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Friday, 10 July 2009

eFolio in 4 Minutes

Graphic: The FutureLab logoI recently presented at the BridgEd futurelab day in central London. BridgEd is a unique attempt to match suppliers with customers within the world of educational technology.

Apart from some really excellent keynote speakers the afternoon activity was set up to 'match' vendors with delegates. From my point of view this 'dating' approach was both new to me and very successful. We were able to have meaningful and searching conversations only cut short by the determined blowing of an old-fashioned school whistle every half hour.

Well, the point of this blog is that before lunch each of the vendors were given four minutes only (yes! 4 mins) to present their products or services to the whole audience. Wow! that demanded some concise thinking, no waffle and no time for PowerPoints! My question, therefore, is how would you present eFolio in just four minutes to a technologically alert and intelligent audience who all wanted to see real innovation? Here is my effort.


  1. I was doing a Naace/Becta research project on the impact of VLEs on teaching and learning in schools.
  2. Becta had said in 2005 that they expected that all schools would have a VLE up and running by Spring 2008 with the facility for an e-Portfolio by 2010.
  3. I soon realised that almost every one of the 35 different VLE vendors claimed to provide an e-Portfolio, but none met my perception of what an e-Portfolio should be capable of doing.
  4. There is obviously a serious mis-match between the understanding of educators and vendors compared to the expectations of Becta.

A simple definition:

  1. An e-Portfolio is a system of representing one’s self on-line.
  2. Firstly, note, it is owned by the learner and not the institution.
  3. Secondly, It is both Lifelong and Lifewide.
  4. Thirdly, it may be seen by a variety of different audiences.

Learner Owned:

  1. In Primary schools in particular or when dealing with less able children, the system may be set up for the school using menus, templates, guidance notes and colour schemes.
  2. Before long the pupils are encouraged to develop their own page organisation and colour schemes as they wish.
  3. Above all, children are encouraged to take a pride in ‘This is ME!’

Lifelong & Lifewide:

  1. If Lifelong, it must be free of any institution, it must be portable or capable of transition from one institution to another.
  2. As the learner matures, so the e-Portfolio should be capable of changing, chameleon like, changing menus adding more complex artefacts etc.
  3. If Lifewide, it must be simple to use, for the least able, and yet capable of high levels of sophistication, for even the highest PhD student.

for a Variety of Audiences:

  1. With younger children it will inevitably start off that only the child and their teacher sees what is in their eFolio.
  2. Soon, parents, peers and mentors will be given permissions to see the child’s eFolio.
  3. The granting of permissions, selecting different ‘views’ to different audiences is an essential part of the presentation process.
  4. Feedback, polls or surveys can all be safely controlled by the owner.

In conclusion:

  1. eFolio meets all of the above requirements and a lot more too.
  2. For the learner, it gets to the parts that other products cannot reach.

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