Many learning management systems allow teachers to align standards to competencies, and then to organize assignments to match the different competencies. There is a lot of overlap between standards and competencies, which makes it confusing. Competencies are useful because they allow teachers and students to isolate and target areas of study. Often these competencies are independent of each other, so a student can skip around and choose which competency to complete when.
For example, the Georgia Virtual Learning TOOL is organized into five different competencies and each targets different skills: Participate, Navigate, Communication, Create, and Evaluate. Figure 1 shows how each competency contains different steps, or sub-topics, to master within the target skill.
Each area focuses on a different aspect of virtual teaching, and each has multiple assignments. Figure 2 shows how assignments align to the different steps. Ideally, students complete the steps in order, but it is not necessary. Well-designed competency plans will vary the number and type of assignments for each step. As Figure 2 shows, the first step has three assignments to complete, whereas the last two steps only have two assignments each.
To offer yet another example, Figure 3 shows my own unit on creating a radio story.
The radio project requires students to analyze examples of effective storytelling and to create their own effective story. Students must be competent in four areas: writing effectively using Standard English, speaking effectively when interviewing and recording their story, analyzing the structure of a radio story, and analyzing the effects of sound and imagery to support their ideas. Within each competency, students focus on different learning objectives through the assignments. Although there are several synchronous sessions to keep students on track and to support social learning, many of the assignments can be completed independently of the others. Hard deadlines will hold students accountable for the work, but this structure allows students to select the order in which they complete the assignments. A rubric for the project will assess students on the four competencies as well.