5 Things to think about when choosing an ePortfolio

I am often asked about resources for students specifically about what they can use for creating a place for reflection. I have been looking at ePortfolios for years. Not just as a space for reflection but also as a space for capturing the skills and experiences of time at University. It doesn’t matter what that is, whether you are 18 or 80, if you spend time to learn, then you will change. The main thing is that you change, and that you have spent time and money to reflect and experience new things. Although most students don’t think about it until they are in their final month of their final term. With this in mind, I have put together what I think are the five most important things to think about when choosing an ePortfolio

1. Transferability

Transferability

Imagine you have been diligently adding to your collection of work for the whole time you have been at university and when you leave you to find out that you also have to leave all of that work behind. Not good. Look for a tool that allows you to take your work with you, including comments from others who may have commented or added to your collections.

Photo by Disha Sheta from Pexels

2. Ease of use

Ease of use

It is all very well having an amazing tool that has all the bells and whistles, but if you have to be a computer scientist to use it, it is more or less useless. Also remember that it needs to be easy for the user, not for the institution. Easy to use means that you don’t have to think about it, it is intuitive.

Image via Pexels @Laylow

3. Privacy

Privacy

You have the right to privacy. One of the ways that we can learn is through reflection, and many of our thoughts can be private and be useful. Look for a tool that allows you that right.

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4. Compatibility

Compatibility

This means that you can add the tools you use already. If you spend a lot of time posting to social media, maybe there are some things there that you can use to add to your collection. Choose wisely and think about what you are doing on social media to see if you can add any of those posts to your ePortfolio.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
 

5. Delete-able

Delete-able

Don’t choose a tool that won’t allow you to delete content that you don’t want anymore. If your account can’t be deleted then the content will remain forever and sometimes, that is not appropriate for you. In some cases, because you have linked content from other platforms, they can be hard to unlink, make sure your tool makes this easy.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

There are obviously more than five considerations but if you are being encouraged to use an ePortfolio then these are five very important things to think about ūüôā

‘Non-traditional’ learning (for higher education)…portfolios and badges

The projects that I work on aren’t really projects in the technical sense. ¬†I like to think of them more as adventures into the unknown. ¬†They have a beginning and an end, but they don’t stick to specific milestones. ¬†Nothing is rigid and the work I am doing involves people, which means that anything can … Continue reading ‘Non-traditional’ learning (for higher education)…portfolios and badges

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Lost in Disruption #DMLLExpo

The Disruptive Media Learning Lab at Coventry University is one of those places that when you enter it you start saying “WOW”. ¬† I was there yesterday for their “Lost in Disruption Expo“, invited to give a keynote with Jacqui Speculand¬†(raising her hand above) who is their Principal Project Lead. I met Jacqui when she … Continue reading Lost in Disruption #DMLLExpo

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Lost in Disruption #DMLLExpo

IMG_4596The Disruptive Media Learning Lab at Coventry University is one of those places that when you enter it you start saying “WOW”. ¬† I was there yesterday for their “Lost in Disruption Expo“, invited to give a keynote with Jacqui Speculand¬†(raising her hand above) who is their Principal Project Lead. I met Jacqui when she came to Southampton University for our Open Badges in HE conference in March, although we had been in touch via Twitter we had never actually met before but our common interest in the use of Open Badges meant we had so much in common.

I have to say something about their Lab space. ¬†On the top floor of their Lanchester Library (another link, we have a Lanchester building at Southampton University) named after Sir Frederick Lanchester ¬†¬†an important engineer of his time and soon to be featured as part of a Heritage Funded project at Coventry University. ¬†This space is a complete conversion of the third floor of the library. ¬†As soon as you open the door you feel inspired to learn. It has that feeling of open space it is light and well laid out with jazzy spaces for sitting, I think they called it the “Google hill” a wooden tiered structure for sitting and holding talks. ¬†There are spaces for collaboration, sectioned off by huge whiteboards, tastefully designed and used by students all the time. ¬†I have created a little¬†video about the space here. ¬†It is the sort of space that you are probably best describing with images so I’ll let that video speak for itself. ¬†One of the takeaways I had from the space was that it was well designed, well used and because of the light and the layout it made you want to learn. ¬†It is so true that your environment has a huge impact on how you feel and your behaviour. ¬† Part of the space belongs to the DMLL team. ¬†That is also a revelation. ¬†The team consists of Subject Librarians, Teaching staff, Education Developers, technical innovators, I call them that, they are not their real titles but they are not Learning technologists, they don’t look after a VLE and get people to use it. ¬†They are much more than that, the team is like an innovation engine, all working together, to explore ideas and get it right. ¬†Jacqui mentioned that it was a safe space to fail, somewhere to try out a concept, tweak it and adjust it before it is no longer a project, where is can be rejected or adopted by the university. You so need that. ¬† In addition to all of these people they had student interns working with them, and some of them they took on to be members of staff.

The Expo itself was held in the space, ably Chaired by Helen Keegan. There are teaching rooms all round the edges of the space, some with glass walls and some as regular spaces but all have Apple TV, so the use of iPads to connect wirelessly is in place and has been for some time. ¬†Each of these rooms can be booked via the devices on the walls using Outlook as the booking system. ¬†No need to complicate it by using the regular university-wide booking system. ¬†We were talking in “The Grass” an intimate tiered space, covered in fake grass. ¬†It was a completely different experience to talk to 60 0r 70 people and being able to see all of them. ¬†People were not just sitting up, but they were relaxed and listening, genuinely listening,¬†it was much more engaging to talk and listen here, again, because of the environment. ¬†Yes, we could have a room with 70 people in it. ¬†It is not the same, even the grass had something to do with it!

The talks were excellent – I listened to Brian Lamb talking about how the VLE has been designed to put is into the silos that we are trying so hard to get out of. ¬†He also talked about “Splot“, a tool he has created to make it so much easier to write. ¬† He spoke of Sandstorm, a collection of open access apps that are a toolbox of web-enabled tools for academia. ¬† Jim Groom (DS106) talked about how we need to be more aware of how our data is used, he talked about lots of things including “A domain of ones own” project at University of Mary Washington to encourage academics to write more about their work so that they raise their academic profiles but they own their presence, and it is syndicated to the university. ¬† ¬†MOOCs and their corporatisation. And he showed us the “back to the future” 80’s console room.¬†¬†I could go on and on. ¬†Both Brian and Jim gave inspiring talks , I even listened to the podcast by Jon Udell on the way home on the train.

There was so much to see and listen to I hope we can see it all again. ¬†I missed some sessions because I was preparing for my talk, but the tweets looked really interesting. ¬†They asked me what my takeaways were from the day and I said about the space because that just hit you as it was so different from the ‘usual’. ¬† ¬†But I also think that it is essential for progress and for the students to experience something like that. ¬†You need the space to explore and develop, and to meet the challenges of the new world of Higher Education. ¬†We can’t keep doing what we have always done. We will become irrelevant and students need to have the benefit of this in their own space before they face the real world. ¬† I hope that I can go there again and show others, and to work with the Innovation Engine that is the DMLL team.

The day captured in social media (Storify)

 

Residential reflections on TEL PhD Cohort 9 #Rocks

I’ve just got back from a week residential as part of my PhD with Lancaster University. ¬†I am part of Cohort 9 and although we have been discussing and talking together online since January, this was the first time that we met face to face. ¬†In the beginning we were all a little nervous, not sure what the week held, where we were going, but we would have a presentation on day 1 so we needed to get all of that behind us and get on with it. ¬†I was extremely excited about meeting everyone and to be learning new things over the week, I was also keen to meet some of the previous years cohort, including some who I already knew, which was also part of the residential.

Day one came and I immediately felt like I had known some of them forever. ¬†Such a lovely, funny and very clever bunch of people. I learnt so much from them all. ¬† The week was set up to include social and academic activities, so after the first day of orientation and presentations in the pm, each morning we had a lecture with a member of staff or previous students on the programme. ¬†We would then look at various academic skills necessary for the programme and we had feedback on our research proposals. ¬†After listening to the speakers I found myself questioning what they were saying and applying perspectives that I hadn’t really thought much about before. I guess in my world, I’m just getting on with everything, but I now realise I can change things. I have an opportunity now to put some meat on the bones of the ideas that I had half formed in my mind and really push forward with digital literacies practices and challenge existing practice and beliefs.

It was only when I was on the train home and looking at the literature that I needed for my research project that I realised how much I had learned.  When I read one of the papers again, it made so much more sense and I think it was because of the jargon. Every community has their own jargon, whether you are in an institution or not, organisations, disciplines, etc all have a language that you use, that becomes familiar and it is not a barrier to learning.  After the residential, reading a paper I was looking for certain things, structure, chains of evidence, theoretical frameworks, all of these things I had read about before but not really deep enough to sink in.  But yesterday, on the train home, they did.   I have been inspired to explore and challenge, and I am excited to be on this journey with everyone (<Рthat was soppy, sorry).

As a student, I think Digital literacies skills are now more important for ever. ¬†Notably, I practice what I preach and this morning I have already been adding and responding to our Deep Space 9 (Cohort 9, see what we did there?) Group on Facebook, chatted via What’s App to Margaret (fellow member of Cohort 9) and now writing this post, whilst¬†doing a Mooc with Udemy on Leadership. ¬†I’ve¬†created a list via my Momentum chrome extension and am preparing further¬†blog posts and a Keynote for next week, all of this will be recorded in my portfolio.

So, onwards and upwards. ¬†Cohort 9, you are awesome and we’ve only just begun (cue The Carpenters¬†here).

Everybody wants some (digital literacies skills)

Digital literacies (Fiona talking about them)
Hmm…digital literacies anyone?

We had a fantastic conference on March 8th, ‘Open Badges in HE’ (I wanted to call it BadgeCon but there you are) at the University of Southampton. Over 150 people attended in person, and 100 online, from around the world. ¬†We were very fortunate to have both the UK and US perspectives on education using Open Badges with our keynotes, Doug Belshaw and Carla Casilli. ¬†Both highly respected in the badge and education world, so it was a real honour to have them talk to us about the application and implementation of open badges in higher education. ¬†We have captured a lot of what went on during the day via Storify and the iChamps are blogging about it. ¬†It’s always after the event that the real conversations get started and I have already been talking to a range of people across the university and beyond, interested in how they might implement badges into their own practice. ¬†It got me thinking about how everything that I am involved in revolves around digital literacies skills and competences.

In the last few months since I wrote my last blog post I have been here there and everywhere, but the underlying theme of the work I do, the research I undertake and the conferences I speak at, have always been digital literacies. ¬†The importance of being able to work, live and learn effectively cannot be understated and I always bring it back to that one area. ¬†Don’t ask people to run before they can walk. ¬†If you are interested in implementing new curriculum support your staff and your students (or your customers and employees) to inform themselves of the concepts of digital literacies. Why is this important? ¬†Don’t just assume they can or they know how to use hashtags, or that they will grasp concepts if they are not engaged in the global world. ¬†I’m trying nor to use the phrase 21st Century skills (its 2016 folks) we have entered that space.

So, before you think about implementing a new concept or idea think digital literacies. ¬†What are they? ¬†Many before and after me will write reams about what they mean but essentially it is about communicating, creating, collaborating and critical thinking, with a bit of citizenship thrown in (lots of C’s). ¬†Being digital literate isn’t a state that you will arrive at and tick a box saying ‘complete’. ¬†It is something that is forever moving forward and is part of the life long learning set of skills, bring on the key phrases around agility and flexibility, being rigid and inflexible isn’t going to be an enabler to becoming effective ¬†and efficient in a global world.

 

New Year, New PhD

celebration-1551593-639x918.jpgHappy New Year. ¬†I start the New Year by starting my PhD with Lancaster University on e-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning after it being introduced to me by Sheila McNeill, fellow ALT trustee and all round techy superstar. ¬†¬† It’s a totally online programme with residential’s in the first and second years. ¬†I am really looking forward to it, I am pleased to see that they use ePortfolios as a reflective tool and I am using tools I haven’t played around with before like Moodle and Mahara.

I’m feeling a little nervous about the huge undertaking that I have embarked on but I am really excited as I am sure I will be able to explore in depth somethings that I have been interested in for a while, like Open Badges, digital literacies and eportfolios (for assessment). ¬† ¬†I am also looking forward to finding out who the others are on the programme as some of them have put up details in their profiles and they are a varied bunch.

There are a¬†couple of the papers as pre-reading and it was interesting to read about perceptions of what a PhD is. ¬†For most of the interactions I have had with PhD students, their PhD’s have been about learning how to research for the sake of those skills. ¬†They will then go on and do something completely different or they will become Faculty members. ¬†In “Learning to Become Researching Professionals: The Case of the Doctorate of Education” by Alexis Taylor from Brunel University she talks about PhD’s as a tool for ‘researchers to become professional’ and then Professional Doctorate for ‘researching professionals’. ¬†I like that, I can see exactly where she is coming from, but had never thought about¬†this difference. ¬†The other paper is a rather longer paper (32 pages) is a much more personal account¬†from Justine Mercer “The Challenges of Insider Research in Educational Institutions: Wielding a double-edged sword and resolving delicate dilemmas” who writes about her perspective of two different areas of investigation into researchers where she works. ¬†I’m halfway through, but I can relate to her views and have some questions about bias.

This is also a good opportunity to try out apps that I have read about and played with so I am using Liquid Text to read the PDFs on my iPad.  So far so good, I really like how I can link the notes and highlights together.

Raring to go and very excited about what I will bring into my work with this, so the ‘real thing’ starts Monday, working full time and doing this PhD will be fun (yikes) but I know it has to happen.