Monday, December 28, 2009

Motivation and Selecting an ePortfolio System

I have pre-ordered Dan Pink's new book, Drive, which is all about motivation in business, but the more I read, from his newsletter and website, the more I can see application in education. Pink quotes Internet guru and author Clay Shirky (www.shirky.com):
...the most successful websites and electronic forums have a certain Type I approach [to motivation] in their DNA. They're designed-often explicitly--to tap into intrinsic motivation. You can do the same with your online presences if you listen to Shirky and:
• Create an environment that makes people feel good about participating.
• Give users autonomy.
• Keep the system as open as possible.
These criteria came to mind as I recall the following e-mail message I received a week ago:
My school district has been using a ePortfolio system for over three years now with limited success, and is currently researching ePortfolio alternatives.  While I have found numerous platforms that are currently on the market, I have not found any recent articles which compare and contrast these options.  We are particularly focused on adopting a system that will easily allow us to aggregate/export data surrounding student achievement of specific learning goals, primarily as they relate to gradation requirements, but also as a manner to track the consistency of learning and teaching which occurs across the school.

Is there a particular ePortfolio platform that you feel is especially adept at accomplishing these tasks, or an article that you might recommend?
I really wonder what he means by "limited success" but here is part of my response: [after referencing my April 22 blog entry]:
So, you need to decide whether you want an electronic portfolio or an assessment management system. When you describe "a system that will easily allow us to aggregate/export data surrounding student achievement of specific learning goals, primarily as they relate to gradation requirements, but also as a manner to track the consistency of learning and teaching which occurs across the school" that sounds like an institution-centered assessment management system, not a student-centered ePortfolio.  For what purpose of assessment? Accountability or Improvement? (see my recent blog entry and the associated White Paper). There are a variety of recommendations in that blog entry.

In a recent presentation at the Assessment Conference in Indianapolis in October, I made the following point about "Opportunity Cost" (what you give up when you make a decision). You might also be interested in an article on the Limitations of Portfolios.

I don't know what systems you have considered. Do you have a server where you could install Mahara (an open source portfolio tool created in New Zealand)? Did you look at Digication? My research is on students developing student-centered ePortfolios using a variety of free Web 2.0 tools (that they can continue to use after they graduate), primarily GoogleApps (Docs, Sites) or WordPress/EduBlogs. These systems are not used to collect quantitative data about student learning. For that purpose, you could use a data management system that allows you to link to student-centered online portfolio artifacts.

I'm not sure this answers your questions, but the tools today are very primitive, and not well balanced between accountability and improvement. Also, most of the research has been done in higher education, not in K-12. If only we could just capture the engagement of Facebook into an ePortfolio system... but I do not advocate using social networks for ePortfolios... just incorporate those strategies into ePortfolio systems. The only one I know of that tries to include those social networking strategies in a hosted system is Epsilen.com.
So, in addition to the functional criteria for evaluating e-portfolio systems, what about some motivational principles for that are aligned with Shirky's three criteria, where students feel good about participating, giving them some autonomy, while keeping the system as open as possible? Can we also consider Dan Pink's motivating workplace environment that promotes autonomy, mastery, and purpose?

2 comments:

felice said...

I agree that Epsilen is worth looking at. I will be on a panel at AACU this Jan. discussing ePortfolio and am advocating Epsilen.

gabber said...

Dear all,

a substantial survey was conducted in Europe recently:

Briefly:

"In the opinion of the authors, there turn out to be three
groups in regard to the criteria of supporting portfolio
processes. PebblePad, Mahara and Taskstream represent a
top-quality trio with a high assessment; they show
weaknesses in only very few categories. These three
products have especially been developed as E-Portfolio
software and, according to our evaluation, they really
meet the requirements."

See full post & orginal research paper here >>
http://kev-brace.blogspot.com/2009/10/eportoflio-evaluation-survey.html