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Case study Massey University Home Page

Page history last edited by Jacquie Kelly 8 years, 7 months ago

Massey University, College of Science 

 

Case study Home Page An overview of use The implementation journey

 

What is unique about this implementation case study

Massey University originated and led the development of the e-portfolio software Mahara in 2006/7. In 2008/9 the College of Science used this software in an e-portfolio implementation project. A project director and steering group led the project that provided lecturers with access to pedagogical and technical support. A key feature was the strong support of the PVC. A maturity model was used as part of the evaluation and implementation increased across the College of Science and some use occurred in other colleges. Factors to support wider implementation include a draft lifelong learning strategy. A change in AVC and other priorities such as a change in learning management system has led to a lack of focus on further implementation. The importance of a digital culture is highlighted as one factor for success.

 

e-Portfolio tool: Mahara accessed through the New Zealand MyPortfolio Mahara webservice http://myportfolio.ac.nz/

 

PURPOSE:

The case study presented here is largely based on the 18 month e-portfolio initiative that ran from January 2008 to July 2009 in the College of Science (CoS) at Massey University. The CoS is the largest academic centre at the university comprising eight institutes and schools. The e-portfolio initiative had three aims: to establish a CoS lifelong learning policy; to establish an institutional e-portfolio system that is available to all CoS students; and to establish some local examples of e-portfolio use. The purpose of the e-portfolio is to support students in: personal development planning, transition to/from the institution, work based learning, employability/graduate attributes and lifelong learning.

 

PROCESSES: Information capture, information organisation, Information retrieval, Planning, Feedback, Reflection, Collaboration, Presentation, Information Organisation, Self-assessment, Review

These are the benefits of e-portfolios that were advertised to students.

• Link the skills and experiences you develop incourses and postgraduate research - information organisation

• Collect and store resources in a single place - information capture

• Review your course content and progress - review

• Learn by reflecting on what you have done using the evidence of your coursework and assignments - reflection

• Link the research skills you develop and showcase your research to others - information retrieval, organisation and presentation

• Give others an insight into your studies at university by showing examples of your work and share how you understand the material - presentation, collaboration

• Develop self assessment skills and experiences - self-assessment

• Plan where and how to further develop your skills - planning

• Showcase evidence of your experience to employers - information retrieval, organisation and presentation

 

 

DRIVERS: The College of Science ePortfolio Initiative (ePortfolios for Lifelong Learning) was set up in response to a call for e-learning initiatives from the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Science. The project ran from January 2008 to July 2009.

 

A key driver behind the project was an academic staff member in the college Dr Eva Heinrich (a computer science senior lecturer with a strong research interest in elearning and in e-portfolios) who proposed the initiative.  She then recruited an educational technologist to the project, organised a steering group, and IT support.

 

The following quote around broader sector drivers is from a conference paper by Massey Uni. staff involved in the initiative (Milne, Heinrich & Hoong, 2010)

 

"The tertiary sector has been aware of the importance of lifelong learning in principle for a long time but only, over the past years, has increasingly become aware of the need to actively support its students. For example, graduate profiles for degree programmes describe the skills, including lifelong learning skills, and competencies a graduate will possess. Traditionally, these graduate profiles are developed by academic committees and stored in safe places, never to be looked at again by either teaching staff or students. The current climate of renewed emphasis on lifelong learning skills (see for example the strategy documents of the New Zealand Tertiary Education Strategy, TES, 2008), has affected a shift in thinking. The graduate profiles have been taken off the shelves and skills and competencies are matched against learning outcomes, integrated into teaching and presented directly to students. As part of this move many tertiary institutions have investigated the use of ePortfolio systems, taking advantage of their strengths in reflective and lifelong approaches to learning for students."

 

Key words: Massey University, New Zealand, HE, Mahara, Lifelong Learning, Lifewide Learning, College of Sciences, within course use, distance learning, PVC, central unit, maturity model, evaluation

 

Brief overview of the organisation and its current e-portfolio use:  

Massey University has over 35,000 internal and distance students in the Colleges of Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, Business and Creative Arts.  Massey offers the only veterinary science programmes and has the only Bachelor of Aviation degree in New Zealand. There are three physical campuses in Manawatu, Wellington and Auckland with a large distance provision. Find out more at the University Website.

 

The history of use of e-portfolios

Prior to the ePortfolios for Lifelong Learning project in the college of science (2008-2009), there were a few lecturers using e-portfolios at Massey.  Mahara, the e-portfolio system that the CoS use originated at Massey in 2006 and Massey University led a nationally funded collaborative project to develop a new e-portfolio tool http://wiki.mahara.org/History. Since the initiative began (using the MyPortfolio instance of Mahara), the support provided by IT Services and centres for teaching support for the project has facilitated some adoption by other faculties within the University. Since the end of the project, there has been no further promotion of e-portfolios or 'official' support as the attention of the AVC Academic has been occupied by other e-learning projects - notably a change of learning management system and academic reform. Use of MyPortfolio continues in the College of Science. The e-portfolio initiative website is still available and the e-portfolio software is available for use in the university. The number of students with e-portfolio accounts continues to grow. The Lifelong Learning policy is still in draft form.

 

What are they used for and by whom

At the end of the initiative in July 2009 there were 630 students who had MyPortfolio accounts. At the end of 2010 there were over 1400 accounts.

 

The implementation jouney outlines some of the courses that use e-portfolios.

 

Evaluation - evidence of value

The Project used a Maturity Model drawn from the Australian e-portfolio Project 2008 to evaluate the capability of the College of Science to embed e-portfolios in their practice at the time of the study. Details are provided in the description of the implementation journey. Also a detailed evaluation of a specific course is reported based on the following structure:

 

  • Practicalities: did the e-portfolio system perform well on a technical level, how much support did students require

  • Lecturer’s view on the learning effect: do the reflections the students have provided indicate increased understanding

  • Students’ views on the learning effect: do students think that the e-portfolio activity has helped their learning

 

 

Key factors for successful implementation

 

Within courses

There are a number of critical success factors for e-portfolio projects within courses that are outlined below. These were taken from the ePortfolio website at Massey.

 

  • Purpose: The purpose intended with introducing and using e-portfolios must be clearly defined. It must tie in with the educational purpose of the teaching programme. The benefits of the use of e-portfolios in a specific context must be clear to students and educators
  • Assessment: In the context of an educational institution assessment is required. In the ideal setting formative assessment, that is feedback to assist learning, would be sufficient. Yet, reality shows that students require extrinsic motivation via compulsory elements and/or summative assessment. The e-portfolio project needs to be carefully designed so that purpose and assessment do not conflict
  • Trust: e-portfolio projects encourage learners to record learning experiences and reflections. This means not only capturing the best work but as well attempts and less than perfect results. The full spectrum of learning experiences and meaningful reflections will only be recorded when the learner has trust, meaning that only authorised access is possible, that it is transparent who is authorised and that information is only be used for the purposes intended
  • Staff buy-in: It is essential that teaching and support staff support the e-portfolio and lifelong learning messages. An e-portfolio project mandated from the top without ground level support will not succeed. Without this support and ongoing reinforcement students are likely to produce only token efforts
  • Support: An e-portfolio project requires strong institutional support. This includes the right policies and procedures, the recognition of time requirements, staff development programmes, instructional support and tutoring of students
  • Systems: It is essential to select tools matching the e-portfolio project purpose. The tools must provide the required functionality and must be easy and effective to use, both by staff and students. The tools should not be too complex, so that simple tasks can be done with just a few easy steps. The tools must be accessible any time. It has to be possible to export data. The ownership of data must be clarified

 

Across the institution

There is a need for:

  • An institutional lifelong learning strategy that is developed at programme level. For the pilot project some staff were wary of becoming involved because they did not see the longer term strategy. They were concerned about the level of support that will occur when the Initiative finished in mid 2009. They were concerned about encouraging students to invest in a system that has uncertain future availability
  • A senior management champion. Changes in senior management personnel can lead to changes in priorities - if this is the culture then this can lead to staff not being willing to commit to new technologies
  • A central unit supporting implementation that is led by a knowledgeable champion
  • Support for lecturers on technical and pedagogical levels and support students on skills that are often new to them such as how to reflect
  • Fostering reflective practice among university staff, facilitated by the use of e-portfolio 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
  • A digital culture. The lack of use of digital resources and familiarity with e-processes can be a barrier
  • The quality of teaching to be rewarded (as well as research)

 

The future

The future of e-portfolios at Massey is unclear.  For some time there has been significant activity in areas where portfolios seemingly have a natural home; institutional adoption, however, is predicted to be at least another five years in the making.  In response to having an outdated version of Mahara there has been an increased interest in searching for alternative platforms that on the surface seem to offer a more mature, attractive toolset and in some cases more than just e-portfolio services.  Highly motivated and influential staff in large Colleges are actively looking at alternatives after many years of using Mahara and latterly frustration over its lack of functionality.  A recently implemented institutional procurement policy provides the framework from which a balanced evaluation of portfolio systems can take place.  One of the spin-offs of this is has been an upgrade of Mahara and more concerted effort to better understand the differing Colleges' needs of an e-portfolio system.  While the decision as to what e-portfolio system will best service the institutional needs is yet to be determined, there is a sense that e-portfolios are experiencing a renaissance of sorts.

 

 

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