• Length:
    6 Weeks
  • Effort:
    2–4 hours per week
  • Price:

    FREE
    Add a Verified Certificate for $49 USD

  • Institution
  • Subject:
  • Level:
    Intermediate
  • Language:
    English
  • Video Transcript:
    English

Prerequisites

No prerequisites, although we recommend taking the course along with peers from your school or context.

About this course

Interested in earning a certificate at no cost? Enroll to audit this course, and we’ll send more information about this opportunity shortly before the course begins.

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
Unit 1

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.

Unit 2

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.

Unit 3

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.

Meet your instructors

Justin Reich
Assistant Professor, Comparative Media Studies
MIT
Elizabeth Huttner-Loan
Digital Learning Lab Fellow, Comparative Media Studies
MIT

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Frequently asked questions

This course has generous sponsorship from the XQ Institute.


Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. EdX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.