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New Program Wants to Formalize Value of Life Experiences

Could life experiences be valued with the same heft as a college degree or other formal credentials? That's at the heart of a new initiative undertaken by a nonprofit that develops innovative models for higher education and adult learning.

Education Design Lab has just announced XCredit, a three-year project that will test and pilot approaches for assessing and validating personal skills. During the first year, the project will focus on the military community, both veterans and those transitioning out of the armed services. If that works, the organization hopes to apply the model to unemployed and underemployed civilians too, in subsequent years.

Two approaches will be tested. The first involves skill assessments, allowing people to show the various skills they have gained. The second relies on generating "skill artifacts," various forms of "credible, real-world evidence of skills."

XCredit will also set up an ecosystem by which the data about a person's skills can be made "visible and shareable." The goal is to help individuals improve their job and career outcomes by "giving value and respect to their lived experiences."

This prior learning assessment work will incorporate several technologies:

  • SOLID MilGears, a military career planning program;
  • Matrix, a learning management system that will serve as a hub for e-learning activities;
  • Muzzy Lane and Talespin, two skill assessment platforms;
  • Credly, a digital badging service; and
  • MyHub, a platform that provides a digital wallet for academic records.

"As part of our country's economic recovery, it is critical to provide accessible pathways to higher wages and jobs for as many individuals as possible," said Tara Laughlin, Education Design Lab's education designer and microcredentialing project manager, in a statement. "To do this, we need scalable, automated assessments and an ecosystem of tools seamlessly sharing data to make learners' skills visible and shareable, while also providing the learner with ownership over their own records — XCredit will do just that."

"Not having a college degree should not be a barrier to a professional career if a veteran, an essential worker, a single mom can demonstrate or transfer skills from their jobs and their lives," added Kathleen deLaski, founder of Education Design Lab.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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