Central Wyoming College is one of ten colleges and universities selected to participate in an “incubator” program to advance and implement competency-based education (CBE).

CWC officials will join a select group of institutions, which includes the University of Maryland and Michigan State University, to develop the next generation of education and business models in higher education.

With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CWC receives a $50,000 stipend to defray travel to incubator events and planning expenses to “accelerate educational innovation.”
“Competency-based programs are good for students in several ways,” said CWC’s Executive Vice President for Student and Academic Services Jason Wood. With CWC’s participation in the incubator program, the college expects to develop and launch at least one competency-based program within one year.

Wood said traditionally, learning is based on how much time a student sits in a classroom. The CBE model rewards students for skills acquired rather than time spent in a seat, which is a strategy to expand access, affordability and quality learning and degree attainment for students.
Competency-based programs require approval from the Higher Learning Commission, special rules for federal financial aid and new practices for financing and sustainability of the programs.

“We hope the Incubator program will help us navigate through these areas of quality and compliance,” Wood said.

The program gives CWC the opportunity to make new education options available to students for whom higher education has been difficult to access due to barriers in traditional, time-bound higher education programs.

“We expect a great deal of professional development will be part of the process,” Wood said. The college has identified Simulation Technology as the initial program to be developed as a competency-based program.

Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) accelerates educational innovation through applied technology to dramatically improve college readiness and completion in the United States. This multi-year program provides investment capital to expand the use of proven and emerging learning technologies, collects and shares evidence of what works, and fosters innovation and adoption of solutions. NGLC is managed by EDUCAUSE in partnership with the League for Innovation in the Community College, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is generously funding team participation in the Incubator.