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).

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