Moving from a Degree-Centric Postsecondary System to an Incremental Credentialing System: What Happens to Learners’ Financing Options?

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Learner Supports

Playbook Sections

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Delivery of Supports

Learner Supports

Delivery of Supports

The following approaches are suggested to deliver support services relevant to incremental credentials:

  • Establish a central hub or online platform where learners can obtain information about incremental credentials and learner support services.
  • Collaborate with academic departments, financial aid offices, counseling centers, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure seamless integration of learner support services.
  • Enhance career guidance through credit for prior learning (CPL), which recognizes competencies gained outside formal education. This framework benefits unemployed people, migrants, and students seeking accelerated credentialing. It also aids new parents, justice-impacted individuals, and people with disabilities. Expanding CPL-enabled career guidance can help institutions meet their commitment to provide inclusive, personalized education.
  • Leverage technology to deploy a student success management system. Such a system connects administrators, instructors, staff, and advisors in a coordinated care network to support students from enrollment through graduation and into their careers.
  • Seek funding to enhance learner supports for learners who consider pursuing incremental credentials—recognizing that incremental credentials typically include credit and noncredit enrollments.
  • Provide professional development about incremental credentialing across all offices working with learners. All staff members need to understand how incremental credentials relate to academic programs and career development.
  • Conduct regular assessments and feedback surveys to gauge the effectiveness of incremental credentials and learner supports, making necessary improvements based on the results. Pursue professional development and network with other institutions to stay up-to-date with best practices and innovations in incremental credentialing and learner support services.

Technology has become key  to colleges’ delivery of learner supports, especially degree mapping, educational planning, and student planning. While some colleges rely on traditional paper-based methods, more and more employ technological solutions such as Degree Works, Starfish Degree Planner, HighPoint’s DegreePlanner, or homegrown systems. These tools are particularly emphasized in proactive advising practices related to guided pathways. Notably, Ellucian’s Student Planning facilitates collaborative course mapping, and Degree Works helps compare tracks, highlights program differences, and helps students chart their path to graduation. The "what-if" analysis function in Degree Works is especially valuable for advisors engaged in long-term planning with returning students seeking swift degree completion.

While these technology tools can enhance service provision, institutions and providers need to carefully explore issues related to the user experience, financial questions, integration of systems and others. The Credential As You Go playbook, Technology-Integrated Credential Management, contains detailed information on technology and incremental credentials.

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