Alternative course accreditation gaining ground in higher education

While a college degree is still the traditional goal of many college freshmen, new ways of demonstrating mastery of academic knowledge is gaining in popularity in many online education programs, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Several online learning platforms, such as the Khan Academy, are using a badge system to reward students for completing classes and video lectures. Students earn achievements for demonstrating their knowledge in subjects such as math and science, and the idea is being considered by other institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Some experts say the idea could become more popular with employers. Although a college degree indicates that a student has completed a four-year program, a badge accreditation system demonstrates knowledge in specific skill areas.

"We have to question the tyranny of the degree," David Wiley, an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University, told the news source. "As soon as big employers everywhere start accepting these new credentials, either singly or in bundles, the gig is up completely."

The badge concept is being explored through a new competition sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation. According to the website, hundreds of schools have entered the $2 million grant contest to develop the badge system as part of their curricula.

What do you think of the badge system? Would it encourage you to fill out a college application for a school using it?

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