Resources to Guide the Establishment of Interoperable LERs

May 15, 2023
  • Comprehensive Record
  • clr
  • Comprehensive Learner Record
  • Learning and Employment Record
  • ler
Illustration of a lightbulb representing thought and creativity.

States, institutions, employers, and even some federal agencies have set sights on a shared future, where individuals have access to their learning and employment data through the seamless sharing and use of Learning and Employment Records (LERs). AACRAO remains committed to exploring and supporting opportunities for higher education to embrace the potential of learner mobility through trusted learning records like Comprehensive Learner Records (CLRs) and Learning and Employment Records. These opportunities will make postsecondary education more flexible, responsive, and valuable for learners and employers.

Credential innovation is already happening at many institutions via professional continuing education, student life, and academic units on campus. Registrar partnerships are essential for this innovation to move forward. The institution’s reputation and trust are dependent upon the integrity of its issued credentials (traditional and new learning records) and the registrar is the key campus officer charged with the collection and assertion of the information. There is certainly value to the learner and institution to capture and account for all the learning occurring both inside and outside the classroom, however, there are still many questions to be answered before a complete path forward is forged. Acknowledging that many schools are posing that question is why AACRAO has named the CLR/LER one of the organization's strategic initiatives, developed a CLR/LER Community of Practice, and added CLR/LER services to the AACRAO Consulting Services menu. 

Interoperability Principles 

Establishing this new approach to validating and sharing skills requires that data be seamlessly owned and shared by individuals. This vision requires interoperability of the data systems that produce LERs which will allow learners to accumulate multiple records over time to reflect the range of credentials and competencies they earned. To guide action towards interoperability, a common set of principles for education and employment data has been created by the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) for use by the key decision-makers who provide education and training opportunities. 

The C-BEN report highlights seven key interoperability principles. These principles are a framework for shared action in advancing LERs that achieve their fullest potential. The principles are: 

  1. Open Standards - Data included in LERs are formatted using a standard structure, allowing for easy exchange between individuals, education, and employment.

  2. Privacy & Security - Systems protect the privacy and security of individuals’ data, which, in turn, builds and maintains trust in LERs.

  3. Unlock Learning Anywhere - Learning is lifelong, and quality learning can occur outside of the classroom. Interoperable LERs honor the value of all learning and offer processes for validating a wide range of learning, skills, and competencies.

  4. Universal Access - Interoperable LERs are user-centered and ensure every potential user has access to and control of a digital wallet to store, manage, and curate LERs.

  5. Alignment - All stakeholders, including employers, states, and local, regional, and federal agencies, are aligned, intentionally collaborating to support and ensure fidelity to interoperability principles.

  6. Public and Private Partnerships Creating Public Good - A healthy marketplace is cultivated and regulated to both encourage innovation and ensure that the benefits of interoperable LERs are shared by all stakeholders.

  7. Global Mobility - Interoperable LERs support learners’ mobility by functioning in local, regional, state, national, and global talent marketplaces.

Your campus will eventually invest in technology supporting learning records' mobility. These seven guiding interoperability principles from our friends at C-BEN can help us ask the questions that support procuring software that aligns with institutional missions and values.

Alabama Talent Playbook 

LERs are reshaping not only what is recorded about a learner’s knowledge, skills, and capabilities, but also how learners can access, curate, and disclose their data to pursue employment opportunities and/or further their education and careers without barriers. AACRAO is a contributing partner by providing support to the Alabama Community College System to participate in the Alabama Talent Triad. This initiative is highlighted in the Alabama Talent Playbook, a website built to tell how Alabama created a technology and competency framework infrastructure to support its budding skills-based economy. This represents a huge step forward and stands out as an early exemplar of what digital credentialing can look like on a large scale. Alabama is making a big bet, leveraging public data and infrastructure, philanthropic support, subject-matter expertise, and private sector know-how to create a talent marketplace to serve its citizens. The Talent Playbook will release papers on various topics over the coming months, culminating in a single Talent Playbook. To date, two issues have been published. 

Issue 01: A Playbook for States, focuses on Alabama’s work to ensure every resident can access LERs and digital wallets that are built to share skills data between sectors and assist individuals to more easily and quickly find meaningful education and careers. 

Issue 02: Interoperability focuses on the interoperability principles necessary to allow systems, devices, and applications to work together, exchange and communicate information, and importantly, to do those without any additional effort by the end user. The second issue of the playbook is particularly relevant to individuals at the beginning of their LER journey as it houses a wealth of information to help guide them to interoperability. 

The Talent Playbook offers the opportunity to see the principles in action before stakeholders dive deep into the great work they are doing to bring interoperability to life. AACRAO encourages members to review these interoperability principles and Talent Playbook to gain insights into CLR/LER development on their own campuses.


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