Most higher education institutions operate the same way. Colleges and universities tell students, “We have learning to sell you.” The student will sit in the institution's classes, and the institution will certify the learning with a degree, said Ed Klonoski, president of Charter Oak State College.But adult learners who enroll at Charter Oak already know a lot, and they learned it in a variety of ways, Klonoski said. Students enroll with an average of 70 transfer credits, and the residency requirement at Connecticut's public, online, degree‐completion college is only six credits.Besides transfer credits from colleges and universities, students earn credits through testing, prior learning assessment portfolios, corporate training, and courses provided by noncollegiate providers.The goal is to shorten the time and lower the cost for a degree by integrating the learning students have completed in their private and personal lives with their academic learning, Klonoski said.Corporate trainingMaking it easier for employees to earn college credit can help their employers retain them and provide the company with more highly skilled employees. For example, Charter Oak has a long‐standing relationship with Aetna to offer associate degrees to call‐center employees. One reason the program was developed was that many employees would leave once their 90‐day training was complete if they were offered jobs that paid slightly more elsewhere. Employee retention has increased significantly because the employees are motivated to stay by the opportunity to pursue the degree. And because the degree program focuses on call‐center work, Aetna ends up with a more highly skilled workforce, Klonoski said.Noncollegiate providersCharter Oak has partnerships to provide credit for learning completed through a number of noncollegiate providers, including EdX. For example, students can take EdX courses Charter Oak faculty have reviewed and approved for credit and have them transcripted at Charter Oak. That arrangement has been both a disappointment and a learning experience, Klonoski said. About 60,000 students enrolled in the first course Charter Oak evaluated for credit, but only 24 students wanted credit.One lesson from that experience has been that many people want to learn, but earning credit isn't their motivation for pursuing the courses. The EdX partnership offers a way for students in poor parts of the world to earn a significant number of credits for a degree. But officials aren't seeing students take advantage of it, Klonoski said.Collaboration assists adult learnersBecause many adult students transfer several times and institutions do not evaluate noncollegiate learning in the same ways, Klonoski worked to develop several initiatives with his peers to make the process more smooth:➢ Consortium for the Assessment of College Equivalency. Adult‐centered colleges that participate in this consortium created standards for evaluating noncollegiate instruction. The standards provide guidelines for evaluator administrative standards, the relationship between the evaluator and the sponsor, learning experience oversight, and components of a review. Members of the consortium have agreed to accept other member institutions' reviews so that students aren't starting over on having their credit evaluated if they transfer.➢ The Collaborative for Quality in Alternative Learning. This group of organizations and institutions seeks to create a common approach to assessing noncollegiate learning, much as accreditation validates traditional learning on campus.Partnerships assist diverse institutionsServing the adult student market is very different from serving 18‐year‐olds, Klonoski said. Charter Oak isn't equipped to serve traditional‐aged students, he added. And, similarly, many institutions are not equipped to serve adult learners.That's why colleges and universities should form partnerships that enable each to concentrate on what it does well, Klonoski said. He welcomes officials from colleges that need the types of expertise in place at Charter Oak to seek partnerships around what they and Charter Oak do well.Email Ed Klonoski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean & Provost – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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