Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Quo Vadis? again?

Following research into VLEs in schools and various edicts from BECTA I discovered that there is a serious lack of understanding in schools (ie throughout compulsory education) as to what an e-Portfolio is and how its use will influence teaching and learning. Despite some excellent documents from JISC and my own papers to BECTA the message does not appear to be ‘trickling down’ to mainstream education. Over the last two years I have spent almost every day investigating the development of e-Portfolios and have come to some very clear conclusions as to why most projects are limiting themselves to institutional practice and not breaking out into Lifelong and Lifewide usage.

Other initiatives such as Building Schools for the Future and the Home Access Programme will open up the floodgates to new levels of communication, collaboration and formative assessments etc. Not only will this increase in communication occur between teachers and students but also between a very wide range of stakeholders, using a wide range of platforms and software. How we, as teachers, prepare to handle this new era in Teaching and Learning and how we learn to cope with a much wider variety and number of contacts is being exemplified by our take-up of e-Portfolio practice.

The e-Portfolio is no longer just a ‘capstone’ tool for assessments, a convenient device for PDP or a method of showcasing to potential employers. It will become a common tool for all subject areas in schools, for informal learning and the recording of appropriate experiences. It will become THE tool for community work and even family life. It will also become the repository of one’s digital identity.

How the various ‘camps’ within the e-Portfolio debate agree to resolve their differences is yet to be seen. Examples include: individual ownership v state control, VLE embedded e-portfolios hard-wired to an MIS v privacy issues, personal identity v preformed templates, purpose-designed assessment systems v ‘all-age’ tools and last if not least, SIF v SCORM v IMS v Leap2.

It is therefore necessary to identify what are the present limitations to progress. In particular, clearer definitions of ‘transition’, ‘ownership’, ‘Lifelong’ and ‘Lifewide’ need to be addressed.

Only today I read yet another blog quoting outdated reports and ideas from 2004/5. This is just not good enough. What we need is practical exemplification and debate as to where we might be going to rather than where we have come from!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Who is in the driving seat?

Over the holiday period (and repairs to my PC etc) I have had plenty of time to read others' blogs and reviews - all of which have made somewhat disappointing reading. On the one hand there are a few brave warriors contending for 'e-Portfolios in the sky' and on the other hand there are still far too many people propounding conventional didactic styles, somehow embedded within an e-Portfolio.

So, who IS in the driving seat? For some years now JISC and Educause have been beavering away and publishing regurgitated articles which move e-Portfolio thinking no further forward than we were five years ago! BECTA made several edicts a few years ago, expecting that all children in the UK, or possibly just England, would have access to e-Portfolios by next year - but I see little progress towards this date. And, of more concern, I see very little mention of e-Portfolios in their more recent publications,

What is not clear is where any guidance about how liberated approaches to Teaching & Learning are actually being used in conjunction with e-Portfolios. Just to use an e-Portfolio as a tool for presenting traditional coursework is, to my mind, somewhat anachronistic if not just a pretence at e-learning.

I am very concerned by the number of undergraduates who are developing their own e-Portfolios with little or no guidance as to how the use of such a tool can emancipate Teaching & Learning.
This is a blatant case of 'the blind leading the blind' and, in my book, can only be viewed as professional irresponsibility.

For anyone reading this blog for the first time, and for all those out there who are blissfully ignorant of what an e-Portfolio can do, I strongly suggest that they read my simple analysis of what an e-Portfolio is all about.‘Ten Prime Directives’

Recently an eminent and well revered blogger referred to 'distance learning' within the context of e-Portfolios. I had to respond that e-learning is NOT the same as distance learning. In fact students could be involved in e-learning, collaboration and peer review all in the same room and even on the next workstation.