Can lifelong learning be revisited? An analysis of the potential contributions of the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning

Pierre-Yves SANSÉAU, Sandrine ANSART


In this paper, we analyse how lifelong learning can be enriched and develop a different perspective based on the experiment involving the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) conducted in France at the university level. The French system for the accreditation of prior experiential learning, called Validation des Acquis de l’Expérience (VAE), accredits prior learning from past experiences (professional and otherwise) and can lead to full university degrees or diplomas.

Studies on VAE in France in higher education show that a thorough analysis of prior experiential learning: (i) improves the quality of the experience as a potential source of skills; (ii) may provide ways to improve the candidate’s experiential learning, and (iii) may help define the direction for lifelong learning. Therefore, recognition of this experiential learning could be a key catalyst for lifelong learning.

The findings support two main arguments advocating a central role for the recognition of prior experiential learning in the lifelong learning process: potentially individualized learning paths, personal empowerment and shorter training times; and a focus on experience – and not just professional experience – that is in tune with today’s societal changes and the aspirations/constraints of each individual.

Full Paper in PDF Document


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