P. O'Leary, S. O'Sullivan

Cork Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
We are newly vulnerable now in modern society as we are subjected to so much change in how we live, work and learn. Technology is having a major impact on every aspect of our lives with the rapid pace of change being one of the only constants. Along with the major advantages that technology has brought are new demands for the everyday worker. Knowledge itself is highly valued and constantly changing. It is no longer enough now to leave college and enter the workforce with a job for life. Instead the need for reskilling and upskilling to keep pace with changes in work practices coupled to uncertainty in the job market due to economic downturn are very real challenges. Now reinvention is regularly demanded to keep pace with the constant flux that is participating in modern life.

This research proposes a strategy to activate the lifelong learning mode of an individual to capture their prior non formal, informal learning and work based learning over time to meet these new demands. E-Portfolios can be used to protect against the rigors of modern life and articulate the abilities of the individual. E-Portfolios can be used over time to present for new work opportunities; for promotion in the workplace; to set out a learning plan and for Recognition of Prior Learning purposes on return to Higher Education, where this knowledge can be assessed for credits.

This research has trialled the use of portfolios with the BA in Community Development in Cork Institute of Technology. The group prepared sample prior learning cases for the module EDUC6004 Portfolio Methods for Recognition of Prior Learning. The students were a mature group with diverse backgrounds and cultures. This group found that building the e-portfolios, using Google sites; drawing on their experiential learning and subsequently reflecting on the module to be significant in activating a lifelong learning mentality. It is proposed that this is a valuable step to activate the lifelong learning mindset of any cohort of students; and should be built into the foundation stages of Higher Education programmes. The research* concludes that all Higher Education providers must promote this mindset to better equip today’s learner to survive the tide of change that is modern life.

This research was supported by the REAP project and the HEA in Ireland.