A festival; no wellies but lots of good discussions

Last week saw the glamorously titled ‘Festival of Assemblies’ but unlike Glastonbury and the like, we didn’t need to don wellies (shame as I would love an excuse to get these ‘wedge wellies’ which I saw on Dragon’s Den, often a useful programme to watch to pick up tips for immersing into the JISC world, in the best possible sense)

The Festival of Assemblies brought together projects from the JISC Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development programme (LLLWFD) and was very efficiently organised by the Support Synthesis and Benefits Realisation project for the programme.

Activities included parallel sessions of collaborative Assembly sessions led by LLLWFD – Phase 3 and Benefits Realisation or ‘BR’ projects, which basically take forward the work of the projects in the programme and see if the lessons learnt/tools developed can apply in other institutions or organiational contexts.

I chose to attend the TELSTAR & PINEAPPLE: Development of APL systems session which included information about the projects and their findings to date followed by some very interesting discussions and anecdotal evidence from various institutions about the actual application of accreditation of prior learning (APL) and the sheer bureaucracy in some quarters which has led students to scrap the idea and just follow the ‘normal’ route. Concerns over parity were raised in particular about the detail and focus on APL processes when compared to traditional learning/ non APL route. An interesting analogy to this was made re the introduction of VLEs and online learning aspects within universities, often any course with an ‘e-learning’ aspect would have to go through a whole separate validation process, maybe with much more scrutiny that face to face teaching. That seems to have settled down, or just become the norm and people know which boxes to tick now, so perhaps the APL teething niggles may turn out to be the same? Nonetheless, with the much discussed ‘current climate’, raise in fees etc, APL will be a key focus and one we have to get right. Potential learners will become savvy (and rightly so) about choices, duration of courses, accreditation and qualification and institutions need to be ready for that and make the whole process as painless as possible for everyone. It looks promising that such projects in the programme will come up with some important lessons for the sector and tips to take forward.

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