How will blockchain transform higher ed? Start with credentials

At Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), empowering students is an important goal, says Tobe Phelps, senior director of online college. Giving students a permanent, secure digital record of their accomplishments that they can take with them when they graduate aligns perfectly with this objective.

“When we issue a diploma to a student, that diploma still belongs to the college, and the student must get a certified copy from us,” Phelps says. “If they try to get a job or move on to another college, all of those (entities) have to come back to us for validation of the student’s credentials.”

By using a technology called blockchain, “we’re able to take that certification and give it to the student as an official record they own themselves,” he says. “We can be completely out of the circle.”…Read More

More states are recognizing the importance of non-degree credentials

Although no state has comprehensive data about all types of non-degree credentials, including certificates, licenses, and industry certifications, states are improving their data-collection practices around non-degree credential attainment, according to Measuring Non-Degree Credential Attainment from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign.

States are most likely to have data about public for-credit certificate programs, registered apprenticeship certificates, and licenses.

Thirty-six states report having most or all individual-level data on for-credit certificates from public two-year institutions in their state. Twenty-seven states report having most or all data about registered apprenticeship certificates, and 22 states report having most or all licensing data.…Read More

States show progress in measuring non-degree credentials

A new 50-state scan reveals that while no state has comprehensive data about all types of non-degree credentials, including certificates, licenses, and industry certifications, states are improving their data collection practices around non-degree credential attainment.

Because full-time workers with credentials earn more than those without credentials, states recognize the value of non-degree credentials and are including them in statewide educational attainment goals, according to Measuring Non-Degree Credential Attainment from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign.

States are most likely to have data about public for-credit certificate programs, registered apprenticeship certificates, and licenses.…Read More

Suite of 8 digital badges highlights 21st-century skills

A new set of digital badges aims to help educators and industry leaders better evaluate students’ 21st-century skills.

The 21st Century Skills Badges initiative, from Education Design Lab, is based on three years of research, design, and pilots and offers a suite of eight digital badges, often called microcredentials, along with a facilitator’s toolkit, to help educators and employers understand the skills students have cultivated.

Education Design Lab partnered with 12 universities and 50 employers to develop the badges. Students can display them on LinkedIn accounts or resumes.…Read More

Unbundling the 4-year degree: How to design education for the future

Employers are in desperate need of skilled workers to address current employee shortages and prepare for projected disruption in the workplace. For example, artificial intelligence will create 2.3 million jobs while eliminating 1.8 million by 2020, according to a 2017 Gartner report.

To fill jobs now while preparing for the future, countless organizations are rethinking how students learn and earn skills in postsecondary education. Such a change requires new mindsets for institutions and businesses.

The rise of micro-credentials…Read More

Why academic assessment is poised for a scientific revolution

In 1906, Englishman J. J. Thompson challenged the scientific community’s understanding of the atom with his “plum pudding” theory. The model ultimately led to scientific evidence of the first subatomic particle, the electron. Thompson and subsequent pioneers of subatomic theory proved a powerful point: changing the unit of measurement can radically alter how we engage with the natural world.

Contrast this scientific revolution with our experience in the dynamic and changing world of higher education. For too long, higher education has relied on 19th-century definitions and measures to solve for 21st-century needs. The yardstick of academic progress—the transcript—has been the instrument to measure all learning that takes place during a student’s journey.

Students, families, and employers have serious doubts about the value of higher education—doubts that may be well-founded. Far too many students are exiting higher learning without the skills employers and society demand. One survey found that 87 percent of recent graduates felt well-prepared for jobs and careers after earning their diplomas, but only half of hiring managers agreed with them.…Read More

5 key steps in developing a system for digital credentials

A new field guide for community college and university leaders outlines five key strategies to help institutions develop a system for digital credentials.

The guide, “Partnering with Employers to Create Workforce-Relevant Credentials,” is intended to steer faculty and administrators through a collaborative design and implementation process for developing a workforce-relevant credentialing system.

The five digital-credential strategies come from best practices of institutions profiled in the report.…Read More

Could this alternative to ‘free college’ work?

Increased federal support of high-quality occupational credentialing opportunities could be an alternative to a “free” four-year degree, proposes a new report from the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).

The report finds that federal support of such programs, including the extension of federal Pell grants, could aid in closing the skills gap and offer an equally viable and debt-free path to middle-class mobility and economic security.

“The single-minded focus on college diminishes other, equally viable paths to middle-class security – such as in health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing, and other skilled professions – that require specialized occupational ‘credentials’ but no four-year degree,” writes senior fellow Anne Kim in the report.…Read More

Dual enrollment has drastic state-by-state differences

A large majority of dual enrollment students (88 percent), those who take community college courses while still enrolled in high school, continue college after high school, and most earn a degree within six years.

Studies show that high school students in dual enrollment–taking community college courses at the same time as high school courses–are more likely to graduate high school, go on to college and complete degrees than other students. But the number of dual enrollment students varies widely across the country, and their success rates are not consistent.

A new study from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center examines each state to gauge how many high school students are taking community college classes and how they do when they move on to college.…Read More

Report: 7 recommendations for student success with credentials

A healthy GPA and completing more credits during the first year of college are fairly strong predictors of community college credential completion, according to a new report from Hobsons and the American Council on Education (ACE).

The report is the second in a four-part series that examines how high school graduates fare when they enroll in community college directly after high school.

“Community colleges ensure millions of students each year have access to the benefits of postsecondary education,” said Jonathan Turk, senior policy research analyst with ACE’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy and the report’s author. “However, while access is important, it holds little value if students cannot complete their education. This series of work will hopefully continue to shed light on what can be done to reduce barriers to student success for this particular student population.”…Read More