About This Course
Many schools across the country are exploring competency-based education (CBE) as a pathway for transforming the school experience. In this course, instructor Justin Reich and the MIT Teaching Systems Lab team will help you develop an understanding of the characteristic elements of CBE and how schools are implementing it.
You will learn why so many educators are excited about CBE and its potential for closing opportunity gaps, as well as challenges and concerns. You will get a closer look at what the implementation of CBE looks and feels like for students, teachers, administrators, families, and community members. You will consider the kinds of system-wide shifts necessary to support this innovation in education.
By looking at research and hearing from experts and voices in schools, you will leave the course equipped to start or continue conversations about whether CBE is a good fit in your context.
Image: Garrett Beazley © MIT Teaching Systems Lab
What you'll learn
- Characteristic elements of CBE and debates over those elements
- Why CBE is an innovation some schools are embracing, as well as concerns being voiced by educators and other stakeholders
- Examples of approaches and strategies schools are using to implement CBE
- Ideas for experimenting with CBE in your own context
We will consider the important question of why schools implement competency-based education (CBE). Not every school defines CBE the same way, but there are some elements that are included in most definitions. We will share these characteristic elements of CBE and discuss why there is more debate around certain elements. Learners will get an introduction to why educators are excited about experimenting with CBE, as well as concerns and dilemmas they are facing.
Ideally, experimenting with CBE forces schools to have conversations about what learning goals are most important and what performances of understanding best align, as well as conversations about traditional ways student progress is measured. Here we will focus on CBE at the classroom level, hearing from teachers and others regarding topics like pacing, pedagogy, curriculum, classroom organization, and assessment.
CBE presents specific implementation challenges for administrators in areas such as teacher training, technology, community outreach, infrastructure, schedules, transcripts, and standardized testing. In this unit, we will explore those challenges and how some schools are addressing them at a systems level.
Justin Reich is an Assistant Professor in the Comparative Media Studies department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an instructor in the Scheller Teacher Education Program, and the director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab. He is the co-founder of EdTechTeacher, a professional learning consultancy devoted to helping teachers leverage technology to create student-centered, inquiry-based learning environments. He was previously the Richard L. Menschel HarvardX Research Fellow, where he led the initiative to study large-scale open online learning through the HarvardX Initiative, and a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Justin is an alumni of the Fellows program at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. He earned his doctorate from Harvard University, where he created the Distributed Collaborative Learning Communities project, a Hewlett Foundation funded initiative to examine how social media are used in K-12 classrooms. He writes the EdTechResearcher blog for Education Week, and his writings have appeared in Science, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Educational Researcher, the Washington Post, Inside Higher Ed, the Christian Science Monitor, and other publications.
Elizabeth Huttner-Loan is a Digital Learning Lab Fellow with the MIT Office of Digital Learning. She is Senior Manager for Online Course Development for the MIT Teaching Systems Lab and Scheller Teacher Education Program/Education Arcade. She designs and manages MOOCs pertaining to education and educational technology. Recent courses include Launching Innovation in Schools and Design Thinking for Leading and Learning. Elizabeth enjoys engaging with learners all over the world and creating meaningful online educational experiences. Previously, she was an Instructional Developer for the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program. Prior to her time at MIT, Elizabeth worked at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She holds a B.A. in Government from Claremont McKenna College and an Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.