December 2015

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2 Winnipeg Free press - saturDaY, December 5, 2015 LearnFrenchorSpanish! ClassesstartJanuary9th. Call204-235-4400,204-233-0210 ortoll-free1-888-233-5112 USTBONIFACE.CA/EDUCATIONPLUS "Recognition of prior learning helps immigrants and newcomers move forward in their lives here in Canada, especially immigrants coming in who want licences to practise here. It's a really important piece and a growing field." Returning to school as an adult can be a daunting proposition. Especially since many adult learners don't realize their work and life experience can be translated into college credits. R ed River College has been a leader in this field, known as recognition of prior learning, for years, says Deb Blower, Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) facilitator. She says the college has assessed over 5,000 students for prior learning in the past five years, with over 1,100 students assessed last year alone. "Recognition of prior learning is very important for adult learners, as they bring significant work and life learning along with them," she explains. "If given an opportunity, they can prove this learning for college credits." Students can demonstrate they have key learning in a variety of different ways, which may include developing a portfolio, completing projects, or challenging a course with a written exam. "Adult learners may already be working in some of the jobs they're training for credentials in," says Blower. "Recognizing prior learning helps eliminate duplication of learning and increases access to college programs. Adult learners are really successful in getting those credits here at the college." Red River's RPL academic adviser looks at the prior learning each student has and determines how it applies to college courses. The prior learning considered is both formal and informal, says Blower. "Our RPL adviser determines what a student's prior learning is and how they can demonstrate that learning. We take in all the different types of learning. There is a significant amount of learning that takes place in our work and life," she adds. "We're always trying to make our students more aware of this. When they think about prior learning, they may only think of transfer credits." The college has an online self-assessment tool that takes a potential student through the first few stages, so they can determine if it's worth claiming prior learning for credits. Many practitioners assess people for prior learning, including those who work in human resources or for regulatory bodies, career and employment counsellors, and those who help place immigrants and newcomers. To that end, Red River College now offers a RPL Practitioner Certificate program, which includes six courses. One course is available per term, for a total of 300 hours. "We're quite well recognized in Canada for our expertise in this field. Our prior-learning system has been in practice for many, many years," Blower says, adding that Red River is one of only two colleges in Canada to offer the program. "We're training adults across Canada in how to set up prior-learning systems. We're very forward- thinking when it comes to our processes and practices." The RPL Practitioner Certificate program is available in an online format, increasing its availability to adult learners. "We've made this program available to those who are already doing RPL in their workplace," says Dierdre Shore, acting program manager, Communication Services and Education. "We'll provide people with the tools they need to make it an active part of their role. Many organizations can use these processes." Those interested in the course may work in adult education, a regulatory body, human resources, or as a career and employment counsellor. "Recognition of prior learning helps immigrants and newcomers move forward in their lives here in Canada, especially immigrants coming in who want licences to practise here," Blower says. "It's a really important piece and a growing field." The RPL Practitioner Certificate program is a short course, making it accessible to those who are working full time, says Shore. "We want to share our expertise in this area," she adds. "Our participants will learn from each other as well." ■ Red RiveR College Red RiveR College values life expeRienCe By Holli Moncrieff for the free press

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