New online application tool helps applicants count work and life experience towards third level

From left: Gavin Clinch, IT Sligo, project team, myexperience.ie; Dr Carina Ginty, project manager, myexperience.ie; Nigel Murray and Lucy Bracken, students in the GMIT School of Science who recently completed the RPL application at www.myexperience.ie to gain advanced entry to a Level 9 certificate in food innovation and entrepreneurship at GMIT. Missing from the picture is Oran Doherty, LyIT, the third member of the project team myexperience.ie.

From left: Gavin Clinch, IT Sligo, project team, myexperience.ie; Dr Carina Ginty, project manager, myexperience.ie; Nigel Murray and Lucy Bracken, students in the GMIT School of Science who recently completed the RPL application at www.myexperience.ie to gain advanced entry to a Level 9 certificate in food innovation and entrepreneurship at GMIT. Missing from the picture is Oran Doherty, LyIT, the third member of the project team myexperience.ie.

The Connacht Ulster Alliance, comprising GMIT, IT Sligo, and LyIT, has launched a college application tool that recognises learning gained through life and work experiences that enables advanced entry to third level programmes.

The My Experience RPL assessment toolkit includes an information website, www.myexperience.ie for candidates looking for access or advanced entry to a higher education programme. A free open online course has been developed for higher education staff seeking professional development in recognised prior learning (RPL ) assessment skills and supporting RPL applicants (cpd.learnonline.ie ).

In January 2016, the CU Alliance was awarded €49,000 from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching to deliver a six month project on RPL development. GMIT is leading this project with partners IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT. This project involved developing the open online educational course, further technical enhancements to the CUA RPL online application tool, and then sharing this My Experience RPL assessment toolkit with staff in the CUA, Waterford IT, and DCU.

Project manager Dr Carina Ginty said: “The need to develop the My Experience RPL Toolkit arises from a number of factors, including the fact that lifelong learning participation rate is just 7.3 per cent in Ireland, compared to the EU average of 10.5 per cent. With regards the employed sector, it is just six per cent participation in Ireland, compared to the EU average of 11 per cent. Therefore, there is great potential to promote RPL pathways to higher education among the experienced workforce in Ireland that are seeking to up skill and gain a formal qualification.

“Further challenges identified, include the lack of awareness that recognising prior learning actually exists or candidates are unsure how to build a portfolio of evidence. There is also a fear factor among academics in how to go about assessing experiential learning. Our RPL toolkit helps address these issues and it will create more opportunities for mature learners to gain advanced entry to a programme at GMIT, IT Sligo and LyIT.”

As a result of the National Forum funding, DCU and WIT signed up to gain access to the My Experience RPL Toolkit to activate in their own institutes. Technology enhanced learning clinics on the My Experience RPL Toolkit will run in GMIT, IT Sligo, WIT, and DCU for staff from March 14 to 16.

Candidates who are interested in applying for advanced entry to a programme at GMIT, IT Sligo, and LyIT are encouraged to visit myexperience.ie and seek advice from the institute on making an application through the My Experience online tool.

For further information on this CUA collaborative initiative visit www.myexperience.ie or contact the project development team, Dr Carina Ginty, GMIT, at [email protected] or 087 7469072; Gavin Clinch, IT Sligo, at [email protected]; or Oran Doherty, LyIT, at [email protected].

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