January 29, 2014

The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act defines vocational-technical education as organized educational programs offering sequences of courses directly related to preparing individuals for paid or unpaid employment in current or emerging occupations requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree. Programs include competency-based applied learning which contributes to an individual’s academic knowledge, higher-order reasoning, problem solving skills, and the occupational-specific skills necessary for economic independence as a productive and contributing member of society.

An example of competency-based learning is the program at Southwest Applied Technology College (Utah) which provides competency-based education in an open-entry, open-exit environment which prepares over 60,000 high school and adult students with career and technical skills. . . .

  • What does competency-based mean? Competency-based focuses on what the learner can “do” as a result of the learning experience, in addition to what the learner “knows”. Competencies are major skills or abilities complemented by the knowledge necessary to perform tasks effectively. They describe performance expectations in observable, measurable terms, telling learners what they will be able to do, as well as what they will know, as the result of a given learning experience.

Applied technical competency-based learning is the key to increased productivity and quality while minimizing downtime and re-work. And, the best technology tool to use when achieving this success is multi-sensory training.

Knowledgeably designed multi-sensory training is created to improve technical competence. Such courses use workplace situations and terminology, providing an atmosphere of practicality for the student and the employee.

With knowledgeably designed multi-sensory learning, students and employees understand the course material faster and retain more, allowing them to apply more of their new skills. Such courses allow the learner to proceed at their own pace which gives organizations the flexibility to schedule training in order to meet individual needs.

Care should be taken to avoid courses that convey most of its instruction through words, phrases and sentences. More than 40% of our workforce does not well comprehend anything written above a 4th grade reading level. Rather, the learning culture of their individual lives has centered around television, computers, tablets, and smart phones.

Instead of disparaging these technologies as a learning evil, insightful individuals have embraced the multi-sensory experience of video, animations, audio, graphics and stills — designed to enhance the learning experience for everyone.

If you are truly committed to training initiatives that will enhance applied technical competency, multi-sensory learning is the best choice to augment the live instruction. For example, you can clearly see the difference between a purely academic approach and a technical competency-based approach when you examine the curriculum for an “Applied Industrial Mathematics” series or a “Reading and Writing Enhancement” series — both of which are demonstrably more applicable to both individuals planning to enter the workforce and those employees striving to improve their skills than are similar textbook approaches. And, of course, you will find similar examples from other courseware providers, as well.

More on Monday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder
ITC Learning (Mondays & Wednesdays)