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#ePortfolio Workshop at #MonashCollege: an introduction.


During October (19-21) I had the opportunity to do some work with Monash College, through Dr +Kulari Lokuge, introducing various teams to ePortfolio practice. The workshop ran over a 3 day period, and the major groups included the educational design team, teaching team leaders, HR, and teaching staff.

Dr Lokuge (Associate Director eLearning at Monash College) and I met through the ePortfolios Australia community gatherings and forums over the last few years. The successful implementation work at University of Canberra had attracted Kularis' attention and, with a view to implementing ePortfolio practice at the college, wanted to introduce various major stakeholder groups to the world of ePortfolios. With some good organisation and thanks to Kulari's leadership at the college we managed to deliver a solid and well attended program.

Design of the Workshop

Introducing people to ePortfolios and the related technology for the first time is a huge challenge, because both the pedagogies, concepts and the technologies are new and each depend on the other. There are some transferable skills and knowledge from social media, cloud storage, blogging and such, and these should all be relied upon to help describe ePortfolio practice. Getting the concepts across requires a mix of demonstration, discussion, and participation. Departing this time from the now common design thinking workshop approach I decided to use guiding questions mixed with other strategies like group work, think/pair/share, demonstration, and presentation. Asking the right questions and grounding these in existing knowledge would be key to supporting people to develop their own meaning of ePortfolio practice. The questions I designed are below, associated with each stakeholder group. As said above, I used as a basis concepts that I thought the audience would already have a good handle on. this was to help build an understanding by helping people make connections, avoiding the situations where new terms or ideas are isolated and lack meaning (connections make meaning, I was once told, like it's common sense ... which I've always lacked). So I decided to hang the hat on a few known hooks such as:

  • Monash Colleges' educational strategies (if it doesn't connect to these why do it?)
  • shoe-boxing (keeping certificates, letters, etc, for just in case situations)
  • existing pedagogical strategies such as active and authentic learning
  • communication, promotion, and making records
  • evidencing learning (how do students show what they have learned? How might they?)
  • keeping a diary (building up to critical reflection using frameworks)
The workshop relied on theory such as social construction of knowledge and Vygotskys' Zone of Prox Dev.  This was achieved through think/pair/share, group task activities, and making thinking transparent to the whole group using whiteboards. Scaffolding the group tasks was achieved through using the KWL model (Thanks for the introduction to KWL +Misty K!). This enabled the groups to respond to the questions in stages, what they knew, what they wanted to know, and what they had learned from the presentations, demos, and discussions. 

Educational Designers






The educational design team were very enthusiastic, keen to see what ePortfolio practice was all about (for those new to the practice) and how they could incorporate it into their work with teaching staff. This group had two sessions, one using small group work and the other (bottom picture with long table) using think/pair/share held on different days. The sessions were very fruitful, as evidenced by the work of one of the breakout group's shown in the photo of the whiteboard.

Questions for ed designers (each question had a KWL chart associated, as with all other questions).
  • What are the core aspects of your eLearning Strategy and what methods and practices do you currently use in achieving your eLearning strategy?
  • From your perspective as an eLearning Designer, what does “ePortfolio practice” mean to you? What does evidence mean in relation to learning? Give examples of learning in the college and what you would consider ideal ways to show evidence of that learning.

Teaching Staff




Students in the college go through programs lasting only a few weeks, so adapting portfolio thinking, which is suited to long term use, didn't seem to fit for process oriented portfolio thinking, and staff already had tools for process oriented pedagogy. However we collectively determined portfolio thinking may suit product oriented approaches, where students would be able to show achievement through the pathways programs when they apply to the university. The #smartevidence module of Mahara, new as part of 16.10, was also of interest to track student achievement of various standards and frameworks.

Questions for teachers
  • What currently constitutes evidence of student learning for you as a teacher? What are the strengths of this evidence, what are the limitations?
  • What other skills, knowledge and experiences, particularly gained from authentic learning experiences, would you like to see captured by students both within and beyond your units/courses?
  • Describe the kinds of evidence you would ideally need to see in order to effectively evidence students situated and authentic learning experiences, and the process of capturing, and methods of presenting this evidence.


Teaching Team Leaders

The group of team leaders related to the ideas of portfolios for promotion, PDR activity, a record of achievement that has a broader audience that an immediate team, and the ability to organise and draw together evidence quickly when needed.

Questions for TL's

  • From your perspective as a Team Leader, what does the term “Professional portfolio” mean to you and how would you describe your own ideal professional portfolio?
  • Besides yourself, who would be the potential and intended audiences of your professional portfolio and, detailing a range of digital formats and mediums, what skills/attributes and/or performances would these audiences want to see demonstrated in your professional portfolio?


HR

The HR session ran very differently to what I was expecting, and I had to adapt by throwing out what I had planned. Instead of using the advance organisers I demoed Mahara, discussed other forms of portfolio such as blogs, showed exemplar portfolios that had been used in PDR processes (Thanks again +Misty K!), held wide ranging conversations around portfolios and employers, and also demonstrated #smartevidence, which garnered a lot of interest from everyone. By the end of the session the the group seemed very confident that ePortfolio practice was part of the future for professional development, as well being a valuable pedagogy.

Questions for HR
  • What do the terms “ePortfolio” and “Professional Portfolio” mean to you? Are they different? How?
  • Who are the potential and intended audiences? What would each set of audiences want to see in a professional portfolio?


Innovative Spaces

I was struck by the innovative space designs and uses at the Monash College 271 Collins Street address, for both students and staff. The Lounge room with the mirror on the wall is a meeting room!

Thanks for a wonderful time everyone!!!!!!

See photos below.



















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