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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Adult Edn & e-Portfolios

I've just come across a most impressive set of handouts relating to Adult Learning in Australia. The blog and associated links by ALA give a very clear and up-to-date picture of many of the aspects of an e-Portfolio and is well worth reading through carefully.

The 'Concept Guides' are the recent outcome of a report completed in August 2008, 'The Australian ePortfolio Project'. The encouraging thing, for me, is that two of the members represented on the Australian board are from the UK: Rob Ward, Director of the Centre for Recording Achievement, UK, and Associate Professor Angela Smallwood, Director International Centre for ePortfolio Research, UK . The leaflets also refer to JISC materials elsewhere referenced in their research. Support for the original work was provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Also see the AFLF e-Portfolios blog

However, yet again, the emphasis appears to be just on Higher Education, I quote, "The overarching aim of the research project, which was given the working title of the Australian ePortfolio Project, was to examine the current levels of ePortfolio practice in Australian higher education. " This has been my complaint all along with the UK Higher Ed scenario. There the traditional teaching and learning styles are generally still the de facto delivery system of 'I teach, you learn'. We really need to understand how e-Portfolios can dramatically enhance, if not actually revolutionise, teaching and learning in HE. It's beginning to happen in our Primary and Secondary schools - so why not in HE?

Another concern raised by these documents is that of defining 'adult'. The very attractive 'Concept Guides' portray near-teenage students and young executives. But what of those who might be called 'Middle Aged' or even the 'Grey Brigade'. As one belonging to the latter group I just wonder if those who dwell in the luxury of academia are actually thinking of 'real' adults when discussing e-Portfolio implementations. The real world is full of those who are fearing the next job-cut, the less able, those recently made redundant, the long-term unemployed, those frustratedly seeking alternative employment or actually trying to better themselves.

However, offsetting the above criticisms, there is also another Australian report well worth reading 'E-portfolios beyond education and training' As Jen Miller reports, 'the report provides case studies of a number of international examples of the use of e-portfolios to assist people in the workforce and in career development. It makes recommendations that include enhancing current national infrastructure to enable Australians to use an e-portfolio to enhance career development, lifelong learning, and workforce participation.' Well - this looks better, but it is still primarily research - what we now need to do is translate aspiration into inspiration!

Some nice examples and quotations referring to the work of eFolio in Minnesota - Next year, let's hope that they can include the all-age approach of the work of eFolio in the UK!

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