Using ePortfolios to support the RPL process

Recognition of prior learning (RPL), or skills recognition, provides an assessment or snap shot of an individual’s skills and competencies at a point in time.
E-portfolios for RPL Assessment: Key findings on current engagement in the VET sector (2009). Brisbane: Australian Flexible Learning Framework.

What is RPL?

RPL allows a person to receive recognition and credit for the knowledge and skills they have, no matter how and where they were attained, including overseas. This can include skills from:

  • previous study (including courses at school or TAFE, through adult education classes or training programs at work)
  • work experience (including work that is paid or unpaid), and
  • life experience, such as leisure pursuits or voluntary work.

So what’s an ePortfolio?

An e-portfolio is a learner-driven collection of digital artefacts articulating experiences, achievements and evidence of learning (Galatis, Leeson, Mason, Miller, & ONeill, p. 2).

An electronic portfolio, also known as an e-portfolio or digital portfolio, is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user, usually on the Web. Such electronic evidence may include inputted text, electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks. E-portfolios are both demonstrations of the user’s abilities and platforms for self-expression, and, if they are online, they can be maintained dynamically over time. Some e-portfolio applications permit varying degrees of audience access, so the same portfolio might be used for multiple purposes.

Electronic portfolio. (2010, September 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:13, September 27, 2010, from

How might an ePortfolio help with a person wishing to apply for RPL?

An ePortfolio is a fantastic way of keeping ‘all your eggs in one basket’, although you may store all your artefacts in one digital repository or archive you can control who has access to what artefacts and when.

There are many ePortfolio repositories available, some are free some are not. I have included a mix below-

Yep, got it, RPL & ePortfolios…. umm actually I don’t…

An RPL candidate may use an ePortfolio as means to gather and present evidence of their skills and abilities by-

  • utilising templates to structure the presentation of RPL evidence, and tags to organise and find artefacts, which helps streamline the assessment process
  • reducing the need for paper based, hard copy evidence and limiting excessive evidence collection
  • developing and strengthening information and communication technology (ICT) or digital literacy skills.
Perry, W. (2009). E-portfolios for RPL Assessment: Key findings on current engagement in the VET sector: Australian Flexible Learning Framework.

How does this help me when I conduct an RPL assessment?

If you think of an ePortfolio as a means for presenting a variety of evidence from formal and informal learning environments which have been acquired through workplace and life-wide experiences (Galatis, et al., p. 7) then you’ll be able to use the ePortfolio as a starting point or platform from which to ascertain whether or not the candidate (on face value) have the skills and abilities sufficient to be assessed as competent in the qualification they are seeking RPL.

If, in your opinion, the candidate does not sufficiently meet the assessment criteria based on the evidence provided you would simply meet with the candidate to discuss the skills gap and together plan how they might provide that evidence, be it by demonstration, written evidence, supervisor reports etc.

Below is a slide presentation that may help you understand how an ePortfolio may work not only for your RPL candidates but also for your students, regardless of study mode i.e. on or off-campus.

Need help?

ePortfolio software: Geoff Young, Team Leader, Learning Innovation

RPL: Rosemary Bartel, Skills Recognition, Learner Services


Galatis, H., Leeson, J., Mason, J., Miller, A., & ONeill, O. (2009). The VET E-portfolio Roadmap: Australian Flexible Learning Framework.

E-portfolios for RPL Assessment: Key findings on current engagement in the VET sector (2009). Brisbane: Australian Flexible Learning Framework.

Perry, W. (2009). E-portfolios for RPL Assessment: Key findings on current engagement in the VET sector: Australian Flexible Learning Framework.


6 responses to “Using ePortfolios to support the RPL process

  1. Hum… re the phrase ‘all your eggs in one basket’, I would suggest that there is a dager here of cluttering the ePortfolio with unwanted artefacts. Students should be encouraged to focus upon their audience and present what is relevant.

    Secondly, the review of an ePortfolio for RPL can be much more than the hunt for ‘what’s missing’. A tutor/counsellor will probably see things in an ePortfolio that the learner might not have thought significant – and possibly suggest that the RPL might give more credit than at first anticipated by the learner.

    Perhaps you would like to provide a link to my website where I have been discussing these things for several years.

    Kind Regards,
    Ray T

    • Ray,
      Many thanks for your comments, they’re much appreciated. In response-
      1. An ePortfolio has a legitimate role as a student repository for student artefacts; the critical factor is its effective use by the student. Repositories such as Mahara provide a permissions framework that enables different views of an ePortfolio, this ensures that whilst a student may have uploaded many artefacts to their repository they are in control over what is seen and by whom.
      2. I agree totally with your second point- a review of an ePortfolio for RPL can be much more than the hunt for ‘what’s missing’, our teachers and skills assessors at Wodonga TAFE take great care to ensure that each RPL assessment is about seeing the bigger picture in what is being presented to them by the candidate.

      Thanks again for your comments, we hope you continue to enjoy our posts- please suggest our blog to others.

      Geoff Young
      Team leader, Learning Innovation

  2. To me the important use of eportfolios goes beyond just a place to store and display assets but as a learning tool. Using the portfolio to reflect and link learning experiences.

    I put together an e-portfolio for RPL for vet nursing and it helped the process immensely – now the Tafe is looking at using them for other reasons.

    Very important to look BEYOND RPL and assessment to personal learning.

    • Sandra,
      Thanks for your comments; it’s encouraging that we’re engaging the wider community in what we believe are matters of educational importance. We hope you’ll continue to follow our blog, post comments and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
      Your comment that an ePortfolio can be used to “reflect and link learning experiences” is so true. The beauty of them is that they are a continuum, a work in progress, and they can be molded to suit any number of intended uses or outcomes. Wodonga TAFE will be making a concerted effort to promote the use of ePortfolios to all of our students, regardless of study mode, age or level of skill and knowledge. The use of ePortfolios as a tool for self reflection of learning and experiences cannot be underestimated and it’s incumbent on us to shine a light on our students’ learning and life experiences to enable them to achieve the best possible outcomes they can.

      Geoff Young
      Team Leader, Learning Innovation

  3. Hi Geoff,
    Great blog here and some very useful conversations happening. I really like your expresssion – an eportfolio is a continuum or work in progress – so true. That is the nature of reflective practice – it goes on – it goes back – it is continuous improvement.

    We’d really like your input, and that of your team at Wodonga, to join our VET Eportfolio Community of Practice and contribute to those conversations.
    We’re also looking for ‘Doing EP locally’ ideas and wonder what you do at Wogonga TAFE to encourage and “promote the use of ePortfolios to all of your students”.

  4. Pingback: October 2010 « S.A. E-Learning Newsletter·

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