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Telling Stories

Ways of Working with ePortfolios
Shane Sutherland
Zu finden in: Social Skills durch Social Software, 2006   
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ePortfolios come in many different sizes, shapes and colours to reflect their purpose. In turn, the purpose of an eportfolio defines what teachers and learners feel about it and the process it embodies, or supports. This presentation discusses some of the ways in which diverse groups of learners are telling their stories through their eportfolios: stories about assessment, achievement, progression and about themselves. At present there are many government initiatives driving eportfolio use in the UK including the influential eStrategy from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) which promises to: “encourage every institution to offer a personal online learning space to store coursework, course resources, results, and achievements… these facilities will become an electronic portfolio…” (DfES, Harnessing Technology 2005 p.10). The proposed deadline is 2008. Notwithstanding government and institutional strategy what this presentation argues is that eportfolios are personal tools for individual learners to celebrate learning and achievement. The presentation will begin with a conceptual overview of the PebblePad ePortfolio system. It will show that PebblePad is a system that is designed to be very flexible and allows users to be very creative. It allows users to record any of their learning experiences whether in school, the community, the workplace or through their hobbies and interests. It has been designed to be very easy to use and yet very powerful. It is a learner and learning centric system that does much more than record a list of competencies. Users have described it as ‘inspiring’, ‘addictive’ and ‘fun to use’. Perhaps uniquely they are ‘proud’ of the work they create and share in PebblePad. We are defined by our stories of knowing, doing, sharing and relating: we are our stories. ePortfolios, of the kind conceived here, allow learners to relate multiple stories to multiple audiences. Undoubtedly some of these stories will be structured, formal stories of knowing and understanding; designed for an audience responsible for evaluating the story against particular criteria. That an eportfolio system can serve the institutional need for authentic assessment whilst still allowing learners to create their own stories of growth; of volunteering; of learning through hobbies and pastimes; and of values, interests and passions, is a bonus rather than a compromise. Some of these stories will be shared to demonstrate how, given the right eportfolio environment, learners take ownership of their work. Where assets are shared for feedback there is a stronger likelihood that the learner will not only refer to the feedback but also reply to the feedback. So, eportfolios can, and do, promote dialogue between participants and can promote deeper learning. The key theme of this presentation is that eportfolios for personal and personalised learning are the kind that belong to the learner not the institution; they are populated by the learner not their examiner; they are primarily concerned with supporting learning not assessment; they are for life-long and life-wide learning not a single episode or a single course; they allow learners to present multiple stories of learning rather than being a simple aggregation of competencies; and, importantly, access to them is controlled by the learner who is able to invite feedback to support personal growth and understanding.
Von Shane Sutherland an der Veranstaltung Social Skills durch Social Software (2006) im Text Telling Stories

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