Community colleges are under increasing pressure to support more students with less funding and faculty than traditional 4-year colleges and universities. This divide is further widening the substantial inequity community college students are already dealing with, particularly those who are part-time adult learners and parents, most of whom are in rural areas. Because of this, many community colleges have pivoted to a competency-based education model that allows students to progress by demonstrating mastery of skills rather than traditional credit hours. This growing demand for convenience has increased the popularity and demand for self-paced courses and badging programs that offer portfolio-ready credentials.
As more community colleges turn to CBE initiatives to exercise their agency and provide pragmatic, effective, and scalable solutions to support their student population, there are three components of successful CBE plans to consider:
#1 Self-Paced Courses
Community colleges are meeting the growing demand for convenience by providing self-service learning tools. These tools, such as self-registration and self-paced courses, provide students the flexibility they need to balance their multiple roles in life. With this technology, students can enroll, learn, and receive support on the go. The increased competition from other online skill-building programs is driving community colleges to focus on maximizing their limited resources. The best way for them to do this is by using a centralized storefront for enrollment, payments, and certificates to help bridge the gap and ensure that all students have access to the same high-quality education regardless of their college choice. This allows colleges to streamline enrollment and make it easier for students to access the necessary courses.
#2 Mobile Learning Apps
For full assurance that your institution can reach every learner where they are, mobile apps can help bridge the gap and provide all students access to the same high-quality education. Mobile apps have become great equalizers for community colleges with the understanding that not all students have access to laptops or tablets and are often juggling full-time jobs and other responsibilities while enrolled in courses. But students aren’t the only ones who benefit from improved access to learning tools; educators can now provide instant support and foster connection from anywhere.
#3 Digital Badges
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Career readiness is the #1 factor for student success. But how do students provide employers with credentials and proof of skills in a digital world? Similarly, how do community colleges demonstrate the ability to equip students for the workforce? The answer is digital badging. Whether busy learners are interested in starting a new career or upskilling to advance in their current career, badging is an efficient and cost-effective way of offering credentials to ensure that the time students invest in learning can be verified and shared. Badges encourage students to pursue their educational and extracurricular activities through personalized, buildable pathways to guide them along the way. Instructors can add co-curricular planning and evaluation to any pathway they create, such as program pathways, first-year student pathways, and more. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Equipping Community Colleges With The Tools to Success in Today’s Educational Environment
Community colleges play an essential role in higher education, but the difficulty of recruiting and retaining students is a continuous challenge. This is partly due to the lack of access to financial or structural support for students to refine their skills and show them to employers. By using the Instructure Learning Platform, community colleges can leverage accessible tools to deliver teaching in an effective and efficient way, as well as provide students with a smooth transition from courses to a career.
Learn how community colleges are pivoting to CBE and streamlining their edtech ecosystems to provide equitable learning access to students.