Wednesday, February 10, 2010

5.3.3: ePortfolios: More research needed at the coal face

Article: Swan, G. (2009). Examining barriers in faculty adoption of an e-portfolio system (full text). Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 25(5), 627-644.

I'm beginning a focus on e-portfolios, because I have a keynote to present in late April and I need to get back in touch with the literature!

Swan (2009) reports on the implementation of an e-portfolio system in a teacher preparation programme in Kentucky. Swan (2009, p.629) begins with the need for more work in the area of "the schisms created by the intersection of faculty practice and system design"... in other words, more work is needed on how ePortfolios might be effectively integrated within the systems and structures of academic programmes, and the faculty responsible for them. Institutional studies, Swan suggests, are numerous... but there are not many "at the user-utility, program assessment level" (ibid.) How do we effectively operationalise ePortfolios within programmes of study?

Swan answers the question of effective operationalisation with reference to:
  1. the emergent perspective, that is, from the understanding that the interface between people and technologies is symbiotic and unpredictable; and
  2. interaction resistance theory, which holds that the differences between "designer intention and user perception cause implementation problems" (2009, p.629).
So, the greater the change, the more implicit resistance to that change and the more potential there is for problems. Swan (2009, p.670) rightly observes that "Adaptation is necessary by both the developer of the system and the members of the organisation to facilitate adoption... a high level of conflict management is crucial to achieve success" (ibid.)

Swan provides an excellent platform for further studies in ePortfolio implementation/operationalisation at the user-level. His introduction of the emergent perspective and interaction resistance theory ring true to my own work in institutional change and development in e-learning where leadership, conversation and improvement (I was going to write 'compromise' as the result of conversation, but in fact it is ultimately improvement) form a tri-unity of absolute importance.

More on the findings of Swan's study tomorrow...


Ray Tolley said...

Hi, Nichthus,

Despite all of Swan's erudite work, I feel that he has totally missed the point. Firstly, the e-Portfolio should be learner owned and NOT part of the institution's toolkit. Secondly, as he notes, staff translated their previous paper-based practice to the electronic version - not realising the massive differences that an e-Portfolio can provide in terms of collaboration, peer-review and formative feedback. Such facilities can totally change attitudes to teaching and learning.

I could go on at length but most of what I want to say is already in my blog. See:

Best Wishes,
Ray T

Nichthus said...

Hello Ray,

Yes, I agree with your analysis... the agreement with Swan was more to do with the aspect of change management. In my subsequent post I point out the fact that the tool has probably limited the outcome - and, as you say, the tool was built to reinforce an existing way of doing things.

Well met - and thanks for your comment and blog link.