Way-Finding, Delicacy, and Balance: The Oregon Edition

Thanks to lakewentworth on Flickr for making this Portland image available for use.

Thanks to lakewentworth on Flickr for making this Portland, Oregon image available for use.

Since October, I have been serving on the Credit for Prior Learning Advisory Committee of the State of Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission (wow – that’s a long title!). Dr. Larry Large of OAICU and I represent the independent colleges and universities, and we serve with colleagues representing community colleges, private for-profits, and the Oregon State University system.

So what’s this all about?

In short, in February 2012, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 4059 which “Directs  Higher  Education  Coordinating  Commission  to  carry  out  goals  relating  to  awarding  academic  credit  for  prior  learning  by  students.” The Bill has several goals, the two most significant being:

(a) Increase the number of students who receive academic credit for prior learning and the number of students who receive academic credit for prior learning that counts toward their major or toward earning their degree, certificate or credential, while ensuring that credit is awarded only for high quality course-level competencies;

(b) Increase the number and type of academic credits accepted for prior learning in institutions of higher education, while ensuring that credit is awarded only for high quality course-level competencies;

Read our 2012 report HERE.

As you can imagine, I am pretty excited about this Bill and the opportunities it will create to recognize and reward learning that students bring with them to college. I am also learning a lot — about the state legislative process, about people’s perceptions of CPL and PLA, and about what I need to advocate for (which I’ve written about ad nauseum).

Also, I recently reviewed the 2013 Horizon Report and several trends (starting on page 13) stood out to me as relevant to our CPL conversation, especially these:

  • The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators.
  • Assessment and accreditation are changing to validate life-long learning.
  • Both formal and informal learning experiences are becoming increasingly important as college graduates continue to face a highly competitive workforce.
  • Open is a key trend in future education and publication, specifically in terms of open content, open educational resources, massively open online courses, and open access.

CPL and PLA are going to be ever-important practices in the 21st century world of open learning, as Conrad proposes in this article, Assessment challenges in open learning: Way-finding, fork in the road, or end of the line?

This paper proposes that the adaptation of a rigorous RPL assessment process, modeled on some processes in operation at various post secondary institutions around the world, could offer a solution to the open learning assessment issue, a solution that would be academically viable, reputable, and sufficiently constructivist-oriented so as not to negate the energy and spirit already exercised by open learners. A delicate balancing act? Perhaps so, but in times of rapid, important, and disruptive change, both delicacy and the need for balancing abound. (p. 44)

Oregon is way-finding — and in doing this important work on behalf of Oregon learners, we need to remember that there already exist pedagogically sound CPL frameworks and practices that actually support deepening students’ learning. Icing on the credit cake. Let’s take a bite!

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