A number of key initiatives are driving forward a change in the way in which learner achievement is collected, recorded and presented to better enable lifelong learning, increase employability and improve transparency and recognition of qualifications.
The Learning Records Service (LRS) (formerly Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) and the Learner Registration Service) is responsible for the issuing of Unique Learner Numbers (ULN) to every person aged 14 and over in education and training in the UK, allowing them to build a lifelong record of their participation and achievements.
The Personal Learning Record (PLR) is described by the LRS as providing an ‘accessible verified record of learning participation and achievement which will help learners to take control of their personal learning development’. It records all Qualification Credit Framework (QCF) learner achievement.
Although the use of HE Progress Files has become widely adopted in the English HE sector, the Burgess Report recommends a single, more comprehensive record of learners’ educational achievements which will better support the skills agenda and flexible and lifelong learning.
The Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) will give employers more detailed information on the skills, progress and attainment of prospective employees and will provide the opportunity to record workplace learning and higher level skills developed as part of higher education programmes. Although the Progress File model is likely to evolve under the Burgess proposals, the diagram below shows how e-portfolios could support both reflective learning through Personal Development Planning (PDP) and associated evidence captured in the Progress File.
The ways in which the HEAR might be linked to the Personal Learning Record and to HESA data collection have been explored by Jisc projects.
Both the 2005 DfES E-strategy (Harnessing Technology: Transforming learning and children’s services) and the HEFCE Strategy for e-Learning (2005) proposed the use of an electronic portfolio (or at least electronic media) to to build a lifelong record of skills and achievement.
These initiatives and drivers provide significant administrative, technical and legal challenges at institutional and national level in terms of areas such as data management, interoperability, data transfer, authentication and data ownership.
In response to these challenges, Jisc projects have focused on the technical frameworks which will enable data transfer and interoperability at critical learner transition points (eg school to HE, FE to employment etc) and the potential of e-portfolios to support these processes.
The e-portfolio Lifelong Learning Reference Model project tested a range of scenarios and developed a ‘thin’ e-portfolio model of services and workflow to reduce the complexity of data transfer between different data repositories. This has been taken forward in specific contexts such as HE (DELIA project) and at regional level (RIPPLL).
It is difficult to gather evidence for an increase in achievement attributed to one initiative due to the many variables that are always in play but Dumfries and Galloway College has noted an increase in achievement since implementing e-portfolios:
Retention and achievement figures for learners with eportfolios have consistently shown an increase. A comparison of these figures between 2007 and 2008 showed that computing classes increased retention by between 21 and 50 percent while construction classes increased retention by 29%. Achievement during the same period for computing increased up to 22% and in construction by up to 47%.
Dumfries and Galloway College
Europass provides a portfolio of standardised electronic documents for learners across Europe to use to record their achievements, skills and competencies including work-based experience which can be easily understood across Europe.