Competency-Based Learning: Key Concepts
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What Is Competency-Based Learning?

While this learning approach has numerous benefits, only a few instructors and designers can properly implement the concept into their online training. Because of that, we've come up with this article to show you the key concepts of competency-based learning (CBL). In this article, we'll be looking at what competency-based learning is all about, its key concepts, and how implementing it can benefit your online training.

To start with, what is competence? Competence is a person's ability to practice the knowledge acquired over time. Competency is measurable as you can compare the skills and knowledge of two or more individuals based on their performance at a specific job. Being competent means you don't only have the knowledge to perform a task, but likewise possess the skills to provide solutions that matter to real-life problems.

Competency-based learning is a learning approach where learners move from one learning level to a higher one based on their demonstration of knowledge rather than based on time spent on a specific course. This learning approach ensures that learners learn at their own pace and focus more on mastery of knowledge and valuable skills. It's not about dumping and forcing knowledge onto learners. Rather, it ensures that learners retain knowledge and attain a specific degree of mastery of a particular subject before moving onto the next level of learning.

Practical Benefits Of Implementing CBL Into Your Online Training

Focus On Mastery

The main aim of competency-based learning is that learners are not allowed to move to the next level of training unless they demonstrate mastery of some specific skills. To ensure the best results, you should set a clear desired learning outcome right from the beginning of the course modules. By doing so, learners are able to understand what needs to be done to attain mastery of the skills. Also, ensure you provide them with quality feedback when needed to help them progress and acquire the right knowledge.

Integrated Development

One of the benefits of competency-based learning is that it focuses on the holistic development of learners. With this learning approach, learners can learn how to acquire knowledge and skills and apply them to real-life problems. It also helps them to develop the attitude of wanting to learn more and build their skills.

Relevance To Real-World

Without a doubt, competency-based learning helps learners become relevant in the real world. That's because it focuses more on the practical application of acquired knowledge. So, to enable your employees to become relevant with your competency-based learning, ensure you create effective instructional modules. However, ensure the modules don't just state facts but also utilize case studies and scenarios that trigger the practical application of knowledge.

Concepts Of Competency-Based Learning

The concept of competency-based learning focuses on 3 key characteristics: learner-centric, differentiation, and learning outcomes.

1. Learner-Centric

Firstly, competency-based learning is centered on individual learners. It offers each learner the opportunity to develop skills and acquire knowledge at their pace. Apart from that, it also promotes collaborative learning as learners can work together to become successful.

Competency-based learning empowers learners to progress through learning processes without time restrictions. Besides that, it also helps them to explore diverse opportunities in learning and to reflect on their own learning achievement.

2. Outcome-Based

Apart from being learner-centric, the concept of competency-based learning always starts with clearly defining the learning outcomes. By focusing on the learning outcomes, organizations are empowered to develop top-notch sharable resources and assessments to support the clearly defined learning outcomes. Also, instructors can identify risks in learners' progress toward attaining success and provide them with preventive measures to mitigate it.

3. Differentiated

Differentiation in competency-based learning refers to learning practices that identify and modify to meet the overall needs of each learner. It's all-round and applies to a lot of things, including learners' communications, interventions, and support.

  • Interventions
    Providing learners with quality feedback and guidance will help them progress along their learning paths and become better in the skills acquired.
  • Diagnostic
    Offering learners assessments and different learning materials based on the skills already mastered.
  • Choice of learning
    Learners can select learning resources based on their choices and preferences.
  • Affiliation
    Learners can receive different online training materials based on their relationship with the programs in groups.
  • Personalized message
    Learners get relevant and timely communication that's tailored to their individual needs.

How Is Competency-Based Learning Different From The Traditional Model?

To explain the difference between the two learning approaches, you must look at the structure, focus, and content of the training. In the case of traditional time-based models, Instructional Design is driven by textbooks and standards. However, in competency-based learning, Instructional Design is driven by learners.

In the traditional model, instructional planning is based on an infrequent feedback loop, while in competency-based learning, it's based on a continuous feedback loop.

Also, interventions and personalization are generic and sporadic in traditional time-based models. However, they are timely, differentiated, and based on learners' needs in competency-based learning.

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