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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The ePortfolio Saga

ePortfolios We (being me and my team of magic elves) have just finished the first assessment of our student ePortfolios. We laughed ("My Career Plans: I don't have any career plans. I may do a PhD"), we cried ("I have always wanted to do medicine since I was a child"), and we decided that we're never going to do this again.

Which doesn't necessarily mean that I know what we are going to do, just not this, for the love of God. In the wake of Towards reflective Twitterfolios, several people commented that you can't ask people to be reflective to order, and that attempts to formalize these outputs would be seriously counterproductive. Student blogs had a lot of fans, but I have to say that the evidence in their favour is rather slim.

Several people also expressed doubts about capturing/archiving material from Twitter, implying that it would be too labour-intensive. That's the wrong thing to say to someone who's just spent two days slogging through 200 ePortfolios. A few Twitter tags, an RSS feed, a Friendfeed page, and you're done - as we've proved effectively with our HEAT3 project. If an ePortfolio is too in-your-face to encourage reflection, then Twitterfolio has to be a better solution.

So I think it's time to take a step back and to ask what it is that we are trying to achieve.

1. To discharge the statutory obligation to PDP. But we don't need ePortfolios for that - we were never trying to capture data to present to employers, and the Burgess Review student transcripts will do that for us soon.

2. To encourage student's academic and professional development through reflection. And so far, at least, there's not much evidence that assessed ePortfolio hoop-jumping is doing that for the majority of students.

Anything else, and any reason why it can't be achieved via an aggregated Twitterfolio?