Thursday, August 14, 2008

E-portfolios for professional education in Australia

ACT CIT hosted an excellent free session this morning on e-Portfolios, as part of the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. The most important news is open source e-portfolio software "Mahara", from New Zealand, which interfaces to Moodle.
Thursday 14 August, 10.30am - 12.30pm - E-portfolios with guest presenter Allison Miller (E-portfolios business activity manager) hosted by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework.
To register > email Kerry Manikis before cob Monday 11 August
Further information > E-portfolios Network, RPL Online Network (RON), Leonard Low's E-portfolios slideshow and Mahara (open source e-portfolio tool)

From: Australian Flexible Learning Framework ACT, 2008
Before the session, I was sceptical as to if there were going to be standards and software for e-Portfolios and if vocational trainers and universities would cooperate to use compatible systems. I came away from the morning with most of my questions answered and ready to recommend the implementation of e-portfolios to my colleagues.

Electronic portfolios (e-portfolio or digital portfolios) are an electronic collection of samples of evidence of a person's experience and learning. They may be web based. There has been interest in E-portfolios from universities and the vocational education sector as a way to provide non-paper evidence of what students have done. This goes beyond the usual cryptic academic transcript. But the main interest from government is to have educational qualifications in a digital form which can be electronically verified.

There are business and technical overviews, software and standards available from the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. Also there is an e-Portfolio blog, with updates.

E-Portfolios are likely to come in different favours depending on the educational sector and discipline. The vocational (TAFE) sector and fine arts people at university are likely to use e-portfolios as a way for the student to show their work. Science disciplines at universities are more likely to see it as a way to provide an index to official transcripts and lists of publications.

The ACS already has a system it uses for recording qualifications and experience of its own members. With some open source software being available, it should not be too hard to offer an ePortfolio for each of the 13,000 members.

In its simplest form the ePortfolio could be an extra report generated from an existing database of membership information. The e-Portfolio could be presented on screen as a web page, in a printable format and electronic export formats. The printed and exported ePortfolio versions could have a web address in them which could be used to validate the information.

Technically the ePortfolio is not difficult to implement. What will be harder are the procedures and legal implications from providing the information.

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