AACRAO International made its debut at AACRAO's Technology and Transfer conference in New Orleans, hosting an intensive two-day pre-conference workshop. Twenty-one participants from around the country joined this hands-on professional development opportunity, in which they learned about world educational system models, accreditation and recognition of US and foreign institutions, and became familiar with best practices in international admissions and foreign credential evaluation.
The workshop began with a day focusing on The Basics. The Seven Strategies for Success in International Credential Evaluation provided a framework for the two-day curriculum. Resources are also crucial when working with students from over 200 countries around the world. Attendees were given access to AACRAO EDGE, the Electronic Database for Global Education, during the course of the workshop. They became familiar with this electronic resource and its components, which include educational ladders, grading scales, names of credentials, recognition bodies, and lists of recognized postsecondary institutions. The presenters also highlighted print publications and web-based resources, which every foreign credential evaluator needs to do his or her job. The next topic delved into Document Issues and How to Detect Fraud. This section was made relevant using the example of a current world leader who acquired his top government job by using fraudulent academic credentials. Participants finished the day strong by mastering the Fundamentals for a Systematic Approach to International Credential Evaluation.
On day two it was time to apply the previous day’s new knowledge. In the two half-day segments, attendees honed in on the two top U.S. sending countries: China and India. The presenters shared tips and strategies for receiving, reading, assessing, verifying, and evaluating documents from each of these countries. Actual transcripts and diplomas served as case studies in exercises where participants used resources to identify institutional recognition status, computed transfer credit and grade averages, and even learned to read Chinese diplomas in the original language. Participants agreed that they felt more confident in working with international academic credentials than before they attended the workshop.
A couple of unexpected but serendipitous bonuses to this workshop were the professional networking and knowledge-sharing that took place. In addition to learning and practicing new skills, participants used these two days with colleagues to share information, compare processing systems, ask each other questions, and glean ideas and suggestions for making their offices run more smoothly and become more student-friendly. Attendees and presenters wrapped up this two-day workshop by exchanging contact information so that the learning can continue.