Active development on this project has moved to https://github.com/openlearningtools/opencompetencies.
At this early stage, the README file gives a little background on what competency education is. Once we have a structure defined for the first tool, we will move some of the background explanation to the wiki, and onto the site itself. For now, anyone contributing to the project needs to know what competency education is.
What is competency education?
Traditional education uses time as a constant, and learning as a variable. Competency education flips that: we treat learning as the constant, and time as the variable. We set clear learning targets for each student, and then help each student meet their learning goals. If a student needs 2 years to finish their high school goals, they graduate in 2 years. If they need 6 years, they graduate in 6 years.
What does this look like? You can see a visual here.
- When a student begins high school, we present them with a blank map of everything they could possibly learn in high school.
- Students' first responsibility in high school is to identify what learning targets they want to meet, based on what they want to do after graduation.
- We then support them in learning, and helping them demonstrate the competencies they are developing.
- When a student has met all their learning targets, they are done. They graduate, whether it has taken them two years or six years.
- There is no 9th grade, 10th grade...
We might call this, with Kenneth Reitz permission, "High School for Humans".
Many schools are currently working on implementing competency education. The Nellie Mae Foundation recently published a [study](a href="http://www.nmefoundation.org/global/featured-research/homepage/making-mastery-work-a-close-up-view-of-competency")study of 7 schools in New England focusing on competency education. They found effective implementations, but every school has run into similar technical issues. In order to implement competency education effectively, you need to have a cleanly organized, complete set of learning targets. Then you need a way to give each student a copy of this list, and help them track their progress accurately. There have been three main approaches to this problem, none of which are ideal:
- Give each student a binder full of checklists.
- Hire a developer to make a one-off web app for your school.
- Use a new proprietary solution.
If we want to see widespread adoption of good education models, we need to reduce the friction of adoption as much as possible. The process of gaining approval from a school or district, finding funds, and signing a contract with a provider are significant enough that even good proprietary solutions slow widespread adoption to a crawl. We need technical solutions that are as easy to begin using as gmail: create an account, and start using it.
What is openedtools?
Openedtools is a collection of free and open web apps, that solve these problems effectively. There are three separate projects, that can be glued together through an API:
- openedcompetencies: The complete set of learning targets - everything a student could possibly learn in high school.
- opencurriculumbuilder: A tool for building lessons, projects, learning experiences, and assessments from competencies.
- opencompetencytracker: A tool for tracking each student's progress through their identified learning targets. This is the only security-critical part of the overall system.