When designed with equity, LERs have the potential to mitigate inequities for students and adult learners in enrollment higher-ed systems.

7 ways to design LERs with equity and inclusion

When designed for learning transitions with people who have been historically and systematically excluded, LERs have the potential to mitigate inequities in enrollment processes and education systems

Key points:

As digital credentials grow in popularity–particularly among adult learners who are seeking to find success in an increasingly skills-based economy–Learning and Employment Record (LER) technologies have emerged as a way for individuals to share data and demonstrate their skills and qualifications.

But not all student populations benefit from additional learning opportunities or LER technologies equally, due in part to systemic barriers and changing circumstances. These obstacles disproportionately impact historically and systematically excluded (HSE) communities.

A new report from Digital Promise, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, uses insights gleaned from HSE adult learners and working, including multilingual learners and those experiencing poverty, to present design principles that will inform LER technology development and ensure equitable access.

“One of the promises of LERs is that they may make skills and competency data more accessible, visible, moveable, and useful to learners and workers during transitions, as well as stakeholders they interact with along education, career, and life pathways. It is in this that they promise to mitigate systemic barriers in education, hiring, and recruitment for learners and workers from HSE communities. This promise can only
be achieved if LERs are undergirded by design principles developed with (not for) HSE learners and workers,” according to Learning Transition Design Principles for Learning and Employment Records: Co-designing for Equity.

“Technology innovations like Learning and Employment Records have the potential to transform the way we honor learning happening inside and outside of institutions. To reach this potential, and to particularly center the needs of historically and systematically marginalized learners, the tech needs to be very intentionally designed,” said Christina Luke Luna, Chief Learning Officer at Digital Promise. “Digital Promise’s latest report on inclusive co-design to support learners experiencing transitions shines light on design considerations that have been overlooked by LER vendors in an effort to ensure the future of learning recognition transforms existing systems.”

The report offers seven learning transition design principles for LERs:

1. Connect people to supports: LER technologies should share with and/or match people to supports.

2. Connect people to opportunities: LER technologies should connect people to earning, learning, and resource opportunities during transition.

3. Include indicators of skills–and learning add: LER technologies should include: indicators of learners’ social-emotional and/or 21st century skills, indicators of learners’ skills-add to a role or an organization, and information about their learning development and aspirations.

4. Be inclusive of people’s identity, movement, and language: LER technologies should be inclusive of people’s identity, movement and language needs

5. Empower people with skills-based practices: LER technologies should enable people to effectively organize, have translated, and evaluate their skills-data, information, and credentials.

6. Adopt a comprehensive approach to digital credentialing: LER technologies should include: a functionality for the holder to check for credential data accuracy and consent to its inclusion in their LER; verifiable and unverifiable digital credentials; institution, peer, and self attested digital credentials; and a variety of credential types and expressions.

7. Integrate with a variety of tools: LERs should integrate with a variety of tools to make the LER data useful for people experiencing transitions.

Related: Biggest barrier to skill development is cost, survey finds

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Laura Ascione

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