Wednesday, 5 March 2008


I had the opportunity to attend the seminar event ‘Using eportfolios and blogs as transition 'spaces' into and out of the University’ presented by Julie Hughes & Emma Purnell (03/03/08) from the University of Wolverhampton. I enjoyed the session and there a couple of things that stood out for which I thought are worthwhile pursuing or piloting. Just to give you some background they have their own portfolio system namely PEBBLEPAD which you may have heard of. If you access their site, there is loads of information about the system and how it works. What struck me was the investment that they gave to the project, and its success to date is purely to do with this. The critical stage for me to ensure that the momentum and continuing participation from the students in using this system (in this example in the School of Art and Design) was introducing the ‘e-portfolio system’ pre course teaching, welcomes and introductions for participants in the course were required and this gave the students a basis, by establishing their online identities at this early stage they continued to develop and participate in this community course setting. I’m wondering if the introductions of such a system at level 2 or 3 where students may be already established digitally ‘elsewhere’ have an impact as to how they engage with their home grown e-portfolio system. I would have also liked to know what the impact if any in their engagement with their VLE (WOLF) for these students (should have asked that! but hey I’m reflecting). One thing is for sure, the e-portfolio system – gave the students the social and study support space (using blogs) as witnessed at the seminar. The type of learner here can affect the students usage of the system, for adult education, distance learners and associate colleges this setting can be pivotal in developing a sense of support as it has the informal tones which ‘social spaces’ ooze and allows for personalisation of your own ‘e-portfolio space’. I also think there may be some scope for pre-HE students on learning required academic skills required at a HE level. With all that said, there needs to be dedicated resources and clear expectations on both the student/tutor views. As with any online discussion space, the tutor has to state clearly how and when they will contribute, as the presenter commented ‘one of the main reasons that they (students) keep coming back is the feedback that they receive’. I know I have focused on the study support aspects of this e-portfolio system (which is I believe is one of its strengths) it does allow students to upload their work and make available content in the format that they choose, say for a prospective employer. I still have lots of questions, for me tying this system into the VLE so that they marry well, could work well and hopefully post course beyond their exported e-portfolio.


Steve Mackenzie said...

I also attended this session, I enjoyed it and was very impressed with the approach taken by the presenters. I hope to blog about it also on my own blog, but the over riding message for me was - All the innovative new methods of teaching will struggle to reach their potential without the support of the Institution.

So for me the message was all about developing a coherent INSTITUTIONAL STRATEGY which could mean changes in culture, practice and attitude.

Without Institutional Support lots of good teaching and learning practice may flounder because it is UNSUSTAINABLE on a wide scale without a change in strategy.

Suki said...

I agree with what you say Steve, as for any sustainabilty in these innovative approaches, full back up at all levels is required and needs to be built into strategy so that there is a coherent clear vision.