Reconsidering PLA

I was driving back home from a meeting of the THEC Prior Learning Assessment Task Force thinking over what I'd heard.  (At the time, it was a bit disconcerting to be driving down from the Plateau on a steep stretch of highway in the rain and fog while Tom Petty's Free Falling was playing on the radio.  Free falling indeed.)   I  had presented an overview of PLA in our adult degree programs and listened to similar presentations from MTSU and UM.  MTSU has a relatively new program, and UM has a new, enthusiastic person in charge of theirs.  Their programs were a little more flexible and liberal than ours.  UM even allows PLA for graduate credit in their University College.

And I realized during that drive that our programs, policies, and regulations--although mostly in place when I got here--reflected the beliefs and philosophies that I had formed in the late 20th Century when I worked closely with the Council for Experiential Learning and prior learning.  I had tweaked some things at ETSU in that time, of course, but nothing substantial had changed.  In the meantime, we had gone from cutting edge to butter knife.  Now, don't get me wrong, we're still a knife, and everyone else in the state is a spoon.  We just may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer anymore. Ba-doom Pshh.(Have I carried the cutlery metaphor far enough?)

Could it be time to examine those policies after 20 years?  Absolutely.

So we'll look at our policies in light of the recommendations from this Task Force. Perhaps being a butter knife is right.  Perhaps we can do a better job of serving adult students and decreasing their time to degree. 

I am reminded that leaders need to step back every once in a while.  This allows others to step up, examine things with fresh eyes, and champion the changes if necessary. 


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