ePortfolios with Helen Barrett


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Everyday I count my blessings, and appreciate how fortunate we are in our EdTech program at Boise State.  This week was no exception, as we had the wonderful opportunity to have international ePortfolio expert Helen Barrett spend a day with us, sharing her knowledge on “Balancing the Two Faces of Portfolios.” Helen started with a one-hour overview presentation and discussion with faculty in the College of Education, and then we moved into five hour brainstorm and planning session on how to leverage her key ideas to improve the use of ePortfolios in our Masters’ programs in EdTech.  Wow, what a fantastic way for our department faculty to close up our semester, reflect on what we had learned about our first semester offering our culminating portfolio class, and make updated plans and improvements for the spring.  It seems Helen had fun, too.

One key idea that Helen helped us understand was the use of a “workspace” portfolio where students collect and reflect on their work and learning as they move through the program.  Up until this year, our students had been saving their own artifacts, and creating a “showcase” portfolio in our culminating portfolio class.  The process worked, but was disjointed as students attempted to make meaning of their learning over the entire course of a program.  We discussed different venues for the “workspace” and decided to recommend WordPress for the following reasons:

  • Student owns account, and can take it with them once they leave the program
  • Student has choice to be public or private (invites to faculty/students)
  • Administrative backend data and analysis tools are motivating to users and encourage posting
  • Helps students build their digital brand & audience
  • Helps build a positive digital imprint
  • Users can tag entries with a class name and other sortable tags, categories can be used to associate entries with program standards, and pages can be created for the culminating “showcasing” process.
  • Can be embedded via RSS feeds and widgets into other tools, such as LinkedIn

Overall, we agreed on the following next steps:

  1. Establish a “workspace” portfolio at the beginning of the Master’s program for collecting key artifacts and reflections as students move through the program.  We currently recommend using WordPress for this purpose, but will give students the option of choosing their own blog tool.  We agreed to call the workspace a “learning log.”
  2. Minimum of one reflection per course, especially major assignments, or any assignment you might want to put in your  workspace portfolio (keep journal of your learning experiences as you go through the program):  see Helen’s wiki on “reflection for learning” reflective practice, see “recipes for reflection” page.
  3. Introduce the balance the two faces framework in the culminating Portfolio class, and explain that students are now moving from a “workspace” portfolio (learning log) to a “showcase” portfolio.
  4. Educate our adjuncts ; create tutorials (Barbara will create showing tags, categories, pages, etc.).
  5. Announce learning log to all Master’s students at the beginning of the semester, refer to video tutorials, and integrate detailed introduction into EDTECH 501.

Thanks to Helen and all my great colleagues in EDTECH for a good day of learning.  I’m really proud of our collaborative work to support high quality and powerful online graduate education.

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2 thoughts on “ePortfolios with Helen Barrett

  1. Barbara Schroeder December 12, 2009 / 8:01 AM

    Great post and summary, Lisa. Hey, you stole my idea! Actually, my next post will be “10 reasons to use a blog for your students’ portfolios.” After working with WordPress for years and realizing how “website-like” blogs now are, they offer many advantages over static websites. It was a great meeting, and thanks for inviting Helen and putting it on.

  2. chareensnelson December 12, 2009 / 10:00 AM

    Thanks Lisa for writing this summary of our portfolio session. I am more excited about the portfolio process now for our students and also my own reflection. The portfolio serves to make the various courses and experiences in our program more connected. I now have a new WordPress account and plans to explore its use as a tool for professional reflection. It really has many features that support our goals.

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