I have a bridge to sell, quite cheap. All it will cost you is the following:
- One halfpenny (British, before metric conversion)
- Three drachmas
- One lira
- Three euros
- One franc (French)
- Four thalers (the coin, not the economist)
- One escudo
- One ekwele
- Ten qirans
- Five kroons
- One hundred C.S.A. dollars (paper bills only)
When I read proposals about “breaking the credit hour” or substituting competencies for credits from proponents from Kevin Carey to Matt Reed, all I can think of is the complexity of tracking competencies as opposed to courses. It is already frustrating enough to students who transfer between institutions to discover that most or all of their previous courses are accepted for transfer but only for “elective” credit–i.e., not to satisfy any requirements at the new institution. Whoever proposes diploma-by-competency is proposing a scheme that would be much worse without some serious rethinking of competencies. It turns a degree program into a scavenger hunt even more than many already are.
Is there an alternative? Yes. Let’s scratch the “hour” from “credit hour.” That will allow flexibility on earning credits by competency, but without the unworkable idea that we do not need a currency of exchange in higher education. As long as a high proportion of students swirl between institutions, we will need a common currency, and “credits” is as good a name as any.