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People go through life continuously gaining new skills and knowledge, often through their lifewide and workplace experiences. However, when they arrive as students at our formal learning institutions we often treat them as ‘empty vessels’, not taking into consideration these prior skills and experiences or offering them credit towards their formal qualification.
In 2006, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) recognised that there were many benefits for recognising existing skills, especially in existing workers, “so that wherever possible their training time is reduced” (Committee of Australian Governments, 2006, p. 4). In order to support this the Australian Commonwealth Government provided funding to the State and Territory Governments to enable the implementation of a variety of strategies to increase the number of recognition of prior learning (RPL) assessments across the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.
Curyer et al (2007) recognised that eportfolios provide an effective way to support individuals manage their lifelong learning records. Perry (2009) recognised that eportfolios provide an effective means of supporting the evidence gathering process for recognition of existing skills/knowledge for RPL assessment. Mobile devices such as smart pens, flip video cameras, point of view glasses/devices and mobile/smart phones, have also been touted as offering improved ways of gathering evidence for the RPL process (Miller, 2011). However, to date there are very few examples in the Australian VET sector where eportfolios are being successfully used to support RPL assessments.
This paper will present the emerging issues which appear to be preventing the wider adoption of eportfolios for RPL assessment, including the ‘clunkiness’ of existing eportfolio systems; the low digital literacy skills of assessors and learners to effectively capture and manage digital evidence and information; the limited view of assessment and the lack of support for lifelong learning; and the short term vision for allowing learners access to their eportfolios beyond their formal learning experience so learners cannot see the purpose of putting in the effort to establishing an eportfolio for their RPL assessment. Other barriers such as the limited time made available to undertake the RPL process and assessor’s confidence in using technology or a holistic approach to RPL will also be argued.
A possible model for using eportfolios to support the RPL will be presented which would encourages the reuse and repurposing of RPL evidence for gaining employment/promotion and/or entry into higher education etc through a proactive approach to supporting lifelong learning and the collection of evidence which support this process.