Adult learners have acquired valuable knowledge, skills and competencies throughout their life and work experiences. Many however are unaware that their capabilities can be assessed in order to earn an equivalent academic credential at university level. The Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) at Open University Malaysia provides an opportunity for adult learners to gain recognition and earn academic credits for their prior learning. APEL assesses, recognises and awards credits for the individual's prior experiential learning gained either through non-formal or informal means by determining the extent to which the learner has achieved the required learning / competency outcomes for award of credit for a course.
What is Prior Learning?
Apart from the conventional and formal classroom environment, learning can occur almost anywhere; in informal or non-formal settings. At work, adults learn during their training and development activities, short courses as well as on-the-job assignments. To deal with work challenges, they practice their problem-solving and decision-making skills to come up with viable solutions.
Adult learning also takes place during one's involvement in community projects or voluntary services and taking up hobbies like reading and independent studying. Learning from life and work experiences can have significant academic value and upon proper assessment, can be converted into academic credits. These credits, however, are granted on the basis of achieved learning and not, the experience itself.
How do we place academic value on Prior Learning?
Through APEL, experiential learning gained through informal or non-formal means are measured systematically against specified learning outcomes of a programme or course. Learning must be evident and assessed in terms of its authenticity, sufficiency, reliability and validity, prior to the award of APEL credits.
By obtaining such credits, learners can then accelerate their completion of a university degree.