Wednesday, October 06, 2010

bPortfolios at SPU

Seattle Pacific University has adopted as their students' "bPortfolio" system. Each student establishes their own account, and records their reflections in a blog entry. I attended a workshop yesterday that the faculty requested, to set up a account and see what the students are experiencing. Prior to a year ago, this university used one of the commercial ePortfolio tools. Since that time, although the transition has not always been smooth, they have provided good support materials, including video tutorials, and a good set of presentations on iTunesU on Reflective Learning with Electronic Portfolios recorded on March 23, 2010. I am especially impressed by the video on Metacognition: Reflective Thinking Strategies by Art Ellis, Director of the Center for Global Curriculum Studies, who discusses strategies for promoting student reflection on their learning process.

The students set up their site with Categories with represent the Standards that the students are required to demonstrate. All entries and a final meta-reflection are assigned a specific category. Students are also encouraged to assign their own tags to entries, and to include a Tag cloud in addition to the categories. The final entry is the meta-reflection or self-assessment of achieving the standard. Since the blog is organized in reverse chronological order, when selecting the category/standard, the meta-reflection is the first entry shown.

The question of accountability/assessment always comes up, and this institution is NCATE accredited. I have talked with the person at SPU who has set up an Excel spreadsheet template to share student portfolios with a designated assessor, who is paid separately to evaluate the student's self-evaluation.  I saw an example yesterday and basically it includes links to the students' bPortfolios, and space for an assessor to record evaluation of the students' self-assessment of their portfolio. The assessor opens the student's bPortfolio link in a their browser window, and records the evaluation in the Excel file. (I'll bet it could be done in a GoogleDocs spreadsheet, but I haven't tried to adapt it to an online format.) The rubrics are included in the spreadsheet document. The spreadsheet data from the separate assessors are then merged into a single spreadsheet and will be used for reporting and analysis.

Since I am teaching an online graduate course for SPU this quarter, I am able to see how this process works. All of the students had already set up their Wordpress accounts. My course requires them to write a weekly reflection in their bPortfolios on the weekly themes. So, I have an opportunity to see this process in action. There is lots of room for improvement, but as I said in an earlier blog entry last year,  "This Teacher Ed program has figured out how to balance the needs of the institution with the needs of their teacher candidates... who just might want to replicate the process with their own students... with tools that are free and available in schools."

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