Voices April - September 2023

10 31 April- September 2023 | VOICES Bi- Monthly Magazine of the University of Technology, Jamaica PLA Unit Hosts ‘Pathways for Workforce Certification’ Seminar to Guide Course Diversification and to Boost Student Intake (L-R) Mrs. Norda Seymour-Hall, Director International Relations and Qualifications Division at the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC),, Dr. Lisa Facey-Shaw, Associate Professor at UTech, Jamaica, School of Computing and Information Technology, Mrs. Anthea Thompson, National Qualifications Framework Officer at J-TEC and Mrs Sandy Lawrence, Prior Learning Assessment Coordinator at UTech, Jamaica share a photo moment following the Pathways for Workforce Certification Seminar held at the Faculty of Engineering’s Conference Room at the University of Technology, Jamaica on Thursday, July 13, 2023. The Prior Learning Assessment Unit, University of Technology, Jamaica hosted a seminar themed “Pathways for Workforce Certification” on Thursday, July 13, 2023 at its Papine, Campus with representatives from the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC), members of academic staff and students, as part of its thrust to embrace flexible learning pathways to meet the growing demands for utilizing approved non-traditional standards for recruitment and academic matriculation and to boost student intake. The seminar was organized in response to calls from stakeholders for the utilization of Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) tools, Micro-credentials and Digital Badges by the University in its processing of applicants. UTech, Jamaica currently provides a number of short courses and has recently established a Cross-Functional Oversight Committee for Short Courses and is moving to improve and standardize the process of preparation, promotion and delivery of all short courses to guide future implementation of various matriculation pathways. Key speakers at the event were Mrs. Norda Seymour-Hall, Director, International Relations and Qualifications Division at J-TEC, Dr. Lisa Facey-Shaw, Associate Professor, School of Computing and Information Technology (SCIT) and Dr. Paul Ivey, Associate Professor at the School of Graduate Research, who all spoke to the significance of nations embracing flexible learning and workforce certification pathways as a means to building sustainable economies in light of the rapid digital shift in academic and professional spaces. Digital Badges Using the analogy of the Brownie’s reward system, Dr. Lisa Facey-Shaw, Associate Professor, School of Computing and Information Technology (SCIT) explained “with those (Brownie’s etc.) you usually obtain little patches for particular skills: if you could light a fire, if you were kind to some persons, if you sold lots of cookies…it is that concept that has moved into the digital realm for badges because badges really speak to achievements, accomplishments, attainment of skills, competence…expressed in a visual and electronic format and have, what we call, these metadata connections.” She further outlined that digital badges provide a host of information about the full nature of the micro-credentials obtained by individuals. “When you see a digital badge it represents so much more than the wording on the badge itself…behind it is the micro-credential that you would have gotten that speaks to the learning outcomes and all that you did and accomplished to have gotten the badge” including the duration and the awarding institution. Dr. Facey-Shaw who is also a member of Micro-credential and Digital Badges Taskforce with J-TEC, went further to note that persons with digital badges must have obtained them through a process that has an assessment component for them to meet Prior Learning Assessment Recognition Standards. She noted that “badges obtained through participation without an assessment do not constitute micro-credentials.”