For several years I have been talking about how an ePortfolio is such a good tool for professional development especially for midwives. This is specially in light of the requirements that New Zealand midwives have a professional portfolio to present evidence of their fitness to practice.
Last week I was able to test that premise in a 'real' professional setting - I presented my ePortfolio at my Midwifery Standards Review and I have to say that I came away with mixed feelings about what happened.
On the one hand the reviewers were open to the concept of using different formats other than text. They were supportive of midwives who were not great writers, so in principle were happy with the idea of using other media to record reflections etc. The reviewers asked to see my ePortfolio but only gave me a couple of minutes to show them a page or two. Then they reverted to my paper portfolio which I had taken with me to be on the 'safe' side.
Lack of understanding
I thought they'd be concerned about issues of privacy but they didn't mention at all as a barrier to using an ePortfolio. They were interested in what I had to say, but didn't really appreciate the nuances of blogging - they didn't realize that I use my blog for ongoing reflection. To my mind that is far more beneficial than madly writing at the last minute just before a Review, which is what so many midwives do. The reviewers didn't really understand why I had included the comments to my various blog posts ...that the comments were also from non-midwives. But they could see how open discussion on my blog supports me and challenges my thinking further.
Things to think about
I was disappointed that the reviewers had not looked at my ePortfolio even though I had sent them the link several weeks before hand. To be fair to the reviewers, I think their lack of engagement was more because of their inexperience of online communication rather than a desire to block this particular media.
To my mind, an ePortfolio is about sharing and feedback, as well as providing the freedom to present material in media other than text. For ePortfolios to become an accepted practice in midwifery, in New Zealand, there needs to be a significant shift in knowledge and attitudes about online communication.
I do believe ePortfolios will be introduced to New Zealand midwives in the next few years. I think education will lead this as the five schools of midwifery go more and more in blended and online learning. However, until midwives engage more with each other online (developing their own personal learning environments), I cannot see the ePortfolio being much more than repository for certificates.
I'd be very interested to hear what you think.
Graham Attwell. 14th March 2010. Rethinking ePortfolios. http://www.pontydysgu.org/2010/03/rethinking-e-portfolios/
Image: 'Christmas Pudding' jonno259