As simple definition of competence is the ability of an individual to do a job properly. A competency is a set of defined behaviors that provide a structured guide enabling the identification, evaluation and development of the behaviors in individuals.
- We demonstrate competency
- based on mastery of our learning objectives
- according to a variety of assessment methods
- that come after the learning
In the BCIT Learning Hub we have a tool that enables us to use a course, or program’s competency framework as the structure for the course within the Learning Management System. The system structures it this way:
- You could have multiple Competencies in a course.
- One or more Learning Outcomes/Objectives needed to demonstrate each Competency
- More than one Assessment to demonstrate mastery of each Learning Objective/Outcome
- Several elements of course Content before Assessments occur
- Overlap where content contributes to multiple assessments, assessments test multiple outcomes, and multiple outcomes are needed for competency
Looking at the Bigger Picture
With multiple competencies your course may look like this:
Your full program may look like this:
In the Learning Hub, we can map all these elements together and use that structure to:
- Assess pre-entry or pre-lesson knowledge and skills
- Deliver focused content to each learner targeted at their individual gaps in knowledge and skills
- Assess knowledge and skills development/progress throughout the learning
- Focus students on the content they personally need throughout the learning
- Improve the quality of the assessment and the content
- Track and report on the progress of individuals towards course or program completion
To use this feature, you first need to activate the Competency tool:
- Go to the Edit Course (NavBar) features in your course. These are all the higher level course configuration features you have access to and that will vary depending on your role and rights in the course.
- Under the Course Tools menu, you want to ensure Competencies is turned on – . This is also the way you turn on, or off, all the tools in your course (have them show up, or not, in your course NavBar).
You’ll now find the Competencies tool under Course Tools in the NavBar.
CAUTION: Do Not attempt to complete the following data entry steps until you’ve defined your competencies and learning outcomes offline first. Going hands-on with the technology isn’t the time to be making curriculum decisions.
Data Entry – Competencies
- Start by clicking the Create New Competency link.
- You’ll be entering all the required information for a single competency, then clicking Save and New to move on to enter your next competency until done, at which point you’ll just click Save to exit.
Here are the elements you will be entering:
- Name – The name of the competency.
- Note: Its recommended that you use a numbering system, added to the name, to organize competencies and sub-competencies (1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 2.0, 2.11, 3.0, etc.)
- Description – Describe the competency (optional).
- Draft – while you are doing all your data entry.
- In Review – still not ready for use, but you have done your overall data entry (others may be reviewing).
- Approved – ready for use in the course, edits are not possible at this point.
- Archived – an old competency that was, but is no longer being used in the course.
- Additional Identifier – Depending on the complexity of your competency structure, you might have a numbering system to further classify elements.
- Make competency and its children visible to users – It’s recommended you do this so that your students can see their learning path (children are sub-competencies and/or learning outcomes that fall under this level.
- Allow re-evaluation of users who have achieved this competency – Forces a re-evaluation of this competency when a change is made to it, such as adding a learning objective for example.
To see the evolving competency structure of your course:
- Click on the Competencies tool in the NavBar.
- You will notice a menu on the left side of the screen, expand the By Hierarchy view.
- Now you’ll see the Competencies you’ve entered – See example below.
- To edit one, to add one as a child to another, click on the one you want to edit.
- First you’ll be on the Structure Summary page (right side of the screen), which will be empty until you start to build your structure.
- Click on the Edit Structure tab on the right side of the screen.
- To change one of your competencies to a sub-competency of this competency, look down to the Children area and click Existing Competency under Add child to this competency.
- Note: You could also have selected a sub-competency and used the Add parent to this competency area to add a parent.
- Select the child (or children) you want to add as sub-competencies to this competency and click the Add Selected button.
Now look at the left menu and note there is an expandable view for your parent competency which will show you your sub-competency(s) indented.
Note: Optional – You can now use this Edit Structure screen to complete your work as you have the ability to add New Learning Objectives to a competency right from this screen
Data Entry – Learning Outcomes/Objectives
Once all your competencies have been entered, move on to your outcomes/objectives. The process is the same as above, so we’ll only touch on the differences here:
- Click the Create New Learning Objective link
- Note: It’s a good idea to use a numbering system (in the name) that reflects the relationship between the competencies and the outcomes (1A, 1B, 1.1A, 1.1B for example)
- Enforce Assessment Method – Y/N – If you enforce this, only the listed activity types will be allowed for this competency, if you are not sure, then select the ‘No’ option
- Ready for evaluation – Activated the objective making it ready for student use
- Save and New to enter more or Save to exit
Structure – Adding outcomes to competencies
You’ve already entered, numbered and built the structure for your competency level, now that you’ve entered your outcomes/objectives you’ll need to add each of them to the appropriate competency. So that you have some experience with an alternate view, we’ll first switch the Settings to Standard View.
- Competency tool
- Settings, upper right
- Select Standard View (Note the other options available to you) and Save
- Now expand your competency hierarchy (on the left of the screen) so you can see the whole structure
- Note: Any unassigned outcomes/objectives will appear under Independent Learning Objectives until you assign them to one of your competencies
- Click on the outcome/objective you want to assign to a competency
- You want to assign this ‘child’ to a ‘parent’, so click the Structure button, then Edit Structure
- Click Add Parent
- Click Existing Competency
- Expand the view if you need to
- Select the competency you want to add this outcome/objective to and then click Add Selected
Now, when you return to the Competency tool homepage, and expand the view of your hierarchy, you’ll see your structure and all the relationships.
Note: You may have seen the Results button on some of the screens you’ve been working with. This is where you can see your classlist and their current competency status.
As an example
Below is a screen capture of a partially expanded competency framework looks like from a BCIT Automotive course. This course has:
- 9 competency categories (main level)
- 22 sub-competencies
- 87 learning outcomes
Adding Assessments and Content
Reflecting back on the structural diagram, you’re now ready to map your assessments to your objectives.
This is done through each of the actual assessment tools themselves. We’ll use the example of an assignment here, but the process is similar for all the tools.
- Go to the Assignments tool
- Using the pull-down menu (arrow), Edit Folder for the assignment you want to attach to an objective
- Click the Objectives tab
- Click the Associate Learning Objectives button
- Expand your view as needed
- Select the outcome/objective you want to associate this assignment with
- Click Add Selected
- Save and Close
- You can associate specific questions from each quiz to different outcomes/objectives
- Use the Associate Questions button after associating the quiz to the outcome/objective
Keep in mind the fact that an exam would usually be assessing multiple objectives. For this reason, you want to map specific questions to their associated objectives.
- As you work your way through this you will note you can add as many assessment instruments to as many outcomes/objectives as you like.
- There is no weighting or allocation of percentages because the Competency tool simply is looking for success as determined by the assessment itself.
A Word About Content
Content elements are not mapped to the competency tool as you’ve done with assessments. This is because the system assumes that assessments come after the learning and that the instructor controls the content. If you want to enforce ‘content first’, then you’d use Release Conditions to control access to assessments until after the content and learning activities have been completed.
There is one exception to the above explanation about content and that is the adaptive learning tool.
Adaptive learning is a power feature of the system that uses all the above, but also maps content. The system enables students to take an assessment (formal or informal) which then identifies their knowledge or skill gap. Once done, the system then delivers them the content necessary for them to master the areas they performed poorly in. This way students are focusing specifically on only these areas and not content they have already mastered. These assessments, called LeaPs, can be pre-learning, formative, or summative.
Adaptive learning is an important strategy as students struggle to keep up with lives, work and learning. It caters to each individual and streamlines the learning process for them. The system is so smart that it learns from its experience. As more and more students take LeaPs, the system learns which content is better at addressing which outcomes.