Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Hurdling Toward Campuswide E-Portfolios

"Some ambitious institutions are seeking to implement e-portfolios across all departments and disciplines, yet there are many barriers to overcome before such a practice gets the full participation of faculty, staff, and students." So wrote Dian Schaffhauser on 1st September in Campus Technology.

This is not a trivial article! Dian has written extensively, based on her research, of a number of institutions that are attempting to move towards institution-wide adoption of ePortfolios. It is interesting to note the different approaches and problems faced by a variety of institutions.

I thoroughly recommend that you allow time to study this article carefully, in its entirity, and consider how it applies to your own situation. I quote one page at length which illustrates just a little of Dian's accrued wisdom:

"Spread the Word

"If you are looking to preach the gospel of e-portfolios across your campus and achieve institution-wide adoption, here's guidance from those working to make that happen right now at their schools.

  • You may have to go through a few rounds of tools before settling on one that works for users.
  • Pilot projects are an efficient way to uncover the product that's right for your environment.
  • E-portfolio labs can provide technical and conceptual support for both students and faculty.
  • Outfit them with the equipment and programs people need to capture their artifacts, and staff them with students who have become expert in developing their own portfolios and can speak to the value of the effort.
  • Refer reticent faculty to other members of their department who have bought into the value of e-portfolios. These testimonials don't have to be 100 percent complimentary, but they'll have an authenticity that frequently encourages naysayers to listen.
  • Consider a single entry point--a required class or workshop--to train new students on e-portfolio practices. If that's not possible, look for integration within classes that reach large segments of your student population.
  • Faculty need to hear about e-portfolios a lot. Seek out opportunities to repeat your messages everywhere they congregate. Tying training to existing professional development opportunities or faculty programs offers many benefits--not least of which, they'll be your captive audience.
  • Consider how many learning objectives or competencies are included. Too many, and the endeavor threatens to become a to-do list instead of cause for reflection.
  • Broad e-portfolio initiatives are typically tied to changes in learning assessment practices, which call for changes in teaching. In other words, they're all part of a cultural shift on campus, and those don't happen overnight. Rather than going gangbusters, start small, work with pilot areas, communicate success, and expand from there. Make sure to keep a reasonable timeframe.
  • Students provide the best sales pitch. Look for opportunities to showcase their portfolio work; consider holding competitions and highlighting the best examples."
Dian has collected together much practical advice, most of which will be relevant according to all situations, age-groups and abilities. However, as I have attempted to point out on more than one occasion, 'It is no good trying to patch new cloth into old garments or new wine into old wine-skins.' Until the teaching styles of our Faculty change and until students are permitted the tools to facilitate collaborative learning, until assessment and feedback strategies are brought up to date and until ePortfolios REALY become learner-owned, the wholesale adoption of ePortfolios is still bound to make slow progress.

If only Dian's message (and mine) could be made compulsory reading for all Faculty!

No comments: