Whether it’s a single university, community college, technical, vocational, business, or trade school, or a consortium – effectively supporting the management of adult learner information throughout the prior learning assessment (PLA) process is a critical component in running a successful credit for prior learning initiative.
Awarding credit for proven life experience helps widen access to higher education, and accelerates college, degree and/or certificate completion. Portfolios; ACE credit recommendations based on corporate or military training programs; individual college reviews; and exams are all ways to demonstrate college-level skills and competencies gained outside the classroom. Following these national standards also helps institutions ensure and validate the integrity of credentials earned. The challenge? Correlating adult learner experience to the type of assessment method that can be used generates a lot of data to match, evaluate and track.
West Virginia Community and Technical College System (WVCTCS) – a consortium of nine post-secondary institutions – selected Five Star 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
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
View webinars about this project on demand, or subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on projects like this one.