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Exemplar of use 11 - University of Nottingham

Page history last edited by kirstiec 10 years, 7 months ago Saved with comment
An overview of use


Professional Development,  University of Nottingham

e-Portfolio context: 
  Professional Development Portfolio within the Talent Management ASPIRE programme. A previous Talent Management programme was very successful for more senior staff, and this pilot aims to discover how it might work for staff in other roles.  Used by a cohort of 8 IT and Libraries administrative staff levels 1 to 3 (3 Library and 5 IT staff – some of whom are educated to degree level)

Dates of provision: Since September 2012 (1.5 year pilot programme)


Reason for implementation:  The ASPIRE programme is aimed at supporting staff retention, as well as developing skills and awareness amongst those who are already motivated to progress within the organisation. Previous similar programmes for more senior staff had used the University’s workspace pages for some communication, but this is limited in its functionality and it was thought that it might be useful to try out Mahara in this context.



Purpose/s: To support an institutional professional development process – provide a repository for materials, a forum for communication and a location for individual notes following reflection throughout 


Learning processes involved: PDP, Information handling, presentation, planning, reflection, feedback. 


Practice:  This is an 18 month ‘self-development’ programme with some face-to-face taught sessions, some shadowing/observation of different roles following needs identification, some short projects and a final report. Candidates also have monthly meetings with an allocated mentor (a more senior colleague from outside their immediate department) to support the development process.


  • Each candidate is expected to keep a personal journal within Mahara to support their personal development planning. 
  • A group blog is used as a repository for a calendar and session materials for all the candidates to access after the face-to-face group sessions.
  • A forum is set up in Mahara for group discussion but postings to date (5 months into the programme) have been those of the course organisers.
  • The course organiser keeps session planning documents, resources and reflections on these within Mahara.


Lesson learnt during the pilot: Mahara has not really been used for a communication forum. Most of the group continue to prefer email as the main method of communication when it is not possible to meet in person, and this is a small group.  Mentors (though invited) were reluctant to engage with yet another technology (as staff participants at a University there are already a proliferation of different systems used for work) Only one of the group of 8 reported using Mahara to share “journal” entries with a mentor prior to meetings.   The software has been used primarily as a single repository for the various materials used so far (power-point slides and hand-outs from presenters) and for individual notes.  The group found it difficult to get to grips with the way in which Mahara is organised.  Of particular note was the terminology about “publishing” which gave rise to uncertainty about what content would be visible to other users.  For this group usage of it will necessarily be a very small part of day to day activities, and (as noted above) it is in the context of many other systems encountered. 


Since this particular programme offers no formal qualification for staff to take away with them it may not necessarily lend itself to the building up of a “portfolio” in this way.  Staff may be accustomed to keeping a cv up to date, but there has probably been no culture of keeping a training record or similar.  However, it does seem that staff on this programme have been building up the habit of reflecting on the content on a more regular basis, and using Mahara to record this, which could be the first stage in a change in their own practice.


Key staff involved: Sue Storey, Ruth Dale


Although colleagues from within the University’s Professional Development Department have assisted with some of the generic skills sessions (time management, problem-solving, team working etc) much of the content has enlisted staff across the University in giving a flavour of the work they do and offering shadowing/observation sessions to the group.  Sue Storey and Ruth Dale are the organizing committee for the programme, and became involved due to a general interest in staff development, experience in managing staff eligible to take part in the programme and with some of the contacts necessary to make it work.  Neither of them had any experience in e-portfolio use in their main roles, which are both within library staff and resources management.



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