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What is competency-based learning? Part 1

what-is-competency-based learning

If you’re trying to create an amazing learning management environment for your organization, CYPHER offers a different, better, and more effective way to learn called competency-based learning. 

Competency-based learning is a method of instruction and evaluation that focuses on an individual learner’s progress. Learners advance by demonstrating their mastery of a subject or showing what they know by demonstrating the concepts they've learned through valid and accurate competency evaluations.

It’s been around since 1968 so maybe you’re wondering what makes competency-based learning new? And the answer is CYPHER. We’ve built a modern learning management platform with a competency-based learning approach for a unique learning experience that is both effective and scalable.

In this first of two blog posts, we explore what competency-based learning on CYPHER looks like, the benefits, and why it is different and why it achieves better results than conventional approaches. In the second part of the blog post that follows, we’ll dive deeper into the assessment and competency part of the discussion.

Why is competency-based learning better than the other approaches?

We defined competency-based learning, but we haven’t told you why it’s better than conventional ad hoc, topic based, and conventional competency based learning approaches. To do that,  let’s first take a look at the challenges of conventional learning approaches and follow that with a look at the benefits of taking a competency-based learning approach with CYPHER.

Challenges of conventional learning approaches

Many conventional approaches to learning leave organizations and modern learners unsatisfied. Here’s why:

  • Inability scale: conventional approaches often rely on a traditional classroom learning framework that limits the number of learners who can participate in a course, and can make it difficult to reach large audiences or train employees across a geographically dispersed workforce.
  • Inability to properly measure effectiveness: Standardized tests and other traditional methods may not accurately reflect the learner’s understanding of the material or their ability to apply it in real-world situations. Also without integration flexibility, older systems may not not support connections with other systems.
  • Bad user learning experience: older approaches are often rigid and inflexible, or just outdated. This results in poor engagement and low motivation among learners, leading to lack of retention and poor learning outcomes.
  • Lack of personalization: Most learning approaches don’t take into account the individual needs and learning styles of each learner. A one-size fits all approach to learning often doesn’t meet the unique needs of each learner.
  • Outdated content and resource-intensive: Legacy learning approaches often rely on outdated content that doesn’t reflect current industry practices or trends. Older learning styles are heavy on memorization and rote learning, which can lead to a superficial understanding of the subject matter and a lack of critical thinking skills.  This makes it hard for the organization to keep up with learning changes and for learners to properly prepare for the workforce. They fail to keep up with the changing needs of the modern learner and the demands of the modern workplace.

Competency-based learning with CYPHER

CYPHER can help your organization realize the true promise and the returns of the competency-based learning approach with an engaging and personalized, modern experience supported by unique skills development features, site-wide automation, and flexible integrations.

Benefits of competency-based learning with CYPHER

  • Mastery-based progression: Learners advance to the next competency or learning level only after demonstrating mastery of the current competency. With clarity of level mastery for each competency, recommendations based on requirements to master remaining competencies, multiple assessments of each competency, learners gain and demonstrate a solid foundation in each skill before moving on to more advanced concepts.
  • Purpose-driven: Clearly defined learning objectives allow learners to understand the specific knowledge and skills they are expected to master with clearly defined competencies.
  • Flexible pacing: Learners progress at their pace, spending more time on challenging concepts and moving quickly through concepts they grasp more easily. This enables learners to take ownership of their learning process and progress according to individual needs and abilities.
  • Personalized, real-world learning experiences: Competency-based learning supports personalized learning pathways, with instruction and support tailored to meet the unique needs of each learner, and encourages “aha” learning moments.
  • Assessment and competency: This is where the competency-based learning model is a true outlier when compared to other learning approaches and why the second part of this blog will focus on that. Frequent assessments, both formative and summative, measure students' progress toward mastering each competency. Feedback helps students understand their strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Recognition of prior learning: Competency-based learning often includes mechanisms for recognizing and crediting prior learning, whether it comes from formal education, work experience, or other sources.
  • Intuitive, personalized, and collaborative experience that modern learners expect: Features include site-wide automation, gamification, and integrations significantly improve the learning experience.
  • Connected learning communities: learners have visibility into what’s happening around them, are easily able to communicate and collaborate with peers and instructors.

Coming Soon–Part Two of Competency-Based learning: Assessments and Competency 

CYPHER provides a modern approach to competency-based learning that helps your organization eliminate the  disappointment and frustration that often comes with conventional learning approaches. CYPHER personalizes the user experience, and provides granular visibility into learning progress, performance, and competency. 

By implementing competency-based learning best practices, organizations can ensure employees learn the right thing at the right time, that they learn it for the right reasons. Not only do they retain what they learn, but they are able to demonstrate their real-world proficiency before they advance.

Part one of this blog defined competency-based learning,  why it’s different, and its many benefits. However, assessment and competency remains one of the biggest outliers of this learning approach and we want to do it justice. In part two of this blog, we dive deeper into the nuances of competency-based assessment, including the use of rubrics, formative and summative assessments, the challenges of measuring competencies in a standardized way, and we’ll look at a number of assessments that are used on the CYPHER platform. 

We’ll also discuss the role of modern technology in facilitating competency-based learning and assessment. By the end of this blog series, you will have a better understanding of competency-based learning and assessment, and how CYPHER can help you implement this learning approach in your organization.

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