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ACE Initiative Working to Expand Use of Digital Credentials in Community Colleges

The American Council on Education is launching a yearlong initiative to support community college systems, students and employees in the use of digital records and credentials. The project will create a national systems data collection process for credentials, employers and transfer equivalencies (housed within ACE's Prior Learning Network) as well as pilot the use of learning and employment records (LERs) to strengthen workforce partnerships and learner outcomes, according to a news announcement.

"The power and value of the LER is its ability to track work, earnings, skills and credentials," ACE explained. "Similar to an academic transcript, LERs can document, verify and transmit qualifications between employers, learners and institutions, rather than using a third-party entity."

The initiative consists of three phases:

  • Analysis of current work in the blockchain and LER communities, including key lessons learned from existing projects;
  • LER pilots with select employers and community college systems; and
  • Creating of toolkits and/or playbooks to inform broader LER implementation.

"Community colleges are key to this work because meeting learner needs requires buy-in from institutions well-versed in the intersection of work and learning," commented Michele Spires, assistant vice president of learning evaluation at ACE, in a statement. "Also, they are uniquely situated to assist part-time and working learners from underserved backgrounds and share visions connected to student equity, achievement, economic vitality, accessibility and success."

The work is funded by a $500,000 grant from Walmart. A final report with key takeaways will be presented at the ACE Annual Meeting, April 13-15, 2023 in Washington, DC.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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