LOGAN – For students already competent in their field of study, Utah State University-Online is making it possible to get through courses faster – or just test out of them altogether.
Starting this summer, USU-Online will be offering a limited number of its courses with accelerated options. At the professor’s discretion, three methods will be offered: A student can take a comprehensive assessment, complete a comprehensive project or complete the course material at a faster pace.
USU’s distance education manager Kevin Shanley said competency-based education is a growing trend across the country.
“Because of some of the limitations we have at USU, mostly registration systems, we can’t do competency-based the way the other schools are,” he said. “So this is our answer to competency-based, where instructors can just assess the student and give them credit.”
USU-Online’s marketing manager Reuben Talbot said the new accelerated option will be a good opportunity for potential students that already have a background in the course of study.
“This will be advantageous to people who are working professionals, have been in the industry for a while and are looking to go back to school,” he said.
According to Shanley, there is still a concern of making sure the assessment of students is comprehensive enough to be equal to a full semester’s class.
“It’s kind of a new world for USU faculty to do those types of assessments,” he said. “We’re kind of moving forward and we’ll see how it goes. Right now most of the faculty that have chosen to add accelerated options to their courses have gone with self-paced options or the project-based options.”
The classes will still be tied to USU’s same registration schedule, Shanley said, so students who finish classes early will still have to wait for a new semester to start their next courses. There is a small number of accelerated courses that are available for this summer, but more are expected to be added after.
“Really, we’re just trying to be innovative with our course delivery options and provide students with more options,” Shanley said. “Hopefully we can attract more students that already have previous experience.”