In the year 2014
Higher education will focus on some old, and some relatively new, ideas. But Sophie Quinton, writing in The Atlantic, does see any game changers. I've listed one of the old ideas, re-purposed, below. I cut my academic teeth on prior learning assessment.
Earning College Credit for What You Know
The Obama administration, state governments, and foundation funders are all pressuring colleges to shrink the time it takes for students to graduate. Two strategies for doing so gained attention this year: advancing students based on mastery, and giving students credit for work experience.
The fancy term for the first strategy is "competency-based learning," and it works best online. Students move through course material at their own pace, their test scores—not time in class—determining how quickly they move through the material. At Western Governors' University, an online institution that pioneered this structure almost 20 years ago, students earn bachelor's degrees two years faster than the national average. This year, the University of Wisconsin system started offering a competency-based option.
Another strategy is "prior learning assessment," whereby students get college credit for on-the job and military training, volunteer experience, and hobbies. Credit is usually granted through placement tests, assessments of student portfolios, or according to the American Council on Education's recommendations. Some employers and colleges—like Starbucks and City University of Seattle—have struck up partnerships that allow employees to earn college credit for workplace training.