Education Design Lab Launches Collaborative to Give Job-Seekers Credit for Lived Experience

Career Climbers / 22nd July 2021

National innovator, Education Design Lab, has announced the launch of their new XCredit initiative, aimed at offering new ways of assessing and credentialing the informal learning of transitioning military members, veterans, and unemployed and underemployed job-seeking civilians. With unemployment still higher than it was pre-pandemic, the widespread displacement of workers, and the sudden disruption to education that is impacting all learners, XCredit provides an opportunity to completely reimagine the concept of prior learning assessment (PLA), making it scalable, automated, and objective so that individuals have access to a simple way to validate their existing skills.

“This is the next and most important frontier in the drive to break down the systemic barriers to economic mobility. It is now more important than ever to capture and validate individuals’ existing skills. This helps level the playing field, providing people with the opportunity to pursue in-demand jobs that track toward median wage earnings, while simultaneously filling high-demand job roles in the market,” said Kathleen deLaski, founder of Education Design Lab. “Not having a college degree should not be a barrier to a professional career if a veteran, an essential worker, a single mom can demonstrate or transfer skills from their jobs and their lives.”

The first year of this three-year initiative focuses on a specific military use case demonstrating how the education-to-workforce ecosystem can work together to support the learner-earner. Learning that happens on the job and in everyday life cultivates crucial 21st-century skills that can be as valuable as those signalled by industry-recognized certifications and degrees, yet these experiences go largely unrecognized by educational institutions and employers.

“As part of our country’s economic recovery, it is critical to provide accessible pathways to higher wages and jobs for as many individuals as possible,” said Dr. Tara Laughlin, Education Designer and Micro-Credentialing Project Manager, Education Design Lab. “To do this, we need scalable, automated assessments and an ecosystem of tools seamlessly sharing data to make learners’ skills visible and shareable, while also providing the learner with ownership over their own records — XCredit will do just that.”

Supported by the Walmart Foundation, the Lab’s XCredit project will design, test and pilot two approaches to assessing and validating these skills. The first approach is through skill assessments, experiential assessments that allow an individual to showcase the skills they have gained. The second is through skill artifacts that act as credible, real-world evidence of skills. When combined, these two approaches will help learner-earners seeking better job and career outcomes to leverage the skills they already have, giving value and respect to their lived experiences. Once learners’ skills are validated by either of these two approaches, the third key piece of XCredit is establishing an interoperable ecosystem, which will enable seamless sharing of data to make learners’ skills visible and shareable.

“Translating real-world experiences into credentials can open up so many new doors for people,” said Sean Murphy, senior manager at Walmart.org. “XCredit has the potential to unlock new career paths for job seekers and expand talent pools for employers, and we’re proud to support this good work.”

With support from SOLID, the Lab will design and demonstrate a skills ecosystem using a shared data language to support the translation of 21st-century skills gained during military service as it relates to civilian jobs. The ecosystem will also help learners view and begin validating their existing 21st-century skills and identifying gaps through multiple technologies: SOLID’s MilGears: a military career planning platform; Matrix: a learning management platform serving as a central Lab “hub”; Muzzy Lane and Talespin: two skill assessment platforms; Credly: a digital badging platform; and MyHub: a platform providing a digital wallet.

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