See how ACAT’s modernizing and improving student mobility
Find out how ACAT is working with its system partners to improve learner pathways administration, processes and tools.
About ACAT’s Learner Pathways Modernization Initiative (LPMI)
In 2014, ACAT began a collaborative process to improve learner pathways administration, processes and tools supporting student mobility in Alberta’s post-secondary education system.
The initiative’s goal was to find new ways to provide a seamless student experience in navigating the post-secondary system, with:
Access to information about pathways, including a focus on transfer and interprovincial mobility, in Alberta, Western Canada and across Canada
Connections to related Government of Alberta (GoA) and agency/organization program information, including:
High school transitions and adult upgrading
Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)
Labour market information
Connections to student-relevant information about: institution admission, application, transcript, student aid, and scholarship information
Learner Pathways System Principles
ACAT’s collaborative work with institutions/stakeholders to modernize and streamline learner pathways and transfer information included identification of 10 agreed upon foundational system principles. The Learner Pathways System (LPS) Principles guide system operations, decision-making, and data management.
4 Modernization Phases
This project required us to collect, organize and consider student mobility information in new ways. LPMI actions are divided into 4 phases.
Members of the post-secondary system and its students were engaged to help identify business needs, problems and requirements for modernizing learner pathways in Alberta.
Discussions in both the working group and additional sessions focused on the administration of Transfer Credit, admissions, Dual Credit, Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR), high school transitions, and interprovincial mobility. This formed the basis for a proposed solution set to support:
Multi-organizational and cross-jurisdictional learner pathways
ACAT support for students, Alberta PSIs and other stakeholders
PSI autonomy within a collaborative framework
Post-secondary co-learning and mutual understanding as a basis for collaboration, negotiations and agreements
Student access to information that helps them make informed pathway choices
Additional discussions were also held with the following groups:
GoA program and agency partners that support learner pathways and their administration (e.g., Learning Clicks, Alberta Learning Information System (ALIS) website, Apply Alberta, Apprenticeship and Industry Training, etc.)
Interprovincial partners from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario provided insights into their supports for learner pathways and mobility
Educators, administrators and GoA program and agencies representatives from the K-12 and the adult upgrading sector shared current gaps in pathways from high school to post-secondary
Major learner pathway and mobility gaps identified through these discussions fell into these general categories:
Transfer – The Transfer Agreement and Archival Retrieval System (TAARS) ), the database behind the current Transfer Alberta online search tool, no longer adequately supports transfer credit in Alberta and between provinces. A Transfer Credit Evaluation System (TCES) replacement is needed for Alberta PSIs who do not have their own system; however, workflow and business rules must be flexible to accommodate institutional differences in business processes between PSIs. PSIs with their own systems have to manually duplicate agreements in TAARS. PSIs want to upload agreement data directly into a transfer agreement catalog. Provincial partners also need a way to upload their agreements into a new Alberta Transfer Agreement Catalog, which must accommodate different data formats.
Dual Credit and PLAR – Administration of newer/other pathways need system frameworks and supports for best-practice administration. There are two new system-led ACAT Articulation Committees in dual credit and PLAR that are supportive of this work, as well as other mechanisms.
Currently, information to help students navigate learner pathways is incomplete, inconsistent, scattered and difficult to access. Students want access to pathways and planning information, including admissions and transfer information, in one, well-organized, well-designed interface available from their computers, tablets and cell phones.
Organizational gaps exist in learner pathways governance and administration. Stakeholders need a coordinated and clear means to improve pathways administration for students, and that simplifies collaboration and access to GoA supports, while at the same time respecting the autonomy of Alberta PSIs.
Admissions and Transfer Modernization (completed in 2015-17)
ACAT used the data gathered in Phase 1 to inform the development of an overall Learner Pathways System with a number of independent, integrated IT tools. A new Transfer Credit Evaluation System (TCES) was developed to support institution updates and uploading of transfer decisions and course and program offerings records, as well as Data Collection and Reporting (DCaR) modules that allow institutions to mass upload records into the system. A Learner Pathways Catalog was also built as the central database for the system, housing data and displaying it via the Transfer Alberta Search Tool, including transfer decisions between institutions in Alberta, and between Alberta and other provinces, as well as a link to institution admissions information. Operational Contact Persons at member institutions can use the Catalog to:
Run reports detailing learner pathways information about their institution, their post-secondary sector and the system as a whole
Receive notifications about their data in the Learner Pathways System (e.g., Transfer Agreements, High School Transitions Agreements, etc.)
Accept AP, IB and academic upgrading courses for admissions
Accept courses, program categories and subject areas for transfer decisions
The new Catalog is available to students and others from an easy-to-use interface that can be accessed through the updated Transfer Alberta website and Search Tool, which can help students explore transfer opportunities for their learner pathway.
(completed Learner Pathways Initiatives Business Case re-assessment for LPMI Phase 4 in 2019-20, completed first phase of Learner Pathways System Optimization in 2020/21, and estimated 2020/21 identification of next steps)
The final phase of the LPMI initiative focuses on resolving disconnects between learner pathway programs, inside and outside of the province. Student mobility information and resources from all relevant GoA programs – and from our partners throughout Canada – could be accessible from Transfer Alberta. This will require collaboration and coordination between stakeholders, as well as the use of technology solutions to make the information easy to understand and seamlessly accessible from an integrated and easy-to-use interface, bringing the information to where students are at via institution websites and other key locations. Work and dialogue on this larger goal continues.