Recently, my nine-year old daughter and I were discussing the value of credentials and college degrees. She has dreams of being a veterinarian but did not understand at her over-confident youthful age, why she needed to go to college. Everything she needs to know she can learn from YouTube or Google, right? Considering that I am an education professional, I was understandably flabbergasted that my own child did not see the value of formalized instruction. Then I took a step back to reflect. Neither my father nor husband went to college, yet both run successful businesses. Both are subject matter experts, yet neither has a fancy diploma hanging on the wall. They learned by doing, with the world as their instructors.
My father and husband are not unique. The problematic part is when their world and my world of formalized higher education collide. How do we document the intangible? How do we recognize the knowledge of work that comes from a lifetime of blood, sweat, and tears? My local community is known for food processing (cheese, yogurt, energy bars, potatoes, etc.) and in order to respond to a growing demand for plant managers with an advanced degree, my community college will embark on a journey of offering our first Bachelor of Applied Science degree in the fall. This has prompted many discussions on transferability of course work as well as, and more importantly, how to award credit for prior experience. I have learned that the most important step is being willing to change and opening our minds to alternative forms of learning and assessment. Balancing real-world learning with formalized education is not easy, but I am grateful for the plethora of resources NOCTI offers to help along the way. From digital badges to college credit recommendations to Prior Learning Assessments offered by Nocti Business Solutions, I am confident I will be able to assist every student, even in the most unique situation.
While I am not ready to concede that my daughter can learn to be a veterinarian from the World Wide Web, I am seeing the potential for her to earn college recognition through alternative means of assessment.
Michele McFarlane, Ed. D.
Chairperson, NOCTI Board of Trustees