(This is a part of a series on the differences and similarities between formal and informal adult learning.)

I know you’ve all been waiting for this one. ;)

Credit: Neenah Heritage Online

This is a conundrum online courses have puzzled over for a long time. How do you estimate how many hours per week a course might take? For a very organized and focused learner (or one who doesn’t apply himself), it might take less time. For a particularly inquisitive and extra hard working learner (or one who is just slow), it might take more time.

It is difficult to estimate and impossible to measure or nearly impossible verify after the fact. So most online courses take their best guess, and then credit is given for that amount of time.

A bigger question is should seat time be such an important factor in granting credit?

Some groups, like Western Governors University, have experimented with competency-based criteria. Have those models worked? Is it feasible to do this on a large scale?

For K-12, seat time is the rule. Kids attend x number of hours of school and then move on. Repeat. Repeat. The idea of competency-based learning in K-12 is a model many of would like to see. Stop constraining students to age-based grade levels. Let them move through content at a pace that works for them. Supported differentiation and elimination of pacing would be a real way to make sure no child was left behind.

For P2PU,the process is all about individual learning. It’s all about gaining competence in your chosen area in a way that you define.

Does issuing credit put a crimp in this? I’m not sure.

Formal ed vs DIY – Part 4, Seat Time
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