Fain, P. (2012) Competing with competency Inside Higher Education, August 6

This article describes in some detail Kentucky’s community colleges competency-based online learning programs under the generic name of Learn on Demand:

Under Learn on Demand, students can enroll whenever they want. There are no class schedules or assignment deadlines in the self-paced courses. And students can leave without facing problems when they re-enroll. ….with modular courses, students have “exit points along the way.”

The program offers full, 15-week courses as well as ones that are broken into three or more “bite sized” pieces. Faculty course developers determine the most logical competencies or learning outcomes to group together in a module…. Some of those modules come with a credit hour. Some don’t, and offer fractional credit. But all of them build toward a certificate or associate degree, including ones in business administration, information technology and nursing.

As with some other competency based programs, students are assessed at the beginning of a course and if successful can jump right to the final exam:

Other advantages are economies of scale through the sharing of courses and centralized system maintenance. Nine of the 16 colleges have contributed courses to Learn on Demand.


Innovation can be either disruptive or sustaining. This is a good example of an innovation that sustains and improves the existing system. This is an excellent use of online learning, flexible learning options, ability to provide sustainable 24×7 learner support, collaboration between colleges, and economies of scale. In my view, it is through initiatives such as this that online learning will transform post-secondary education.


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