In Proceedings of the 7th International ePortfolio Conference: Innovation, creativity and accountability (2009), pp. 46-51
The Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector in Australia provides skills and knowledge for work through a nationally recognised training and accreditation system that operates across all states and territories. The national training system, known as the National Skills Framework, comprises of three key elements: training packages, the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF). Training packages are sets of nationally endorsed standards (units of competency) and qualifications (groups of units of competency) that are used to assess people’s skills in specific industries, industry sectors and / or enterprises that are underpinned by generic key competencies (Mayer, 1992) contextualised for a specific industry and more recently have also incorporated employability skills (Allen Consulting Group, 2006). The AQF is a framework for the fifteen nationally recognised qualifications, eight of which are competency based in the VET sector. Finally, the AQTF is the national set of standards and quality indicators used to ensure high quality training and assessment services provided by Registered Training Organisations (RTO) (DEEWR, 2008). An underpinning premise of Competency Based Training (CBT) is that learning occurs in both formal and informal contexts. Under the AQF, each qualification must provide a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) pathway as an alternative, or non-institutional, access point for a source of credit. RPL is a process whereby an individual’s non-formal and informal learning experiences can be assessed against nationally accredited competency standards, and in turn used for entry into, or partial or total credit towards, nationally accredited qualifications (AQF, 2004). While there are various ways to assess RPL, for example on the job observation, reflective journals, photographs etc, these are generally presented as a paper-based portfolio of evidence. This portfolio of evidence is then submitted as part of an assessment process which also includes an interview with an RPL assessor and a Subject Matter Expert. This case study reports on a work-in-progress trial of PebblePad, an ePortfolio platform, as a vehicle for recording RPL in Certificate IV in Financial Services (Accounting) in the Business TAFE School at RMIT University. PebblePad is being trialled as a potential enterprise based system in areas of strategic importance, including its potential to provide a systematically structured and transparent online RPL process. Recent changes to Australian government regulations stipulate that all financial services practitioners must have a minimum qualification of a Certificate IV in Financial Services which will also allow for professional recognition / accreditation with the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT). This will affect many people who are already working in the area, who will need to complete the qualification. RMIT has been selected as the provider of choice to run the training and RPL process on behalf of AAT across Australia, and will commence the rollout of training in Victoria in July 2009. While it is a requirement that all VET programs offer an RPL process, the process is a complex and time consuming one for both staff and students. This case study is evaluating PebblePad, in particular the capability of its Profile Builder function, as a means to provide an electronic and streamlined procedure to improve and simplify the RPL process university-wide. In addition, the University is also evaluating the effectiveness of an ePortfolio to replace the traditional paperbased portfolio so as to appropriately utilise Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to further support learner engagement It believed that the fully online approach to RPL will also offer students greater flexibility and access to vocational education and training, particularly for those students who are not physically located close to the RMIT Melbourne campus.
M Botterill, M Mossuto, C Harvey, L Di Pietro
Author(s): M Botterill, M Mossuto, C Harvey, L Di Pietro, on Monday 28th November 2011