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Friday, 21 November 2008

On-Line Reporting

On-line reporting is perhaps one of the most powerful technologies to hit education in recent years. The establishment of VLEs in all schools has enabled universal and secure input of, and access to, data. A range of good assessment tools, indicating attainments and progress also helps. The ability to write helpful comments for the mutual benefit of pupils, parents, form tutors and the SLT, at any time and any where, has changed how we think of the ‘end-of-term’ report for ever.

But, reports, however constructive, can be seen as ‘snapshots in time’ and set in stone. However, there is also a place for informal or constructive comment - that which is personal and possibly transitory, where dialogue or even banter between mentor and student may be the appropriate way to provide personal support.

The place for this informal type of constructive
reporting or feedback is within the e-Portfolio.

For the last two decades at least, teachers have been advised not just to place a mark in an exercise book, but rather to provide appropriate feedback. However, with the progressive demise of the exercise book, vulnerable as it was, an electronic replacement has become necessary.

For whatever stage or route of study, it is increasingly essential that selected work is collated in a presentation Portfolio. And here, therefore, we have the perfect combination of facilities: the opportunity to present, collaborate with peers and obtain confidential feedback from tutors and mentors etc.

eFolio is designed for just this sort of work. They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ Well, how much more powerful a video or other rich-media? All of this can be kept in eFolio, reviewed, commented upon etc, as one student recently commented, “I didn’t realise that my teacher cared about my work!”

Managing a large number of courses and modules needs clarity of mind. The e-Portfolio is an excellent ‘organiser’ in this context, enabling the young student to focus upon what is important in each subject, particularly when it comes to saying ‘This collection is what represents the Real ME.’

Reflection can be a very profound learning experience whereby students learn to compare what they did even several years ago with what they can do now. Why students select certain artefacts and not others, why they see something as significant for them, and possibly not their ‘best’ work, is all about understanding oneself.

As young people progress through their studies this will include time spent in studying Careers advice, Work Experience placements, PLTS, FS, and projects and possibly studying at different sites, none of which quite fit into the traditional system of formal timetabled lessons and subjects. Wherever they are their eFolio can always be accessed!

Towards the end of the course, students will have to face several situations in which they have to represent themselves, either to potential employers or applications to move on to further study at university and this is where eFolio really comes into its own!

But even then the e-Portfolio is not finished. It will become the constant companion within the very different social scene of employment or university life. At times a planner, at other times a tool for collaboration, using all the power of Web2.0 and at other times a confessional or private diary, the eFolio continues to evolve whenever and where ever one might be studying, full-time or part-time or just between jobs.

An e-Portfolio may be the ideal tool for representing one’s self. However, it is also the place where teachers, parents and mentors can get to understand the more private view of the student. Despite all the benefits of on‑line reporting therefore, the e-Portfolio

‘Gets to the parts others cannot reach’.

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