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E-portfolio as a learning space: reflections and suggestions for research

University of Brighton Pedagogy Research Conference 2013

Susan Greener

on 17 July 2014

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Transcript of E-portfolio as a learning space: reflections and suggestions for research

Sue Greener

E-portfolio as a learning space:
reflections and suggestions
for research

first: I am learning every day by supervising research students
so I am experimenting, well playing, with e-portfolios
then surely what I need to do for research supervision fits really well with the affordances of an e-portfolio?
what does the literature say about e-portfolios and supervision?
reflections and results so far plus questions...
studentfolio at UoB
based on Mahara
free to all students & staff
help videos on screen
general feedback seems to be luke-warm?
virtual box files?
things for showcasing artwork?
a place to put stuff?
they are UG, PG and PhD students and they bring me learning about learning, about their topics, about research and about supervision
but this is Sue Greener - she seems incapable of learning without bringing technology into it
I need to:
"ensure the partnership is right for the project,
get to know students and carefully assess their needs, establish reasonable, agreed expectations,
work with students to establish a strong conceptual structure and research plan,
encourage students to write early and often,
initiate regular contact and provide high quality feedback, get students involved ..., inspire and motivate,
help if academic and personal crises crop up,
take an active interest in students' future careers,
carefully monitor the final production and presentation of the research"
(James & Baldwin 1999 "Eleven practices of effective postgraduate supervisors")
Examples such as the JISC project undertaken by the University of Wolverhampton on e-portfolio based pedagogy for SMEs (Felce 2011), and results of JISC funded studies as well as my experience as external examiner in reviewing PG e-portfolios replacing traditional dissertations - this technology seemed worthy of more investigation.
"The wide-ranging nature of e-portfolios enables them to cross the boundaries that normally exist between personal and institutional dimensions of learning" (JISC 2012 Crossing the threshold: moving e-portfolios into the mainstream)
"e-Portfolio tools typically offer an online personal space or repository of digital items combined with a means of presenting selected items to others, plus tools to support the processes involved such as authoring, synthesising and presenting material for different purposes and audiences, capturing and reflecting on learning, setting targets and engaging in dialogue." (JISC 2012)
seriously - not a lot.
Moores & Parks (2010) offer some useful tips for using e-portfolios with undergraduates, for example:
considering the relationship of e-portfolios and assessment
long-term and short-term module outcomes
explaining clearly the privacy options and sharing actions
understanding that e-portfolios "do not teach reflective practice"
Purposes of e-portfolios?
application e.g. to jobs
evidence collection
transition - a record of progress
formative and summative assessment of experience, achievement and learning
shareable activity with peers and/or tutors for feedback
foster reflective learning
PDP or CPD or all of the above
(Joyes, Gray & Hartnell-Young 2009, Beetham 2005)
Extract from a discussion paper included in "The role of e-portfolios in formative and summative assessment practices" (Strivens et al 2008)
E-Portfolios should help students
1.Track, manage and record their learning and development over time
2.Reflect on and self-assess learning
3.Derive feedback from multiple sources to assist learning (peers, tutors, employers etc)
4.Present their learning achievements in different ways to different audiences for different purposes (e.g. claims making)
5.Bring together theory and practice in the discipline
6.Make efficient use of their study time (in and out of class)
7.Develop supportive learning groups and learning communities
8.Enhance their efficacy beliefs and self-esteem (not sure about this as part of the others if done well)
9.Develop qualities, skills, identities and attributes that go beyond that explicitly valued by summative assessments
10. Help students to personalise what they learn, record or present.
From a staff perspective…

E-portfolios should help staff:
•Track student learning and provide feedback when required
•Select work that meets summative assessment requirements]
although there is some small evidence that the Education faculty at Birmingham City University have used e-portfolio as a presentation tool for research projects - there is very little more to be found on research supervision via e-portfolio.
Is that because it is an obvious purpose and therefore not worth publishing?
Is that because people are too focussed on using e-portfolios as general PDP vehicles pointed at employability rather than thinking about using affordances for research supervision?
out of 7 supervision groups set up since the start of the year, only 1 student has not taken the plunge and begun to use it
the main benefit identified by students is "to keep everything in one place"
the main disadvantage so far is "I can't see ..(your feedback, the file you uploaded, where to put a file)
features used include: pages, journals, forums,
file uploads, weblinks to resources or reading, feedback comments.
Different students use different features and so far tend to stick to them.
I have adopted a JIT approach to discussing features and usage, and am grateful for the support I get, especially from my LTA.
Recent student focus group session suggested that most UoB students are unaware of studentfolio (as they are of many supported learning tools)
This is a result of inconsistent usage and awareness of staff
There is an increasing institutional commitment to offer such tools - every School is facing up to this.
For staff - is this particular use of studentfolio --
a Trojan horse
another heavy load
a self-organising time advantage
an opportunity to improve supervision practice
a chance to personalise their approach to students
for students - is this
a good use of time
an extra burden
a way of keeping staff updated without pain
a chance to see the connections between different facets of research
a stimulus to reflective practice in research
it starts as a burden unless the student is already keen on technology
it has proved a good communication method, not just between supervision meetings but also during them
as to the last 2 on connections and reflective practice learning - watch this space for further evaluation & research
as for me:
I am in studentfolio daily and using it more for my own research development
I no longer have to trawl emails to find out what a student's original proposal was, or what I gave as feedback at the time
I get alerts when they post anything in the group forum
and I am more likely to pick up on students who don't make progress by comparison with others.
the real benefits will come if students begin to see connections in the portfolio in a way that a paper-based file makes more difficult.
is my conclusion so far that there are administrative gains but little evidence of learning in these online spaces?
Fair comment.
When the year is complete, it will be easier to judge whether reflective learning and synthesis, evaluation and/or creativity are fostered using studentfolio for research supervision
For now, I have happy students who are unable to forget what I have discussed with them, they are tending to get fuller responses to questions they ask online, they are learning about the use of an e-portfolio by using it and they are beginning to take ownership of the supervision group - and none of this interferes with the regular face-to-face meetings.

What do you think? is that some kind of learning space?
SAMR model: Ruben R.Puentedura (2009)
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