Prior Learning Assessment

An interesting article on how MOOC may stimulate the use of Recognition of Prior Learning or Prior Learning Assessment in Higher Education.

Some observers think the interest in MOOCs could help spur demand for prior learning assessment, building wider acceptance of the practice in the process. Many traditionalists in higher education, particularly at selective colleges, have been skeptical of prior learning assessment. But that may be more difficult when the learning occurs with the tutelage of professors at some of the world’s most prestigious universities. And MOOCs might also make contributions to how prior learning is measured.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

Here in Australia, institutions have been adopting Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for more than a decade.  There have been various reports documenting the progress, issues, challenges and opportunities of RPL.

The issues and challenges include:

RPL or Recognition of non-formal and informal Learning:

1. Catalyst for lifelong learning pathway

2. No nationally consistent definition

3. Powerful process to assist student career planning

4. Can have a significant positive impact on learner confidence and motivation

5. Can be of assistance in the development of more learner-centred education or training programs

6. Provide significant assistance to employers – contribution of employees to business

7. Benefit to mature-aged people seeking to improve their employment prospects

8. Maintaining our knowledge and skill based in face of ageing population

9. Persons seeking RPL – require considerable direct support

10. RPL process needs to be simpler and more streamlined

11. Administrative costs with PRL could be significant disincentive for candidates & providers

12. Difficulty that RPL candidates have in validating their non-formal and informal learning

13. RPL process and procedures – major issue and challenge

14. Variability in RPL assessment

15. Research & evaluation into impact of RPL

I have been using RPL for the last decade, as I have shared my experiences here and here (see my comments).

There are many merits in the use of RPL, together with a portfolio (or PLE/PLN) approach in documenting evidences of competency for assessment.

However, as mentioned in the reports, RPL must be customised to suit individual’s needs and so one size doesn’t suit all.  This means that even the MOOCs must be customized in order to align with the actual candidate looking for recognition, and this may be a huge challenge, in particular if the MOOCs align only to certain educational outcomes, rather than individual units of competency.

There are therefore lots of mapping of competency required before one could claim for recognition.

I think there are lots of opportunities in developing such Recognition of prior learning, based on the GLOBAL MOOCs experience (the connectivist MOOCs (CCKs, PLENK, Change 11, LAKs) and the instructivist  MOOCs (i.e. Stanford AI, Coursera, MITx, edX, Udacity, or Khan Academy) and the other Community of Practice and Educational Networks or Social Media approach towards Informal Education, Non-formal and Informal Learning.

So, would this open up an opportunity to explore ASSESSMENT MOOCs – on Recognition of Learning – Prior Learning, Informal or non-formal Learning and a MOOC on Lifelong Learning with ASSESSMENT?

What do you think would be the future of ASSESSMENT BASED MOOCs?

3 thoughts on “Prior Learning Assessment

  1. Pingback: Prior Learning Assessment | Digital Delights |

  2. There is definitely a place for PLA and MOOCs. The MOOCs that don’t learning outcomes for the masses are more suited the kind of PLA that CAEL pioneered over 40 years ago. The learner has to make sense of and claim the learning in a retrospective manner. I’ve been thinking about this aspect of MOOCs a bit — some earlier thinking at

    What we need to do is streamline the assessment of the ones that establish expected outcomes. Badges if they are done reliably may help and once can make a more generalized assessment of those who earn badges. This is much like the credit recommendation services (National CCRS and ACE) we have in the US where military and corporate training programs have been evaluated. The evaluations include recommendations for college credit. Mozilla’s badging project would make such evaluations more modular, portable and visible. It does not yet have a clear way to show college equivalencies yet.

  3. Pingback: Future of Education and MOOCs | Learner Weblog

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