West Virginia, like many states, faced a significant population of adult workers who are underemployed, displaced, seeking career advancement, or in transition from military service. And although these hardworking self-learners possess valuable work and life experience, holding an advanced degree or certification is needed to make a positive transition in the workplace, obtain new employment, or change a career trajectory. To help adult learners get on a path to completion, West Virginia created a task force to help define and implement a program that builds awareness, facilitates information gathering, and streamlines assessment and reporting on experiential learning.

This “Bridging the Gap” Consortium — comprised of West Virginia Community and Technical College System (WVCTCS) nine post-secondary institutions — selected fivestar* to develop a technology-based solution that serves the objectives of driving PLA awareness, managing assessments, and tracking participants in a centralized location. The solution developed gave WVCTCS a highly user-friendly and collaborative interface that supports students, PLA specialists, and advisors — as well as a way for the institutions to effectively promote and manage their credit for prior learning program.

This innovative PLA tracking platform:

  • Supports the needs of the adult learner with a comprehensive, hands-on process from initial inquiry and program matching through portfolio creation, review and enrollment
  • Connects academic programs with the real-world by matching industry, career, professional and/or subject matter expertise with program areas of study
  • Centralizes and streamlines the PLA administration process through a shared, central online workspace that coordinates efforts and generates accurate data reporting at the student, institution and consortium level
  • Ensures PLA process quality by enabling professional staff to quickly engage in the process, enter and manage data, and track outcomes every step of the way

Solution Highlights

The following list showcases what the PLA tracking platform currently includes – but the solution is a platform, which means that it can be customized to accommodate variations based on how your credit for prior learning program works. Designed to accommodate differentiating needs, it can be enhanced with features that your institution requires.

Click on the links below to expand on the features already included in the PLA tracking platform:

Promote your school’s PLA initiative! A dedicated website provides the who, what and how – along with other useful information about your school and/or consortium. It’s the place adult learners go for information as it relates to your credit for prior learning process.

Dedicated PLA Website

This wizard aggregates adult learner experience, training and/or skillsets and matches them to your institution’s program area(s) of study. With this feature, the learner is equipped with a quick and easy walkthrough checklist that matches their educational, professional and personal experience and qualifications to your course offering(s).

Life Experience Inventory

Once they become a registered user, the learner gains access to a useful, tailored and actionable view of where they are in the evaluation process as it relates to their desired career pathway(s) – the dashboard shows contact information, institution(s) and program area(s) of study the learner is targeting, activity log, as well as permits access to the portfolio builder.

PLA Adult Learner Dashboard

When a prior learning assessment applicant is ready to take concrete steps toward their targeted goals, the PLA process is mobilized with a portfolio builder that makes it easier to document, showcase, share and evaluate a thorough and organized view of the applicant’s relevant real-world experience and subject mastery. The portfolio builder captures and collects materials and documentation needed for evaluation of targeted program credit – including resume, educational and work narrative, and more.

PLA Tracking Portfolio Builder

Automating the prior learning assessment process in an integrated, online, role-based workspace lets PLA advisors, specialists and reviewers focus on the applicant, their experience and their career opportunities with streamlined, collaborative precision. This powerful toolset tracks, manages and reports on the discovery, data collection, evaluation, planning and completed stages of the credit for prior learning process – from initial website encounter through enrollment – following role-based permissions.

PLA Staff Administrative Toolset

Whether precisely pinpointing an individual learner or PLA stage – or performing a collective roll up – dashboards, graphs and reports give staff real-time visibility into program status at the student, college and consortium level. The ability to display, drill-through, search and report on data provides valuable insights and helps the staff meet reporting requirements for performance metrics and grants.

PLA Staff Dashboard and Reporting

Establishing a complete and accurate picture of current academic programs and their correlating real-world experiences helps ensure consistency and quality of PLA process outcomes. Now you can leverage the power of technology to translate career interests and job competencies into actual program courses with this mapping platform. Modifiable (based on permissions) and dynamic, this is an intuitive repository of the school’s courses of study, their descriptive attributes, and correlating expertise and skillsets. Potential course matches are given when the assigned attributes correlate with an adult learner’s listed experiences – which is a great place to start a dialogue.

Program Areas of Study Mapping Platform

fivestar* offers a technology pilot program so you can select and assess if this technology solution supports your institution's approach to assessing, evaluating, and awarding credit. Learn more

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