It’s not about quantity – it’s about quality, at least in terms of proving how well you know the material related to the degree you’re attempting to earn. That’s the fundamental cornerstone of competency-based education sweeping the country, and the University of Wisconsin is right in the thick of it.
As a recent New York Times article by Anya Kamenetz pointed out, UW Flexible Option is quickly becoming one of the most-watched programs in the country as it prepares to launch its first course offerings in January 2014.
Kamenetz is the author of several influential books, including “Generation Debt: Why Now is a Terrible Time to be Young” and “DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education.”
The UW Flexible Option will offer students an online, “all-you-can-learn” approach to earning a degree or certificate. The program provides students a three-month “subscription” period at a flat rate of $2,250 – no matter their location or degree selection. Students may complete as many competencies as they feel comfortable with, at a pace they set. It’s an aggressive approach to the competency-based education model, focused on what a student knows, rather than how much time they spend learning the material. It’s also an attempt to answer the growing demands for more efficient and cost-effective access to higher education for adults looking to wrap up their college degrees.
“We have between 750,000 and a million people in Wisconsin who have some college credit but no degree,” said Kevin P. Reilly, UW System president, in an interview with The New York Times. That amounts to nearly 20 percent of the state’s population. “According to surveys by our extension department, about 60,000 of them would go back to school right now if they didn’t have to quit their jobs, put their dog into a kennel and move into a dorm to do it.”
Online bachelor degree and certificate programs begin January 2, 2014 and will include an Associate of Arts & Science degree from University of Wisconsin Colleges, and BS degrees from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in biomedical sciences diagnostic imaging, information science and technology, and nursing. A certificate from UW-Milwaukee in business and technical communications is also available, with more programs and opportunities expected to roll out as the UW Flexible Option program grows.
It’s a new take on online, nontraditional education, giving students a different way to flex their potential.