Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Ocotillo discussion

Posted today to Ocotillo Action Group Discussions Forum -> ePortfolio Virtual Guest Discussions:
I am so sorry that I will be on an airplane for the next 24 hours (to Australia), and I'm not sure what kind of Internet connection I will have when I get there, because I want to be able to participate in this discussion. Like David, I was in Vancouver earlier this month, and I am fascinated by the student perspective on their experiences with electronic portfolios. I agree with David's assessment that the current push toward using e-portfolios in the U.S. has elements of the "bandwagon" effect. In my work with Teacher Education programs across the U.S., the demands of accountability and accreditation have created a commercial environment that is, in my opinion, changing the nature of the portfolio, with less emphasis on intrinsic motivation to support learning and more extrinsic motivation as an accountability tool. At the Montreal ePortfolio Canada meeting, one of the representatives from the Minnesota ePortfolio project used the term, "poisoning the well" where learners are getting the wrong impression about portfolios from their only experience with one of the commercial assessment management systems. My colleague Joanne Carney found in her research that there were multiple dilemmas in electronic portfolio development, and the first was the "multiple purpose dilemma." But I digress...

The discussion so far has focused on how to engage learners in reflective activities that help them integrate their learning across courses and disciplines. I am anxious to hear more about David's research. A portfolio has a potential to support that reflective process, but learners need guidance from many faculty experienced in that type of learning...and who can model their own portfolios and folio thinking with their students. From my experience, few faculty have portfolios (other than tenure and promotion "files") and fewer still have electronic portfolios. I believe that before we can ask students to effectively use portfolios to support this type of learning, we need to get faculty engaged. That is what is so exciting about this conversation! For many of us, we didn't have these experiences in our own schooling; as with the integration of technology into teaching and learning, we have to learn as we go.

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