Take advantage of the efficiency and individualized pacing that competency-based learning models allow without losing community and collaboration
In competency-based learning (competency-based education), curriculum is broken down into competencies (fined-tuned and manageable skills and learning outcomes), and students work to gain and demonstrate mastery of each competency. Commonly, competencies build upon each other, so students must show mastery of one competency to start working on the next and are encouraged to guide their own pace.
Buzz supports competency mastery and community
Widespread adoption of competency-based learning would mean a shift away from awarding credentials based on seat time, and toward awarding them for demonstrated competency mastery. While this approach offers opportunities to streamline education, giving students greater control and cutting costs, there are concerns that the self-pacing and independent nature of the model could rob students of the opportunity to collaborate and build community.
Buzz offers tools and features that allow educators to implement competency-based learning models and reap these benefits, as well as features that can be used to facilitate and encourage collaboration.
Buzz is built to track competency mastery
- Competency alignment: Buzz allows you to import competency standards (e.g., federal, state, district), align them with activities, and track and review how each student performs against them. Both teachers and students can easily access this information and use it to personalize the learning path.
Formative and remediation assessments: Buzz's formative and remediation assessments help identify each student's level of competency mastery and provide personalized learning opportunities to meet those needs.
- Formative assessments: When students demonstrate competency mastery on a formative assessment, Buzz automatically lets them skip activities meant to teach those competencies so they can focus on material they haven't yet mastered.
- Remediation assessments: Remediation assessments also evaluate performance against competencies, and, if a student shows lack of mastery, Buzz identifies activities that were meant to teach those competencies and encourages the student to return to them.
- Build on competency mastery: Content authors in Buzz can limit access to activities using the students' completion of and performance on competency mastery.
- Badges: Badges are rapidly becoming a standardized way to reward achievement, reinforce behavior, and, most importantly to competency-based learning, verify competency. When used meaningfully, badges can be important motivators that benefit students beyond your course. They can upload badges to external badge managers and shape their collection to reflect their interests and highlight their strengths.
Buzz facilitates student-guided pace and focus
- Self Assessment: The Self Assessment feature lets students evaluate their personal understanding, interest, and effort in a course using a simple four-point scale for each. This is a low-risk and easy way for students to communicate with their teacher, and teachers can use the results to guide intervention and personalized attention.
- Student choice: Choice activities in Buzz enable students to review a teacher-curated selection of activities and choose to complete the ones that best align with their personal interests and goals.
- Self-assigned tasks: Students can create and self-assign activities that are then integrated into their calendars. Creating and completing self-assigned tasks helps students explore material, manage their time, and direct their own learning path.
- Digital Library: Expand and diversify the content students can explore with various online resources in the Digital Library. These can include other courses within your district or organization, as well as open educational resources (OER) from sources like OpenEd and Khan Academy.
- Dynamic scheduling: While self-pacing is a main component of competency-based learning, that doesn't mean students should be left without any guidance. Buzz's calendar tool uses the number and weight of activities in a course, the time range allowed to complete the course, and any organizational blackout dates (like holidays) to generate deadlines and a suggested pace. Students don't have to be held to this schedule; it just gives them more information they can use in guiding their path.
Buzz builds classroom community
- Wiki and Discussion activity templates: Content authors can easily create Wiki and Discussion activities in which students make recorded, individual contributions toward collaborative knowledge building and idea exchange as a community.
- Groups: Buzz lets you easily divide your classes into multiple and overlapping group sets. Once you've created groups, you can send messages, assign activities, create quick intervention tasks, assign grades, and award badges to the whole group or to individuals.
- Peer Help: This feature allows students to see which of their classmates have completed an activity, so they can engage them for help. This is particularly useful for the self-paced nature of competency-based learning environments. Independent work doesn't have to mean working in a vacuum.
Who's doing work in competency-based learning?
At Buzz, we are excited about the opportunities competency-based learning provides students to succeed. Here are some organizations and thinkers that are doing exciting things with competency-based learning:
- Weber Innovation High School: "The Mission of Weber Innovation High School is to personalize student opportunities and to accelerate mastery in pursuit of college and career readiness."
- CompetencyWorks: "Across [the U.S.], schools, districts and states are investing in innovations that re-design our education system around competency education ... CompetencyWorks provides resources for new innovators and early adopters so that they can rapidly learn about past mistakes, lessons learned, and different approaches to inform their work."
- New Hampshire school districts: "In 2005, New Hampshire ... created the first-ever statewide effort to create a competency-based education system." (Julia Freedland, http://www.christenseninstitute.org/publications/from-policy-to-practice/#sthash.mHpLnodP.dpuf)
- Chugach School District: "Students learn at their best developmental pace, developing interest-based relevant individual learning plans and projects that help each individual master academic skills."
- School Improvement Network: "Everything we do helps leaders create personalized learning opportunities for their educators, resulting in improved teacher effectiveness and dramatically higher student achievement."