In a recent interview with online higher education news source The Evolllution — the three L’s emphasize “life-long learning” — Marc Singer of Thomas Edison State College outlines the open course option (text | graphic) for TESC’s Associate in Science in Business Administration (ASBA) degree. The fruit of a long relationship and partnership between Thomas Edison State College and the Saylor Academy, this program allows students to take free online courses from the Saylor Academy and submit their work for credit evaluation by Thomas Edison State College. The result is a fully-online degree in a couple semesters for about $5,000 or less, mostly in fees due to the college.

Here are some of my favorite takeaways from Singer’s interview:

On the value of Saylor Academy courseware:

[W]e’ve made…their students aware that if they’ve completed one of those offerings, one of those courses in business that Saylor offers, it’s very likely they’re prepared to pass a college-level assessment we ourselves administer.

On bringing competency-based assessment into the fold of traditional higher education:

What really matters is: do you know it, can you demonstrate that you know it and, if so, the next step then is to figure out where that knowledge you’re bringing to us from the outside fits into the overall curriculum.

On the value proposition of prior-learning assessment to traditional institutions:

[Students who bring prior-learning credits into a degree program] tend to be more motivated, more focused on their goals, more self-directed. Because of that, we’ve seen measurable differences in the number of credits they take at an institution like this — they actually take more credits in college, not fewer, because they’re more invested in the process and we’ve validated what they’re bringing to us from outside. Not only that [but] their rates of completion…are much higher than students who don’t bring anything from the outside.

On what really matters in education:

It’s really not about how long you spend in the classroom, it’s, “Can you show us what you know?”

Tweet the interview:

Additional reading on the ASBA program:

Photo credit: modified from an image by aussiegall via photopin CC BY 2.0