Regardless of what your view on how “liberal” a program of study at a college should be, it seems to be a fair assumption that colleges should help qualify students for a good job and great career. Especially considering the high debt loads that students in the U.S. are incurring to get a college degree – they need a good job to pay for it.
What is the role of interoperability in educational data? As I have posted elsewhere, IMS is working diligently on interoperability of both big data and small data. We are aligning ourselves closely with the needs of institutions leading the charge on competency-based education credentialing. And, we are strong supporters of the U.S. Department of Education and White House “My Data Button” initiative.
Today I had the privilege of moderating a panel on “closing the gap” between college offerings and the world of work. Our distinguished panelists were:
Debra Derr, President, North Iowa Area Community College
Richard Carpenter, Chancellor of Lone Star College System, and Chair of the Texas Association of Community Colleges
Shah Ardalan, President, Lone Star Community College, University Park
North Iowa Area Community College and Lone Star College System (Houston) represented a great range in scale in this conversation, with NIACC being a small community college and LSCS being one of the largest and fastest growing in the U.S.
However, despite the range in size, the best practices were in agreement:
- Understand what your student and faculty expectations are with respect to use of technology and technology innovation.
- Partner with organizations who have knowledge and expertise to avoid having to reinvent the wheel in terms of deploying new technology.
- Build close ties to local industry to understand the needs of employers.
- Provide better resources to help students understand employment opportunities, and in general what in the world their degree is qualifying them for.
- Move more toward competency-based programs and student documents (evidence of competencies) that can be owned by the student to be used in their quest to match career opportunities.
Richard Carpenter challenged the audience of community college leaders to transform what colleges can do for students by enabling students to “own the student record.” This is a massive paradigm shift from the last 40 years of institutions being the owner of the student data. But today’s panel questioned whether this is good enough for the future.
Obviously there is nothing wrong with institutions being the keepers of authoritative records about student achievement. The problem occurs when students and parents realize that they have paid for an education for which they have little to show except a transcript. Thus, the challenge by Chancellor Carpenter, and echoed by the other panel participants, is that institutions need to help students understand opportunities, create and organize the artifacts from their learning according to critical competencies, and ultimately enable students to “take this with them” throughout their lives.
Lone Star College has championed a new service called the Education and Career Positioning System – which has been launched as an online service for students in which they can own their data.
IMS Global has been working hand-in-hand with Lone Star on this initiative because we believe this is an absolutely critical element of the IMS Open Digital Innovation Revolution in Education, namely opening up the campus systems so that students can connect their academic accomplishments to career and academic opportunities. Obviously IMS open standards can play an important role in opening up the data and artifacts created in a myriad of educational software for export to the student record: the one owned by the student of the future.