by AACRAO International
XML (Extensible Markup Language) is changing the landscape of credential portability, allowing for more flexible reporting regarding outcomes that reflect a new standard in academic credentials. The credit hour no longer fully reflects the learning of students – online courses cannot be based on seat time. When extended out into other applications, reporting outcomes will have tremendous impacts not confined to student progress. Imagine a scenario of a company that offers continuing education and training, tracking that information within their own HR records, and then mining their own data for employees that possess the specific skills required to advance into another position. Identifying the outcomes of training and coursework is paramount to this potential benefit.
Beyond more fully recognizing outcomes of learning, there are other large projects that are being addressed including determining one unique global identification number for each institution. By agreeing to one single standard, each institution that receives documentation can organize what they’ve received however they would like internally, but all parties would be able to understand the precise origin of the credentials in question. Also, when transcripts are coming from verified sources, falsified documents can become a thing of the past.
There are multiple entities that are getting involved in lowering boundaries for electronic transcript exchange: China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center (CHESICC) possesses student data, plus the ability to verify the authenticity of Ministry approved credentials; the Netherlands and Belgium have begun to experiment with transfer between the two countries; Australia is working on a consortium to address the issue of data movement; Canada is taking strong initiative in transitioning to XML. In the province of Ontario, nearly half of the universities have already made a full transition to XML data exchange. Other countries will benefit from the first adopters, who will help work out any kinks from the exchange.
Even though significant progress is being made, there are still debates: some want a direct exchange from institution to institution, while others prefer a central repository (such as CHESICC in the case of Chinese records). Many schools will not presently accept digital attachments, but if regulated vendors control the submission of documents, perhaps these policies would change. One can easily imagine a scenario where credential evaluators are going to be required to perform comparability assessments for the transferrable documents, and though this may increase the cost to the student whose records are evaluated, the application of the records in various systems would outweigh concerns regarding this higher fee. These issues are debated and discussed by many, including signatories of the Groningen Declaration, which is a global network of concerned parties pushing for greater student data portability.
The AACRAO EDGE database contains the latest international comparative education research for the purposes of international credential evaluation, document verification. and placement recommendations. Visit the EDGE information page for more information.
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