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Saturday, 23 October 2010


I have just received notification of the publication of an excellent research project, CAPITAL - Curriculum and Pedagogy in Technology Assisted Learning. 'Year 3 final report: Shaping Contexts to realise the potential of technologies to support learning.'

The document reads well and is full of up-to-date thinking in relation to the support of learning through contemporary technologies. However, for the sake of this blog, I thought that I would quote some of the references to ePortfolios that might whet your appetite to read further:

"In our work, we used the term 'E-assessment' to refer to any use of digital technology to support an evaluation of a student‟s progress in learning (any activity undertaken to gather and evaluate information about a student's learning). By including tools to gather and store information (e.g., e-portfolios) this term is broader than the definition of e-assessment provided by JISC (2007): “the end-to-end electronic assessment processes where ICT is used for the presentation of assessment and the recording of responses”.

"The guide provides many examples of successful use of e-testing and e-portfolios in assessment. In 2005, 26% of awarding bodies used e-assessment to deliver, on average, 29% of their assessment program (Thomson, 2005). In our interviews with leaders of awarding bodies, it was emphasised that efficiency gains are ultimately beneficial for the learner. E-assessment offers greater flexibility (different locations, different times), faster feedback, and reduction in administration costs (OCR, 2009; AQA, 2008). Also, by supporting the workload for human markers, assessment can be made more reliable. The e-learning company Epic argues that tests can be more consistent, relevant, reduce cheating and save marking time (Epic, 2010).

"However, these benefits described relate mostly to the efficiency gains of summative assessment. In contrast, the potential to assess a range of skills that is broader (e.g. using video to help assess drama), and more fully to integrate assessment into learning activities resonates with claims around the transformational potential of e-assessment..... One key tool that is gaining in appeal is the e-portfolio, which provides the means to store and organise a rich multimedia range of assessment evidence, integrating assessment material from sources such as digital cameras and mobile devices (e.g. Molenet, 2008). The e-scape project reported in our case study (Patterson, 2009a) also exemplifies the potential to integrate a richer range of materials for assessment.

"E-portfolios provide a structure for teachers and learners to store and share rich sources of assessment evidence, although they do not as yet provide quantifiable data or feedback themselves. They are currently mainly used for more work-based assessments that require portfolios of evidence. Consequently, their potential for adoption is more determined by the wider culture of assessment practice.

"It is also important to emphasise here that whilst summative assessment pressures may represent a significant barrier, tools to support formative assessment offer great potential. Indeed, a commitment to formative assessment was perceived as a key enabler in the successful use of e-portfolios in the e-Scape project.

"One key challenge is to change the culture of assessment where the requirements for summative assessment can unhelpfully drive practice. In this situation, there is a significant opportunity to develop assessment for learning, through diagnostic testing with rapid feedback, rich media assignments and feedback, and e-portfolios for self-reflection. There is also a need to support and assess learning over longer periods, through e-portfolios and activity logs."

I could go on with several more quotes... but you should read the whole report for a better overview!

The CAPITAL project produced a range of other reports and research findings during its life, and copies of all of these can be found on the website

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