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Athabasca University

2010 News Archive

Athabasca recognized as Canadian PLAR leader

December 15, 2010

Athabasca University was awarded the 2010 Canadian Recognizing Learning Award by the Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment (CAPLA) in Ottawa on November 8, 2010. Dr. Dianne Conrad, Director of the Centre for Learning Accreditation, accepted the award on behalf of the institution. Click here to read more.

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CLA Director Presents at US Adult Ed Conference

October 13, 2010

Dr. Dianne Conrad recently attended the AHEA (Adult Higher Education Alliance) 30th annual conference held in Saratoga Springs, NY and presented a session on authenticity and assessment in prior learning assessment. The conference was a great venue for PLAR discussion among attendees, who represented a variety of post secondary institutions from across the US. International representation was slight, and AU was the only Canadian institution there. That said, the AHEA is an organization of considerable educational depth and the conference sessions were uniformly excellent, engendering meaningful discussion. Canadian adult educators would enjoy this group! Visit their web site (soon to be overhauled) at

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CLA Thanks Dr. Judi Malone for Serving as Acting Director

October 13, 2010

Following a six-month research and study leave, Dr. Dianne Conrad has returned to her position as Director of the CLA. Dr. Judi Malone, who has served for many years as an AU tutor in her area of Psychology and Women's Studies and is also a currently-serving member of AU's Governing Council, stepped in from February to September, 2010, as Acting Director. CLA is grateful to Judi for her excellent work and for the commuting effort she invested in her engagement with CLA personnel and processes. Thanks, Judi!

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AU Presents at Belleville's PLA Conference June 2010

Fran Holler, Mentorship Coordinator and Gail Leicht, Portfolio Development & Assessment Coordinator, represented the CLA at the annual FNTI Conference in Belleville, Ontario June 2 - 4, 2010. Their presentation, entitled "Unpacking Tacit Knowledge: Looking into the Mentor Toolbox at Athabasca University", focuses on the application of a mentoring tool developed in the Centre to guide students to a full articulation of their learning. Check out the presentation here (PPT - 2.5MB).

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BC inaugurates PLAR network at BCPLAN Summit 2010

Almost 100 representatives from all sectors of the workplace gathered in Vancouver on April 25 to 27 to launch BCPLAN - the British Columbia Prior Learning Assessment Network, co-chaired on an interim basis by Wendy Watson, University of the Fraser Valley, and Judy Harris, ITA. Hosted by UFV, the BCPLAN Summit 2010 engaged invited participants to determine a viable path forward for PLAR practice at all levels, from business and industry to community to post secondary learning.

Dianne Conrad represented Athabasca University and presented the Alberta perspective at the round table discussion "Beyond BC: The Climate that Fosters Recognition of Learning," joining Dr. Doug Myers (Halifax PLA Centre) and Bonnie Kennedy (Executive Director, CAPLA). For more information on the BC initiative, visit

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CLA participates in U.S. Prior Learning Study

Athabasca University was one of two Canadian universities chosen to participate recently in major CAEL-supported research that investigated completion and success rates of learners who had engaged in a PLAR process during their program of study. CAEL (The Council of Adult and Experiential Learning), based in Chicago, forms the organizational home for PLAR concerns (called PLA in the U.S). This 48-institution study was funded by the American Lumina Foundation. Study results show dramatic advantage in completion rates for those who participated in prior learning. For more detail, visit the study at: and

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Financial assistance for PLAR learners now available

CLA is delighted to announce that two bursaries ($500 each) and a scholarship ($1000) have been approved for the PLAR process at Athabasca University. The bursaries will be available to cover the cost of PLAR (and subsequent PLAR-earned credit) and are based on demonstration of financial need. Potential PLAR applicants may apply for PLAR bursaries. The PLAR Scholarship will be awarded to an AU student who has already successfully completed the PLAR process and is close to graduating from his/her AU program of study. Visit the following sites for complete descriptions of the awards and their conditions of eligibility.

AU PLAR Scholarship

AU PLAR Bursary

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Write Site Assistance Now Available

PLAR learners experiencing difficulty with their writing can access AU's Write Site for dedicated help. In most cases, PLAR mentors will identify learners' writing as needing extra help and refer them to the Write Site. PLAR learners will be able to work with Write Site personnel on the creation of their narrative autobiographical essays, which is the first piece of written work required for the PLAR portfolio. For more information on AU's Write Site services, please visit

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AU's Portfolio Learning Process Recognized at CAEL Conference

AU's PLAR process was spotlighted at the 2009 CAEL conference held recently in Chicago when CLA Director Dianne Conrad participated in a panel discussion entitled:

Prior learning portfolios: Institutional reports. Hosted by Denise Hart (Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey) and Jerry Hickerson (Winston-Salem University, North Carolina), the panel also included representation from Valdosta State University, Georgia; St. Edward's University, Texas; and Ashford University, Iowa. The presentation was a follow-up to Hart and Hickerson's 2008 book on portfolio models, Prior learning portfolios: A representative collection.

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Life Meets Learning

PLAR feature in "The Voice" Magazine

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AU Represented at European Conference

Dr. Dianne Conrad, CLA Director, presented a paper at the European Distance Education Network's (EDEN) annual conference held this year in Gdansk, Poland, June 10-13. The paper, entitled "Innovation through convention? Building consensus for RPL practice in Canadian universities", is available here.

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Updated January 30 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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