Governor’s Convening for Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning: Community colleges launch…

Governor’s Convening for Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning: Community colleges launch…

October 28, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


Thank you, Ted. That was really great. I just want to pick
up on two things I heard among all the great
points that Ted was making. One is his important, and
in many ways, profound, point about equity. And there’s, you know–
without question, you know, the topic of equity is
deeply connected and rooted in the opportunities
that we’re providing to all of our
citizens, especially those who have been so
poorly served or under-served in the past. But the reality is, from
an economic point of view, in terms of the health
of the Commonwealth, let alone the health of our
country, given the demographics of our school age
population, this is not something
that is charity. This is not something
that is an option for us. We have to address this issue
and address it effectively if we’re going to continue
to thrive as a state. So I’m thrilled that you raised
that critically important issue for all of us. The other is his point
that the future is here. And he referenced the statistic
around the scale and the growth of online education. But more broadly, all of
these various innovations that we’ve been talking
about are present, are in our institutions,
are in our environment. But they’re just not
necessarily evenly or thoroughly distributed. And I just want to say one kind
of interesting little anecdote, I guess, to give you,
perhaps underlining the sense of urgency that we
should have about this work, and taking advantage of the
assets and the successes and the initiatives that
are already underway. Back in, I think it was 1985,
McKinsey did a study for AT&T to project how many cell
phone users there would be in the world in the year 2000. And their projection
was that there would be 900,000 cell phone users. [LAUGHTER] In fact, in 2000, there were
over 109 million cell phone users around the world. And that just gives you a
sense for the trajectory that these kinds of
transformative innovations can take. I’m not sure exactly
what path we’re on, but I’m pretty convinced it’s
not simply a straight line. I think it is beginning
to accelerate. And that’s in some ways
the purpose, the reason, we’re here today, is
to hit the accelerator even further in order to take
advantage of the opportunities that are already all around us. So you know, as I
mentioned earlier, the American
Council on Education is one of the largest– is actively involved in helping
adult learners on their path to earn credentials and
pursue their careers. It is, in particular, one
of the largest sources of credit for prior learning. And although Massachusetts
community colleges have been awarding credit for
prior learning for many years, there is a tremendous
opportunity for doing more, and for creating more
consistency and coherence across the entire
system in order to lower barriers to entry and
completion for more learners, in particular adult learners. Our next panel,
which is moderated by Barbara McCarthy of
Massasoit Community College, will tell us about a couple
of new web-based tools that are enabling the expansion
of prior learning assessment, and providing students
with critical information they need to navigate their
path from college to career. Barbara? Thank you, Secretary Peizer. We are thrilled to
be here and to be part of this extraordinary
conversation today. We’re here to give you a sneak
peek onto exciting new web tools that are coming out
of the community colleges to serve both our current
and prospective students. One integrates data from career,
education, and labor market, and the second explains
how you can get credit for prior learning
for work experience. My panelists are Kathleen Kirby,
statewide Project Director of GP STEM, Karen
Hynick, Vice President of Academic Affairs from
North Shore Community College, Ann Tubbs, a student from
North Shore Community College, and Cristy Sugarman, Director
of Center of Alternate Studies, North Shore Community College. Let’s get right to it. Kathleen, the two projects
we’re studying about today and learning about come from– were supported by a
Department of Labor grant. Yes, that’s right. It was the– GP STEM grant funded
both of these projects. In 2014, the 15 community
colleges in Massachusetts applied for and
received a $20 million grant from the Department
of Labor, the TACT4 program. The TACT4 program is really– the goal of that
funding is to increase the alignment of community
college offerings, both of their certificates
and degrees, with what the
workforce needs are. Massachusetts
received $20 million, which was the largest
award of all the 50 states. Of that $20 million,
$5 was allocated for us to develop new online
tools and systems that would help adult learners,
unemployed people, underemployed people, get
into and finish their degrees. Would you tell us about
the GP STEM mass.com app? Yes So one of the websites
that we have created is called Guided Pathways
to Success in Massachusetts, or gpsmass.com. The idea is that it
brings in information data from different sources
to create a personalized online experience
for an individual who is seeking to learn about a
high-paying, high demand career that they might be
able to get into, and then to connect them with
the community college programs. It will help train them for
those high demand careers. Do you want to give us
a look at that web tool? You bet. I’m going to stand
up because I know we’ve probably all been waiting
to get up and move around. And so this is my opportunity. Let’s see. So this is actually– this
is the first public viewing of this new website,
gpsmass.com, get started now. This is a project of the
15 Massachusetts community colleges. Let me give you a little
bit of information about the data that
underlies this system. So from the Bureau
of Labor Statistics and from Burning Glass, which is
a labor market information data source, we get jobs data. So this site has in
it live information about job openings in
Massachusetts right now. It is fed by a monthly
feed so that it continually refreshed and updated. From the colleges, we get
the program inventories. So what are the associate–
the certificate and degree programs that are available? For the student, that are
going to the site and answer a series of questions
that help to link them to those careers and
opportunities that they’re looking for, and to the
community college programs that can help prepare them for
those career opportunities. So you can enter the site
in several different ways. One way is up at the top,
there is a hot jobs button. And you can go in here
and look at what are the opportunities in my area? You can enter your
zip code, find out what are the highest
paying jobs, the highest number of open positions, and
the highest growth occupations. Another way that
you can do this is to just click on Get Started. You’ll see the Get Started
button over and over again. And this starts giving you
some information about the job outlook here in Massachusetts. So you start entering
your information. The first category is what
is your college experience or lack of college experience? Where are you educationally? You proceed through this. You can select an
occupation family and then drill down to a
specific career pathway that you might be interested in. And so, you have the opportunity
to do an interest profiler. So in other words, you
know, if you really don’t know where you
want to get started, you can learn a little bit about
your own interests and skills. You select a college and then
decide what kind of program you’re interested in, or
you can say, I’m not sure. And then here are your results. So given the information
I put into the system, and given where I
said I was residing, it gives me these different
programs at Bunker Hill Community College. It tells me a little
bit about the salary ranges and the available jobs. Here’s more information about
the program that I selected. It even has polls
and information from the Moses System at
the Department of Employment Services so that you can
know which of those programs are funded by
unemployment benefits. The system, as I
say, it gives you a customized,
personalized result. So you’ve entered
your information, and then it gives you– you
know, here are your results. And the most interesting
thing about this is that you come off of
this with a very detailed and actionable action plan. So this is what the output
would be for the information that I entered for this
student, Lina Diaz. It tells her about, you
know, what her selections were, the career
she’s interested in, the academic program
she’s chosen, and it actually gives her
the contact information at the colleges for
people in admissions and financial aid that
she can talk to in order to get started on her path. The great thing about
this is that also, on the other side, those
folks at the colleges get information about Lina so
that they can reach out to her and encourage her if she needs
a little bit of encouragement to get started on her path. Thank you, Kathleen. Let’s turn now to Karen Hynick. She’s the Vice President of
Academic Affairs at North Shore Community College. And North Shore has
been a leader in CPL and prior learning
assessment for over 40 years. Tell us about the benefits. Sure, I’d love to. How many of you
yourselves have benefited from credit for prior learning,
or have a family member that started their journey in
higher education leveraging credit for prior learning? Can you raise your hands? OK. I can speak personally
that, as a mother going back to school when I was
40 years old to finish my doctoral program, being
able to leverage a portfolio and earn six additional
credits helped me decide to go back to school. I know for my daughter, when
she went on to higher education, having the opportunity to
leverage AP exams helped her save a year’s
worth of college and helped me financially
save tuition dollars. So I can speak personally
to the benefits of it. We know that credit
for prior learning benefits all different
types of learners, whether you’re a recent
high school graduate and you can use the
time that you have spent in your high school classrooms
taking advanced placement, or if you were a
student who came from a vocational
technical high school and you took technical
courses, leveraging statewide articulation
agreements are an opportunity to use credit for
prior learning. If you’re a returning
adult and you’re trying to decide whether or
not to go back to school, many people have industry
recognized credentials. Many of our military
have great training that they received
from our armed forces. And also, some of the
new technology tools that we’ve talked
about earlier today will be a game changer
for many learners. We also know that
CAEL really helped us to understand access,
opportunity, and affordability to accelerate degree completion. CAEL did a study
a number of years ago which really demonstrated
in a study called Refueling the Race
for Post-secondary Education that
students who leverage credit for prior learning have
a 2 and 1/2 times greater chance and likelihood of
graduating with a degree. That’s a game changer for all
different types of families. We also know that, in
Massachusetts, our demographics are changing. And that’s a
wonderful opportunity that we know adult learners
need to be able to come back to earn those
different types of jobs that we talked about
earlier that do require some type of degree, yet
they’ve learned the skills in other ways. We know that one of our
biggest demographic markets is the 23-34-year-old. That student also oftentimes
tends to be a person of color. And luckily, they are bilingual
or they’re multilingual. Credit for prior learning is a
wonderful opportunity for them to leverage that
tremendously valuable skill set by taking a BYU exam,
and seeing that they actually have proficiency in
Spanish or in Arabic and being able to
earn college credit. We know at North Shore
Community College, we have had a 45-year
history through our Center for Alternative Studies
of granting credit because we really care about
student learner outcomes. And if you can
demonstrate the outcomes through the competencies shown,
and credit for prior learning, we’ve seen similar results
to what CAEL has said. We have over 430
students on average who utilize credit
for prior learning as their entree into
our degree programs. On average, they earn
8 college credits. That’s two to three classes
that they’re saving time in, which is an average of $1,600. In addition to that, we know it
is a game changer for students as far as graduation goes. This year alone, 17 percent
of our graduating class had leveraged some form of
credit for prior learning. North Shore has also really
taken a look at our courses in the last several years. And we’ve created a
crosswalk of our courses. We have over 260 classes
that have been mapped back to an alternative way of getting
that credit through credit for prior learning. That’s roughly 35
percent of our courses. And this is really
an area that we have done quite
a bit of work in, and believe that it
can help students. Thank you. How about colleges
and employers? How do they benefit? Colleges and employers
benefit in a whole host of different ways. Obviously, for colleges, we
learned earlier this year that we have close to 600,000
students, potential students, across the state who
are working adults, who have some type of
college credit but no degree. How do we harness
the opportunity to get them back in
our doors and get them that opportunity to finish their
lifelong dream of finishing a degree? And for employers, we are
leveraging the opportunity that most of them have
industry recognized credentials that they accept as
a gatekeeper to skill sets in their industries. We’re taking that credit and
applying it to the degrees. Great. And [INAUDIBLE]
the benefit of PLA, you came to the leadership of
the GP STEM grant and said, let’s do a special project for
all of the community colleges? Talk to us a little
bit about that. Sure. We did. North Shore
Community College was the lead in the TACT project
for Credit for Prior Learning. And part of our work was really
around professional development of our faculty and staff. Through the leadership of
Dr. Cristy Sugarman, who is our Director
of CAS, she helped convene all of our community
colleges in regional trainings. We offered five regional
trainings throughout the state, training close to
250 faculty and staff on credit for prior learning. In addition to that, we
leveraged our expertise to help create what is
the Mass Experience Counts website, which I know that
Dr. Cristy Sugarman is going to talk a little bit about. But it did leverage
the opportunity for learners to actually
have a chance to assess, are you a good candidate for
credit for prior learning? Because that’s really
the starting point, is a learner being
even aware that this is an opportunity for themselves. So I’m now going to hand it
over to Dr. Cristy Sugarman. If you would like
to kind of leverage and talk through the website? Sure. Thank you, Dr. Hynick. What do I press to get
it to move forward? So just an overview
of the website. We launched it on September 1. It was a venture of the
15 Massachusetts community colleges. And it’s a public
facing website. And through the website,
Massachusetts learners and prospective learners–
everybody’s a learner– can identify the
community college of their choice and the programs
within the community college of their choice that they
might have interest in, depending on their prior
learning experience and their career goals. So the website houses
innovative features. We’ve got– I’m going to call
it CPL– we’ve got a CPL Wizard. And the Wizard allows
learners to self-assess their suitability for
credit for higher learning, and also to see what kinds of
credit for prior learning they might be eligible for. So the Wizard, once completed,
generates a CPL resume. And the CPL resume can
be shared by the student with the designated CPL
specialist at the community college of their choice. The website also acts as a
repository for crosswalks that detail course matches
for CPL opportunity to courses across Massachusetts
community colleges. And it also acts as a
repository for the CPL submissions of the students. So whether they’re
doing an e-portfolio, or whether they are doing a
certificate, whether they have examination results that
they’d like to share, these can all be submitted into
the website for evaluation. So the credit for prior
learning submissions are managed via an
automated workflow. It’s driven by email, and
it’s built into the website. So learners, CPL specialists,
and e-portfolios, coaches and evaluators, can
access a dashboard, and that allows them to
electronically message each other, as well as for
them to share the submissions from the student. We’ve had extremely
positive responses so far. So we launched the
website on September 1. We’ve had extremely
positive responses so far. Which one do I press? (WHISPERING) I don’t know. That one? Oh, there. I’m sorry. We’ve had extremely positive
responses so far, especially as one of the big things about
credit for prior learning is to be able to
inform people about it and get them
knowledgeable about it, and engage with it early on
in their academic career, because that’s what really
helps to accelerate these folks’ success. Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Sugarman. I’d now like to
introduce Ann Tubbs. Ann Tubbs is a North Shore
Community College student who’s leveraged credit
for prior learning through her military experience. Ann, will you kind
of overview for us what your experience was with
credit for prior learning? Sure. Good morning. I retired from the
United States Coast Guard as a Command Master
Chief after 33 years. And along the way, I’ve had Navy
schools, Coast Guard schools– I actually started at
Northeastern 107 years ago– [LAUGHTER] –and I’ve found North
Shore Community College. And I came into the
Veterans Center, and met Kristine Babcock, who’s
the lovely administrator there. And she said, OK, you don’t need
to start from square one here. We have the credit
for prior learning. I met Jessica Kenneth, who
works with Dr. Sugarman. And God bless this child. She took everything that I had. She went back to
Northeastern University, when it was still a small
school in Huntington Avenue, and all the stuff I
had from 33 years. And she was able to funnel
it through her system. She went before boards. She was able to
get me 33 degrees– 33 credit hours, 33–
what am I trying to say? 33 college credits. 33 college credits. It was amazing. So I only have to complete nine
classes, three more classes, and I’ll have, you know,
an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from North
Shore Community College. And it’s a fabulous program. It really is. And where I see it benefiting a
lot of people at North Shore– it’s a small community, but
it’s the veteran community. I would say, Jessica comes
down to the Veterans Center every Tuesday. And she works with
all the veterans. And there’s a lot of young– I mean, I retired
from the military. But there’s a lot of kids
who do one or– you know, two or three years, one or
two tours, and they come in and they have all this
military experience. And Jessica is able to give
them college credits for that. So that’s a community
that I think really could be more explored. But it’s been a
fabulous program for me. I would be going to school
for years, but just two. Thank you so much, Ann. Kathleen, why don’t we end
with you talking about how we’re going to roll these out? So we just hired
a marketing firm. And the gpsmass.com website
will be done in December. We expect to roll it
out in early January. So you’ll plan to see a lot
more about that in your travels around the state. And then the credit for
prior learning site, massexperiencecounts.com,
is already live. And the same marketing
firm has been hired to produce a tool kit so
that our colleges can publicize about it and send the
message to students, that credit for
prior learning is an option they should consider. That’s it. Thank you so much. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]