Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Design and scenario: Web 2.0 ePortfolios for students

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/waltstoneburner/3375027629/

I have been working on developing a scenario and design mindmap that explored some of the potential of Web 2,0 ePortfolios for learners. Given that I am currently working with Unitec NZ I decided to base my fictional learner, Chan Sook, at this institution studying The Bachelor of Business (Accountancy).

You can access the mindmap at http://www.mindmeister.com/25663129/chan-sook-learner-eportfolio and the accompanying scenario (which includes a list of Web 2.0 tools she uses, and how she uses them) at http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcqj5jv4_50cfd7tbfw.

Any comments, feedback or ideas that you may have would be gratefully received :-)


Hazel Owen said...

A response I received via email:


I liked both your mind-map and the notes – very useful. However, I doubt whether anyone would really call this an e-Portfolio. What you have illustrated is the near totality of all the tools one might use and for a wide variety of purposes. As I have said on my blog several times, we should select from our VLE or Personal Learning space(s) those things that are appropriate, and not include every exercise and bit of chat etc. Surely, an e-Portfolio is a selection of appropriate artefacts for a given audience? See: http://efoliointheuk.blogspot.com/2009/08/moving-house.html

As I repeatedly wander round your mind-map I wonder how you would present your chosen artefacts to a potential employer?

For my own personal benefit, I have exported a graphic of your mind-map and squashed it up a bit in order to create readable font-sizes on an A4 sheet as attached.

I hope that you do not think that I am being negative – I just want to better understand your thinking.

Kind Regards,

Ray Tolley FEIDCT, NAACE Fellow, MBILD
ICT Education Consultant

Hazel Owen said...

My response to Ray Tolley:

Hi Ray

Many thanks for your feedback and taking the time to respond to the mindmap and scenario (I’m not sure if you had problems viewing the scenario, but the I have changed the document as it was not displaying - the new URL is: http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcqj5jv4_50cfd7tbfw).

The scenario discusses the skills of collection, selection and reflection and attempts to emphasise the skills required to maintain an effective Web 2.0 ePortfolio - one which is for learning and planning, as well as for later application for employment after adaptation (as opposed to a showcase ePortfolio that would be immediately suitable to show to employers). The mindmap is not designed to be accessed as a stand alone ‘tool’ but rather in conjunction with the scenario. As such, what is not shown clearly on the mindmap is the process of critical reflection of what content to include in the public view of a developmental Web 2.0 ePortfolio - i.e. a lot of content is hosted online, but only very select exemplars of key competencies are actually used as part of the learner’s ePortfolio. This is a skill (as your house moving analogy suggests) that increases incrementally in sophistication as the learner progresses through a programme of study.

Use of Web 2.0 tools means that there are fewer issues around portability, ownership and storage space, and the look and feel of the ePortfolio is tailored by the learner.

I hope you don’t mind - I have added your points and my response to my blog as I feel it is always great to have the opportunity to share. I really value your input as it clarifies my thinking, and makes me unpack in greater detail aspects of the tools I’ve designed and how useful they may be. Also appreciate the A4 version of the mindmap :-)

Thanks again.
Kind regards

Hazel Owen said...

And Ray's next communication was: The use of Web2.0 tools divides into three main parts:

Firstly, the ‘is-it-free’ mentality that encourages the use of *MANY* different individual tools, many of which can be incorporated within a well-constructed e-Portfolio system. As much as any of us (particularly younger and intelligent students) will use a free tool, the costs of support and scaffolding are not recognised. Or is that the hidden agenda of support staff? ;-)

Secondly, is the question of interoperability. This is a non-starter as far as I am concerned, it might be 10-15 years before a decent multi-connectivity IMS/LEAP2/3/4... system is available. For me (and my product) the whole issue of interoperability is avoided by using an externally hosted product.

Thirdly, is the question of the end-users. As I have said several times in my blog, the youngest pupils, the elderly, the less-able and even those who are too busy are excluded from a ‘DIY’ solution. Alongside the actual owners of the e-Portfolio are the various audiences. A simple and clearly laid-out e-Portfolio is a must if potential employers are going to take notice – they don’t need the hassle of trying to work out where to turn.

PS. in commending your site to others in the UK, I’ve already had complaints about the motor-bike advertising that comes along with your blog.

Best Wishes,

Ray Tolley FEIDCT, NAACE Fellow, MBILD
ICT Education Consultant
Maximise ICT Ltd
P: http://raytolley.v2efolioworld.mnscu.edu/
B: http://www.efoliointheuk.blogspot.com/
W: http://www.maximise-ict.co.uk/eFolio-01.htm

Hazel Owen said...

And my follow up response was:
Hi again Ray

Thanks for your consideration re: not posting before checking - appreciated.

If I might respond to your points about Web 2.0 tools? :-)

I am definitely in agreement with your first point around the misplaced notion that many Web 2.0 tools are free. Absolutely - when used in an education institution there are questions of support and infrastructure requirements, and where tools are going to be mandated, scaffolding. When used by learners not on a formal learning programme there are also costs associated with access (e.g. connectivity), and often restrictions and/or distractions when someone signs up for the 'free' version (for example advertising that appears on your site!)

Your second point about interoperability - again, totally agree. A big ask, which can be, as you identify, minimised by use of externally hosted solutions.

The third point you make...I take on board your concern, but am not totally convinced that it is the tools/medium that are the barriers here necessarily. Rather, I would argue, it is a question of design and skills (such as self-reflection, identification of purpose(s), identification of potential audience(s), and evaluation). Once a user has a sound initial (and this could be a very simple) design for their Web 2.0 ePortfolio then a start can be made on the ePortfolio itself. The tool(s) used are not immaterial but are subsumed to the thoughtful design of the ePortfolio - especially the public, tailorable view of it. For example, a showcase ePortfolio for an employer would be tailored to a specific job, and would look very different to a developmental ePortfolio produced during the course of a programme of study. As such, the ePortfolio has additional benefits including continuous planning and awareness of professional and personal development, and increased self-awareness.

Thank you very much indeed for recommending my blog to people (I have been sharing your resources around NZ too). What a shame about the motor-bike advertising that accompanies my blog....

Best wishes

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Lee said...

Hi Hazel (and Ray),

This an interesting post and even more interesting discussion. Do you think perhaps the basis for your differing opinions is simply semantics...? Ray you call the process a personal learning environment and the presentation an e-portfolio whereas Hazel uses the term e-portfolio to encompass everything.
I am very interested in your opinions as I'm studying an e-portfolio module as part of MSc Interactive Teaching Technologies and as we build our e-portfolios as part of this module I wonder are we building an e-portfolio in Ray's sense of the word with a specific end-user and purpose in mind or are we creating a personal learning environment that will outlast the course and is primarily for ourselves...?



Ray Tolley said...

Hi, Hazel,

Have you seen Lee's blog (or is it an e-Portfolio?) - It's absolutely astounding, out of this world in terms of organisation and layout - and certainly communicates something of the owner's mindset.

However, Lee asked a question about whether the e-Portfolio is to be seen as a learning environment or a representation to a specific audience or end-user.

Well, speaking from the UK background, where schools have a good VLE in place *that* IS the focus of the learning environment certainly for younger students. And thus separate to the institution's VLE, the e-Portfolio becomes that personally owned selection of what the owner chooses to share with various audiences.

Hope this makes sense, but we have deep snow-drifts that I must face in the morning!

Hazel Owen said...

Hello Lee and Ray

A belated happy new year to you. Many thanks for your comments, and apologies for taking so long to reply (I've been up north in NZ camping so no power, no wireless, and intermittent 3G!! :-)

I had a good look around your ePortfolio, Lee - really like what you have done. It looks to me to be a good example of an active, vibrant ePortfolio which illustrates use of a development plan, reflection, the learning journey, professional experience and interests. It's also well laid out, and intuitive :-) I am hoping to use it, if you don't mind, as a positive 'model' to inspire people to keep their own ePortfolio.

Now, onto the discussion. It could well be semantics, but I would argue that the power of the words we use is immeasurable. The message for learners I would argue is, through the process of setting up an ePortfolio (irrespective of platform or tool) you will acquire and or further develop a range of skills; amongst others these include reflection, evaluation, self-expression, planning, design, ICT skills, appropriacy and communication skills. In addition, learners are empowered to make the decision about the presence they create, and as Ray said, the audience(s) with whom they choose to share. This choice, I believe, should be scaffolded, and should include the choice of tool(s) they use.

What seems to happen in a lot of education institutions, however, is that assessment becomes the driving force; for example, unit standards have to be demonstrated as met. The impetus, therefore, shifts away from the learning and self-development, to 'what do I need to do to pass this assessment?'. Alongside, and closely related, because assessment can become the primary focus, the tool is mandated by an institution, as well as broad categories required, the type of content and so on. I would strongly argue, therefore, that there needs to be fundamental shifts in the principles underlying assessment, without which there is a danger that ePortfolios are branded as an assessment tool with 'side benefits'.

You may be interested in a presentation I gave in Australia last year that mentions these points: http://ictenhancedlearning.blip.tv/file/2751810/

Thanks again for such an invigorating discussion.

Hope the snow is clearing up - we're heading into drought here...

Lee said...

Thank you very much, Hazel and Ray, for your kind and encouraging comments about my e-portfolio. I've enjoyed this project so much I'm considering a research study next year, at the moment I want to focus on Web 2.0 and e-portfolios but any ideas are welcome :-)

Hazel, I enjoyed your presentation immensely and added it to my vodpod collection. I particularly liked the comparison to putting on a performance.

In your presentation you mention that the students at DMC wouldn't have created an e-portfolio if it wasn't compulsory. My tutor found the same thing: in his experience the assessment/compulsory element is an essential factor in adoption. (Have you seen Helen Barrett's Balancing the Two Face of ePortfolios?)

This is where I'm a little uncertain about the semantics and the difference between presentation and process. For Ray perhaps this is the strength in his definition, because his e-portfolio is a presentation with specific purpose and audience in mind (am I correct?). However I want to have one e-portfolio for multiple purposes - will this be possible in the long term? Will it fulfil specific criteria that may be set in the future? Can we have an intensely personal and individual e-portfolio (more likely to be life-long?) that can also fulfil a serious assessment purpose?
The assessment driven e-portfolio seems to me to be critical to mass adoption so finding a balance should also be critical.

Thanks again for your encouragement and discussion.