A tale of two continents
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A Tale of Two Continents:. Cross cultural perspectives in using experiential learning as a foundation for negotiated programs. SUNY Empire State College. Founded 1971 to meet the needs of the Adult Learner > 20,000 students - Associate, Bachelor ’ s, & Master ’ s degrees.

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A tale of two continents

A Tale of Two Continents:

Cross cultural perspectives in using experiential learning as a foundation for negotiated programs

Suny empire state college
SUNY Empire State College

  • Founded 1971 to meet the needs of the Adult Learner

  • > 20,000 students - Associate, Bachelor’s, & Master’s degrees

35 Face to Face locations in New York State, plus Center for Distance Learning ≥ 40% of enrollment (Students in all 50 states and across 50 countries)


Undergraduate program open curriculum
Undergraduate Program - Open Curriculum

  • Individualized degree design to connect studies with students’ personal learning goals across 13 Areas of Study

  • Credit for college-level experiential learning:

    • Standardized exams: CLEP, DANTES, TECEP, NYU, Excelsior

    • Military, Training Program or Course evaluations: ACE, NCCRS

    • ESC Generic/Partnerships

    • Individualized Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

  • PLA: Students prepare a reflective, narrative self-assessment and is interviewed by a content expert (faculty or equivalent)

  • Prior learning assessment pla
    Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

    “Prior Learning Assessment is a term used to describe learning gained outside a traditional academic environment. Put another way, it’s learning and knowledge your students acquire while living their lives: working, participating in employer training programs, serving in the military, studying independently, volunteering or doing community service, and studying open source courseware” (CAEL).

    “In short, PLA is the evaluation and assessment of an individual’s life learning for college credit, certification, or advanced standing toward further education or training” (CAEL).

    Why prior learning assessment
    Why Prior Learning Assessment?

    • Prior learning assessment has been a practice for over 40 years at Empire State College.

    • PLA offers all learners, especially adult learners the ability to:

      • Earn credit for learning outside of the classroom.

      • Complete their degrees sooner at a lower cost.

  • SUNY Empire State College follows the Council on Adult Learning Education’s and the Middle States Accreditation guidelines for the individualized assessment of learning.

  • Forms Of Prior Learning

    How pla works at empire state college
    How PLA works at Empire State College

    • Students meet with a faculty mentor

    • Students take 1 required course – Educational Planning

    • Students design their own degree program plan using prior learning as a basis

    • Students develop PLA requests as part of their degree plan

    • The PLA recommendation is part of the final degree program plan portfolio

    • The PLA credits are approved as part of the degree program approval process.

    Assessment of prior learning at empire state college
    Assessment of Prior Learning at Empire State College

    Today s learning environments
    Today’s Learning Environments

    • Classrooms

    • Online Courses

    • ePortfolios

    • Websites, Blogs, Wikipedia

    • Mobile Aps

    • Social Media

    • Web Videos – YouTube, iTunes

    • Open CourseWare Consortium

    • Open University Network

    • Kahn Academy

    • Peer-to-Peer University

    • Badges

    Shifts in higher education
    Shifts in Higher Education

    Past Role

    Current Role

    A tale of two continents

    • Student’s Role

    • Self-Assess their Learning

    • Reflect Upon their Learning

    • Articulate their Learning

    • Institutional Role:

    • Confirm College-Level Learning

    • Credential the Learning




    • Will an institution assess students emergent learning acquired while attending the institution or only time bound learning prior to attendance? Will PLA policies provide for students to add on assessed learning as they move through their degree?

    • Will institutions be willing to expand their PLA policies to allow more assessed learning credits be recognition toward degree requirements? How will the additional learning be recognized when it expands beyond degree requirements? When learning doesn’t fit a degree, will institutions expand their offerings, such certificates, to capture students’ learning? Will institutions accept badges for credit? Can the peer-review system be developed within academic settings for prior learning?

    • Will institutions be able to embrace the variety of verifiable college level learning posed by students?

    • Is the essay the only way that students can demonstrate verifiable college-level learning? Originally, there was belief that the writing process required college-level skills and was important in documenting academic equivalent learning. Is this true? Could greater depth and breadth of learning be documented by using relational tools? What would happen if these tools were combined? Are there other practices that demonstrate learning that could be used in the documenting process?