Archive for the ‘Mosep’ Category

Learning about e-Portfolios

January 12th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

It is a long time since I have featured the MOSEP project on this blog. MOSEP is a European Commission funded project, developing and testing materials and programmes for teachers learning about the development and implementation of e-Portfolios. European projects are not always easy. For readers from outside Europe, they typically involve a partnership of five or more organisations from different countries who work toegther over a period of two years to research and develop innovative approaches in education and training. Developing a common understanding and approach is difficult, especially given that fuinding only allows five or so face to face meetings in the period of the project. Co-ordination can be a problem. And of course we have to overcome langauge barriers.

MOSEP is a very good project – not least due to the excellent coordination by Wolf Hilzensauer from Salzburg Research. In the first year of the project we wrote a handbook – Grab your future with an e-Portfolio. The handbook can be downloaded in PDF from the link above and there is now a printed copy which can be obtained from Salzburg Research. We have also developed on-line learning materials on the MOSEP wiki. The materials have been designed to be used flexibly – users are free to remix to suit particualr needs and contexts. And Salzburg Research has worked closely with the Mahara project who are developing an Open Source e-Portfolio product.

At present the project is piloting the MOSEP ‘course’ in different contexts and countries. Yesterday John Pallister ran the programme for tecahers at Wolsingham School in the north of England. On his blog John says: “I felt that the course concept was understood and well received. A lot of work still needs to be done with the wiki.


I have begun to think that if other trainers used the same approach, creating sequences of activities for a specific training purpose, and save them as ‘courses’ – the wiki, as a resource will grow.”


I know for many of the people who read Wales Wide Web introducing e-Portfolios and developing learning materials on a wiki will be nothing new. But for me this project is particularly satisfying – we are moving the use of Web 2 tools for learning outside the Edubloggers circle and into the mainstream of education and training and that can only be for the good.

Grab your future with an e-Portfolio

November 5th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

With all the work of developing the Pontydysgu web site and moving my blog, I have slipped behind with the content.

‘Grab the future with your e-Portfolio‘ (PDF download) is a study I have co-authored for the EU funded Mosep project. The foreword explains the background to the study.

“The willingness to put one’s self esteem on the line may be one of the key factors for self determined learning. Once adolescents are comfortable with determining their own destiny with respect to learning they will become open-minded to new ways of organising their learning. This appears to be a prerequisite for the kind of life-long learning which should become the foundation of the knowledge based society. And the need for change applies to teachers as well: they too, will need new skills and competencies in order to be suitable companions for the self-determined young learners they will be faced with.

The MOSEP project – more self-esteem with my e-portfolio – aimed at providing a study, course materials and on-line information to acquire these competencies.

The study you are reading provides some of the theoretical background and practical guidelines for teachers and vocational counsellors in order to equip them for the challenges that they will face as roles change from “teacher” to “learning companion”.

Chapter two describes the theoretical background for supporting adolescent learners. It then describes the novel concept of e-portfolio and demonstrates its uses in life-long learning for this particular group. Chapter three looks at e-portfolio from an institutional and organisational perspective and points at some of the critical success factors in implementing the methods and tools in a formal educational context. Chapter four specifies new competencies and skills for teachers when their role changes towards supporting the learners in an e-portfolio environment. Chapter five gives a survey of current software tools for e-portfolio work with special emphasis on the functionality expected from such tools. The study also looks at the suitability of these solutions for e-portfolio beginners.

In addition to the study the MOSEP consortium also developed course material for teachers, trainers and vocational counsellors. The course is organised in an open Wiki software containing practical modules on how to implement and support e-portfolio processes. The course is available in English, German, Polish, Lithuanian, and Bulgarian language and can be accessed via”

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Solidarity with Tinky Winky

June 1st, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Tinky WinkyI’m in Poland for a meeting and conference organised by the European MOSEP project. You think the UK education policy is not always brilliant. Well this is the latest nonsense from the Polish government.

“The Teletubbies are set to be banned in Poland after a government media watchdog decided they encouraged homosexuality.

The children’s TV programme has fallen foul of Poland’s government-appointed Children’s Rights spokesman, who believes the show is “gay propaganda”.

A special committee has been appointed to examine the claims including allegations that Tinky Winky’s handbag was breaking down gender barriers and encouraging homosexuality.”

Source: Ananova

After a couple of beers last night we decided on a solidarity campaign with Tinky Winky. Agnieszka did a great job getting us the screen shots and Serge Ravet slipped this wonderful picture into his presentation on e-Portfolios at the conference today.


e-Portfolios – the DNA of the Personal Learning Environment?

May 15th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

This is a longish paper – about 7000 words – too long to post all off it in the blog. So I am posting here an exrpt with access to an RTF download of the full paper (perhaps I will post another excerpt tomorrow.

Have chosen to post the section on reflection – just because this issue seems to give everyone trying to work with e-Portfolios so many problems.

One curiosity about the paper is the references. I didn’t set out to do this but found in the course of reading for the paper that most of the interesting things I was reading were from blog posts. Is it juts the subject, is it me – or are things changing? Anyway the references include a couple of books, a good few conference papers, a video and a lot of blogs. And by the way – how do you reference someones comment on an Excite Comment Wall?

As always any feedback very welcome.

Facilitating Reflection

In projects and at conferences about e-portfolios, at some point the discussion seems always to turn to the issue of how to facilitate meaningful reflection.

Typical is the following blog entry by a teacher, John Pallister (2007a).Â

“We have begun work trying to encourage our students, 11- 18 year olds, to reflect on their learning and achievements. We are also encouraging them to record their thoughts and reflections as part of the review/reflection process. The review stage is informing the Action Planning stage, which again we are trying to get students to record.

It seems to me to be a Logical process, having done something, to review what you have done then to revise your original plan or create a new plan.

Early attempts have focussed on printed materials providing students with a number of prompts/questions which focus students on the review process. We have experimented with text based and audio/video formats for recording reviews/reflections. Early stages, not managed to find much help in terms of approaches that help/encourage/support students to reflect and record their reflections – still looking??

Although I am sure that having done something, all students will informally think or form some personal evaluation of their performance, I suspect that the review/reflection is at a very superficial level, perhaps enjoyed it, not going to do that again, did not do that very well, too difficult etc. If students walk away only having reflected at this level they will not have made the most of the learning opportunity.

The challenge is to somehow encourage students to spend more time on this reflection stage, exploring more what they have done/achieved. I suspect that this would help them to design more useful plans and, by thinking about their learning, become that elusive better learner.”

The problem may be that to move beyond the superficial requires intrinsic motivation. As such it is not possible to ‘teach’ someone how to reflect. However, it is possible provide learners with the skills required for reflection and to practice those skills and equally to provide a stimulus to encourage reflection (Buchberger, 2007)

Buchberger goes on to say: “I have my doubts about the usefulness of written reflection following certain prompts or guiding questions. We have been ‘forcing’ our teacher trainees to hand in written reflections on their performance in class each semester, which hasn’t proved very successful. It’s turned out to make much more sense if trainees, their mentors and the teaching practice supervisor (what a terrible word !) meet after class and in a very relaxed atmosphere analyse the lessons as “critical friends” (with a strong focus on friend !!). This is what we do regularly and trainees find it much more helpful than their written reflection papers. Perhaps – from time to time – a few notes summarizing such a talk might be a reminder and starting point for further student reflection. But again it should make sense for the student, not just to satisfy the teacher/trainer.

Stephen Warbuton (2007) attended a presentation given by a group at the University of the Pacific on ‘Dialogical Reflection in the Digital Age’. “Like many educators”, he says, “Jim Phillips and Erick Marmolejo, grappled with the nature of reflection – a term that often eludes definition. Their use of what they called ‘dialogic reflection’ was focussed around reflective activities based on a play between the academic vs. professional portfolios, the production of artefacts and samples accompanied by reflective statement with a summative assessment process slotted in right at the end. They identified general problems with the reflective process when situated within an educational context in that opinion-laden task lists do not get at the heart of the strength of reflection, feedback loops can be slow and not enough time is allocated to reflection which results in very little reflective speak (there is only play around reflective dialogue). As Kathleen Yancey points out in her book “Reflection in the writing classroom” – reflection is always a fiction where students write specifically to the needs of the tutor.

The key philosophy behind their methodology to reinvigorate the process of reflection lies in pushing tutors to unlearn traditional approaches to writing instruction paralleled with the use of reflection as a means to individualise instruction and personalise learning. “

Jenny Hughes has adopted a similar approach. In a video of a workshop she takes a group of adult learners through a process of providing constructive feedback to each other. Indeed, it is quite remarkable that adult teachers are not used to this process (Hughes, 2007). Her key point is that there are forms and structure and skills o providing feedback and in a similar way forms and structure to reflection. For learners these skills include:

•    Forming an opinion

•    Expressing and opinion

•    Articulating and opinion

•    Justifying an opinion

•    Defending an opinion

•    Supporting opinions of other

•    Challenging others’ opinions

•    Questioning others

•    Seeking clarification

•    Representing others opinions

•    Building on others’ opinions

•    Sorting fact from opinion

Each of these processes can be structured and supported within the e-portfolio development process. However, they also require skills on the part of the teacher or facilitator. These might include:

•    Facilitator skills

•    Active listening skills

•    Feedback skills

•    Intervention skills

•    Evaluation skills

Yet the practising of such skills or competencies or the embedding of such practice within everyday learning activities has implications for both pedagogic approaches to teaching and learning and to curriculum design and organisation. Facilitating reflection is not simple within a largely ‘input based’ curriculum where the main goal is to pass a series of prescribed examinations. The danger is that reflection is simply seen as irrelevant to the qualification driven motivation of many students within their school based learning (as opposed to outside school). Case studies undertaken through the MOSEP project suggest that development of reflection through e-Portfolios may work best in project-based learning and when reflection is linked to activities. It is interesting that in the Kit Car project case study (Attwell and Brandsma, 2006), the project was developed as an extra curriculum project and was not subject to the normal confines of curriculum and assessment rules.

It may also be that reflection is constrained by the dominant written form of evidencing within e-Portfolios. The widespread use of multi media is a feature of many of the social networking sites referred to earlier. Yet despite some attempts to encourage more use of multi media, most e-Portfolios remain text based, probably once more due to the demands of assessment policies. The issue of assessment will be explored further in the next section.

Blogging and supporting blogging

February 26th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Not so many posts on this blog lately.

Well – for one thing I have been traveling a lot and I find it difficult to blog whilst on the road.

For another thing the API for my ecto client is broken which means I have to use a web interface – this always takes longer.

But more significant is that I am doing quite a lot of things to support blogging. We have set up a MOSEP blog site using elgg spaces so that project participants can develop their own e-Portfolios. I am trying to support that process. Supporting and facilitating others in blogging is hugely rewarding. But it is difficult to be providing regular feedback and thinking up new tasks whilst keeping up the blogging on the main site at the same time. I guess its just another skill to learn.

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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