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Teaching and Learning

Strategies and Approaches: Implementing ePortfolios

The following key principles can guide decision making about implementation. To make the most effective use of an ePortfolio system, portfolios should be:

  • Embedded across the curriculum - using the ePortfolio across many units in a course, not just one or two, allows students to consolidate their learning, make connections across different units in the course and build their reflective and technical skills over time. A team approach is ideal for achieving the integration of the ePortfolio across the course.
  • Purposeful - students come to understand the purpose of the ePortfolio when explicit connections are made for them to learning outcomes, graduate attributes and/or professional competencies or industry standards.
  • Meaningful - make it clear to students why they are recording, reflecting and making connections in an ePortfolio, in terms of not only the course requirements, but also their ongoing learning, employability and continuing professional development. It is important that students see how ePortfolio benefits them.

Case Studies

The case studies below come from the evaluation of SCU's initial implementation of PebblePad across four courses in Session 1, 2013. They provide a valuable resource for understanding what helps make implementation of an ePortfolio work.

While common factors were evident in influencing the overall success of implementation, each course had its specific challenges and strategies. Each case shown below provides a unique snapshot of how design and implementation decisions were taken and what lessons were learned as a result.

Critical success factors in initial roll-out courses using PebblePad

Click on a link below to access the case study.

CourseApprox student Numbers *Critical success factors
Accreditation requirementsCourse mappingStaff engagementStaff championsTeaching Learning support
Bachelor of Media

800

**

Green tick

Green tick

Green tick

Green tick

Bachelor of Nursing

600

Green tick

Green tick

Green tick

Green tick

Green tick

Bachelor of Occupational Therapy

60

Green tick

Green tick

Green tick

Green tick

Green tick

Masters of Social Work

30

Green tick

Green tick

Green tick

Green tick

Green tick

* approximate numbers as at 13 June, 2013
** enhanced employment outcomes, rather than professional accreditation requirements

Common Issues in ePortfolio Implementation

IssueSuggested responses

ePortfolio not introduced early enough

Share examples of ePortfolios with students and communicate expectations for use of ePortfolios at the start of a course or unit.

ePortfolios are 'add-on' (not integrated into curricula)

Integrate ePortofolio use with assessment and, where applicable, delivery. It is useful to highlight ePortfolios in all units in the course, even in units that don't use them. Don't add them in a capstone for resume building alone.

Focus is on the 'product' not the 'process'

Focus on the challenging processes of reflecting and making sense of learning, not the final ePortfolio. Ensure good assessment design, focusing on how reflection supports understanding, This also builds student capacity to articulate their learning.

Insufficient time allowed for staff and students to learn how to use ePortfolio software

Make sure time is allowed for students and staff to master the tool. Support students by explaining the logic of ePortfolios, and how the tool is linked to assessment, learning and personal benefits. Start slowly with simple activities in class and build to more complex uses.

Students don't see the point

At first, students may not see the purpose of ePortfolio activities. They may confuse learning to use the technology with coursework learning. Once they see the purpose, many appreciate it. Reiterate the purpose frequently, design good assessments, give constructive and encouraging feedback, give model answers, and show examples.

Some staff are unenthusiastic

Engage staff who are enthusiastic and encourage mentoring relationships. Consider a course ePortfolio 'champion' to support other staff.