E-Portfolio:  A New Learning Experience

This week I have been introduced to e-portfolio in EDUC4150 course, in this post I will reflect on this new learning experience. The post is divided into three parts, in the first part, I will discuss what are the most important things that I have learnt about e-portfolio in terms of its use in higher education, the cyclic process of developing an e-portfolio, and key points that educators should consider while utilizing e-portfolio in their subject matters. In the second section, I will state why I believe that integrating e-portfolio can benefit my teaching and enhance my students’ learning experiences. In the last part, I will discuss the value-added merit of creating my own personal e-portfolio and what artifact types that I  would like include to best represent my work accomplishments as a programmer and an educator.

What I learned about e-portfolio?

The tool is an unusual learning and assessment technique that allows learners to show case their digital identity, academic achievements, and knowledge and skills outside their classrooms (Meyer, 2016, November 16 ). It has gained momentum in higher education as a mean to enhance learners’ 21st century skills and to promote metacognition and deeper learning (Stanford University, n.d.) .Some institutes  have learning management systems with built-in e-portfolio tools, in Waterloo university some of their e-portfolio examples  show that they have a built-in feature within Desire2learn LMS. But others such as Auburn University ePortfolio Project   had their learners use inexpensive or free platforms that can function as e-portfolios such as Mahara, Wix, Weebly, WordPress and Google Sites  (Meyer, 2016, November 16). The listed platforms are easy to use, they don’t require an advanced technical background. There are plenty of online tutorials that can be used to learn about creating e-portfolios. Here is a short video that shows how to use Mahara to create an e-portfolio.

How to create a Mahara e-portfolio: Jay Stewart, Published February 2011 

Examining the cyclic process of developing an e-portfolio. There are four steps, first, the learners should acquire new knowledge i.e. learning. Second, they are required to outline what they want to place in to their portfolios. Third, they insert the artifacts that best illustrates their work accomplishments, for instance in programming courses it can be their school projects. Last, they have to reflect and communicate a critique on their artifacts. The cycle continues with each new insertion with more experience of previous cycles (Roth, Bovey, Zea, Hediger, Keller & Berg, n.d.).

Image obtained from educhub.ch

Three key advices were given for educators that desire to adopt and implement e-portfolio tools. Firstly, the tool need to be meaningful and aligns with course outcomes. Secondly, the educator need to set an explicit goal for the portfolio for example “The content of e-portfolio will be reviewed by employers” or “students will develop success plans”. Last, educators should support learners throughout the process, that implies providing technical support so technology isn’t a barrier to learners as well as providing continuous feedback for learners’ work at multiple times of the course (Barrett, 2017.b). 


Why e-portfolio has a place in my teaching?

I believe that e-portfolio can support my learners, it could be of great value if used effectively for the following reasons. First, programming skills are gained as a result of a gradual accumulative learning process where learners acquire basic knowledge and apply it, and then learn more advanced concepts and revisit their old codes and apply that new knowledge and so on. I always describe it to my learners that it is just like reading and writing in English, it develops over time, and by practice and connecting previous knowledge to new one they enhance their skills. E-portfolio can help my learners to integrate disparate parts across the same course and in subsequent courses into a connected functional whole. Second, As programming learners are recording their growth and accomplishments over time in their e-portfolios, reflecting on their strengths and weakness, and developing their self-assessment abilities. They will become more self-reliant learners, planners, and assessors capable of judging their technical work more accurately and setting adequate plans for improvements. These are the main traits of a successful programmer. In addition, the tool can help learners to develop important employability skills such as critical thinking . These attributes are highly demanded by large computing organizations such as Oracle and iCloud (Scott, 2013, February 12). Third, many learners can’t relate  between projects and assignments they are implementing for their courses what they are going to do in realistic world. They feel that their future careers will be totally a different thing (Scott, 2013, February 12). The tool has a unique feature that it will make them realize that their study work isn’t just an assignment required to pass the course, it is a prospective for their future employment. That will certainly increase their potential to work harder in their assignments/ projects as they are aware that their work will be integral to a hiring process (Scott, 2013, February 13). Fourth, Programming is a complex field and require strong logical skills which can be frustrating to many learners. Thus, Motivation is crucial for learners’ success, as the learners re-visit their past work  i.e. artifacts they will track their achievements, how they started with small scale codes and now they are developing more complex systems or mobile app. The instrument serves as a self-tracking  tool and thus it can help to increase learners intrinsic motivation. Fifth, One significant reason behind the well known graduates’ employability problem is learners’ inability to articulate their skills and knowledge in their interviews though many of them are knowledgeable skilled candidates. I believe that e-portfolio can support learners to articulate their soft skills as well as developing a persuasive language to use when they are applying for a job (Barrett, 2017.a).


Why should I create my own e-portfolio?  What artifacts to include?

Like a student e-portfolio, an educator e-portfolio will give me the opportunity to introduce myself and will serve as a documentation of my work accomplishments and skills and thus it can be a valuable tool to better represent my competencies in the  job market. The tool provides educators an opportunity to commit to critical reflection. The e-portfolio-cycles will enable me pause and think about my practices, consciously analyze my decisions, show me what I have achieved, and inspire me for further improvement. Via these reflection practices, I can determine what is meaningful and why, shape my sense of identity, rethink of strengths and weakness of my instruction, and envision something greater for myself and my learners. E-portfolio can be used for learning purposes, as educators make individual teaching practices public, and thus they can be a venue for knowledge sharing. Here are two examples of  educators sharing material related to their instruction and work experience

In my e-portfolio, I will include a short introduction about myself, my resume, and references. For education, I will insert the study report of my graduation project, my valuable PIDP educational technology projects, My PIDP capstone project, the well-written journals, essays and research papers, and the special academic awards that I have received. For programming accomplishments, I will place links to independent projects that I had contributed in their developments for instance games, mobile apps, computer- generated artistic work, and business computer system. For instructional work, I will include my teaching philosophy, the list of courses I teach, lesson plans, some of my strong presentations and assignments that were developed for various courses.

References

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