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Page history last edited by Gordon 6 years, 10 months ago


Context: e-portfolio use to support industrial placements for students (mainly international) on the MSc in Food Production Management,  MSc in Applied Biomolecular Technology (50 + students) and the Biosciences BSc (10 students).


Tag:  WBL, Placement, Employability, Assessment, Feedback, Information handling, Reflection, Presentation, Feedback, Assessment


e-portolio use: Pre-placement planning, careers information, feedback from university supervisors and employers, placement reporting and skills recognition. Some students are blogging and posting videos about their placements




An increase in numbers of MSc students in 2010 from 30 to 50 meant that a more efficient and effective means of supporting their 8 or 9  week industrial placement in the UK and abroad at the end of their 1st year was needed.



It is important that students are prepared and supported effectively so that they can the most out of these quite short placements. Judith was approached by the Kirsty Coolin within the CIePD as someone who might pilot Mahara.

The initial benefits of using the e-portfolio were primarily viewed as administrative – being able to keep track of students and their progress as well as the support process with external examiners. However, now time has been invested into recognising and extending the use of the e-portfolio, its use has mushroomed and it is being used to share weekly reports and give feedback on these, support student networking, collaborative work, storing dissertations as well as employability and professional learning. 



e-portfolio use


Judith Wayte who manages the  placements for undergraduates and post graduates  explains how she uses Mahara and provides a tour around the tool and some student pages. 



Use is to support the 2-month summer industrial placement for  the MSc in Food Production Management and MSc in Applied Biomolecular Technology (50 + students/year) as well as the BSc: year-long industrial placement (10 students/year).



Biosciences began by converting an existing paper-based activity which was a student weekly placement report into an e-portfolio activity and incorporating one or two features from the e-portfolio. These reports are stored in the student-controlled permissions area of Mahara and are shared  for feedback with the supervisor and the placement administrator – much of the responsibility for feedback is taken by the placement administrator. The initial implementation process involved transferring existing Word documents into a group area.









Students also use the social networking capability of Mahara by sending messages, using chat, and forming groups for collaborative course work. Students have uploaded a range of media, word documents, pdfs and YouTube videos.









Individual conversations with academics have helped to get colleagues engaged. Students are also producing and sharing their own informal help videos which have been effective in sharing knowledge and benefit also from having a ‘student slant’ on any issues they may be having. Can any be shared?


Lessons learnt

  • Students have enjoyed the ability to create an attractive page very quickly.
  • Student’s sharing their use has been beneficial in promoting and supporting effective use across the cohort, e.g., when a student enjoyed creating an attractive page, they created and then shared a video about the page and the process involved. Can we show this ?
  • Students appreciate the timeliness of the feedback they have whilst on placement, the feeling of being professional, that the placement companies were interested in and valued the openness in its use.
  • Staff were more likely to add feedback because all the reports are in place within Mahara
  • Individual conversations with academics have been useful in gaining their engagement.
  • Engaging both staff and students e-portfolio champions has been important.
  • Useful to share with external examiners.
  • The administrative role of placements co-ordinator has necessarily extended to include a tutor role, partly due to the use of Mahara, in that feedback /advice needs to be given to students in relation to work placement plans, supporting reflection, setting targets etc. This requires a good level of subject and pedagogic understanding and of the course requirements and the ability to judge when to involve an academic tutor.  

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