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Kara Malenfant-IL (staff)'s picture

National Credentialing and Academic Libraries

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and over 80 other organizations recently joined the Lumina Foundation in co-sponsoring a national dialogue on credentialing which calls for ways to transform our nation’s highly diverse and fragmented credentialing system into one that is student-centered and learning-based.

Join us for the free ACRL online discussion forumNational Credentialing and Academic Libraries” on Thursday, September 24, from 2 – 3 p.m. Central (noon – 1 p.m. Pacific | 1 – 2 p.m. Mountain | 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Central | 3 – 4 p.m. Eastern). Are you new to these issues? Stay tuned for more later this week when the next issue of ACRL’s current awareness publication Keeping up With… focuses on national credentialing and academic libraries.

Earlier today, ACRL posted the responses, below, to selected questions on the Connecting Credentials website. See also Connecting Credentials: a Beta Credentials Framework for more on these concepts.

 5. How could learning for which no academic credit is given be recognized with credentials?

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) sees great potential in using credentials to recognize information literacy competencies. Even though information literacy is valued by employers and students, it is scaffolded into our higher education system in inconsistent ways, and it is rarely recognized via transcripts or other formalized mechanisms. Thus, employers can make the erroneous assumption that college graduates have information literacy competencies without the evidence that credentialing could provide. A recent study found that “employers value critical thinking and using quality information, but the sub-skills of applying knowledge to the real world context and finding patterns and making connections are consistently missing in recent college graduates.” (Raish, V. & Rimland, E. (2016). Employer perceptions of critical information literacy skills and digital badges. College and Research Libraries. Prepint )http://crl.acrl.org/content/early/2015/05/11/crl15-712.full.pdf+html.  

In February 2015, ACRL launched the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, which provides a set of core information literacy concepts, presented as six frames with accompanying knowledge practices and dispositions, to be used as a foundation for faculty and librarians to develop information literacy learning outcomes and instruction which match institutional contexts and needs. The Framework provides this expanded definition of information literacy: “Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning” (http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework).  

The Framework also includes the concept of metaliteracy as an overarching set of abilities in which students are consumers and creators of information who can participate successfully in collaborative spaces. Metaliterate students also develop critical self-reflection, and as student learning becomes more self-directed in the future, a credentialing standard will become more important.

Although there are clearly defined standards and frameworks for information literacy competencies outlined by the ACRL, there is no formalized or universal pathway to earn these credentials. We would therefore embrace an opportunity to collaborate on competency-based language defining scaffolded levels of information literacy accomplishments that could be used to create a pathway which could be shared with others to signify the acquisition of information literacy knowledge and skills. This could take the form of a digital badge, certificate, or other means, but ACRL would like to partner with others to connect information literacy to a credential that provides meaning to learners and stakeholders.

7.  What current practices and reforms represent building blocks that can be used as foundational as elements of a “new” credentialing system?

Given the number of academic libraries that have established platforms for using stackable digital badges to demonstrate student information literacy competencies, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has an interest group of member librarians which provides a forum for discussion and the exchange of ideas. The interest group’s work may also include: developing new ideas and approaches to using digital badges, sharing information about badging projects, research, and platforms, and providing networking opportunities for members.

Penn State information literacy badge sets consist of 10 base level badges in three information literacy subject areas. All are linked to Bloom’s taxonomy. “ Completion of each of the badges in a set will make the earner eligible for a “Meta badge” in that area. Meta Badges demonstrate a more thorough proficiency in a given topic area and the recognition they afford can also be used to entice earners to complete more base level badges than they otherwise would have.” see http://sites.psu.edu/informationliteracybadges/psu-il-badges/ for more information.

The University of Albany and the SUNY network have collaborated on an open learning experience creating digital badges recognizing student metaliteracy achievements. Students progress through a series of learning activities to earn the top badge. Each badge set includes quests, challenges, content badges, and the top badge.

“As students progress through the system, activities become more reflective and metacognitive as they are asked to synthesize and apply what they have learned into more advanced concepts. (e.g., How do you translate information to effectively communicate with specific audiences?” See Jacobson, T., Teaching metaliteracy with digital badges

https://www.academia.edu/12139828/Teaching_Metaliteracy_with_Digital_Badges  and http://metaliteracybadges.org/

8. What role do you see your stakeholder group and/or organization playing in transforming credentialing in the United States? What would it take for your group to engage in such an effort?

Because of the importance of information literacy for student success and the lack of consistent recognition of its achievement in postsecondary education, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is excited by the idea of developing a mechanism to recognize and certify these skills. Thus, ACRL is looking forward to the national dialogue in order to ensure that information literacy has a place as part of new credentialing systems. ACRL has long endeavored to ensure that information literacy competencies are recognized as essential in all disciplines. ACRL is the higher education association for librarians, representing more than 11,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals in all types of higher education institutions.

We see many parallels between the rubric language outlined in "Connecting Credentials: A Beta Credentials Framework" and the knowledge practices and dispositions which form the heart of the ACRL’s "Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education"  which ACRL launched in February 2015. (http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework)

The ACRL Framework draws significantly upon metaliteracy, which demands behavioral, affective, cognitive, and metacognitive engagement with the information ecosystem. Meta-literate students develop critical self-reflection, and as student learning overall becomes more self-directed in the future, a credentialing standard will become more important.   

Therefore, ACRL would be interested in a project that explores the connection between the Information Literacy frames and the Connecting Credentials framework.