ePortfolios: continuing my thought process

ePortfolioI last wrote about ePortfolios back at the beginning of the year. At that point I started looking into the ePortfolio system that is installed in Bournemouth University’s VLE, Blackboard 8.

I am really struggling to put all my thoughts down into this post, so here’s some short points that will hopefully get the message across:

  • Students don’t know what an ePortfolio is. They only think in terms of paper-based CV.
  • Same goes for (some) academic staff. This means we are not thinking for the emerging Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 world the students will soon be looking for work in.
  • Academic staff are so busy they can only think of their own Units and work load. it will take a coherent and collaborative approach to get ePortfolios integrated into each Unit with someone overseeing the whole project (from their first to last day, and beyond into employment).
  • If used internally in the VLE, the ePortfolio becomes obsolete once the student leaves. While it can be downloaded, the student has to arrange to host it somewhere themselves, and it is no longer an on-going project, it is now history.
  • To make the ePortfolio truly unique is to get it started early in secondary or even primary school. This will then enable the students to really show how they have progressed. Whether it is really relevant¬†from an early age is really for each student to determine.
  • Is it worth it? Unless both staff and students can be shown a tangible benefit, from the start, to them they wont agree to it and will not keep it up to date. If each Unit at each Stage of study has something that needs to be entered to the ePortfolio (eg. reflective writing exercise)it will soon have big gaps and be worthless.

I think this is what I’m trying to say … Nick Rate has put it into his presentation here;

Nick Rate – ePortfolios: The story so far

Nick puts it very succinctly, and extremely well on slide 31;

  • Collect
  • Select
  • Reflect
  • Project

The new word associated with ePortfolio is ‘portability’; the ability for the student to take their ePortfolio with them through the (various stages of the) education system and into employment.

Here lies the problem with asking students to use the pre-installed Blackboard ePortfolio system; while we can set this up from day one, for it to run until they complete their student after 3 or 4 years, and they can export and take it with them when they’ve finished … it is no longer editable or ‘working’. It is now just a group of static pages and links and documents outlining whatever it was they did.

Does this mean we should be recommending the students start something outside of the VLE? What would all the (Institution) policy makers think of that? We have a VLE and are ‘asked’ to use it for everything (even though we can link to YouTube, Internet links, PDfs, etc; but all learning materials should be loaded and accessible through the VLE).

The ePortfolio should be an ongoing enterprise. This blog is an ongoing process for me, and will no doubt form an integral part of whatever CV or job application I make in the future (if I stay in eLearning and HE), and therefore is my ePortfolio.

Where’s yours?