Adult learner programs in higher education have allowed students to use some on-the-job experiences to substitute for courses in fast-track degree programs. Still, such programs tend to have a classroom component or at least assignments that must be completed outside the classroom. The new Wisconsin plan acknowledges that some degrees still require clinical or practical training. Nursing is the most obvious example. Officials have yet to announce the cost for students, although it's expected to be cheaper than traditional and the more common adult-learner focused efforts.
Increasing the number of Oklahomans with bachelor's degrees is a significant issue. This is an area of focus for those in the higher education arena. The experiment in Wisconsin is worth watching.
It's hard to imagine a no-classroom approach ever usurping the value of the traditional college learning experience. But learning doesn't happen only in a classroom or while sitting in front of a computer screen. It happens as people go about their jobs, travel and have life experiences not captured in a classroom setting. For higher education to recognize this reality, while applying a measurement yardstick to it, is an interesting and promising idea.