Courses tend to exist within a specific time frame. 16-18 weeks. Within the course we attempt to break the time into units of study. If we are to allow for flexible time for students, how do we retain the traditional semester course structure? Why flexible time? We are attempting to teach for mastery/competency. It is quality control. If you want to ensure that students truly learn the material, they will need time to revisit work over time. The goal is to get everyone to have ALL the skills and understandings.
If time needs to remain fixed by semesters and students are going to be expected to master the material, then we have to assume that students will require different amounts of time to complete the work based on aptitude, prior knowledge, etc. Time is fixed so not every student will complete all the work. So what if we could alter the course weight or level based on how much knowledge the acquire. Get through 80% if the curriculum, then you have completed the General Level, complete 100% then you get CP credit. etc.
If you insist that all students are working on the same topic at the same time, then you must create advanced work within that topic for the high flyers. You could still apply the weight in this format as well.
What if the credit for the course was tied to the amount of completion? Make credit the variable. Say the course is one credit. The student needs to complete 10 units for the course but only gets to unit 8. Could the course then be awarded .8 credits? Could the student continue to work on the course during flex time after the semester has ended or during a summer term? Could the student just pick up where they left off the next semester? What are the implications for the instructor? A blend would be needed for this to happen. Not every subject could function in this format.
What if the students that finished Unit 10 and still had several weeks left in the course? Could application projects be created that would deepen their knowledge? What if they could then change the weight of the course like stated above? Could it become CP level or Honors? How about a badge or indicator on the transcript that honors work was complete. The idea here is to think outside the box while within the box. Frameworks will always exist. Flexible time should not be free time. There needs to be a way to help students be accountable for meeting deadlines. We have done this for years but have never pushed for mastery. It has been ok to move forward with only 75% knowledge acquired. Allow a 25% deficiency in a core and allow it to happen year to year, course to course, and eventually the student checks out completely. How can that be good?
Have you ever taken a class and fell behind to the point where you felt there was no way to catch up? Every new concept goes over your head and you zone out as the answers can't be found? What if you could go back to the point where you first got lost and could try again? NOPE. We don't allow that. The grade then becomes a punishment. You did not learn it within the time you were allocated. Tough luck. If you know anything about learning, there are moments where confusion occurs. If you don't find solutions, this confusion compounds over time especially in skill based classes like Math, Music, etc. We need to ask :What if?"