This month we gathered faculty ePortfolio Teaching Circle “alums” to discuss the successes and challenges of using ePortfolios in their courses.
As of the spring 2013 semester, 97 faculty members participated in the seminar and learned how to implement ePortfolio into their courses. Most have had successful experiences. Professor Jane Harsha said the process of building an ePortfolio increases student self-awareness and also “builds confidence [and] levels the playing field since it is a new tool to all freshman students.”
Faculty who taught online classes with ePortfolio expressing some difficulties, many relating to the absence of having an eTern lead an in-person demonstration. However, the ePortfolio team was able to offers some suggestions, including enlisting an eTern to be a TA in the Blackboard course shell to answer ePortfolio-related questions. Online students have also found the video tutorials to be helpful.
Some faculty said that students struggle with the Mahara interface. To help new users learn to navigate the platform more effectively, Professor Heather Bryant suggested that professors have students bring a flash drive with documents to post on ePortfolio for the workshop, in order to have a more hands-on experience. Professor Vicki deVries has “early adopters” help other students in the class. The participants seemed to agree that the students take to this type of learning better because it comes from their peers.
All faculty agreed on the potential for ePortfolio to help students in their job search. Diane Cypkin, a professor within the Media, Communications, and Visual Arts department at Pace, described ePortfolio as “a resume that sings and dances.” Paul Kurnit suggests that students bring an iPad to interviews and guide recruiters through their pages in order to bring the technology directly to the employer. Dr. Jane Collins pointed out that students should know the difference between a student ePortfolio and a career ePortfolio. In her English capstone course, she helps build pages that will promote their professional side.
Beth Gordon Klingner welcomes suggestions from Pace ePortfolio users. Our contributions in combination with the larger Mahara community could serve future versions adequately. For a direct link to Mahara users across the globe, join the MUG Facebook group.