementations of competency-based learning in the workforce.

avatar for Deborah Everhart

Deborah Everhart

Director of Integration Strategy, Blackboard
Opening up new opportunities through open badges, social learning, and personalized, flexible, competency-based learning.

Thursday November 7, 2013 3:00pm - 3:25pm MST
Painted Horse

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