Comprehensive Learner Record as a Vehicle for Assessment and Learning Transparency in a Skills Economy

Comprehensive Learner Record as a Vehicle for Assessment and Learning Transparency in a Skills Economy

Sherri Nicole Braxton, Suzanne Carbonaro, Natasha Jankowski
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3820-3.ch011
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This chapter outlines assessment technology that supports the development of Comprehensive Learner Record, or CLR. Here the authors present the theoretical landscape upon which current credentialing innovation builds, explore advancements through a case study of practice between University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and the Greater Washington Partnership (GWP), and culminate with an overview of the assessment technology that ultimately facilitates recognition, validation, and portability of learning in the form of a comprehensive learner record.
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The landscape of credential options is growing steadily, but transparency is limited for credential differentiation and choice, and there is scant knowledge on quality or overall credential value (Carnevale et al., 2020). To navigate a marketplace of credential options, students need to be savvy consumers ensuring they locate the correct credential associated with desired employment opportunities without wasting resources such as time and money on unrelated credentials. Credential Engine—a nonprofit organization with a mission to bring transparency to credentials and document the marketplace of credentials—began releasing an annual report in 2018 providing a comprehensive count of every available credential in the United States. With the initial report in 2018, a total of over 330,000 unique credentials were counted including micro-credentials and nanodegrees (Credential Engine, 2018). In 2019, that number had grown to over 730,000 unique credentials within 17 different credential categories (Credential Engine, 2019). In 2020, the number had increased further to over 965,000 unique credentials (Credential Engine, 2021). A separate report focused on digital badges counted 475,000 badges available, with over 43,000,000 badges issued to date (Credential Engine, 2020). In relation to prior data on badges, that is a documented 82% increase in available badges from 2018 to 2020 (Credential Engine, 2020).

Collectively, these numbers indicate a rapid increase in the amount of credential options available to learners as well as credential forms. While some of this growth can be attributed to researchers getting better at capturing an accurate picture of the number of credential options available, the landscape of possible credentials has indeed grown vast and more dense and includes credential providers beyond traditional educational institutions. This growth has raised the need for transparency regarding what is actually inside a credential that helps users distinguish between different credential options and determine credential worth and value. The need for credential transparency from institutions of higher education is so pronounced, that in 2019, 15 national postsecondary education organizations signed a joint statement to use the credential registry and common language to describe credential information in an attempt to make credential data easier to understand for employers, students, and other institutions. On the employer side, the efforts of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation supported the creation of an employer-led job registry to send clearer signals of credential and competency needs to potential employees and institutions of higher education (Tyszko et al., 2017). In this context, all stakeholders are responsible for credential transparency.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Credential: Provides information on a qualification, competence, or authority issued to an individual by a third party with de facto authority or assumed competence to do so. Some examples include diplomas, degrees, licenses, certifications, security clearances, and badges.

Competencies and Academic Standards Exchange™ (CASE): Is a standard designed to enable the electronic exchange of competency definitions so that applications, systems, and tools can readily access and manage this data, making frameworks more universal and skills more relatable to a variety of disciplines and employers.

Competencies: Are inherent qualities an individual possesses and employers desire for particular jobs and roles within a discipline or workforce – combining skills, knowledge, and ability.

Application Programming Interface (API): Is a software intermediary that allows software to talk to each other.

Credential Registry: Is a cloud-based library that collects, maintains, and connects information on all types of credentials, including diplomas, apprenticeships, and other experiential learning and from certificates, licenses and degree programs. The Registry holds detailed information on all types of credentials in an easily accessible format.

Comprehensive Learner Record: Also known as CLR, is a dynamic, verified record of student achievements across curricular, co-curricular and experiential learning activities provides evidence of student learning in real-time, giving institutional administrators, student advisors, employers, and students a window into student learning and achievement.

Co-Curricular Learning Experiences: Are activities that take place outside of the curriculum or classroom but complement the curriculum and provide additional opportunities for students to practice skills learned through direct instruction.

CLR 1.0 Standard: Is the first iteration of a five-year effort, offering a technical standard flexibly developed to support traditional academic programs, co-curricular and competency-based learning as well as employer programming and development in order to capture and communicate a learners’ and workers’ achievements in verifiable, digital form for portability using JSON file type.

Verifiable Record: Means that the record of achievement clearly indicates confirmation of authenticity by the issuing body that is digitally confirmed and date certified.

Open Badges 2.0: Is a standard which describes a process for packaging learner accomplishments including the criteria for completion with accompanying evidence and embedding them into portable image files as digital badges, providing resources for web-based validation and verification as learners share their badges individually or give permission to have them included to their CLR.

Learning Tool Interoperability® (LTI®): Enables a one-click, seamless connection to a learning management system’s external learning tools, confirms the credentials, and exchanges information in a teaching and learning workflow.

Metacognition: Is the process of thinking about thinking and is considered a critical component of successful learning. Metacognition involves self-reflection of strengths, areas of growth, and the development of strategies to achieve goals.

Learning Management System (LMS): Software application for the administration, and delivery of courses, co-curricular learning, training programs, and learning and development programs.

Interoperability: Refers to the basic ability of software or systems to connect and communicate with one another, despite being disparate technology. Being able to exchange information between applications, databases, and other platforms help support educational institutions, employer databases and other systems share information.

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