e-Portfolios and assessment strategies

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The latest edition of ‘innovate’ has just been released, and this edition focuses on online assessment and effective course design, the value of e-portfolios as dynamic records of academic and professional development, and the creative use of synchronous communication tools for online tutorials.

This issue is very timely, with the upcoming EiFEL e-portfolio conference happening in Wellington at the end of March where we’ll get an update on Mahara, an open source e-portfolio product that has been developed here in NZ with money from the eLearning Collaborative Development Fund (eCDF). (See details in a previous entry)

I enjoyed the article by Cara Lane titled The Power of “E”: Using e-Portfolios to Build Online Presentation Skills. Cara uses research from the University of Wisconsin on how students approach e-portfolios to illustrate how students understand e-portfolios in relation to social Web spaces, how e-portfolios allow students to increase their understanding of Web conventions, and how e-portfolios serve as a means of fostering multimedia literacy. The student-centred approach highlights different issues than those commonly discussed in the academic literature; instead of discussing reflection or standards for example, students emphasize design and audience.

I also liked Judith Boettcher’s article titled Ten Core Principles for Designing Effective Learning Environments: Insights from Brain Research and Pedagogical Theory in which she summarizes ten principles based on recent research integrated with traditional principles of pedagogy and instructional design. It’s always useful to read someone’s attempt to ‘organise’ the thinking that is emerging from a number of perspectives. For me this article provides a useful framework to inform some of the discussion around ‘formal’ vs. ‘informal’ learning, as what Judith is focusing on here relates to what she calls “structured learning experiences”.

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