Alternative credentials are given for learning experiences gained through massive open online courses, training that issues badges, and boot camps. However, institutions take differing approaches on how they issue credit for adult prior learning, according to a report from the Online Learning Consortium and the Research Center for Digital Learning & Leadership.
The study, Alternative Credentials: Prior Learning 2.0, profiled the assessment practices at six institutions, finding that each understood the need for quality measurements. However, internal assessment takes too much time and so is normally outsourced to a nonprofit organization.
Data management and reporting was also a challenge for the schools. Student data can be insufficient for evaluation or maintained by more than one department on campus, making the decision-making process on credit more difficult.
“This availability, or lack of availability, of reliable data leads to mostly suppositions made surrounding time to degree completion,” Jill Buban, senior director of research and innovation for the Online Learning Consortium, wrote in the report. “We know that prior-learning evaluation processes increase time towards degree completion and can be a cost savings for students. However, without accurate data there aren’t identifiable percentages around specific types of credentials, increasing time to degree completion.”