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Monday, 7 February 2011

Product Structure

I have just been following an Elluminate webinar from The ePortfolio California Community. Jennifer Lau, of Marymount College, presents her findings of a significant pilot with a clarity and openness not always found in such presentations. One of the most significant issues that she identified is encapsulated in her slide (#23) as above.

Jennifer illustrates the three main groups of users or 'constituencies' within an institution and argues for the possibility of combining all three groups into one tool. However, this is a time of a potential explosion in ePortfolio usage, when not only will much larger numbers of students be using ePortfolios, but also, that they will be using them in conjunction with a large number of subjects (typically up to 15 in a normal Secondary school). If that were not enough there is also the expectancy of a massive increase in 'Learning Analytics', based on the institution's MIS. Regular readers of this blog may recall one of my mantras:

"Let the VLE do what it best does and
leave the ePortfolio for what it can best do."

For several years now, I have been repeatedly suggesting that the ePortfolio is not the solution to the network manager's prayer whereby learners' user-areas are no longer part of the LMS of VLE. (See my paper, 'Who is hijacking my ePortfolio?' best read in full-screen mode) Far from it, my suggestion is that the VLE must work much harder at providing information to both learners and faculty, JIT and also of a much more refined quality. The MIS, through the VLE should be capable of providing much more formative information, on demand, and in 'real time'.

I therefore see the ePortfolio as a conduit between on the one hand both faculty and students, and on the other hand, the VLE as the repository of all formal work and data for which the institution has responsibility.

Another whole area that Jennifer Lau does not address is that of portability. If the learner's ePortfolio is so closely bound to the institution, as Jennifer suggests, how will the ePortfolio untangle itself when the student moves to another institution? Interoperability is not mentioned and neither is IP. Concerning IP, it is much better that any files that 'belong' to the institution are securely housed in the VLE rather than included within the 'private' catacombs of the ePortfolio.

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