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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam launches new online university

July 23, 2013

Interesting news from TennesseeTennessee Gov. Bill Haslam launches new online university for state. This would be a competency model. Instead of using credit hours (what I like to call butt-in-seat time),  students are required to demonstrate competencies. If students have the competencies, they receive the credit (after paying a fee, of course). If they don’t have the competency, they can enroll in a class that will help them gain the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill the competency. If they have the competency, they can move forward with the next competency they need to demonstrate…no need to sit in a classroom learning something they already know.

This seems to be something that Dean Dad would approve of.  As community colleges, it is our job to help employers ensure that their employees have the training and skills they need to perform. Why not apply this idea toward a  degree? However, it goes against the dominant credit-hour paradigm. It also makes planning difficult for colleges. The college system is attuned to a student completing the degree in a set length of time. What will change when some students complete in six weeks and some in three years?

The online format, though, would be a great venue for this to start. The open course movement can provide content. Even giants such as Blackboard are providing the course management piece, which would register and keep track of the student progress and performance on the competency measures.

How would this look, do you think? And, most importantly, feasible or not?

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