Posts Tagged ‘ePortfolio’

Oh, No, We Won’t Go-Academia and Digital Information

In Education, institutional responsibilities, tests on April 2, 2012 at 9:06 am

Digital information everywhere. Digital books. Digital images. Digital videos. Digital…but not in the academy. In the academy we still place extraordinary attention to print media as the basis for tenure and promotion. We ignore the digital revolution that has occurred all around us.


Instead, the structures of universities often fail to reward and champion digital innovators, particularly in guidelines for promotion and authorship that privilege traditional scholarship.

If we do not create mechanisms that reward faculty and students who form digital-research communities, then innovation may bypass universities entirely, putting us at risk of falling behind institutes, private companies, and even individuals.

Randolph Hall, Vice President for Research at USC, made this point in a recent article titled Scholarship, Liberated from Paper at Last in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He notes that after discussion with faculty at his institution, the faculty agreed to include revise the process for tenure and promotion to include recognition of the value of a faculty member’s digital research.

Change occurs slowly in academic institutions. I’ve made that point in other posts. You would think academia would be at the forefront of forging new directions and new research areas. You would think that academia would be the first to devise new ways of thinking about how people learn and in fostering an environment of analyzing tradition and also challenging tradition. If you thought that, you would be wrong. Academia is tied down to traditional methods despite the progress in the rest of society. For example, information forwarded for academic tenure and review at my university is still wedded to paper documents. The process includes, for example, instructions on how the faculty member should label his or her [paper] binder. So, even though all the documents are created electronically, they must be converted to paper for the review. ePortfolios (see .e.g. Trent Babson’s ePortfolio links) or programs like LiveBinder could allow for that same information to be provided in electronic form.

u_s__supreme_courtWhy are academic institutions wedded to paper? Paper is perceived as more permanent; however there are ways to preserve electronic documents. And if the courts permit electronic filing of documents (see e.g. e-filing of electronic briefs) where finances and other matters are at stake, then our University should recognize the value of electronic documents. Also, if the concern is the rigor of the scholarship, public exposure and peer review can help to increase rigor. Research that is available to the public helps to promote additional learning for the public and for the researcher. It could also lead to additional research and creative use of that research.

So, as noted in the Hall article, academia must recognize the value of digital research. Hall notes that Universities like Harvard have createst tubested ways to disseminate research to the public more quickly so that others can read and comment on it. My own experience in posting on SlideShare and on this blog has allowed me to present research findings, (e.g. results of using Twitter in the classroom) to many others. I have had 80 views on a presentation on plagiarism-far more than attended the actual presentation. And with more exposure, I have more opportunity to learn more, test my research and work to make it better.  That’s much more exposure than posting the article in a paper journal that requires that people go to a physical library to access it.

The “A” Word-Using ePortfolios

In how people learn on November 26, 2010 at 8:57 am

The “A” word is Assessment. I blogged about it a couple of days ago and noted that I’d talk about my foray into ePortfolios.

I am reminded of the saying “something old is new again” (although I can’t recall it’s source….). At one point in my children’s education, portfolios was popular.  Some of  you may recall that period. My children were asked to collect their papers to present to teachers and outsiders to evaluate their work. I recall at least one of my children had a porfolio filled with crumpled papers that demonstrated that he wasn’t as concerned with appearance as content!

ePortfolios are based on similar principles. In October, 2010, I had the opportunity to attend a conference at which Dr. Helen Barrett, preeminate expert on ePortfolios, made a presentation.  ePortfolios can be used as formative and/or summative assessments. Dr. Barrett summarizes ePortfolios as ” an electronic collection of evidence that shows your learning journey over time. Portfolios can relate to specific academic fields or your lifelong learning. Evidence may include writing samples, photos, videos, research projects, observations by mentors and peers, and/or reflective thinking. The key aspect of an eportfolio is your reflection on the evidence, such as why it was chosen and what you learned from the process of developing your eportfolio.”

I used ePortfolios during a one year period and hope to use them again in the Spring 2011 semester in at least one class. I used Mahara, an open source ePortfolio system. I used the ePortfolio to (1)encourage student self reflection on their learning as related to the course learning outcomes and (2)encourage student reflection on the work in my course and other courses as they related to the overall mission of the school. I’m currently compiling the results of that use, but the results were mixed, as indicated by the following table.

Table-ePortfolio Student ReactionI still have a great deal of work to do to use ePortfolios to more effectively support assessment, self-assessment and metacognition. But I have great hopes that they can be used, in conjunction with other assessment tools, to reliably and validly assess learning.