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In 2021 and 2022, staff at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers joined the growing national conversation on re-envisioning transfer, sharing research and recommendations in addition to highlighting the infrastructure deficiencies and need for a more global perspective in the “Beyond Transfer” blog. AACRAO’s participation in these discussions spans decades and includes providing guidance on transfer student practice and policy for domestic and international students. As a leader in the academic and enrollment services space, our research highlights transfer policy gaps and spotlights successful practices that drive both institutional and learner success.

In 2023, we want to highlight the role and work our members do to move the needle on improving transfer and credit mobility to spur student success. As institutions struggle to adapt in the wake of the COVID pandemic and advocate for the value of higher education, we, as an association, are determined to spotlight our members’ leadership in this space to make the changes on their campuses that will best serve learners.

The opening “Beyond Transfer” post of the year noted that “despite a variety of excellent, evidence-based innovations available to equity-minded reformers seeking to make transfer seamless for students, it remains the case in higher education (as in other industries) that most failures of innovation are in fact failures of implementation.”

In order to make greater strides towards accelerating change in this space, we need to broaden the conversation about transfer and credit mobility to better encompass learning mobility on a global scale. This is what AACRAO members do. They help document learning. They help create the bridges that connect one pathway to another. Over the course of the year, this series of posts will feature research, case studies, and the practical, replicative work of leaders in the academic services and enrollment management community. AACRAO members manage institutional systems and have a lot of control over how complex or streamlined they will be. They operate at the confluence of technology, compliance, data and student success—constantly working to support and promote innovation. We call them Implementers of Success. By the end of the year, you will too.

Defining Learning Mobility and Identifying Underutilized Resources

Across the globe, students are becoming more mobile, and they expect to be able to engage in preferred learning opportunities or credentials that best suit their personal and career goals. This is, in fact, beyond transfer. AACRAO began leading the U.S. digital transfer conversation with the inception of SPEEDE (Standardization of Postsecondary Education Electronic Data Exchange) in the 1970s. This standing committee of AACRAO represents the interests of the academic services and enrollment management community in developing and promoting the implementation of standards for electronic exchange of student education data. Since then, we have seen widening adoption of digital learner records. Most institutions accept some third-party serviced electronic documents, but the majority consume that digital delivery in an analog fashion. The number of institutions sending and engaging in meaningful exchange of learner data electronically remains small. To keep up with changing workforce and learner needs, this has to change.

Our focus in this series will be on the work done to support this change by AACRAO members. It will cover alternative credentials, microcredentials, noncredit learning, the transformation of the academic record to the comprehensive learner record (the CLR to us but the learner employment record [LER] to workforce and in the postsecondary space). We’ll highlight policy support, guidance and the technology training needed on campus to push culture from self-serving to learner-centric.

As guardians of data and record integrity with direct contact to faculty, students and academia, AACRAO members are in a pivotal position to address the barriers to implementation of policies and practices aimed at alleviating issues related to transfer, credit mobility, and recognition of learning. We hope that by the end of the series, opportunities for cross-campus collaboration with the academic services and enrollment management community will be revealed.

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