Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Very excited about Griffith University's take on ePortfolio

Over the last few weeks I have been working with the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Griffith University to nut out how we're going to approach the whole issue of ePortfolio ie do our students need one; how will it look if we introduce the concept; how will it be used?

Because of my interest in this area, I have also been co-opted onto a Griffith University working party who are looking at the issue of ePortfolio at an institutional level. I have been extremely pleased (and some what surprised) to hear their views on ePortfolio, and that they are more than willing to support 'cloud' options to ePortfolio as opposed to buying into a preparatory ePortfolio platform. What is more exciting is there is a real understanding of the issues around ePortfolio - that it has to be student-led, portable, and focused on learning outcomes as opposed to bells and whistles.

There is still a lot of work to do, but we're starting to come up with a model for the midwifery program. In the first two years, we'll use the processes we already have set up which are more about an e-repository than anything else. In the third year we'll move students into thinking about developing a professional ePortfolio. That is likely to be something like Google Apps, integrating Google Documents into Google Sites...or something similar. This will be integrated into the students' third year clinical and professional practice courses. This will leave them ready to move into professional practice as midwives.

We still have work to do, not least on issues of privacy and security. I also think we can do more with the reflective practice aspect of the midwifery program and integrate that better into the curriculum, ePortfolio and graduate profile. But this approach feels so much better to me than imposing institution-led platforms on students that leave them with no sense of ownership and cannot take with them when they graduate.

Image: 'Raindrops and sunlight'


M-H said...

The problem with using software that isn't controlled by the Uni is that it can let you down when you need it most - witness the debacle over blogger's two recent outages, one of which occurred when many people in the Northern Hemisphere were assessing student work for the semester. What would happen if Google arbitrarily closed a student's account - or worse still, the staff member's account - as they did to a whole bunch of people recently? What if that happened to you while you were doing your assessments for the semester?

Just because software is 'institution-led' it doesn't mean it's bad - it can be used badly, of course, but so can any software. It can also be used well, if that use is planned and organised on pedagogical principles. Imposing google or facebook or any external software can leave students with a sense of lack of ownership too - the staff member still owns the site where the discussion, filesharing etc is taking place.

Eportfolios are student-owned. That is a given, even when they are provided, backed up and supported centrally by the institution. No-one can see inside a student's eportfolio. Student work in their eportfolio is being introduced as part of the taught curriculum in several faculties - although every student has access to one if they want one. And at our institutions students will be able to access their eportfolio free for several years after they graduate - they will then be given the choice to either download it as html files, or to pay a small amount to keep it hosted. It's possible to work this stuff out if there is a will to do so.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks M-H. You've brought up some valid points, that's for sure, all of which we are currently considering. I'll let you know what we finally decide :)

Jo-Anne McShane said...

Hey Sarah, Keep me posted about whats happening at Griffith. Heading back to work soon so if there is anything I can do to help, or get involved, please let me know. Tahbks, Jo McShane

Sarah Stewart said...

Will keep you informed, Jo-Anne. How's things with you...and that darling baby of yours?