Using e-portfolios - A case study of Motherwell College
A group of lecturing staff at Motherwell College undertook an SQA Professional Development Award (PDA) in Teaching in Further Education.
The award is designed to enhance practitioners' skills in planning effective teaching strategies and selecting/producing materials. A significant part of the assessment of the award includes written evidence, in the form of evaluative reports, commentaries and reflective accounts, performance evidence and the production of a learning, teaching and assessment plan.
The group also welcomed the opportunity to improve their knowledge and confidence in using e-portfolios and several began using them with their own students.
How the e-portfolio was used
Previously the assessment evidence was gathered into a paper portfolio, but with two members of the group participating completely by distance learning, using an e-portfolio provided a more efficient option for collaboration and gathering/storing assessment evidence.
The e-portfolio system was provided by ProofPositive (Media Corporation). It provides an area for uploading video, documents, links and candidate evidence.
Following a training session with JISC the lecturer also set up a class blog, wiki and delicious account which helped the group to become more familiar with using these tools and understand how they could be used with their own subject areas.
The e-portfolio included a reference area which contained videos and pdfs of smart board discussions to assist the distance learners. This was complemented by communication and feedback via the shared WIKI and Delicious.
The members of the group have also incorporated what they have learned about e-portfolios into their own teaching.
The benefits of using an e-portfolio
The group found many benefits in using an e-portfolio.
- Overall they felt it provided them with easier access and ‘ownership’ over their portfolio noting “It was encouraging to see the green progress bar creep up as I got my evidence signed off.”
- Greater access to continual feedback, especially for those completing on distance learning mode.
- The lecturer and students were able to collaborate in setting up the Blog/Wiki/Delicious resources and practice using these in a safe environment and to evaluate and reflect on how these could be used within candidates own subject area with their students.
- The e-portfolio allowed greater access for all – tutor, students and the internal verifier, with evidence in different media formats - video, audio and documentation – all stored on the e-portfolio.
- Using these approaches also promoted increased students’ understanding of the standards and evidence requirements and increased motivation as students progressed with evidence collection.
At the time this particular e-portfolio did not allow email or forums, which would have allowed easier communication, from the same point, rather than the tutor having to leave the e-portfolio to email students. This meant additional communication between the tutor and students which was not recorded in a format that linked to their portfolios.
Student and Lecturer Feedback
“After using the WIKI for my own PDA, I set up them up for two of my HND classes and the students seemed to enjoy collaborating on projects and uploading their contributions” said one lecturer.
“Wiki and Delicious helped to include the distance learners with the class. Allowed collaboration, not all students too an active part as it was additional to the course work rather than part of it.”
“Students are eager to see their progress and gain feedback and as a result can sometimes expect instant feedback from the lecturer and you can feel pressure to provide feedback – depending on the system it can take time to open files and confirm results compared to paper documents.”
Overall, the PDA course lecturer and learners believe the e-portfolio provided easier access, improved motivation and more straightforward assessment and moderation. It also enabled greater collaboration and understanding.