Free HigherEd.org Competency Based Education Portal Launched at LFCC

Dec 31, 2016

Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) is a proud member of the Competency-Based Education Network. Awarded a $3.25 million TAACCCT grant in 2014 from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), LFCC helps learners put “Knowledge to Work” with personalized learning plans tied to competencies using open educational resources (OER). Seven direct assessment, CBE programs are offered for associate’s degrees and certificates in information technology, health information management, and administrative support technology.


Now, as part of its TAACCCT grant, LFCC has taken the competencies, personalized learning plans, and OER used for Knowledge to Work and made them available for free for all to use. This “new learning ecosystem” features a portal at http://highered.orgthat serves and supports lifelong learners as they “curate their own learning.”


LFCC is partnering with the AHIMA Foundation, the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), Microsoft, Concentric Sky, Inc., and other organizations in this effort to promote competencies and digital learning resources. Basic and advanced search features let users find free and low-cost educational resources curated by faculty and digital librarians. Search filters include cost, publication date, provider, language, delivery mode, and alignment with competency frameworks. A myriad of instructional materials are included and mapped to competencies, culled from the repositories of MERLOT, Skills Commons, and Learning Registry. Additional resources include OER with Creative Commons licensing to traditional and online course listings, American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and IAAP-related training, print and e-books, YouTube and Khan Academy videos, Saylor Academy courses, audio lectures and podcasts, and massive open online courses (MOOCs).


Enrollment in HigherEd.org is free. The portal lets learners document competencies they already have and monitor progress toward new ones. Once users set up their profile of preferences, a custom dashboard is provided called MyHigherEd where they can create a personalized learning plan. Learners can identify and track new educational activities to gain competencies and work towards a nationally-recognized occupational credential. Learner notes, saved searches, and preferred resources are stored and new materials of interest are highlighted.


Badges, assessments, and nationally-recognized industry certifications tied to competences are promoted on the portal. LFCC is working with leaders of the Badge Alliance on a pilot project to map badges to competency frameworks. Knowledge to Work and its partners are beginning another pilot project to map military job codes to competencies in several career pathways. A Spanish version, social networking support, and low-cost learning management system access are planned. The portal also promotes the AHIMA Foundation’s $4.9 million DOL grant, Managing the HIM Talent Pipeline, apprenticeship program to help recent graduates and career-changers take on healthcare information careers.


While focused on a few industries and occupations for now, LFCC is seeking funding to expand the portal to other pathways and competency frameworks. If learners want additional support and services, they’re encouraged to enroll in one of LFCC’s direct assessment CBE programs. This gives them access to career coaches and program faculty, help with financial aid, library services, and regionally accredited associate’s degrees and certificates.


Organizations and individuals can be part of the portal in a number of ways, from sharing OER, courses, and other instructional materials to promoting services such as tutoring and internships to opportunities for co-branding, sponsorship, and advertising. For more information, contact John Milam, PhD, Executive Director of LFCC’s Knowledge to Work TAACCCT grant, at jmilam@lfcc.edu and (540) 868-7249.  

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