Wednesday, March 3, 2010

5.3.3: The AeP - significant work in the Australisian area

Article: Hallam, G., and Creagh, T. (2010). ePortfolio use by university students in Australia: a review of the Australian ePortfolio project. Higher Education Research & Development 29(2), 179-193.

Hallam & Creagh (2010) introduce the Australian ePortfolio Project (AeP), with a specific emphasis on the first part of the project (started in 2007). The project has already released its first report (2008, PDF or contents page), and Stage II is also now complete (report forthcoming).

The purpose of Stage I (in brief) was to "examine the diverse approaches to ePortfolio use by students in Australian universities in order to consider the scope, penetration and reasons for use of of ePortfolios as well as to examine the issues associatedwith their implementation in higher education" (p.181). Stage II worked toward building a community of practice and established a conference (the next conference is planned for early November, 2010).

The article provides a valuable introduction to the work done for the AeP, which is of foundational importance to ePortfolios in Australasia. The Toolkit is particularly impressive, leaving practitioners with no excuse for not embarking on informed practice. Links to further reports (such as the VET E-portfolio roadmap) within the AeP Web site reveal the considerable work being done in the Australian context.

The Stage I work summarised in the article consists of a selection of primary research informed by a thorough literature review. Findings indicate that ePortfolio activity in the Australian university sector is (or was?) patchy and somewhat fragmented - even within individual institutions. Teachers, managers and HR/professional development personnel have different expectations from ePortfolios. Student surveys compared expectations with experiences (for new students working with ePortfolios), and a separate survey and post-interview with students already working with ePortfolios.

Among the issues identified by Stage I include the need for cooperation across stakeholders to coordinate ePortoflio excpectations; the need for interoperability standards; and the requirement for faculty to link "learning activities, assessment and learning outcomes" (p.187).

The report/paper identify four future scenarios:
  1. A national ePortfolio model (government-owned and driven).
  2. A locally driven model (centred in the HE sector, but "aligned with cross-sectoral interests", p.189).
  3. A Web 2.0 model (student-centred selections of social-networking tools).
  4. A zero action model (the status quo).
My impression from the Ministry-sponsored document "Celebrating learning" is that the New Zealand scene is likely to follow future 2, with the Ministry providing a set of requirements (or, perhaps, 'guidelines') to coordinate interoperability.

The paper concludes with these words (2010, p.191):
There is immense scope for further research into and analysis of the impact and potential of ePortfolios in higher education, so that a better understanding can be developed about many aspects of ePortfolios, such as the diverse dimensions of knowledge construction, student attitudes, new teacher roles, employer expectations, eLearning-supported pedagogies, emerging technologies, interoperability and so on.

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