Concordia University (WI)

Concordia University is a private liberal arts college in Wisconsin. This academic year, Concordia University (CU) revised its Master of Science in Education: Educational Design and Technology (EDT) program to adopt a model of competency-based education, and the institution is actively exploring other graduate and undergraduate programs to move to a competency-based, direct assessment model over the next academic year.

Concordia University has created processes for developing competencies to align with the program-level outcomes and the course-level objectives used within its currently-accredited, traditional, academic degree programs. Each competency highlights the authentic application of skill, knowledge, theory, and practice, and each competency is paired with a discrete list of criteria. Criteria are measurable and descriptive, and most competencies require students to submit multiple sources of evidence -– including a combination of projects, presentations, written work, self-assessments, and/or reflections. The model of competency-based education used in the process at CU is unique in several ways, including this model’s extensive use of project-based learning, and its one-to-one pairing of digital badges, which are awarded to learners to certify their successful demonstration of competencies.

While the M.S. in EDT program debuted their revised curriculum in July of 2014, the program is still operating as a traditional, course and credit-based academic program. During the revision and adoption of the competency-based model, great care was taken to maintain all program-level goals and outcomes as well as retain focus on the learning objectives represented within each course in both the “Opportunities for Learning and Practice” as well as the criteria used to assess each competency.

In the future, the M.S. in EDT at Concordia University will be used as a model for other existing academic programs at the university that may explore the adoption of competency-based education and/or digital badges.