Friday, January 04, 2013

E-portfolios for Higher Degrees

For the final unit of my Certificate in Higher Education, I am looking at how university higher degree programs can be flexible enough to support both professional accreditation and research. I covered these issues in general terms in a previous assignment: "On-line Professional Education For Australian Research-Intensive Universities in the Asian Century", but now I am considering how to implement this. One approach is to have the students fill in an e-portfolio with evidence of their skills, alongside courses and research.
The e-portfolio could be used to ensure the students cover all the required graduate attributes, as well as the requirements for any professional accreditation. This could also address the issue of credit for prior study, professional skills and quality of written academic communication.

My experience as a student who has had to fill out such portfolios, suggests that simply saying to the student "fill out an e-portfolio using some tool or other" is not sufficient. The student needs more detail as to what is required in the e-portfolio, what formats are acceptable and provided with help filling it out. Also the e-portfolio should not be seen as an additional optional task, outside the regular educational program, but as an integral part of it. In particular, the e-portfolio has to count towards final results, has to replace some of the other work in the course and there have to be staff who are trained in how to prepare an e-portfolio to help.

Some examples of e-portfolio use are the Certified Member Association for Learning Technology Program and the Professional Practice Subject of the Australian Computer Society (ACS) Certified Professional Program. The ACS also has a separate Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Application process (1 July 2012).

It needs to be kept in mind that e-portfolios have to be assessed. This will required assessors who are qualified in the specifics of e-portfolios, as well as educational assessment and the discipline area. One tool which shows promise for this "Outcomes for Moodle 2". This is a new function being introduced to allow assessment beyond small specific course units. An example is the "British Higher National Diplomas". This could be useful in overcoming the tedium of paperwork otherwise involved with such assessment.

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