Help me – I’m trying to promote ePortfolios to other academics – how can I influence them!

In a previous higher education institution I supported students in creating ePortfolios as part of a 2 year academic programme.

The ePortfolios portrayed each students’ story of the learning journey on the programme, it demonstrated the work put into each module and by the end of the programme each student had a large store of resources that represented the tasks and activities they had engaged in, the assessments completed and their collaborations and work with other students.

Students were advised to select the private institutional ePortfolio system or to use a platform of their choice to house their ePortfolio. Many of them chose to place their ePortfolios on public online platforms such as WordPress, Yola, or Wix.

What did I learn from supporting ePortfolios?

It’s not about the technological platform!

It’s about the conceptual reasons behind it:)

As a tutor I wanted students to demonstrate evidence of their learning, or to put it into colloquial  words, I wanted them to ‘storify their learning journey’

EPortfolios are promoted as opportunities for students to tell their story of learning, in pedagogical terms they are, or at least ePortfolios are anecdotally said to be ‘student centered’ undertakings by student for the student

What value did my students get from their ePortfolios?

Many of the ePortfolios that students placed publicly online continue to flourish and grow. Having completed the academic programme they have progressed from academic ePortfolios to becoming career portfolios where other professionals connect with them and share expertise and experience online. Students have integrated social media tools (twitter and slideshare) into ePortfolios to disseminate their expertise and ideas from practice.

The graduates of the programme assert that the having an online ePortfolio has provided opportunities. Graduates have been asked to collaborate on international projects and speak at conferences on specialist topics.

Another graduate regularly searches her ePortfolio to find resources that she created during her studies so that she can reuse them in the workplace. She stated that the ePortfolio was of real benefit in being able to access these resources anywhere anytime.

Where do I stand with ePortfolios at the moment?

I am an advocate of the creation of digital online content to demonstrate learning. I believe that learners (students and academic staff alike) should consider digitally recording the learning that they engage with. To start digitally recording their learning,  students can begin by keeping reflective diaries showing the process of learning; Creating multimodal artefacts of learning resources (i.e. essays, podcasts, or movies etc.); using tools such as twitter, instagram to tell the story their learning.

The trick is to start in just one small way – use a tool to create one digital resource…start small and then build from there

A collection of digital resources… can then become part of an ePortfolio

It’s not about ePortfolios anymore …. its about digital citizenship

Lastly, our students are online anyway, and I believe it would be of help to them to get their learning online also. But there is a bigger issue here ……its about our students ability (and our abilities as educators) to engage  online in mindful ways. As educators we have a responsibility to open up discussion about digital citizenship. We need to be aware of our online behaviours, what we make available about ourselves and how we act as ‘digital professionals online’.

This is an exciting time!

Let’s use this as an opportunity to build digital awareness, literacy and citizenship.

PS you might like to watch

Helen Keegan’s online lecture where she discuss some of the projects her students got involved in a networked learning environment

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About Muireann O'Keeffe

I am an educational developer currently working at DCU. I have a passion for researching and evaluating technology that can support and enhance learning. In the past I have taught on Masters programmes (Msc Applied elearning & Postgraduate Diploma in Third level Learning and Teaching) as well as Leadership development programmes.
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