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e-Portfolios – how do we get the learners involved?

February 20th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

waiting for the eportfolio ‘pull’:

As part of the MOSEP e-Portfolio project we have created our own portfolios in ELGG Spaces. As always it is difficult getting people started but there are three of us there now and I hope the other project partners will get involved in the next ten days.

But one of our colleagues, John Pallister, who is an IT teacher at Wolsingham School in Durham has posted a brilliant series posts based on his personal experiences in introducing e-Portfolios in his school.

I am reposting his entry from yesterday in its entirety in the hope it will inspire others of you to go read his blog.

Why are our students prepared to work with their eportfolios? Acknowledging that some students, especially some of the older students, are a little reluctant to develop their eportfolios- the vast majority will work on them with very little ‘push’ from staff. The older students, who are not as ‘interested’ in their eportfolios, are tending to fit into the waiting for the ‘pull’ from the universities and employers category. Of course it is always easier to sit back and wait until the big picture is clear, rather than to do something, but we are dealing with students – we need to sort out the ‘big picture’ and declare the drivers now. – Quite a job! For ??

The creative environment provided by the multimedia authoring packaged has helped to motivate our students. It could be argued that, without evidence of reflection, the eportfolio is simply a creative product. Well, I see every day, evidence that students are proud of the product and want to develop it. We have won the first battle, we have sorted out the software/hardware and have given students a multimedia authoring tool that they want to use. As a by-product, the ICT multimedia skills level in the school has risen significantly.

The majority of my recent posts have focussed on reflection and audience. Historically, although as Gerlinde suggests, reflection is a natural part of what students do, students have not wanted to explicitly reflect. The ‘write about your holidays’ prompt was always a hassle and even ‘writing up science experiments’ and reflecting on whether it proved or disproved the original hypothesis tended to became a mechanical process without a lot of meaning/value for the student. Students tended to develop the set responses that they thought teachers wanted, they regurgitated these responses and thought very little about the process and how the might tackle it in the future/ what they ad learnt etc.

Again, picking up on Gerlinde point about student reluctance to record reflections in a written form, they might have gone through a very useful reflective process, and then not wanted to record their reflections in writing, or, they might have rushed-off some stock written reflections, devaluing the whole process.

Can Technology do it, (help), of course it can. Students might be more prepared to record audio reflections – why should a students reluctance to write, or their poor literacy skills stop them from reflecting, might the microphone liberate the learner?

How, as teachers, we encourage students to reflect and record their reflections is the next challenge, closely followed by how we contrive/provide/engineer ‘audience’ to support the process. I suspect that we need to encourage and link recorded reflections against the evidence of the original learning/activity. A general Blogg would probably be very awkward for the audience. – The calculations, if every learner in the UK created a blogg, who would be doing the reading? Ah – audience again!

waiting for the eportfolio ‘pull’, John Pallister :: Blog, February 19

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