Southwestern Illinois College Early Childhood Education program was awarded a $25,000 Illinois Community College Board Competency-based Education Grant. SWIC ECE Program Coordinator Carolyn Beal and SWIC Dean of Arts & Sciences Mary Ruettgers, Ed.D., co-created the grant application.
According to the ICCB: This grant is designed to create and support Early Childhood Education competency-based education programs and projects in the community college system. Competency-based education focuses on determining a student’s achievement by evaluating proficiency within a set of learning outcomes and objectives moving away from traditional time-based constraints.
“This grant is a great opportunity for the SWIC Early Childhood Education Department and the SWIC community,” Ruettgers said. “Professor Beal has done a phenomenal job leading the SWIC ECE program as well as serving on many state-wide initiatives to further support Early Childhood Education. Initiatives such as these will help local ECE providers hire qualified candidates.”
Beginning with the Early Childhood Credential, between 2016-2017, all Illinois Gateways Credentials moved from standards and benchmarks to competencies. As a result, many colleges have worked to incorporate competency-based activities within their program framework and outcomes, including those related to technology. Many programs are also working to identify ways in which to observe and assess students in simulated or virtual reality scenarios. Through this grant project, grantees will have access to Mursion Technology, a virtual reality simulation platform, as well as technical assistance from ICCB and its partners.
SWIC is an Entitled Institution for ECE Credential Level 2-4, Infant/Toddler Credential Level 2-4 and Illinois Director’s Credential Level 1.
This competency-based education grant will support the ECE program with the needed resources, technology and personnel to create modules, align modules with competencies, create assessments and rubrics, and access to virtual technology, Beal said.
The funding from this grant will support the creation of self-paced modules for students to meet the six-semester-credit requirement in Early Childhood Education to obtain the ECE level 2 credential or be lead-teacher qualified.