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Qualified!: Robust Assessment of Prior Learning

A new approach to giving transfer students credit for what they've learned in other settings.

June 10, 2020
 

University of Maryland Global Campus is developing new and expanded options for students to transfer in their previous educational experiences for credit. In addition to an already robust process that allows students to bring in credit previously earned through other educational institutions, UMGC is developing new pathways for students to get credit for what they have already learned in other settings as well.

Under a new umbrella program called Qualified!, students will be able to explore all of their options to maximize their credits and shorten their degree programs. Qualified! is designed to be a one-stop shop for all degree-related learning that students may have in their portfolio. This new approach aims to combine previous transcripted credits, military experience, credentials, certificates, work experience and testing options in one place for prospective and current students to get an understanding of how UMGC can help them most quickly and effectively navigate our degree programs.

A web-based tool is being developed that will give students the ability to explore their options by inputting their previous learning experiences and seeing how those experiences impact their degree plan at UMGC. By mapping these credits and experiences to general education courses, electives and even major courses, students can understand the time and economic commitment it will take to graduate with a degree from UMGC.

For Qualified! to come together, UMGC has been adjusting how we approach prior learning by laying new foundations within the degree planning process. To better serve our students, UMGC is using data analytics to mine the various pathways and courses that successful students take. We are building degree plans with recommended course sequencing so students understand how to get from their first class to graduation in a logical pathway. These new plans allow a systematic approach to student management and for the fundamentals of Qualified! to work on a large scale.

Qualified! will also help military students understand how their experience, education and training can be utilized in their degree program. UMGC recognizes that our military students are bringing in a vast knowledge base with them as they enroll. We want to help them figure out how their prior learning can benefit them as they pursue their degree. The Qualified! program will be more robust than just bringing in this experience as elective credits. We will be mapping military experience directly to general education and program major courses. There is a tremendous opportunity to help military students maximize education can be transferred in to UMGC.

The cost of their degree is a critical issue for learners. UMGC already has a very competitive pricing structure and, as part of it, students can access most course materials at no cost. Through the Qualified! project we will be expanding our low-cost challenge exam offerings. Students that already have deep knowledge of a topic will be given the opportunity to take low-cost proctored exams in order to prove proficiency. These exams will then be accepted for credit allowing students to accelerate toward degree completion and lower the cost of their program. These exams will be curated by UMGC and students will have easy access to them right from the Qualified! section of our websites.

As we work with students to help them make informed decisions about what educational opportunities they want to pursue, UMGC is here to make the journey as seamless as possible. With Qualified!, we feel we are putting students first and building a positive relationship with them. UMGC welcomes all students that have previous education and learning experiences to our university. We do not want our students to spend time, effort and money on replicating what they already know; we want to teach them new ideas and concepts and prepare them for the future.

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