ePortfolios and PLA

Example student profile with badgesePortfolios are a great way for professionals and students alike to demonstrate their competencies and accomplishments.  They are also one way that Prior Learning Assessment can occur, whereby learners with previous professional experience and competencies but without college credit can obtain credit towards degrees.  (Incidentally, the other main ways are 1) Direct Assessment, 2) “counting” skills from the military, 3) using industry-specific credentials for comparable credit, and 4) arguably competency-based degree programs, where a learner can accelerate through their learning via demonstrating accomplishment of competencies.

I created this presentation on the alignment between General Standard 3:  Assessment and Measurement of the Quality Matters Rubric and the use of ePortfolios.  The pictures are hyperlinked to examples and resources.

A brief lesson on ePortfolios:


Check out this Pintrest board of free ePortfolio tools as well as some basic help documentation on how to get started with WordPress, Wix, Weebly and Google Sites.

Check out this great Pintrest board curated out of the ePortfolios that my learners created in the Summer 2014 course of “The Guide to Everything eLearning for the Higher Education Administrator”.

Find out more about ePortfolios in this brief presentation.  YouTube videos are embedded.  You may need to check your browser settings if any of the components do not appear.


Resources for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA):

PLA the Snapshot Version (http://tinyurl.com/PLASnapshot)

Lumina-funded group seeks to lead conversation on competency-based education @insidehighered

A new group is stepping in to try to clear up some of the confusion. The nascent Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) will include up to 20 institutions that offer competency-based degrees or are well on their way to creating them.
  • Competency-based education appears to be higher education’s “next big thing.” Yet many academics aren’t sure what it is. And that goes double for lawmakers and journalists.
  • A new group is stepping in to try to clear up some of the confusion. The nascent Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) will include up to 20 institutions that offer competency-based degrees or are well on their way to creating them.

    The Lumina Foundation is funding the three-year effort. Public Agenda, a nonprofit research organization, is coordinating the work.

  • A new group is stepping in to try to clear up some of the confusion. The nascent Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) will include up to 20 institutions that offer competency-based degrees or are well on their way to creating them.
  • The reason for the project’s creation, said several officials who are working on it, is a growing need for shared guiding principles. Interest in online education is high, and many college leaders want competency-based education to avoid the hype, misconceptions and resulting backlash massive open online courses have received.
  • A separate Lumina grant will help pay for a website that will make public much of the network’s work and research. Southern New Hampshire University is responsible for creating the website.
  • That project is an “incubator” that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding through its Next Generation Learning Challenges grant, which is managed by Educause. To participate, colleges will need to submit a plan to begin creating a competency-based program by January 2015, according to a draft document about the grant.
  • Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, welcomed the deepening conversation over competency-based education. She said she hopes the network can provide some clarity on the emerging delivery model, which the association has viewed warily.

    The competency-based movement does have promise, she said. Ideally, Schneider said, competency-based programs share goals with the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP), a Lumina-funded effort that attempts to define what degree holders should know and be able to do. Schneider helped author the profile.

Competency-based education gets a boost from the Education Department @insidehighered

  • On Tuesday the department announced a new round of its “experimental sites” initiative, which waives certain rules for federal aid programs so institutions can test new approaches without losing their aid eligibility. Many colleges may ramp up their experiments with competency-based programs — and sources said more than 350 institutions currently offer or are seeking to create such degree tracks.
  • the federal program could help lay the groundwork for regulation and legislation that is better-suited to competency-based learning.
  • “The department recognizes that this is new territory and they don’t have a regulatory framework for it,” said Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University.
  • Colleges have faced plenty of red tape as they seek to give competency-based education a try. That is particularly true for “direct assessment” programs, the most aggressive version, which does not rely on the traditional credit hour standard.
  • Only two institutions — College for America, a subsidiary of Southern New Hampshire, and Capella University — have been successful in the lengthy process of getting the department and regional accrediting agencies to approve direct assessment programs. Other institutions have tried and either were rebuffed by the feds or are still waiting for the final word.
  • For example, the University of Wisconsin-Extension last year created ambitious direct assessment degree tracks. But the university has had to cover for the absence of federal aid for its “Flex Program” by spending more on grants for students. Officials with the system said Tuesday they were eager to participate in the experimental sites program.
  • Jim Selbe is a special assistant to the chancellor of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which is a pioneer in competency-based programs in the two-year sector.
  • Experimental site status would give the Kentucky system the ability to “be broader and have more flexibility,” said Selbe. “This is going to give us a chance to really go field test.”
  • For example, Selbe said, the system is considering new programs that would charge students a monthly fee for all they can learn. This subscription-style approach could also apply to four-month terms
  • The new experimental sites will also include prior-learning assessment
  • Finally, the program will test federal work-study programs under which college students mentor high school students in college readiness, student aid, career counseling and financial literacy
    Four areas of experiments from DOE:1) self-paced competency-based programs (ex: direct assessment)2) hybrid programs (direct assessment + credit hours)3) Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)4) Federal work-study programs (college students mentor high school students)
  • Experimental sites programs have rarely been so promising, said Amy Laitinen, deputy director of the New America Foundation’s higher education program and a former official at the department and White House.
  • “We don’t have to wait for a reauthorization,” she said. “We can inform a reauthorization.”

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