Williams Council Proposal


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Williams Council Proposal

  1. 1. MAKING CONNECTIONS: EPORTFOLIOS FOR LEARNING AND ASSESSMENT Williams Council Instructional Proposal February 15, 2008 Submitted by: Members of the Eportfolio Working Group Ron Bramhall – Lundquist College of Business Lori Hager – Arts and Administration Eric Schiff – Arts and Administration Nancy Cheng – Architecture Kartz Ucci - Art Andre Chinn – Journalism and Communication Jonathan Richter – Center for Electronic Studying EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This proposal requests support to implement a multidisciplinary ePortfolio project across professional schools on campus, including AAA, SOJC, The Business School, and the Center for Advanced Technology in Education. Williams Council Funds would support connections with existing courses to employ ePortfolios as a teaching and learning tool, particularly for the purposes of capstone projects, group collaboration, and performance assessment. EPORTFOLIOS Universities and colleges employ ePortfolios for a variety of purposes, including supporting students in professional and career advancements (professional portfolios), for student-centered assessment and reflection (academic portfolios that represent a student’s “body of work,”) and for the purposes of institutional accreditation (provides a means to archive and represent student achievement across schools). RECENT EFFORTS AT UO Since the Fall 2005, with the support from an Education Technology grant, eportfolios have been employed in the Arts and Administration Program to connect the IT course series with the professional development course sequence. There is increased interest across campus in employing eportfolios for instructional purposes. For this reason, the ePortfolio project in AAD began to work with SOJC to adopt the open source software PLONE to the ePortfolio project in order to offer instructors the follow functionalities:  A private student academic archive for students to store academic materials (and which would be available to instructors across units and courses.)  A hybrid, public-private space that would allow instructors to coordinate intensive group collaborative projects. Serves as a digital archive for faculty to store course-related projects, and to access and demonstrate “best of” projects from all classes. Also functions as a “gallery space” where students can import “best work” from their private academic archive.  Fully public professional eportfolios that serve to represent students to their professional communities for career advancement. Materials can be seamlessly ported from other two areas to represent the “body of work” and capstone materials. INTENTION We propose to use Williams Fund to pilot the use of existing structures to increase the capacity of faculty to: 1. Utilize the course gallery space for group project collaboration and for archiving and demonstrating course work. 2. Support inter-departmental planning and collaboration for the use of ePortfolios across courses and Schools. 3. Pilot and evaluate issues attendant to a multi-functional digital community for the purposes of dissemination.
  2. 2. MAKING CONNECTIONS: EPORTFOLIOS FOR LEARNING AND ASSESSMENT Williams Council Instructional Proposal January 25, 2008 CHALLENGE i In a classic essay on the virtues of a Liberal Education , William Cronon asks the question, “What does it mean to be a liberally educated person?” His answer is not surprising to most educators – liberally educated people can speak and write clearly, persuasively and movingly; they can solve problems; they respect rigor in pursuit of truth; they practice humility, tolerance and self-criticism; they get things done in the world; they nurture and empower people around them; they never stop desiring to learn. In short, they connect. Connect ideas. Connect people. Connect with the world. They gain “the power and the wisdom, the generosity and the freedom to connect.” The question to us as educators is, “How do we encourage, or better yet, demand, that our students connect?” We do much in the name of a liberal arts education. We require courses. We set curricula. We promote activities. All designed to help students connect. And yet we still hear familiar refrains. “What does this course have to do with my future career?”, “Will this be on the exam?”, “What do I have to do to get a good grade?”. In our liberal education system, we often leave it to students to make connections. Certainly, some do a great job at this. And many faculty do a great job at this. But in many ways it’s a black box – we don’t know which students are making connections and what connections they are making. As reported by the ii Integrative Learning Project (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching ): “Fostering students' abilities to integrate learning--over time, across courses, and between academic, personal, and community life--is one of the most important goals and challenges of higher education. The undergraduate experience is often a fragmented landscape of general education, concentration, electives, co-curricular activities, and for many students "the real world" beyond campus. An emphasis on integrative learning can help undergraduates find ways to put the pieces together and develop habits of mind that will prepare them to make informed judgments in the conduct of personal, professional, and civic life.” In addition, we are under increased internal and external pressure to measure “learning”. How can we be sure students are learning what we want them to learn? How can we be sure our curriculum and programs are producing the effects we want? These challenges present an opportunity to take our liberal education to a deeper level. RESPONSE Over the past few years, faculty across campus have taken it upon themselves to meet these challenges. Faculty from Arts and Administration, Business, Education and Journalism & Communication are at various stages in developing eportfolio approaches and systems. An eportfolio is a digitized and purposeful collection of student work (“artifacts”) that tells the story of the student’s effort, progress and achievement over time. Eportfolios:  encourage deeper and more connected learning as students choose artifacts to include in the portfolio, reflect on those artifacts, receive feedback on those artifacts and see progress over time  reflect a richer assessment of progress toward college standards and student goals  reflect a richer picture of learning across disciplines as students are asked to make connections across the curriculum  allow for feedback on artifacts from multiple perspectives (faculty, peers, employers, etc.) i Cronon, William. “Only Connect…The Goals of a Liberal Education”. The American Scholar (August 1998) ii Integrative Learning Project: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
  3. 3. Making Connections: Eportfolios for Learning and Assessment – Williams Council Instructional Proposal  allow students to represent their transferable skills to potential employers by publishing select artifacts to select audiences iii The model below provides one visual model of a comprehensive eportfolio system. NEED We need to both expand and consolidate our efforts in eportfolios. We are at the point in which our individual, independent efforts are not enough to pursue our vision of a more connected student. In many ways, we are behind the curve in this type of application. Many prominent Universities have sophisticated iv eportfolio processes and systems. The American Association for Higher Education offers a list of 45 eportfolio programs in higher education, and this is a small representation of the work that is being done around the country. iii Hiebert, Jeremy. “Headspacej – Instructional Design and Technology Blog. < http://headspacej.blogspot.com/2006/02/e-portfolio- model.html> iv American Association for Higher Education. <http://ctl.du.edu/portfolioclearinghouse/search_portfolios.cfm>
  4. 4. Making Connections: Eportfolios for Learning and Assessment – Williams Council Instructional Proposal A more important reason for this need though is to contribute to the achievement of important goals set forth in our Missionv:  “a commitment to undergraduate education, with a goal of helping the individual learn to question critically, think logically, communicate clearly, act creatively, and live ethically  the establishment of a framework for lifelong learning that leads to productive careers and to the enduring joy of inquiry  the integration of teaching, research, and service as mutually enriching enterprises that together accomplish the university’s mission and support its spirit of community” IMPACTS A fully functional eportfolio system will move us in the direction of accomplishing many of the goals stated in this proposal. A well-designed eportfolio system and set of practices impacts multiple audiences:  For students: encourages deeper learning, more significant connections across learning experiences, and professional career development.  For faculty: encourages new approaches to teaching and evaluating learning.  For administrators: supports assessment goals Across the departments represented in this proposal, we have approximately 200 students actively working toward eportfolios. In addition, there are 600 students from architecture who are required to develop studio portfolio documents but have no place to put them. PROPOSAL Funding for a cross-departmental eportfolio project will be used in the following ways. These estimates will be fleshed out should the proposal be accepted: Release time and/or summer funds to develop processes and Faculty protocols for an effective eportfolio approach. This also includes $25,000 development time project management. Eportfolio system Programmer time will to develop and test the eportfolio system. $15,000 development Hardware A server to host the system. $5,000 TOTAL $45,000 CONCLUSION Tom and Carol Williams saidvi: "There are many factors and funding mechanisms that support the status quo in higher education. We have established something different. We want to support fresh thinking - thinking that will ignite new ideas and get beyond 'just business as usual.' We want to support those professors willing to search for better and more effective ways of learning." The Eportfolio group has shown the willingness to cross boundaries and collaborate to “ignite new ideas”. We need the support of the Williams Council Instructional grant to make the next leap. We appreciate your consideration of our proposal. v University of Oregon. Mission Statement. < http://www.uoregon.edu/~uopubs/bulletin/welcome_index.shtml#mission> vi Williams Fund Website. About the Williams Fund <http://www.williamsfund.uoregon.edu/about.html>