Respecting Experience as a Qualifier

In their timely and perceptive book, “Life Reimagined: Discovering New Possibilities,” Richard Leider and Alan Webber lay the base for one of the most important things most of us do without any support or advice: plan for the future. In thoughtful and clear prose, they outline why planning consciously for and reflecting on what you want from your future will add great value and happiness to both the process and the outcome of this work.

At the heart of their recommendations and advice for planning lies the role of experience – life experience, professional experience – that amalgam of forces that combine to shape each of our current-day realities, outlook, and potential.

To this I would add that, as mentioned in my book most-recent book, understanding your experience, learning from the process of reflecting on it, and harvesting the learning that it has brought you is a powerful process with significant impact.

In a major development that heralds a new age in innovative collaboration, Kaplan Higher Education Group, AARP, and the authors of the book Life Reimagined have pooled resources to create the AARP Life Reimagined website. This website is chock full of helpful advice about planning for change in your life, including retirement and re-careering. No longer does this critical transition have to be navigated alone, with no structure or support to inform the process. Kaplan’s contribution to this effort is LearningAdvisor. LearningAdvisor is a combination of career and educational assets that help the user sort through options and opportunities using up to date data and  exercises.

Not surprisingly, once again, the importance and value of understanding and building on the experience that adults have accumulated lies at the heart of the value proposition. Adults, while they may be interested in getting a degree at this stage in their lives, are more interested in solving the problems facing them and, in the process, getting the respect and lift that valued experience gives them. After all, why should someone be required to relearn something they already know?

An important part of the LearningAdvisor suite of services is the Learning Recognition Course Documenting Your Experiences for College Credit. This course helps learners organize evidence of their experiential and professional learning into useful course equivalents. If desired, that learning, assembled in a portfolio, can later be assessed for academic credit. There is great value to cataloging this learning and having it assessed. First, people who do it and proceed on to enroll at Kaplan University save, on average, nearly a year’s worth of time and money in earning their degrees. Second, the information is also extremely useful in the workplace, supporting promotion and transfer.

Collaborations like the Kaplan/AARP/Life Reimagined venture mark a new frontier in partnerships that serve the human interests of the people involved. Furthermore, they also underscore the power of personal and informal learning and experience in our lives by providing a way to convert that experience to added value.

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