Thursday, April 22, 2004

UBC E-Portfolio Update at Lifia

I enjoyed the presentation on UBC's portfolio initiative (PDF) at the Lifia conference. It also led me to this excellent list e-portfolio resources covering much of what they're doing.

It sounded like their pilot project to introduce blog-based (Movable Type, I think) portfolios in several courses has been mostly successful. It made sense that they had to completely revise instructional design of the courses to accommodate the portfolio focus. A few key points that I found interesting:
  • Instructors reported that the most challenging part of the experience was to teach students how to reflect. Students just weren't used to reflecting in any meaningful way about their coursework.
  • 70% of new students at UBC in these courses were classified as ESL (English as a Second Language). Assuming that they were expected to update their portfolios in English, that could be a significant challenge for most...and an opportunity for them to practice their emerging language skills.
  • Some frustration about technology integration when students were in WebCT for the course and had to go elsewhere for their portfolio. But heaven forbid they lock the portfolios away in WebCT -- that would be the worst-case scenario. I'd rather see them use Movable Type as their LMS.
  • Workload concerns from faculty, especially in assessment. Some of it was fear of the unfamiliar -- one faculty member who’s been doing it for years emphasized that it’s much less of a chore than traditional assessment because it’s so personal, and so applied.
  • Professional develpment was essential. Faculty had to learn how to assess reflection and new types of artifacts. They used a great panel-based approach in training, where group members would individually assess the same sample portfolio. Then they'd all compare notes and come to some kind of consensus for the marking rubric.
  • Student buy-in is adequate for sections that will assessed and marked, but not for self-directed components. If it's not for marks, they won't bother.

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