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The implementation journey - Massey

Page history last edited by Jacquie Kelly 8 years, 5 months ago

Note from UK Editor:  "Paper" is the UK equivalent of "Course" as in "There are some good examples of Papers that have used e-portfolios with students"

  

Case study Home Page An overview of use The implementation journey

Brief overview  

The case study concerns the ePortfolio Initiative conducted in the College of Science (CoS) from January 2008 to July 2009. The project had three aims: to establish a CoS lifelong learning policy; to establish an institutional ePortfolio system that is available to all CoS students; and to establish some local initiatives. The project has significantly advanced these aims. Important outcomes of this project are the use of ePortfolios by innovative lecturers who employ lifelong learning ideas to engage students, and so provide an exceptional student experience. 

 

The e-portfolio implementation journey

Governance

The College of Science ePortfolio Initiative was setup in response to a call for e-learning initiatives from the Pro V-C of the College of Science (CoS). The project ran from January 2008 to July 2009. Associate Professor Eva Heinrich initiated this project using extensive research on e-portfolio practice. Eva gained this from her sabbatical with the European Institute for E-Learning (http://www.eife-l.org) and using her experience of implementing e-portfolios in courses at Massey. Eva led the project and during 2008 was released to spend 0.4 of her time on it. An educational technologist was employed on the project and a project steering group provided direction and advice. 

 

An important aspect of the project was the strong leadership. The Pro Vice-Chancellor raised awareness and encouraged staff to realise the potential of e-portfolios. This message was received by staff and gave confidence that this work was supported. The CoS Academic Management Group, made time to discuss this project and provided advice based on the progress reports.

 

Summary of the project approach and implementation journey through the early stages of the project - see interim report (2008)

The response of most people spoken to about the concepts of e-portfolio supported lifelong learning was very positive. Yet, people needed time to think through the concepts before they could move on to implementation. Our experience matches the experiences internationally.

 

The potential of e-portfolios is:

 

  1. To collect and store evidence of learning

  2. To learn by reflecting on what students have done using the evidence of their coursework and assignments.

  3. To review course content and progress by the student and others

  4. To link the skills and experiences students develop in their courses

  5. To develop self auditing skills and experiences

  6. To plan where and how to develop skills

  7. To showcase evidence of experience for employers and others

 

In 2008  this potential was largely unrealised in the CoS. The e-portfolio maturity model analysis (see below) shows that although the technical systems are in place, the staff and students do not have the ePortfolio skills or the strategic support to use e-portfolios to their potential.

 

Some staff were wary of becoming involved in the project because they did not see the longer term strategy. They were concerned about the level of support that will occur when the initiative finishes in mid 2009. They are concerned about encouraging students to invest in a system that has uncertain availability.

 

For the CoS the lack of current uptake of e-learning technologies is a specific problem, that manifests itself in two ways. Firstly, working with e-portfolios requires the availability of electronic documents (eg assignments and marking feedback). Because large sections of the college still work with paper-based systems the step of moving into the e-portfolio world requires preliminary steps (eg using the learning management system and doing electronic marking). Adding these steps becomes a fairly big learning curve and can only be tackled slowly. Secondly, staff are not used to working with electronic documents and feedback with students. Staff have concerns regarding authenticity, cheating, committing to feedback in writing, or availability of assignments for years to come. These concerns show a lack of familiarity with the e-learning world and needs to be overcome before work with e-portfolios is possible. These concerns are transferred to the ePortfolio approach, but are a far more general issue.

 

Staff workload and the lack of reward for effort spent on teaching (as compared to research) was  brought up by several staff. Again, this is an issue far beyond the e-portfolio project.

 

The ePortfolio Maturity Model used in the project and summary of data 

The Australian ePortfolio Project 2008 has a maturity model that indicates the capability of an organisation to use ePortfolios. This model provides descriptions of factors that are likely to influence the effective use of e-portfolios. The model helped the CoS to identify how well they were doing with these factors.

 

We applied this model to the College of Science. A summary is in Table 1 and a full explanation is available of the descriptions that are labelled 1-5 in Table 1. The summary lists the factors with a 5 point scale moving left to right from less support to full support. Each cell is coded as:

 

 

Not adequate

 

Partially adequate

 

Fully adequate

 

The summary shows at a glance what the CoS is doing well as indicated by the blocks of black and the white blocks show where we could improve.

 

The institutional factors show that e-portfolios are technically well integrated. Staff and students can easily connect to e-portfolios, and they are well supported with ICT policy. The weaknesses are in the area of policy as although a draft policy is in place, many staff are not aware of it. The institutional embedding is at an early stage with little uptake in papers.

 

The academic factors show that although staff generally have good ICT skills only a few are using e-portfolios for their own professional development or using them to support students.

 

The student factors show that the students do have the skills and access to the technology but they are not using ePortfolios nor do they have the skills to use them effectively. These skills include the ability to reflect on learning and using them to integrate graduate skills across all of the students’ papers.

 

The e-portfolio system factors show that the system is relatively easy to use and that it can be used in a variety of ways. As with most systems there is scope to improve how it functions. It will need to be refined over time as technical changes occur and as users become more sophisticated in the use of e-portfolios.

 

 

Table 1

Summary of ePortfolio maturity model

 

Institutional factors

 

1

2

3

4

5

1 Policy

 

 

 

 

 

2. Connectivity to support e-portfolio development

 

 

 

 

 

3. Interoperability/transferability of data

 

 

 

 

 

4. ICT policy

 

 

 

 

 

5. Institutional embedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

Academic factors

 

1

2

3

4

5

1. Staff ICT skills

 

 

 

 

 

2. Academic engagement/buy-in to e-portfolios

 

 

 

 

 

3. Academics and mentors as providers of online feedback

 

 

 

 

 

4. Academic encouragement of autonomy in the construction of e-portfolios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student/learner factors

 

1

2

3

4

5

1. Students capability for autonomy in learning

 

 

 

 

 

2. Students electronic links to the institution

 

 

 

 

 

3. Access to portfolio/ownership

 

 

 

 

 

4. Learners as active creators of digital content

 

 

 

 

 

5. Learners as seekers and users of feedback

 

 

 

 

 

6. Learner engagement/buy-in to e-portfolio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ePortfolio system factors

 

1

2

3

4

5

1. Usability/simplicity

 

 

 

 

 

2. Reuse/malleability

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key

 

Not adequate

 

Partially adequate

 

Fully adequate

 

 

e-Portfolio Promotion Activities during the project  

The team provided presentations and workshops throughout the project. This included presentations as part of University-wide staff development events, workshops with staff and postgraduate students. The team also provided consultations with lecturers, support staff, student representatives and heads of departments.

 

At the end of semester 2 there was a student competition. This aimed to encourage uptake and inform students of e-portfolios. This had a disappointing response and was cancelled.

 

The ePortfolio Initiative Website

A website on e-portfolios was developed and refined based on feedback from users. There are examples to illustrate the potential of using e-portfolios. A real benefit of the website is to have it linked from the CoS webpage. This helps to reinforce to staff and students the official support of the initiative. 

 

Link to the website

 

Other Activities (from interim report 2008)

The CoS ePortfolio Initiative had a constructive working relationship with the academic development and IT units. The academic development unit covered the license fees for all Massey users for at least the first year. This saved money and simplified the administration. The IT unit allowed use of their helpdesk facility for logging of student service requests.

This helped to allow all staff and students at the university to have access to e-portfolios. This has made it simpler as it allows us to promote the work at general events such as university symposiums and makes it easier for the IT unit to provide support as they do not have to find out the college of the student before they provide support. Other colleges have then benefited from the information we provide and the structure we develop.

There were meetings of representatives from throughout Massey who are interested in e-portfolios. These discussions include information sharing and coordinating the e-portfolio work happening at Massey.  

 

Courses using ePortfolios 

Eight staff within the CoS and two from outside integrated MyPortfolio in their courses (see An overview of use - Massey).

 

Impact of the Project

This project raised awareness of lifelong learning and e-portfolios in the College of Science. The presentations and meetings have had tangible benefits in the teaching innovations that lecturers piloted with their students. These lecturers recognise the importance of lifelong learning and the potential of e-portfolios as a student centred approach that can add real value to the students’ learning. There are some good examples of Papers that have used e-portfolios with students.

 

The project raised awareness on how to effectively embed e-portfolios into Papers. This has occurred at presentations and workshops given to the university-wide symposium and departmental seminars, the e-portfolios website and meetings with individuals or small groups of staff. The initiative provided advice to staff who were considering using e-portfolios and support for those who have used them in their Papers. 630 staff and students had MyPortfolio accounts at the end of July 2009. Throughout the project there was a steady rise of users with a more dramatic rise near the end of the project as Papers with larger numbers of students began using MyPortfolio.

 

This project has helped to integrate the e-portfolio software into the University through the central helpdesk support, integration with ITS procedures, and provision of expertise in the academic development unit. The project provided input into the technical systems including those for the ITS helpdesk so staff and students gain good e-portfolio support. The academic development unit now has expertise in e-portfolios. This will maintain the support to staff in the College of Science who continue to use e-portfolios. The academic development unit will provide support to others in the University as evidence from the initiative flows to other colleges who want to give their students the benefits of lifelong learning and e-portfolios.

 

The move towards e-portfolios becoming mainstream is likely to be boosted when MyPortfolio becomes part of the core learning management system. This is likely to occur in 2012.

 

This project has raised the profile of the College of Science and Massey University in New Zealand and Australia at conferences and added to Massey’s reputation for innovative teaching and learning. A list of publications that have already been published is available at the end of this report. 

 

Lessons Learned

The integration of lifelong learning support required a major shift in thinking for lecturers. They need time and guidance to think through the issues and plan well so that the students will benefit. In this project the planning and preparation time was typically about six months as staff considered the concepts and then found a course that would be suited for a trial.

 

There is a need to work on implementing e-portfolios into programmes rather than at an individual paper level. The implementation of e-portfolios has been at the Paper level rather than a programme or departmental level. Paper-based approaches are valuable to gain experience and build confidence but have limited impact. An integrated approach where students use MyPortfolio across a programme gives students the opportunity to develop their e-portfolio over time and the value of the approaches is reinforced. The overhead in learning a new system such as an e-portfolio for lecturers and students is then rewarded with more frequent use of the new skills. Typically lifelong learning stretches beyond paper boundaries and the e-portfolio can support students over a longer timeframe. For example e-portfolios can be used to support the development of graduate attributes or linking of Papers.

 

The draft Lifelong Learning Policy remains in its draft form. In this initiative it provided a clear message of the importance of lifelong learning and the role e-portfolios will have in this. It showed staff the value of the initiative and was something that senior managers wanted them to do. Moving the lifelong learning policy from a draft status will reiterate the message that lifelong learning is a good thing for staff to work on.

 

It is valuable to continue work as lifelong learning is becoming more important. There is still more work to do and staff need support to implement lifelong learning approaches with e-portfolios.

 

 

Requirements for success 

 

  1. Address lifelong learning at the programme and/or departmental level.

 

  1. Provide support for lecturers on technical and pedagogical levels and support students on skills that are often new to them such as how to reflect.

 

  1. Fostering reflective practice among university staff, facilitated by the use of ePortfolio systems. This includes maintaining of teaching portfolios and sharing with colleagues around the University and beyond. Staff modelling lifelong learning are the best role models to get the message of importance of lifelong learning across to students.

 

 

Building on the success of the ePortfolio Initiative 

 

We recommend the following steps to be undertaken. 

 

To ensure continuation of the ePortfolio work started in CoS:

 

  • The CoS leadership team continues to support e-portfolio work by ensuring staff that this work is in line with CoS directions and is valued.

 

To continue the work undertaken in the CoS ePortfolio Initiative on university level:  Prof Anderson approaches AVC Prof Day, informing her about the CoS ePortfolio Initiative and suggesting to her the setting up of a university-wide working group on lifelong learning and e-portfolios. Building on the work undertaking in the ePortfolio Initiative this working group should address the following issues:

    • Revising the CoS draft policy on lifelong learning and developing it into a university-wide policy

    • Addressing issues arising from the policy, such as length of student access to the e-portfolio system

    • Selecting MyPortfolio as part of the Stream core tool set

    • Integrating MyPortfolio with Stream to simplify creation of user accounts and user identification

    • Ensuring the ongoing technical support of MyPortfolio via the ITS helpdesk

    • Ensuring the pedagogical support via CADeL

    • Working with student service units in the university to assist students with lifelong learning needs

    • Collaborating with units outside the university on lifelong learning needs

    • Providing information and guidance on lifelong learning and e-portfolio issues to the university community  

 

Influential projects led by institution staff (internal and externally funded):

 

Publications and presentations  

The project has resulted in a number of publications which have helped to highlight the leadership position Massey and the College of Science have in this area.

 

Goodyer, & Milne, J. (2009) Developing competence portfolios in engineering undergraduates. In Same places, different spaces. Ascilite conference, Auckland, New Zealand http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/goodyer.pdf 

Heinrich, E. (2008). Contrasting approaches: Institutional or individual ownership in ePortfolio systems. In Hello! Where are you in the landscape of educational technology? Proceedings Ascilite, Melbourne 2008. http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/melbourne08/procs/heinrich.pdf 

Heinrich, E. (2008). Supporting continuous improvement in teaching development through electronic teaching portfolios. In proceedings of 31st Annual HERDSA conference 2008, Rotorua, New Zealand. 

Heinrich, E. & Milne, J. (2009) ePortfolio adoption on single course level - guiding questions and experiences. HERDSA 2009 Conference. Abstract retrieved on 27 July 2009 from http://conference.herdsa.org.au/2009/concurrent02.html#2960 

Milne, J., Heinrich, E., Lys, I. (2010). Integrating ePortfolios – guiding questions and experiences. Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2010: 47-61. ISSN: 1179-7673. 

Milne, J. & Heinrich, E. (2009) Guiding questions for a lecturer planning to use ePortfolios in a course. Australian ePortfolio Symposium 2009. PowerPoint retrieved on 27 July 2009 from http://www.eportfoliopractice.qut.edu.au/docs/Presentations/AeP2_milne.pdf

  

References made to e-portfolios in  institutional strategy docs: 

Draft Lifelong learning policy 

 

Implementation journey milestones      

Date  Event  Description and  links to documentation where appropriate
2006 

Development of Mahara- made available for use in 2007 

Massey University  led a nationally funded collaborative project to develop a new e-portfolio tool, Mahara  http://wiki.mahara.org/History
Jan 2008    Project initiation 
July 2009    Project complete
Supporting Documentation:     
    Mahara Hosting and support SLA 
    Outline of helpdesk process 
    MyPortfolio FAQ 
    ePortfolio Brochure 
    Competition Poster 
    Guiding questions for Lecturers  

 

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