The I-portfolio


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A presentation given at the University of Lincoln (UK) Teaching Symposium on the potential value of e-portfolios in continuing professional development, and personal development planning

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  • Let’s start with a warning. I rather like this quotation from the “Urban dictionary” “Anything denoted by the prefix "i“ is usually “a product made by Apple Inc and always hyped and backed with a remarkable marketing campaign that enables it to sell millions even though it is rarely anything more than hugely overpriced electronic tat.” Well that’s a bit unfair. I’m rather fond of my iPod. But actually the “I” here means you and me. Really us, not what some marketing person thinks we are, because our portfolios are really the way we tell stories about each other. And this is why they are such powerful tools for PDP and CPD. They are our “personal libraries”.
  • There has been (in my view) a rather unfortunate tendency to associate portfolios with the things in the left hand column. This is understandable, because portfolios are very effective means of selling yourself to an employer, showing an assessor that you have understood a topic. But, it’s not the whole story. (Just as our job or our qualifications are not the whole story of our lives – unless we’re very unlucky!) I believe quite strongly that the portfolio is only really effective if it is ours. – that means WE decide what goes in it and no-one else. (I make an exception for those portfolios that are designed to assess students’ understanding of a topic – but I don’t think they’re “personal” portfolios. Their ultimate fate may be to become an artefact in a personal portfolio, but they’re not what I’m talking about here)
  • These are some examples of portfolios that have been created for a variety of purposes. Student example sets out the students aspirations and provides the opportunity to describe a specific research project that the student is engaged in, and shows off some of his own work, and personal interests. The Class Portfolio has been created by a teacher to showcase the students work, (open the first one) Note that he has also provided a link to a public view of his own portfolio The CV Portfolio has been done in Blackboard, and is not yet publicly available. However, I will log into BB to show it to you
  • Most widely accepted technology is based on familiar everyday concepts. E-mail is rather like sending a letter. You write it, and you click the send button. (Which is roughly equivalent to putting it in the post) Interrogating the Internet – Well, everyone, even my age, is familiar with the concept of looking something up in a dictionary or an encyclopaedia Even Word Processing. Most Word processors are conceptually Identical to a typewriter. You have a keyboard, and a sheet of “paper” (Even the activity I’m doing now, is not, conceptually, very different from writing on a Blackboard.) My point is that these kinds of technology are conceptually familiar to us. AND, and this is important – they are one off activities. You sit down to start them and (eventually) you finish.
  • We’ve already noted that portfolios have multiple purposes. My point in repeating it here is to stress their conceptual unfamiliarity. You don’t sit down and write a portfolio like you do a document. You have to do at least some planning in advance You know it will never be finished, yet paradoxically, it always is “All through history, the great brush has not rested, yet what eye ever saw this work and it was not finished?” (R. S. Thomas, The View from the Window) Now would be a good point to ask if anyone here has ever, or is now, using a Portfolio. If so, get them to talk about it. (Was it something they were required to do?) If they’re not, ask whether they think it might be an idea to start. (If they do, what would they see as the value to them) If they say no, ask them whether they blog, whether they use Flickr, Facebook, or any of the web 2.0 tools. They are effectively Portfolios. If they still say no, ask them where they get their info from when applying for a job.
  • Key think about e-portfolios is that they can contain many different types of artefact. By the far the largest type is likely to be documents – references, qualifications, But e-portfolios in particular can contain a much wider variety of artefacts. – sound files, photos, video clips, even software such as web sites. The other thing about an e-portfolio is
  • Just as a portfolio isn’t a single product the process of building one can be divided (broadly) into three stages – which can overlap. First you have to have something to put in it. 99% of the time, these will be things you are creating yourself, but bear in mind that 99% of these things will not be created for the portfolio but in order to fulfil some other function. It’s not necessarily a work of art itself There are a few exceptions though. All portfolios really need some information about you. If you are going to use it to apply for jobs, then it will need to provide some way for potential employers to contact you. Many portfolio tools offer the opportunity to include some form of “personal statement” in which you can expound on your philosophy, your aims in life, or whatever you choose. A second issue around acquisition is making a decision about what to include in it. There is a temptation to include everything and in some respects there’s no reason why you shouldn’t, although if you prefer to use a paper portfolio it might run to quite a large number of volumes quite quickly. Whatever you do choose to add, it’s always worth making a note of why you did so Which brings us to the second function: “Recording”. We’ve already noted that most artefacts in a portfolio are created for some other primary purpose. It’s always useful to add a note to each of them about why you decided to include them in the portfolio – This can be as simple as a descriptive tag (about which more later) but some tools allow you to add a reflective commentary on the artefact. If you take advantage of this, it can be very useful in the future when you’ve forgotten why something was important. The third function is presenting. This is really the point of a portfolio. You make choices about which bits of your portfolio to show to different readers. (Well, you wouldn’t go out wearing every item of clothing you possess would you. But you do choose some!) And that is why recording is such an important function – you do need to be able to see what you have and what is appropriate for this particular function
  • You might want to give some thought to your primary storage mechanism. (If you’re creating an assessment portfolio for students the conceptual unfamiliarity we talked about earlier becomes very relevant. – You really must consider whether they have access to the software, and can they use it.). Many people are quite pro –paper and it does have some advantages- which we’ll discuss in a minute. There are two principal paper media for portfolio building, the ring bound file, and the index card
  • There are undoubtedly some advantages to a paper portfolio. It is very flexible, easy to re-arrange, and you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the fact that it has a tangible existence. (It’s less easy to forget about than an e-portfolio, and it’s also much harder to destroy). Most people are quite happy with the medium too. There are undoubtedly some advantages to a paper portfolio. It is very flexible, easy to re-arrange, and you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the fact that it has a tangible existence. (It’s less easy to forget about than an e-portfolio, and it’s also much harder to destroy). Most people are quite happy with the medium too. E tools have the advantage of being “Searchable” – well usually – but there is a problem that they share with paper tools, which is that you have to decide how you want to search them. The simplest option is known as “tagging” – most e-portfolio tools will allow you to label any given asset. However some require you to place your artefacts in categories. The reason I mention this is that it’s important when deciding on a presentation. A simple example might be that you want to collect evidence of all the jobs you have done. Unless there is something that tells the software that a particular asset is a “job” you may not recall them all. (After all the string “job” may not appear anywhere in the artefact. The thing that tells the software what the artefact is is the tag, or the category label) The best e-portfolio tools will allow you to develop customisable print outs of aspects of your portfolio. (e.g. a CV, and they will all produce a portfolio that you can publish on the web while still remaining in control of who has access to it.) One potential drawback of e-portfolios is that they all require a little bit of thought about design
  • I’m showing you this to show you how the Portfolio concept can be expanded. Technically this is what is known as a “dashboard” rather than an e-portfolio – They’re becoming quite popular on the web (and of course they’re free) but they don’t have the same tools. But I do think they’re conceptually very similar to portfolios. This is my work dashboard for example. It contains a calendar, an email inbox, a to do list and a feed reader) (and in fact there are other tabs with other tools.) The point is that the to do list and the calendar keep records of what I am doing and have done. The challenge is to integrate these with an e-portfolio.
  • The I-portfolio

    1. 1. The i-Portfolio
    2. 2. So Why “I-portfolio”? <ul><li>Employability </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Lifelong learning </li></ul><ul><li>Professional development </li></ul><ul><li>Reflection </li></ul><ul><li>Personal interests </li></ul><ul><li>Campaigning </li></ul><ul><li>Friends and Family </li></ul><ul><li>My (your) story </li></ul>
    3. 3. Portfolio Examples <ul><li>Student Portfolio (Pebble Pad) </li></ul><ul><li>Class Portfolio (Mahara) </li></ul><ul><li>CV Portfolio (Blackboard) </li></ul>
    4. 4. Conceptual familiarity Email = Sending a letter Web Search = Using an encyclopaedia Word processing = Using a typewriter
    5. 5. Portfolios are different. <ul><li>Multiple purposes! </li></ul>applications hobbies Social Education
    6. 6. Portfolios are different Multiple content formats
    7. 7. Three functions Creation/acquisition Recording Presenting
    8. 8. Portfolio types <ul><li>Paper </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ring bound file (usually A4 size) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Index cards </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Electronic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pebble Pad </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mahara </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blackboard </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Custom built “dashboards” e.g. Netvibes, iGoogle </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Paper v Electronic Colourful Lightweight Durable Customisable Over - viewable Shareable Easy to add to Searchable Highly portable Electronic Paper
    10. 10. Pebble Pad <ul><li>Probably the market leader </li></ul><ul><li>Uses structured forms to help you create assets </li></ul><ul><li>Describes itself as a personal learning environment </li></ul><ul><li>Can be customised for institutional needs </li></ul><ul><li>Attractive outputs in paper and electronic forms </li></ul>
    11. 11. Mahara <ul><li>Open Source </li></ul><ul><li>Uses a set of templates to develop assets </li></ul><ul><li>Uses familiar basic technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Has a social networking function </li></ul><ul><li>No customisable print outs </li></ul><ul><li>Still under evaluation (need volunteers) </li></ul>
    12. 12. Blackboard <ul><li>Familiar environment </li></ul><ul><li>Compatible with other Blackboard tools </li></ul><ul><li>Rather limited functionality (relies on file attachments for many features) </li></ul><ul><li>No customisable print outs </li></ul><ul><li>Needs quite advanced design skills </li></ul><ul><li>Currently unavailable to students. </li></ul>
    13. 13. iGoogle
    14. 14. Doing it yourself <ul><li>E-portfolio tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> (Look for the “My Portfolios” link in any site – currently staff only) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dashboards </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>