A Spring Webinar Series
May 12, 19, and 26, 2021
Join CAPLA for these three Spring webinars:
- Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 12:00pm EDT
RPL 101: An Introduction to RPL in Canada
- Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 12:00pm EDT
RPL Assessment Practice: Methods, Tools, and Processes
- Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 12:00pm EDT
Will the Micro-credential Craze Reset the Recognition Agenda in Canada?
Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 12:00pm-1:30pm EDT
RPL 101: An Introduction to RPL in Canada
Lauren Waples, Manager Academic Quality & RPL, Centre for Learning and Program Excellence, Red River College of Applied Arts, Science and Technology;
Doreen Leong, RPh, Director of Registration and Licensure, College of Pharmacists of British Columbia
Recognition of prior learning (RPL) has a long history in Canada, and the Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment (CAPLA) has been its national voice since its inception in 1994.
RPL practitioner Lauren Waples will facilitate this introductory session that will include topics such as:
- The Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment (CAPLA)
- What is prior learning?
- Where does learning occur and how is it recognized?
- Who is involved in RPL?
- Assessing prior learning
- CAPLA’s Guiding Principles for Quality RPL Practice in Canada
- Steps in the RPL process
- Implementing RPL
Lauren will share some of her experiences within the RPL environment in Manitoba and from her experience at Red River College.
Providing an example of a sector using RPL procedures and tools, we are pleased to welcome Doreen Leong, Director of Registration and Licensure for the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, to report on how the occupational body uses RPL to improve access and maintain standards of practice within the profession.
Participants will be encouraged to share experiences and ask questions.
Lauren Waples is the Manager, Academic Quality & RPL at Red River College where she manages the College’s RPL Services and provides guidance and RPL resource assistance to RRC faculty and staff. Lauren facilitates RPL training and professional development and guides the development of resource materials and evaluation tools. Lauren chairs the College’s RPL Committee comprised of RPL specialists from College academic and service areas.
Lauren has experience working as Red River College’s RPL Advisor and is a graduate of RRC’s RPL Practitioner Certificate program. She has served on CAPLA’s Board of Directors since 2019.
Doreen Leong is the Director of Registration, Licensure. She brings over 20 years of pharmacy experience from hospital, community and administrative practice. She has worked in every department within the College and has expertise in the area of assessment, certification and the development of standards, competencies and policy.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 12:00pm-1:30pm EDT
RPL Assessment Practice: Methods, Tools, and Processes
Laura Malbogat, M.Ed Masters in Counselling; and
The Art of Making Assessments – Meaningful is Possible – Laura Malbogat
Holistic assessments are not only possible but essential in today’s education and the RPL process. Providing students with varied and meaningful evaluations can have a direct impact on student engagement and learning outcomes. We often talk about ‘active learning’ but not enough about making assessments, both formative and summative, engaging, meaningful, relevant and aligned to what students need to know, understand and demonstrate their mastery of. Holistic assessments means ‘pausing’ to consider the different ways students can demonstrate their understanding and prior knowledge/skills. In this presentation, we will explore different formative and summative assessment possibilities beyond the traditional tests and written assignments that can be used in the RPL process, including:
- Case studies & scenarios
- Authentic projects
- Role-play & simulation
- Problem Solving
- Video assessment & analysis
Portfolio-Assisted RPL Assessment – Mark Gallupe
The use of a portfolio assisted approach to RPL, whether in secondary/post-secondary education or in industry, has tremendous benefits for learners, faculty, workers and employers. We’ll begin by reviewing the basics such as what is a portfolio, components of a portfolio, types of documentation (evidence) and lastly how to prepare the portfolio for its intended use (e.g. for college credit or for hiring or promotion with a company). Next we’ll discuss assessing a portfolio, the role of assessor and how an assessment is conducted. To ensure quality practice four key questions will be considered.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 12:00pm-1:30pm EDT
Will the Micro-credential Craze Reset the Recognition Agenda in Canada?
Mike Luff, National Representative, Canadian Labour Congress;
Dan Piedra, Assistant Director, Centre for Continuing Education, McMaster University; and
Dr. Nan L. Travers, Director of the Center for Leadership in Credentialing Learning (CL2) at SUNY Empire State College
As in many sectors, the pandemic has laid bare some fundamental problems around the recognition of prior learning in Canada. In 2002, the Government of Canada raised a red flag to address the learning recognition gaps in the country and warned us about the problem.
“Insufficient prior learning assessment and recognition capacity is another important gap in our learning infrastructure.” (Pg. 41 Knowledge Matters: Skills and Learning for Canadians. Canada’s Innovation Strategy – ESDC: Canada SP-482-02-02).
Likewise, the economic cost of the non-recognition problem was also flagged by The Conference Board of Canada in 2001 which estimated the economic benefit of recognizing prior learning would be an additional $4.1 – $5.9 in income to Canadians annually (Brain Gain, 2001, updated in 2015).
FAST FORWARD TO 2021!
The background information below suggests that RPL and micro-credentials may be gaining momentum simultaneously. What are the possible implications for future enhancements to the learning recognition culture in Canada?
Join panellists Mike Luff, Canadian Labour Congress, Nan Travers, SUNY Empire State College and Dan Piedra, McMaster University as they respond to a variety of recognition and micro-credential questions such as:
- Are post-secondary education (PSE) credentiallers able and willing to use micro-credentials (MC) as pathways into traditional diplomas and degrees?
- How do MC originating outside of the academy differ from other kinds of assessment and recognition of workplace learning required of PSE evaluators?
- Is a micro-credential better than no credential at all when looking for employment in particular sectors?
- How can recognition of MC contribute to improving access and equity?
- Is Canada’s competency assessment and recognition culture ready for MC? (for example among employers, occupational bodies) If no, why not? If so, where are the promising practices?
- Discussions about lifelong and life-wide learning, along with PLAR/RPL implications, have been going on in Canada for over 30 years. What do you think will make a recognition of learning culture ‘stick’ today?
- Should all micro-credentials include a digital badge?
- Who will become the navigators, advisors and advocates for adult learners and others who may need support in developing their ‘blockchain-anchored digital identity’?
Background information linking RPL and micro credentials
In the 2020 Future Skills Council report, Canada-A Learning Nation: A skilled agile workforce ready to shape the future, priority four – “Promote, enable and validate skills development and training in all their diverse forms” – calls upon us to
“Develop more customized, short-term training supported by micro credentials: Foster the creation of tailored short-term training to meet workplace demands through micro credentials that can be combined to capture skills acquired over time.) (pg 36)
“Leverage technology for skills recognition and navigating training: Create a digital skills recognition platform that would map skills acquired in training and education programs and offer more seamless training pathways across programs and institutions.” (pg 40)
“Expand application of prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR): Increase the development of robust skills assessment tools beginning with leveraging the potential of PLAR and encouraging broader employer use of reliable assessment tools.” (pg 40)
Likewise, in the Academica Group’s Labour Education Applied Research North report entitled Micro-credentialing in Northern Alberta, there are recommendations associated with increasing recognition practices and micro credentials laddering into post secondary education.
“The demand for skills development will continue as emerging technologies change the work environment and economies continue to restructure. Micro-credentials can provide access to short, focussed training and can be designed to ladder to traditional credentials. Local institutions are positioned to assist their communities in bridging between the global resources and local requirements. Micro-credentials will allow institutions to support both emerging and transitional industries, and with increased recognition can have play a key role in accessing post-secondary education.” (pg. 58)
“Pathways or laddering from micro-credentials to credentials is highly desired by prospective students and employers. Micro-credentials and credentials do not have to be based on the same course or delivery models but having some alignment of outcomes (skills or competencies) is required to support pathways. A micro-credential may include the outcomes of one or more credential courses, or a micro-credential may only cover some of the outcomes of one course. It is recommended when possible that courses and micro-credentials be aligned, to allow effective laddering.” (pg. 59)
Related US research undertaken by SUNY Empire State College and funded by the Lumina Foundation developed a model “for how incremental credentialing can meet the needs of the learn-and-work ecosystem and address inequities in education and work.” (N. Travers, SUNY Empire State College)
In 2020, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) developed a National Framework for Micro-credentials, a definition and Guiding Principles.
“A micro-credential is a certification of assessed competencies that is additional, alternate, complementary to, or a component of a formal qualification”.
- Microcredentials can be a complement to traditional credentials (certificate, diploma, degree or post-graduate certificate) or stand alone.
- Microcredentials are subject to a robust and rigorous quality assurance process.
- Micro‐credentials may represent competencies identified by employers/industry sectors to meet employer needs.
- Microcredentials may provide clear and seamless pathways across different credentials (both non-credit and credit) and may be stackable.
- Microcredentials are based on assessed proficiency in a competency, not on time spent learning.
- Microcredentials are secure, trackable, portable and competency is documented in students’ academic records.
- Microcredentials are to follow institutional approval processes. Pg. 3
Other current resources
UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning
“The skills and competencies required by today’s knowledge societies and economies are rapidly evolving to match the pace of economic, technological and social change. The need to provide learning opportunities to individuals throughout life is growing. Responding to this trend demands flexible learning pathways, strong links between formal, non-formal and informal learning, including frameworks for the recognition, validation, and accreditation of learning outcomes, and new funding mechanisms.”
Additional excerpts from the Future Skills Council report A Learning Nation with a focus on lifelong learning and RPL (pgs. 38-40)
- Priority 4: Promote, enable and validate skills development and training in all their diverse forms
“To commit to lifelong learning, we need to move past the thinking that our skills are locked into place by the time we are in our 20s. We need to fully appreciate that everyone learns on and off the job in formal and informal ways throughout their working lives. A future-focused approach to building a learning culture will expand opportunities to more Canadians and rethink how we develop and recognize skills through new and customized approaches.”
- “Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) is another well-established model to build on. We recommend that the federal, provincial and territorial governments do much more to expand the value of PLAR and its use by employers. Through consistent, credible definitions of skills, complemented by easily-applied tools, employers, training providers and individuals can assess a person’s skills in a credible and reliable manner. In addition, PLAR could address the needs of groups that are not fully represented in Canada’s workplaces and help bring down barriers to employment. Canadians seeking PLAR could benefit from similar financial supports that are already available to post-secondary students. New technologies such as artificial intelligence could be leveraged to enable ongoing improvement of both skill definitions and the means of assessing and acquiring them. The use of technologies for learning is even more relevant considering the recent global health crisis. The crisis not only accelerated the spread and demand for online training but also created the opportunity for further development of new learning tools expanding opportunities beyond in-person classrooms.”
Source: A Learning Nation
Mike Luff is a National Representative in the Political Action and Campaigns Department at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).
The CLC is the national voice of the labour movement in Canada, representing 3.3 million workers.
Mike has over 25 years’ experience working with progressive organizations in Canada and internationally on a range of public policy issues. These issues include: skills development, workplace training, apprenticeship, post-secondary education, adult literacy, labour mobility, health care and public service delivery.
Dan Piedra currently serves as an assistant director at McMaster University Continuing Education in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He oversees online course design and development including all certificate and diploma programs offered within the centre. Previously, he has served in similar positions at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario (2011-14) and as Director of Conestoga College’s Continuing Education department in Kitchener, Ontario (2002-11). He has also served as an instructor of online and in-person programs at several institutions of higher education including Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. He completed his Bachelor of Education and Master of Science at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and is currently working on a PhD in Education from Brock University. His research interests lie in exploring quality of online learning in areas of instructor training, instructional design, humanization of online courses, the use of non-traditional assessments, alternate digital credentials, and student empowerment.
Most recently he has led a re-imaging of McMaster’s courses introducing experiential learning and synchronous interactive online instruction into the delivery of full online courses. Through an industry partner, specific courses in various credit certificate and diploma programs include opportunities for students to liaise with corporate partners who provide industry projects aligned to the learning outcomes of the respective course. Traditional comprehensive examinations have been replaced with these industry projects providing students an opportunity to work together in resolving a real industry problem. In addition, Mr. Piedra has led the piloting of open digital badges within the Human Resources Management diploma program to validate virtual collaboration by students working in groups within online courses. Additional badges will be introduced over the coming year in an effort to combine the traditional credit course with digital badges for validation of specific skills otherwise not made visible through traditional academic transcripts.
Mr. Piedra has also begun to develop a process of RPL which he hopes to launch as a pilot to enable adult learners to receive academic credit for life experience.
Nan Travers, Ph.D., director, Center for Leadership in Credentialing Learning, SUNY Empire State College, focuses on research, policies and practices of the recognition, validation and credentialing of learning. Dr. Travers led the Credential As You Go initiative, which developed the Incremental Credentialing Framework. She also is the PI for the All Learning Counts project, which is focused on evaluating competency-based workplace learning for college credit and providing micro-credentials that include the training and lead to degrees. She previously led the development of the Global Learning Qualifications Framework to assess college-level learning, serves on the board for the Prior Learning International Research Consortium, is a lead contributor to the Learning Recognition Collaborative in conjunction with the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), and has served on the core team for the national Connecting Credentials Initiative. Travers serves as founding co-editor for the journal: PLA Inside Out (www.plaio.org). Travers has a Ph.D. in Adult Learning from the University of Connecticut and a M.A. in Curriculum Development from Johnson State College in New Jersey.