PLAR: the shift to an « asset-based » approach to learning 2

Just back from Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment (CAPLA) annual workshop in Toronto, Canada. In many ways, it is a meeting of educational change makers, and well I love change making.

Should it really be so far fetched to imagine that one day soon, a potential student pondering about applying to a post-secondary program is invited directly on the institution’s web site, not hidden, but right up front, « Thinking of coming to our college? Have related life experience and learning? Click here to complete your self-assessment. » A simple direct process allowing individuals to be exempted from parts of the program based on their diverse and rich life-work-education experience. It still astounds me that we are not there yet.

I would dare to take that dream one step further though (why not?). The actual record (or portfolio) of learning built for such a process of recognising prior learning should not be a snapshot in time but rather continue to grow and evolve, becoming a living document supporting lifelong learning – minimally till the completion of the education program. Basic common sense, no?

To advance such dreams, we need to bridge the e-portfolio community and the prior learning community – and that is slowly taking place. This event is testimony to just that. It is all part of the larger shift towards « asset-based » social policies focusing more on personal assets than personal deficits, helping people recognise their own capabilities, thereby contributing to increased confidence and all round well being.

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