Using Technology to Overcome Barriers to the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

Mccready, John Edward (2018). Using Technology to Overcome Barriers to the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). EdD thesis The Open University.



There is an extensive range of positive rhetoric concerning the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) and its many benefits for awarding credit in recognition of one’s experience. However, it still remains very much a marginal activity within many institutions. This study investigates the nature of any existing barriers to the greater take-up of APEL and explores whether technology could play some part in overcoming them.

The existence and nature of barriers to wider APEL take-up is under-represented in the literature. This action research study uses qualitative methods to develop a case study within a single UK college of further and higher education. The research design included a focus group for student feedback, semi-structured interviews for staff feedback and the development and testing of a technology solution comprising a website and software application.

The study found clear evidence of the existence of a range of barriers affecting the wider uptake of APEL and established several ways in which the technology used did help or could help overcome these barriers. The role of the tutor within the APEL process is of great importance, whether the system used is paper-based or technology based, and further training and support were found to be necessary to ensure that all staff were consistent in the application of the APEL process.

Although this is a small-scale study in a single institution, it is typical of other institutions. Further research into the wider range of barriers identified and further development of appropriate technology solutions could help a larger proportion of people in employment to gain credit for the skills and knowledge they have developed through their work, as they seek to complement their practical experience with formal education and gain recognition for this experience though an institution’s APEL process.

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