Sunday, March 7, 2010

5.3.3: ePortfolios in a K12 setting

Article: Blair, R., & Godsall, L. (2006). One school's experience in implementing e-portfolios: Lessons learned. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education 7(2), pp.145-154.

Blair & Godsall (2006) report on the use of an ePortfolio tool embedded within a (US) school CMS (Course Management System = VLE or LMS). The article discusses ePortfolio implementation in the K12 context.
Among the lessons:
  • Train teachers first - and have them train students. Blair & Godsall (2006, p.148) note that "Because teachers had a good working knowledge of the technology and were enthusiastic, when they presented their e-portfolio projects to their students, the students were not only quick to undertand the technology, but also quickly shared in teachers' enthusiasm" (and 163 students were involved!)
  • Use the ePortfolio as a work space. Student ePortfolios became a focal point for work-in-progress, peer-review, and resource collecting.
  • Have teachers develop their own ePortfolios. Naturally this increases teachers' own competence with the software, and also gives them opportunity to consider the use of ePortfolios from a more informed perspective.
Blair & Godsall (2006) evaluated student use of an ePortfolio drawing on their group of 163 students:
  • 64% find the process "easy".
  • Images were the most frequent document types added to ePortfolios (n=121), followed by Word documents (113) and PPT files (104). Of the other types, there were 39 audio files and 24 video clips.
  • 54% preferred the thought of a final test over a semester-long ePortfolio project.
  • Students were "somewhat noncommittal" about using ePortfolios to apply for jobs (73%).
Blair & Godsall (2006, p.151) remark that "Students can easily produce e-portfolios, but cannot make the conection between production and application". This arguably has more to do with educating the students than it does with any inability of the ePortfolio itself. In this study we have a wonderfully transparent look at how year 11 students view ePortfolios: fun; good as instruments for personal expression; but if they mean more work for assessment, well, give me the test!

The actual evaluation instrument used by Blair & Godsall consisted of seven yes/no questions, three LIkert scale questions, and a list of file types. It is unfortunate for the purposes of ePortfolio research that there is no single instrument that is widely applied.

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