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Monday, 7 December 2009

Successful student engagement using e-Portfolios

Photo: 'Bored Students' from Dreamstime.comI was recently asked, “can anyone shed any light on the “theory” of successful student engagement using ePortfolios in the vocational area of learning?” And this was my reply:

This is not an uncommon problem, particularly with purpose-designed systems.

The issue, in my opinion is one of ‘ownership’.

1: If the system you are using is just a tool for subject delivery/assessment there is little motivation for the student to do yet more form-filling.

2: In some institutions the e-Portfolio is just used as a content delivery system as a substitution for a VLE which might not be capable of managing the tutor/mentor feedback and peer-review that an e-Portfolio should be capable of managing. And this is where, I suspect, that the popularity of Web2.0 has intruded itself.

3: It is an educationally recognised fact that the e-Portfolio needs to ‘belong’ to the learner. If there is no self-identity, no self-representation that shouts out “This is ME”, there is little chance that any but the most studious will invest time and effort in doing something that is obviously not ‘mine’ but the College’s.

4: The e-Portfolio should contain personal information that helps the tutor/mentor to better understand the learner and thus develops a better student-teacher relationship. The more information that the learner is allowed to include, including rich media, the better the relationship can become.

5: Of course, the organisation, layout and choice of pages and sub-pages, the templates chosen and colour-schemes, of avatars etc are all part of the psychology of ‘ownership’. It is quite often these very obvious presentation choices that immediately tell the experienced teacher much about their students than might be intended.

6: However, perhaps the most important aspect of the e-Portfolio is what tools are embedded to provide formative feedback, peer review, polls, surveys and comments that really begin to support the type of student activity we should be seeing in the classroom, with or without walls.

7: An obvious requirement of e-Portfolio functionality is that the learner needs to be able to control who-sees-what. A good e-Portfolio will allow the control of audiences so that, concurrently, different readers will see different ‘views’ of the one e-Portfolio.

I could go on for ages, but hope this is a start. Please check out my links on the sidebar:

1 comment:

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