I have to say that the highlight of the symposium was meeting several people I know on Twitter. I have been talking to Colin Warren and Alison Miller for some time, so it was a delight to meet them face-to-face. I think we all felt like it was like meeting old, dear friends even though we have never met before.
Alison was able to tell me about the Australian Flexible Learning Framework which may be one avenue for funding for my potential ePortfolio project. What I need to do now is get my head around the VET sector (vocational educational training) here in Australia to find out the best way to package a proposal.
What I learned
I don't know if I learned anything new at the conference. I have been working with portfolios since 1992, when they were first talked about as a statutory regulation tool for nurses and midwives in the UK. My focus has been on portfolios as a reflection and development tool, aside from formal education programs. So to me, nothing was said that I didn't hear 15 years ago.
I was interested to hear about the examples of ePortfolios being used as assessment tools for students. But the main messages I heard time and time again was;
- ePortfolio needs to be embeded into the curriculum, so it is a true reflective tool as opposed to merely a repository for documents
- ePortfolio has to be under the students' control
- students/practitioners need to be able to choose what they make public, and what they keep private
- when we think about ePortfolio, we should be thinking about the process, and not the tools.
I gave a presentation which looked at my experience of developing an ePortfolio as a health professional. There was some discussion afterwards about the problems of confidentiality which is an old nutshell. I got the impression that the other health professionals were not keen on the idea of open reflection even though I acknowledged that not all health professionals would want to follow my example, but rather keep their ePortfolios in closed environments. What I tried to emphasise is that ePortfolio allows for shared reflection, communication and collaboration, which is particularly important to me.
Another doubt raised was whether keeping a portfolio would make me, or anyone else a better midwife or nurse. What I would suggest is that any form of reflection makes for a better practitioner. What do you think?
ePortfolio for health professionals
Where to from here
For me personally, I will keep on charting my professional development in this blog and my ePortfolio. I was approached by one conference participant who said she modeled her ePortfolio on mine, so that was a very special endorsement for me.
Nevertheless, there is lots of opportunities to investigate ePortfolio and health care practice, which I am looking forward to pursuing further.