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Dumfries and Galloway College, UK

Page history last edited by gillespied@dumgal.ac.uk 12 years, 3 months ago

Summary: e-portfolio implementation and use at Dumfries and Galloway College

To visit the case study pages select:

Case study Home Page An overview of use The implementation journey


Key words Dumfries and Galloway, FE, Further Education, UK, ISLE project, in-house e-portfolio, PDP, Individual Learning Planning, retention, achievement and employment, learner tutorial 

e-portfolios used since: 2005 as part of the ISLE project

Use by students: In 2010 there were 1400 active users in the college. As part of an Individual Learning Plan a student records and reflects on their goals and provides a self assessment four times during the academic year.


What is distinctive about this implementation case study


  • Employability and PDP

  • e-portfolio use began through pilot implementation of PDP within the externally funded Individualised Support for Learners through ePortfolios project (ISLE)(2005-7)

Tool used

  • In-house development using Wordpress. Exploration with a VLE based e-portfolio led to the development of an in-house e-portfolio Open source solution using WordPress that is now hosted for three other FE colleges in Scotland. This tool is able to be adapted for different purposes and contexts

Implementation features for e-portfolio managers

  • Developments have been middle-out initiated and middle through implemented with decisions and policy changes by senior managers being informed and following piloting and successful uptake and practice

  • The e-learning co-ordinator working with a lead practitioner was the ePortfolio champion

  • Learner groups are supported in the PDP activities by an academic member of staff. This is achieved by: Incorporating PDP activities into the learner tutorial hour OR into a suitable unit(s) that is part of their existing programme e.g. employability skills, personal development planning, career planning, freelance working skills, personal awareness and development
  • College Tutorial policy for personal tutors requires the use of Individual Learning Plans especially for FE students and this can be accessed through the e-portfolio - academic staff lead this process (there was an unsuccessful attempt to involve support staff in leading this)


The nature of e-portfolio use


Dumfries and Galloway College is part of Scotland’s first super-campus consisting of Dumfries and Galloway College, the Universities of Glasgow and University of West of Scotland with a second campus in Stranraer, on the West Coast of Scotland and delivers a variety of courses from Access to Degree level in partnership with the above institutions.


Inter/whole course –> cross dept/ school/ faculty use

Cross institution

Extra- curricular


PDP and employability

Early use of PDP was in Computing and in Child Care courses

EXEMPLAR 1 - examples from 2006


EXEMPLAR 2 - covers later use of PDP in 2007 and reflections on use by tutors of e-portfolios for PDP in 7 different courses across the whole institution


Many Building Crafts, Engineering and Sports courses use e-Portfolios to promote employability. These and other courses also use the e-Portfolio to promote citizenship.

EXEMPLAR 3 - this provides a summary of use 2008/9
Student experience on the construction course



Personal tutorial and guidance: College Tutorial policy for personal tutors requires the use of Individual Learning Plans especially for FE students. These are available through the e-Portfolio system and therefore many utilise this method. Use of support staff for tutorials was found not to work and acamedic staff have this role

EXEMPLAR 4 provides an update on use 2009/10

EXEMPLAR 5 covers later use 2010/11


Modules studied by all students

Scottish Qualification Authority’s (SQA) Internet Safety module





This PowerPoint presentation gives an overview of current use 2010/11 within the college: e-portfolios SQA.ppt It contains links to exemplar e-portfolio pages from different courses




The nature of the implementation journey


The College's ePortfolio journey was initiated when participating in the ISLE project. There was a recognition of the need to develop PDP across the college. The driving force for the College was employability and the need to enhance all students with self belief, celebrate achievement and prepare and encourage reflection and reflective practice . Experience of using two tools within phase 1 of the project led to the college developed ePortfolio based on the Open Source product WordPress. One key advantage to the system is that once students have completed their courses the college can export their work to a freely hosted external site such as WordPress.com or to other IMS compliant systems.



Stage 0: Context - prior developments Stage 1: Planning Stage 2: Adopting Stage 3: Embedding Stage 4: Sustaining

2003: Paper based Individual Learning Plans completed for all students in the college.


Prior to 2005: and the Isle project e-portfolios were only used with some SVQs and were managed externally.


Until 2006: the college used an internally developed student intranet. Moodle replaced this and continues to be used in the college





2005: ISLE project phase 1 - allowed an exploration of the Blackboard tool and an Open Source Portfolio Initiative tool in use by partners on two college course. A small college project team reviewed college needs and decided to install and pilot the open source WordPress - a tool they could adapt to local needs.

2006: ISLE project phase 2 - pilot with Wordpress 200 students involved across all curriculum areas of the college - 8 courses. Programme managers involved in selecting these.


2007: Decision made by senior management to continue with at least the same level of activity as rhe ISLE pilots.


2007: e-Learning Co-ordinator initiates move of the Individual Learning Plans to within the e-portfolio. A pilot of e-ILPs was agreed by the Faculty Head and a cohort from computing and construction were identified.


2007: Development of an e-Portfolio Manager allows the management and administration of e-portfolios to be done by academic and support staff.


2007-8: Pilot of two groups using e-ILPs was successful in raising retention and achievement.


2007-8: During year approximately 800 students had used e-portfolios. Staff and students were requesting use after seeing others using them.


2008: Hardware specified to bring e-portfolios into the mainstream of college curriculum.


2008: Senior management acknowledge that e-portfolios are part of mainstream teaching and learning and therefore re-enforce their support. Additional hardware is purchased to which the system is transferred and software developments continue. Links to the college Moodle VLE (LearnNet) are created and export functionality created. Senior management identified that support staff rather than academic staff are to drive the students use of e-portfolios. This was to provide a more structured Directed Study programme.


2008-9: 1200 students used e-portfolios. Review of use found that the use of support staff was not successful and the process was to revert to academic support midway through the year.


2009: Supporting the use of WordPress e-portfolio at 3 other colleges.

e-ILPs now established across the college. Tutorial policy established Tutorial Policy.pdf.

1400 students using e-portfolios.

Software developments continuing to meet needs of learners and academics and meet IMS standards to allow import/export facilities to compliant systems.



Managing organisational change

Governance , leadership and vision

The e-Learning co-ordinator worked in a college wide capacity and was responsible to the Assistant Principal for curriculum. On a yearly basis a project meeting occurs to discuss developments for the start of next academic year with the IS team. These are then prioritised at this meeting. The tutorial policy is reviewed to ensure that any developments do not conflict with the policy and the use of ILP's.


Alignment with the institutional context


DRIVERS: The driver for the College was PDP and employability and PDP to enhance all students with self belief, celebrate achievement and prepare and encourage reflection and reflective practice - this led to involvement in the ISLE project 2005. Improved retention and progression on pilot courses then acted as a driver. Paper based Individual Learning Plans and a system of tutorial support for these was in place and e-ILPs within the e-portfolio were a natural replacement to support the process and make efficiency gains.


TECHNOLOGIES: Use of an Open Source e-portfolio and Blackboard's e-portfolio as part of phase 1 of the ISLE project in 2005 led to the decison to develop a bespoke tool using the Open Source blogging tool WordPress. This has allowed for development of the college e-portfolio tool to meet the needs of FE learners and staff and is currently being used by 3 other FE colleges in Scotland. The Open Source tool has been integrated with the Open Source Moodle VLE and the college's student administration system, is IMS compliant and also allows continued use within the free WordPress software. As mentioned other colleges have taken the developed system and have integrated it with their VLE's and student administration systems, if different. Script and software developments have been made available through Google.


Developing expertise and communicating with stakeholders


Professional development for staff

  • Through developing an expert central team: e-learning co-ordinator and lead practitioner have been involved in leading and suppporting developments and sharing their practice with others through conference attendance and involvement with JISC
  • Through staff use:
  • Through support for developing practice: The e-Learning co-ordinator and lead practitioner have the expertise to support practice from their knowledge of this within and outside the college. Specific training with individual staff members of programme area cohorts is provided. A generalised initial lesson plan is provided for staff. A staff development online course is also provided
  • Through sharing practice: Example e-portfolios from within the college are provided through the VLE for both staff and students


Training was provided for support staff which allowed them to support students outside normal class time. Central technical support provided, Course support through thoughtfully designed learning activites and tutors. Example e-portfolios provided. Class groups are trained on request by the e-Learning co-ordinator and lead practitioner (the tutor is present so that this acts as staff training as well). A staff development course on the VLE is available with video commentary for staff training and review. 



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