Monthly Archives: November 2015

HBR Article on Competency-Based Education

This week I took a deep dive into the world of competency-based education.

The article that spurred this on is The Real Revolution in Online Education isn’t MOOCs by Michelle Wiese in the Harvard Business Review.

I have a background in this type of learning because this is the type of education that I received in the Navy while becoming a nuclear power plant operator. After the Navy, the company I work for used the same type of learning system to teach me how to become a grid operator.

While my experience with competency-based learning was workplace-centered, the online educational trend described in this article has to do with online college learning.

In a competency-based education online degree program students are freed from the “classroom” model. Instead, students are assigned projects that they must master to prove that they have the skills described in the master skill set that defines the degree.

This type of learning can make job candidate searching really easy for a human resources department than traditional letter grades and credit hours can. This is because the traditional letter grades and credit hours do not accurately describe what someone knows, what they’ve done, or what they can do – instead, the traditional measurements only show what classes they took and how long they sat in the class.

Pecha Kucha

I had to create a Pecha Kucha for a class. If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s a brief presentation with the following limitations:

  • 20 slides
  • 20 seconds per slide

This limits presentations to just under 7 minutes. It keeps people on topic and allows multiple presentations to be packed into a very short time. Typically a few pecha kuchas are presented live and then the group divides up to flock around the presenter that they are most interested in – a question and answer session follows.

In our case, we made our pecha kuchas to be viewed online. This gave us practice using software tools to make our content viewable on the web.

My professor directed us to use Microsoft PowerPoint and Screencast-o-matic to create them. I am trying to use free software when possible, so I used this project as an excuse to flex some free software applications. Here are the app’s I used:

  • LibreOffice Impress – This free software version equivalent of PowerPoint was very easy to use. This was only my second time using Impress. It won’t be my last!
  • Kazam – This lightweight screen capture program is used to grab screencasts or screenshots. It was super easy to use and produced nice 1920×1080 screencast at 15 frames per second.
  • Audacity – I have used this application many times for recording voice-overs. I really like how quickly I can get good results with this app. I did have to take an hour-long class on to get up to speed on this app when I started using it. Since then it has been smooth sailing.
  • Kdenlive – This is a video processing app that I used to combine the presentation and the voice-over clips. This app was pure joy to use. I didn’t have to look anything up since it worked just like the iMovie app that I used to use when I was using OS X.
  • Pixabay – Ok, this is not an app. Rather, it is a website that points you to many public domain images that you can use in your presentations.

All in all, my experience making this project really left me feeling good about using free software. All of the applications that I used worked very solidly and were relatively simple to use.

Thomas Jefferson on Ideas

I happened upon Thomas Jefferson’s letter to Isaac McPherson (via Bethany Nowviskie’s blog). Here is a section that struck a chord with me:

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.