By: Michele Thornal

Learning Outside of the Classroom Is an Economic Game Changer

When growing demand for a more educated workforce crosses paths with a shortage of credentialed workers, the evaluation and recognition of prior learning becomes essential. Many Americans acquire their knowledge and competencies through on-the-job or military training, apprenticeships and a variety of other programs. Students who are granted college credit for their prior learning save time and money, making them more likely to complete a degree.

In fact, a 2013 Gallup Poll commissioned by the Lumina Foundation found that 75% of people indicated they would be more inclined to return to college and graduate if they received PLA credit. Understanding this, states and individual institutions are increasingly adopting policies to systematize processes and establish a common framework to create consistency and credibility.

This begs the question...How can this be successfully accomplished, all the while maintaining institutional autonomy?

Pennsylvania’s Community Colleges came together and decided the best way was to put into operation a dedicated system-wide portal that would serve as an interactive gateway for students and institutional staff. Application, E-Portfolio and Assessment workflows guide students through the process and connect them with advisors and evaluators in a centralized information hub. A messaging center and online data store of all options available rounds out the software to ease the burden of work that is often manually done. Everyone benefits as evaluations are kept in-house, a nominal one-time fee is charged and extraneous petition courses aren’t necessary.

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