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Showing posts from December, 2012

My e-Portfolio "Learning Moment" of 2012

My biggest take home in terms if what I have learned about e-Portfolios for 2012 would have to come from the Faculty of Education (as it was until a recent amalgamation), and relate to an outcome of e-Portfolio use that I was not at all expecting. The context 2012 is the first year that University of Canberra has seen a number of unit-conveners in the one course seriously using e-Portfolios, namely the Faculty of Education. This fact is critical to the story. e-Portfolios were one of many topics for a mid-year course (program) team meeting. The team was asked to consider the course wide adoption of e-Portfolios. Three of the ~10 unit conveners had been using them during Semester 1. The arguments put forward by myself and the three unit conveners covered many of the well known advantages. Those new to portfolio practice an Mahara noted disadvantages centered around having to learn the technologies. However the advantages far outweighed the disadvantages, and before long there was a

Designing Mahara training for 400 students

The software in this situation is Mahara , an e-Portfolio system and this post follows on from the post Making connections, growing e-Portfolios . Training is required for the unit convener (Cathy), ~14 tutors and ~400 students. Regarding Mahara' user interface, some staff and students have commented in the past on how powerful but, to a degree, unintuitive the system is. The complexity in this system largely stems from it's sophisticated e-Portfolio model and capabilities - the community is aware it could do more to hide the complexity. While some students seem to pick up the interface after little training, others continue to struggle. This makes training a challenging task, and for some students an ongoing one. After some discussion around the Cathy' curriculum and student needs we came up with a plan below. I should note that the plan below inherits aspects from collaborations with Occupational Therapy (Stephen Isbel, Alison Wicks) providing in-unit Mahara support t

Research project looking at e-Portfolios, assessment practice and ethics.

Project aim: “To compare ethical issues that exist in various disciplines, and associated procedures/guidelines, with documented perspectives from other contexts in order to better inform university practices” This pilot project, conducted by me as part of a Master of Higher Education, attempts to better understand the ethical issues involved in the teaching and learning process as they relate to the use of e-Portfolios in assessment. In this context students are asked to provide various kinds of evidence against numerous criteria given to them and are essentially being asked to provide artifacts by the university. We seek to understand the contexts in which this happens, and what issues if any the university should be aware of and/or be proactive in managing. Data were gathered from literature, looking at existing ethical frameworks, and focused interviews involving two volunteer academics from two different disciplines. Discussion ranged across topics such as context for use

"The clever country: can universities meet the challenges facing regional Australia?"

An ABC Future Forum hosted by Virginia Haussegger: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-12/the-clever-country-can-universities-meet-the-chall/4366368 An excellent forum, with the upshot being that government policy needs to support regional communities holistically, not just through higher education policy. And that the National Broadband Network is also a critical component of future success for regional growth.

Making connections - growing e-Portfolio communities

A critical aspect of my role managing Mahara and supporting e-Portfolios at the University of Canberra is making connections between people engaged or interested in e-Portfolio practice. Staff sharing experiences and practice is a key aspect of helping portfolio use grow. The stories below are an example of a common experience I have where I might have 2-3 academic staff want to use e-portfolios, unaware of each others shared interest. Connecting these people so they can share practices and experiences is crucial to helping good practice grow and avoiding bad practice. My experience can only help so much before disciplinary specific needs and issues are best tackled with someone in the field. From the Faculty of Art and Design I was approached by 3 academic staff over 12 months (it is interesting to note the timescale this has happened on), they are from the same faculty, and had individual interest/motivations for using e-Portfolios, i.e. the interest from this faculty was not at t

A somewhat divergent topic - music I listen to when marking

Not what I usually write about here, but when I'm marking or something else that requires deep thought like qualitative analysis of research results... I listen to music, in part to block out office noise. I found this guy at the start of this year: http://soundcloud.com/rogueuk and discovered dubstep. Dubstep won't be everyone's cup of tea, and there are lots of varieties - but I like RogueUK' interpretation of it.

2 things about marking assignments I struggle with

I'm currently marking assignments as part of the Assessment and Evaluation unit that I'm co-teaching with my colleague and unit convener Dr Coralie McCormack. This is not new for a lot of teachers of course, but assignments are not just a lot of work for the students... There are two aspects to marking that I still struggle with; 1) getting my head into the deep analytical type of mode that marking requires. I find marking somewhat analoguous to standing in front of a freezing blunge pool, I have to mentally prepare myself, and just jump in. 2) rubrics - argh rubrics. They are not easy to design in the first place, having to think of performance criteria and then what constitutes each level of performance. I find that even when you have a rubric and think it's all sorted - come marking time there are always some students (in my short experience) who offer up something that doesn't quite fit the definitions. This results in the highliting a bit of each level, and som