By Yvonne Monterroso | Published: Thursday, September 29, 2011
ePortfolio Conference Reflection: AAEEBL 2011
Recently I had the opportunity to attend AAEEBL 2011. The conference focus was ePortfolio practice and process. Participants used a variety of tools, were from a variety of disciplines and came from across North America and Australia to discuss ePortfolio experiences and learn from each other. Conversations were lively and intelligent and there were many examples illustrating the challenge and success of ePortfolio. The conversations I enjoyed most were ones where people described the incredible successes they saw for deeper, more reflective learning and supporting “situational” learning approaches by using ePortfolio.
I heard common themes across several presentations and many discussions at the conference that I think will be interesting for others involved with the process of implementing ePortfolio solutions.
The Definition: There were many different ideas of what ePortfolios were used for but at the base most participants boiled the ePortfolio for learning down to a basic idea: it is a place/process for students to demonstrate evidence of learning through reflection and learning artifacts and for deeper learning through formative and summative assessment. Beverly Oliver, the closing keynote, drove home the point that it didn’t matter what we called it or how we defined it, as long as it was about learning.
The Challenges: A common set of challenges also presented themselves across different schools.
- Faculty adoption: perception of extra work, perceived risk for tenure track faculty (ePortfolio work not counted), resistance to new technology, effort to incorporate into curriculum
- Student adoption: ability to clearly articulate the value of an ePortfolio approach to students to get student buy-in
- Administrative support: ability to clearly define ePortfolio as a tool for improved learning and demonstrating continuous improvement to justify implementation, support and training costs
There was agreement that these challenges could be easily overcome with clear value statements and up front communication. One group emphasized the value of including stakeholders in the evaluation process to promote buy-in. There was significant excitement in discussions where groups spoke of how they met these challenges within the context of using ePortfolios at the program level and quickly saw other programs choose to follow along at their organizations. Certainly, there was consensus that there was significant pedagogical value to incorporate ePortfolios into various programs of study.
The Drivers: For educators, the value of the tool for collaboration and for reflective learning was self-evident but external drivers provided a real push to use ePortfolio tools.
- Shift from content-based learning to competency-based learning
- State and professional accreditation needs
The Successful Solutions:
- Needs and integration purposeful and planned
- Goals clearly articulated upfront
- ePortfolio integrated into curriculum
- Value clearly defined for students
- Faculty support/consulting to implement the curriculum
As ePortfolio culture matures, I think conferences and groups like these will help everyone overcome some of the challenges to deliver education that empowers learners to manage their own learning. ePortfolio process and tools are then the mechanism for those learners to demonstrate holistic understanding of concepts, course materials, an entire program of study and all the learning that happens in and around the formal classroom.
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