This post is a response to Activity 2.3 which was to analyse and summarise issues raised in a case study of an eportfolio implementation.
The selected case study was the successful use of WordPress as an eportfolio system in a pilot programme at Dumfries and Galloway College (JISC 2008). The function of the eportfolio was Personal Development Planning (PDP) and specifically on the presentation of employability skills.
The rationale for using eportfolios to demonstrate employability aligns with Batson (2002) that ‘Students seem most interested in the ways ePortfolios can flesh out their resumes, …[if] potential employers can see an online resume that includes views of a student’s actual work, that student may be more likely to obtain the position’. This case study can therefore also be viewed in the context that eportfolios can help document authentic experience in a way that connects with the ‘net generations’ attitude to technology, since students are open to broadcasting their life experiences (Reese and Levy, 2009). Although the concept of ‘net generations’ as a homogenous entity of technically astute students is somewhat of a fallacy since there are significant differences between students; nonetheless, there is ‘some moderate evidence that there are some differences in the expectations of net generation learners’ (Weller, 2011) if not in the actual technical skills.
Therefore using WordPress as an eportfolio for showcasing work could motivate students, as WordPress is a popular blogging and web-publishing tool. This assumption is supported in literature as according to an FE tutor ‘Learners say that they like the idea of e-portfolios and I can see that they now see it as an extension to the social software that they are becoming used to using in their personal lives’ (Becta 2007). The results of the case study showed that students were motivated especially with being able to upload video and image files to showcase particular achievements, while retention increased by 30% in a construction class and 100% in a computing class (JISC, 2008). The case study showed that WordPress was flexible and extendible under a GNU General public licence and appeared to be easy to set-up, enabling students to customise but also use pre-set templates, which seemed to have contributed to the pilot’s success.
There were some important lessons for practitioners for successful integration:???1. Introduce eportfolios early in the course and make it part of the curriculum.
2. Give structure (in the form of templates).
3. Practitioners to use the tool for reflection themselves to model good practice.
One area that is not discussed in the case study is employer feedback, especially since the Eportfolios were designed to help employability. The literature suggests that employers may not be receptive to Eportfolios ”Some students, … were concerned that employers, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), would neither have the time nor the inclination to view their e-portfolios’ (Becta 2009). I think this is a valid point; my personal experience is that often employers google potential employees and peruse social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook; there may be as much mileage in advising students how to make sure their google CV and social media presence is used to the best advantage as there is in implementing eportfolios.
Batson, T. (2002) ‘The electronic portfolio boom: what’s it all about?’ (online), Campus Technology.
Becta (2007) ‘Impact of e-portfolios on learning’, Becta, 5 June.
JISC (2008) Effective Practice with e-Portfolios: Supporting 21st Century Learning, JISC.
Reese, M. and Levy, R. (2009) ‘Assessing the future: e-portfolio trends, uses, and options in higher education’ (online), Research Bulletin, issue 4, EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, Boulder, CO.
Weller, M. (2011) The Digital Scholar, London, Bloomsbury Academic