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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

eFolio and Home Access

Never have there been such pressures to encourage the communication of information from and to the home.

Government expects it, teachers need it, parents want it, friends and relatives are impressed, the kids love it! So why make it so complicated?

eFolio is designed to overcome all the complexities of the wide variety of Learning Platforms, transition between institutions, and different hardware configurations. – And what’s more, there is no extra work for technicians!

eFolio is a very simple to use e-Portfolio tool especially tailored to the needs of young students, whatever their ability. In fact the developers of eFolio believe that the best place to start using eFolio is certainly by Key Stage 3. – eFolio can even be used by pre-school staff and parents.

e-safety has always been a concern of the eFolio team and especially for our younger or vulnerable users. In the first instance eFolio is ‘locked down’ so that only the child and teachers can see what is placed in the eFolio. As the student progresses through KS3 and on to KS4 they will learn how to set the eFolio permissions as to who can see their work, completed or not.

To begin with, just consider eFolio as a place to celebrate ‘best practice’ - the things that the youngster is proud of, whether sport, music, coursework, family activities or clubs etc. Any digital artefacts can be copied by ‘drag-n-drop’ to pages in eFolio.

As the young student gets older he/she will probably choose a different template design, colour scheme or font size. This very much supports the concept of ‘ownership’ of the e-Portfolio. New menu items can be easily added as can ‘sub-menus’.

Any form of text documents, scanned images or ‘rich media’ can be uploaded or hyperlinks can be put in place to other repositories. It’s just like owning your own website, but without the problems of understanding HTML or CSS. eFolio acts as a ‘gatekeeper’ in that the student must decide what to put in the portfolio rather than use it as a total repository for everything!

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

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 area, particularly when it comes to saying ‘This collection is what represents the Real ME.’

As young people progress through KS3 and on to KS4 much soul searching can take place about ‘options’ for KS4. Invariably this includes time spent in studying Careers advice, developing PLTS, Health & Social Studies and a host of pastoral issues.

Many times such deliberations may prompt the student to ask for advice from ‘another adult’, a parent or mentor - the e-Portfolio again can become the perfect place for the virtual benefits of ‘sitting alongside’ one another and chatting through issues with invited members. For staff, a simple messaging system can warn when new work is ready to be assessed.

Towards the end of KS4 again, students will have to face several situations in which they have to represent themselves, either to Work Experience employers, actual Job Applications or applications to move on to further study in a 6th-form or FE college. In each case eFolio is the ideal tool for representing the student. Again, eFolio is also specifically developed for the 14-19 Diploma courses!

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