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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Tool Thinking?

Picture: Three rusty toolsI have just been invited to learn about a 'new' ePortfolio product with the title, 'Gather and present multiple content types — even multimedia — in one polished PDF file' !!! What a disappointment! The developers must have spent tens of thousands of pounds developing a non-starter.

Quite simply, products such as this cannot possibly deliver 90% of the functionality of what a true ePortfolio should be capable of doing. The developers, I would suggest, have been beguiled into what I call 'Tool Thinking'. By this I mean that it would appear that the developers have said to themselves, "Here we have a tool. - What can we do with it?" Rather than asking, "What educational processes need to be served?"

I cannot possibly think what use a single polished .pdf file can be in terms of Lifelong Learning, or Collaborative Learning, or peer review, or mentoring, or formative feedback. What of on-line Assessments? Where are the feedback tools such as comments or Likart Scales? How can the one document address different audiences for different purposes and with different 'personas'? What would happen if one small spelling mistake or grammatical error was spotted when about to present the ePortfolio? Would it be capable of quick and simple editing?

The ePortfolio must be a 'living, breathing and growing' collection of artefacts, capable of addition or removal and viewed by differing audiences who may have different permissions. It should be a dynamic and easily editable collation of all aspects of the learner's life. It should be capable of evolving, chameleon-like, according to the developing self-image of the owner.

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