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Teacher Education staff at UC employ Mahara as their professional portfolio tool


Late last week I met with four unit conveners from the Teacher Education teaching team, Dr Iain Hay, Dr Misty Kirby, Anita Collins, Dr Steve Shann. Together with Misty Adoniou, Tiina Roppola, and others in Teacher Education they have been integrating ePortfolios into the course wide teacher education curriculum this year. Wanting to deliver the best experience for students who will be asked to use Mahara, and wanting find ways to solve some of their own issues around paper based approaches to the professional development and review process, they decided to use Mahara for their own professional portfolios. 

It was a very informal meeting, Iain, Steve, Anita and Misty individually presented what they had achieved in Mahara by themselves over the last week or so. Each had taken a different approach and created a different looking portfolio based on what they thought the PDR required, what their goals were (e.g. promotion), technical ability etc. This meeting was about coming together to share their experiences, plan a way forward, and access some technical and portfolio practice expertise. Fundamentally, all started with a clear purpose in mind for their portfolio (PDR), and all had so far used paper based evidence gathering and presentation methods for PDR, so the digital portfolio as a method and tool was new.

The rationale for wanting to take a digital portfolio approach in regard to the PDR process was very clearly stated by the group:

Mahara and Performance Development Review Project

Rationales

  1. Dynamic representation of our professional work (evidence is collected, curated and organised in real time, as opposed to preparing for PDR in the lead up)
  2. Aligning with PEAS (Performance Expectations for Academic Staff)
  3. Ongoing access by the audience of the portfolio (e.g. PDR panel members, mentors, discipline heads, etc)
  4. Improving sustainability in the PDR processes (minimising the amount of printing)
  5. Sharing of portfolios (gaining inspiration from professional peers)
  6. Enriching the discussion around scholarship (through shared portfolios)
  7. Engagement with own practice and that of others, and associated action, as a result of portfolio practice
  8. Future staff creating portfolio when they arrive (useful for their own professional communication and benefits outlined above)

Mahara

1.     Mechanics of promotion
2.     Mechanics of PDR
3.     Developing/sharing scholarship

Leadership in this project

1.     Redressing the balance between scholarship and output in our professional lives.
2.     Providing the thinking as to our professional needs as academic staff (what we want/need to do), and discovery of how Mahara can help meet these needs.

Other points of interest

During the meeting I described how Mahara can be just part of a larger collection of tools, in a hub kind of way, bringing together various cloud content together in Mahara. My experiences helping others like Felicia Zhang to setup a professional academic portfolio in Mahara showed that Mahara is not (and nor does it claim to be) a tool for all purposes, such as a bibliographic tool, research repository, or presentation tool, etc. For these things other services, like refworks, prezi, etc, are preferable. The great thing about Mahara is that the content from these tools can be brought into a Mahara portfolio.





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