One of the interesting trends over the past year or two is the emergence of educational delivery models as a locus of innovation – with new business models, applications of technology, and tight integrations of educational content and delivery platforms. In part 1 of this series, I described a new landscape of educational delivery models. In part 2 I described the master course concept that is the basis for most scalable for-profit and not-for-profit online programs. In part 3 and part 4 I described the emergence of MOOCs as well as four barriers they must overcome to become self-sustaining. In this post, I’d like to focus on the less glamorous, but perhaps more significant, movement in self-paced and competency-based online education.

Consider that just two years ago Western Governors University stood almost alone as the competency-based model for higher education, but today we can add Southern New Hampshire University, the University of Wisconsin System, Northern Arizona University, StraighterLine and Excelsior College.


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