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Nicolet My Way, Competency Based Education Becomes Model

Nicolet Area Technical College

Last week, Kate Ferrel, the Executive Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs.at Nicolet College introduced Governor Scott Walker to a concept named "Nicolet My Way" during a visit to the welding lab.

The effort involves a new, flexible learning model for Nicolet College students.

The Dean of Trade, Industry and Apprenticeships, Jeff Labs explains the change from past Nicolet practices...

"...It takes courses that are larger and breaks them down into smaller chunks called competencies. What it is is students are no longer graded on the traditional grading format of A through F...."

Labs says the student will need to master, or fully understand, the course work before moving on. Traditionally, if the student achieved a certain grade they could move on, even if they hadn't learned all of the material. Labs says the student sets their own schedule and their own pace. He says programs will not have a traditional lecture mode based on time. He says they have open labs and students come in when they want to come in.

He says in January, the first competency-based program began in welding...

"...and this is the first approved competency-based education program that has launched in the entire state technical college system...."

Labs says the I.T. program will be launching competency-based programming in August and he says several other programs will follow. Labs says even though the program is built to be flexible, the entire program maps back to the parent course.

He says this concept should fit well with busy adult learners...

"....Adults, alot of times our lives get messy, and this provides opportunity for students who are interested in furthering their education earning maybe a higher level credential. To be able to do it, to be a able fit when it works for them...."

Recently, more than 50 vice-presidents, deans and directors from 9 of the state's 16 technical colleges were at Nicolet to learn about Competency-Based Education at Nicolet.

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