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A reflection on factors important for successful portfolio practice and system implementation/adoption.

From my experience managing the roll-out of Mahara - and intimately related concepts of portfolio thinking - here at UC, I believe the following conditions need to exist to have a good probability of success.
a) decision makers need to have confidence that portfolio thinking has enormous value,
b) management commit to long term life of the pilot. A good strategy is to grow funding as needs grow. To get the most out of portfolios they need to be used over a long period of time. A half year or even one year pilot will NOT reveal the value and advantages of portfolio practice. They are suited to supporting the today's realities of life long learning. Their role in developing reflective practice can only be exploited over long periods of time, and at the very least (from a student perspective) the term of a course and that period of time they spend moving into the workplace (so they can showcase their achievements). Therefore even a pilot must deliver guaranteed access to a platform for at least the life of a course for any given cohort. Ideally in this case (in the context of student use), every unit in the course would include an element of portfolio practice and leverage the work put into the growing portfolio. 
c) Importantly it should be possible for people to export and take their portfolios with them if transition to production is not a realized or alumni are not included in the provisioning arrangements.
d) the team promoting portfolio system/approaches need to have at least one person who understands portfolio thinking and practices, pedagogy, and have evidence to support effectiveness of the approach,
e) the team must make sure they have people who understand the technology as well, work with the developer community/company to affect change in response to user requirements,
f) in the early days engagement may be limited and aimed at the discipline level working with individuals at first, in my experience these people all became champions of portfolio approaches in their local communities. Moving up to course teams and eventually faculty wide approaches to portfolio practices as word of there positive impacts spreads.


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