Policy development and implementation procedures for recognition of prior learning: a case study of practice in higher education
At this stage there is virtually no scepticism about the value of RPL among DIT staff. Since using RPL is a matter for academic decision at the programme level there is no managerial imposition and therefore no resistance. What remains to be done relate to technical, political and institutional issues rather than ideological, epistemological or pedagogical issues. Some of those issues are indicated below.
The most challenging aspect of RPL implementation across international experiences seems to be the management of applications using on-line self-assessment systems. This has also been the experience of the DIT.
The meta-promise of policy documents that all learning can be made visible and subsequently valued is ambitious and perhaps disingenuous to the general public. The DIT has managed this reasonably well to date by relating all RPL activity to its own current or past awards in the first instance and by using trusted databases of qualifications to establish equivalence. However, this area of activity is not entirely complete.
How to manage expectations from RPL in a fair and transparent way – both internally and with the public – is one of the last remaining ‘things to do’ about RPL in the DIT.
What may seem as loosening of control by introducing RPL can be uncomfortable and unsettling for traditional academic cultures. So too can top-down tightening of control over what was heretofore an area of academic freedom. Innovatory academic staff will invariably continue to be innovatory, but being too-far ahead can stimulate over-re-action by traditionalists and perhaps risk loss of credibility and trust in the innovation. The public management of well-considered RPL innovations is perhaps the next stage for the DIT and one which is welcome.