Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Portfolio: an ePortfolio platform

Last week I went to a presentation about an ePortfolio platform called 'My Portfolio' that has been developed from Mahara which is an open source ePortfolio.

My requirements of an ePortfolio
I am very interested in ePortfolio programs and have recently been developing my own portfolio using Wikispaces. My requirements for an ePortfolio program is that it is easy to use; available to health professionals as well as students; adaptable for my specific requirements as a midwife as well as an academic. I am also keen that the ePortfolio program is open access although I do recognise the necessity for some aspects to be closed, especially as midwives reflect on very sensitive issues at times.

'My Portfolio'
'My Portfolio' looks good and has a number of facilities that would be useful in an educational context, but it feels a lot like another form of learning management system to me, not dissimilar to BlackBoard.

The other problem is that at the moment it is associated with educational institutions in New Zealand which means only students of the institution can use it. Once the students have left the institution, they are no longer able to use it. It is my understanding that that may change as time goes on and alumni will be able to continue to use it for a small cost.

The future for ePortfolios
I am still not convinced about keeping my portfolio in a closed system so I'll keep working with Wikispaces. I want complete control over what I display and how I display it. However, I recognise that people who are not so used to the wiki format may find a more prescriptive portfolio system useful.


theother66 (formally MadMiller) said...

Hi Sarah

I think you have raised a very important issue here about e-Portfolios, and that is the issue of accessibility of e-Portfolios (ePF) for people who are no longer a part of a formal education/ training system. And unfortunately, this is not one which will be easily resolved in the near future.

One idea to overcome this problem would be to create a 'thin e-Portfolio on legs' – an ePF which is more of an interface that will connect an individual’s digital artifacts/identities together, and one in which the individual would ‘carry’ with them from the ‘cradle to grave’. This interface would be similar to an iGoggle or Protopage, however, it would give greater control to the owner of the ePF as to who 'views' what sections of the ePF and would allow access to secure information stored about the individual in educational/organisational databases. This would require a ‘national’ approach to ePF and would require a lot less ‘storage’ space, as the information would be ‘hosted’ in a number of locations, and would therefore be a lot less ‘costly’ to the organisation hosting the ePF tool/interface.

This concept, however, is a little while away.

A more tangible and immediate option will be to make the information housed in ePFs 'transferable' from one ePF to another as an individual move from Secondary School to Higher Ed to Employment, or at least have the information contained in an ePF readable in its own right in other web and digital environments. This way a person will always have access to their ‘information’ by burning it to a CD or onto some other storage device, even if they don’t have access to the tools and wizards to generate this information in an ePF tool.

I have also been playing with the Mahara e-Portfolio tool, and a couple of other e-PF tools, and although they are restrictive in one way or another, they do create a structure for people to develop their skills in using an e-Portfolio.

So, for people like yourself, who already have the skills of file management, being organised, able to plan and reflection, as well as know the value of good record keeping etc - than an ePF tool will seem restrictive and less useful, but for those people who are yet to develop these skills or develop the confidence to show themselves to the world (warts and all), than an ePF will really be of benefit, as long as they have access to some guidance and structure in developing the ePF and the skills that come with this process.

It's great to read your thoughts and impressions on ePFs, and thanks for keeping me informed of ePF activities in NZ.

Allison Miller
E-portfolios Project Manager

PS I will be cross referencing your posting/these comments to my own blog - Connecting in a Connected World ( thanks for providing the impetus to write this piece

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks Alison for your thoughts and detailed comment. I recognise that people who are new to ePortfolios would need a lot more 'guidance' than I do. And I must say that what I liked about 'My Portfolio' is that it allowed more than one view ie you could set up a 'views' to suit certain purposes. So the view I used to present information as a midwife would be different from the view I would use to present information of my life as an academic.