Thursday, May 8, 2008

ePortfolios 301 - Implementation and Adoption

Once you've decided on the product, you need to make a plan like every other software installation or adoption. If you are hosting the servers yourself you can go right into the adoption planning.

If you have decided on a product that supports data aggregation, accreditation, or expect to use the system to collect data specific to goals and standards then you need to spend time planning out what I call the back-end web. (See the poster.)This is more administrative than technical as it requires breaking down which specific assignments, taught in which specific classes (and departments) meet which specific goals and standards. The most successful cases I’ve heard of involve many meeting to sort this out so allow time and make sure all the stakeholders are involved. (You can start this before you decide on a vendor.)

Plan your rollout carefully. Some products are specific to classes/departments and are only used internally. Others provide a broad umbrella of use. (See 201 for more vendor info.)

  1. At least two vendors provide accounts to the students direct. The ePortfolio is for the student first and the institution second. With these products you can brand the instances and let the students play with it. The student logs in to their site, and customizes ePortfolios for different audiences. As the Department/Class embraces the ePortfolio system they can ‘push’ a template out to the students within their purview. The template will have ‘buckets’ for the student to submit assignments. (TaskStream, LiveText)

  2. Other providers simply allow the students to post reflections and show their best work online.

  3. And a third (basic) class is tied into LMS. While the student (usually) will not be able to have the account once they leave the institution, many of the items in #1 above apply.(Angel, Blackboard)

Each of these requires a different rollout. All require careful training of the professors.

It’s important to evaluate what each stakeholder will gain from using ePortfolios and being clear about the potential outcomes. Educate the users about why they should embrace ePortfolios – what’s in it for them.

These are POTENTIAL benefits (depending on the product):

  • Student Benefits: a repository of sorts that allows for secure and selective access to specific people. A place to ‘show off’ their best work and reflect on what they’ve learned. A foundation to prepare for lifelong learning, and use for resumes and professional development documentation. As the model for the State of Minnesota states “. . . living showcase of your education, career and personal achievements.” (2/8/08

    Think critically over time, experience, knowledge, document learning, model professional practices, make conscious learning choices, enhance self-understanding, communicate, create a permanent record, develop learning objectives, think beyond, reflect tool for career connections.

  • Faculty benefits (if the faculty have their own ePortfolio sites then refer to the listing above): Encourage lifelong learning, advanced pedagogy, faculty development, identify best work, promotion and tenure, collaborate, connect multiple disciplines, provide student guidance.

  • Department benefits (see faculty benefits above): recruitment and retention, document faculty achievement, witness student achievement, demonstrate department and institutional success, data collection and data analysis, measuring outcomes.

  • Institutional benefits (see above): Data aggregation, alignment of goals and standards, demonstrate clear relationship between graduating from the institution and gainful employment (workforce development).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

ePortfolios 201 - Investigation/Preparation

If you know you/your school/your institution wants an ePortfolio system then it's time to figure out what the requirements are -- what you want IN an ePortfolios system. Know your user; know your user's needs. Review ePortflios 101 (previous post) so you know the theories behind what an ePortfolio system can offer. (See the poster.)

In 2002 - 3 we did a survey to collect what the schools of ed wanted in an ePortfolio system, and gave that to vendors so they could respond (an RFI or Request for Information). As I describe in an earlier post, the vendors did not have many of the features, but within a year they had made great strides to accommodate our every wish!

San Francisco State and San Jose State did pre-implementation surveys. San Jose ended up with one product for use campus-wide, and SFSU ended up with multiple products used in multiple disciplines.

In 2005-6 I was involved with the EduTools/WCET review of products. See Seven partners determined the vendors to review and came up with a list of 69 features to be evaluated. We reviewed seven products. The information is from 2005 - 6, however, the data continues to be helpful and is reviewing the features and glossary.

Things to think about:

  1. Know your users - think about who will use these and why.

  2. Survey the users to determine their needs.

  3. Review products carefully.

  4. Keep your tech support staff in the loop.

About Accreditation:
Accreditation agencies have become more outcome driven, requiring examples of student learning as well as an aggregation of assessment data for internal program evaluation. In 2005 Ralph Wolff (WASC President - Western Association of Schools and Colleges) gave a speech claiming “We are moving from assessment to accountability. Shifting the National, State, and System levels as opposed to local” AND “assessment should be a systematic process about setting goals.” Some vendor products are design to help with accreditation, so choose carefully. (See the poster.)

Friday, February 29, 2008

ePortfolios 101 - Intro and Definitions

The most important thing to do before you decide on an ePortfolio system is to figure out what your goal is. What do you want the stakeholders to get: Students? Faculty? School? Institutions? (See the poster.)

Here are some things to consider:
1. The Repository:

where the student can put up a variety of files, and select which ones to “make public” within an ePortfolio instance. Examples: Blackboard, TaskStream, LiveText.

2. Secure/Selective Access:

owners can build ePortfolios for specific needs, and allows them to limit (or open) access. For example, a student might build an ePortfolio for her parents, which would differ from the ePortfolio for her snowboard group, which would differ from the ePortfolio for a potential employer. Contents may be shared, but each would have a different audience, and access would be controlled by the owner (who issues passwords). Examples: Blackboard, TaskStream, LiveText.

3. Workforce Development:

specifically allows the student to own the ePortfolio and use it long after they leave the institution. Unless your Institution highly supports alumni, the Blackboard, WebCT, Angel models are not viable for this. Examples: TaskStream, LiveText.

4. School/Institutional Goals:

allows for data aggregation, data analysis, and is helpful for accreditation.
This requires careful planning by breaking down goals and standards and aligning
them with specific departments, classes, assignments. This usually requires the
development of a template which is pushed to the student. The student uses the
template to upload specific assignments into ‘buckets’. The back-end collects
the data which can then be used to demonstrate student achievement and
institutional success. Accreditation agencies are becoming familiar with this
and most vendors allow for random selection. Examples: TaskStream, LiveText.

I am a firm believer that an ePortfolio should be student-centered. They own it, and they should be able to use it for job search (workforce development) and get to it after they graduate.