Thomas Edison State University worked with the Saylor Academy to design an openly licensed curriculum for their Associates of Arts in Liberal Studies competency-based program. By utilizing open educational resources (OER), curriculum progression is clearly outlined ahead of time and available to all students. Further, it facilitates cooperation between other institutions and stakeholders as the curriculum and competency map can be seen, used, and adapted by anyone.

The other unique component of the TESU model provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate mastery before even enrolling. This is done through a diagnostic intake interview. Students complete an abbreviated portfolio assessment for the entire degree program (compiling evidence of mastery, and writing a short narrative). This submission is reviewed by a team of staff and subject matter experts, then followed up with an interview. In the interview, students meet with assessment specialists and coaching mentors who probe deeper into the student’s experience. The interview panel weighs both the student’s evidence submission as well as their interview performance against a rubric in order to determine mastery of a particular competency. If the student does not demonstrate mastery through the interview process, there is a summative project-based assessment through which they can demonstrate competency at the conclusion of each module.

The OER curriculum is still in development and aims to provide student benefits as well as facilitate cross-institutional partnerships and emerging standards, not to mention providing TESU the flexibility to revise materials as needed. By sharing curriculum, Thomas Edison is making its competency statements, and their hierarchy, available to other institutions, which can use this information freely to develop their own programs or work with Thomas Edison to improve a shared curriculum. It also increases transparency to all stakeholders. If an employer is interested in providing a CBE experience for their employees, they can see exactly what Thomas Edison students will be learning and also the methods by which they’ll be assessed.