July 19, 2023
For many students, their transcripts do not adequately exemplify the studies and knowledge they have acquired. However, with learning and employment records (LERs) — verifiable, secure digital records that reflect one’s skills, experiences, and achievements earned throughout their educational and professional career — that could change.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s T3 Innovation Network is focused on ensuring learning data is reflected to promote equitable hiring and educational opportunities. At the Mid-Year Meeting, Getting Smart’s CEO Tom Vander Ark had a conversation with incoming Howard University freshman and former Arabia Mountain High School student Toni Dismuke about new ways of presenting all aspects of learning and experiences on LERs.
All Educational Experiences Could Be Reflected Using LERs
A rising freshman majoring in computer engineering and minoring in psychology through the seventh cohort of the CAR Stem Scholars Program, Dismuke discovered her love for computer science and engineering through video games as a kid, eventually leading to a passion for esports. However, despite competing in conferences and developing many soft skills, not all of these experiences were reflected in Dismuke’s transcripts — shedding light on a major gap.
“Our school… had the transcripts with the classes that you took, but the classes were very fundamental,” Dismuke said. “While you did have the title that said what you did, it doesn't show the actual knowledge and deep learning that you've accumulated.”
For many students such as Dismuke, current transcripts only demonstrate certain aspects of a student’s education career, potentially omitting key aspects that make them unique candidates.
“Grades tell you how well you could sit, …how well you can interact with your teacher, …[and] how well you can write a paper,” Dismuke said. “Grades do not tell you how much you've learned.”
An Early Learner Record System Can Change the Way Students Apply for Internships
According to Vander Ark, tens of thousands of students across the country — primarily in Texas — have had the opportunity to use a system that documents all credits and courses in a blockchain learner record. In doing so, students properly depicted their educational experiences and received quicker responses regarding scholarships than through traditional methods. However, for the majority of students, this experience is unheard of.
“[During] my college application process, I had over 80 tabs open at one time,” Dismuke said. “I had essays from here to here. I had my credits that I got here, my transcript over here, and just switching through the tabs made it disorganized. I feel like an LER would be more streamlined and easily navigable.”
A centralized system to streamline the way students share data regarding their educational experiences is far different than the process they currently endure, according to Dismuke.
“With the internship application process, you have to put in the credits that you earned, ...the skills that you know, …[and] your letters of recommendation,” Dismuke said. “Having that all over the place, you… lose the most important aspects of yourself [by] trying to find what you think is good. However, if you had one centralized place that you could just push forward to a company or enterprise and they could see everything that you've done, it would be easier.”
A Standardized LER Could Benefit Businesses Around the World
As Dismuke sees it, providing students with LERs that reflect specific points such as learning targets could lead to greater employment opportunities and a larger number of acceptances for applicants, while companies could see improvements in their hiring process and talent selection.
“Things that I may leave out on an application might be important; however, if I had an LER that shows everything that I've done, [employers] could pick through it themselves to see what's important to them,” Dismuke explained.
The benefits of an LER could span worldwide, unlocking international opportunities and simplifying processes for those who wish to learn or work outside of the U.S.
“I feel like having an LER — because it's so standardized — you don't have to go through what are the American standards of being a good engineer compared to the European standards or the African standards,” Dismuke said. “You don't have to pick and choose which ones make sense for the United States and which ones make sense for Africa.”