You will have to consider ongoing resourcing of any IT implementation, and e-portfolios are no different. You will need appropriate resourcing to ensure that there is:
- Sufficient learner access to computer equipment and the internet
- Adequate technical support to ensure a smooth deployment and continued maintenance of the system
- Ongoing storage of the e-portfolio – you should consider providing a plan for the storage and ongoing storage of this work and appropriate resourcing after the learner has finished studying at the institution
- Integration with institutional frameworks for authentication such as LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) to facilitate single sign
- Technical support for learners and staff as appropriate to their level of IT skills
Tutors will need to develop new skills to support e-portfolio implementation and so resources will also need to be made available for adequate levels of tutor development, together with recognition for development and the time involved. This includes time to attend staff development events and to prepare integrating the e-portfolio into the curriculum.
If protected time is made available for tutors, they are more likely to engage with and be enthusiastic about the e-portfolios (Stefani et al, 2007; ePISTLE Guidelines 3). Also tutors need time to think about how to implement the e-portfolio so that it does not become a glorified online CV and digital archive of assessments but planned so that it is fully integrated into the curriculum (ePISTLE final report).
Within the Blossom project there were different techniques employed to encourage staff commitment:
- Running workshops and summer schools
- Actively encouraging all members of staff to use the e-portfolio system to support the appraisal process
- E-learning retreat at a special location off campus where teams of staff can actually experiment with using the e-portfolio and support one another at a two day event
- Small amounts of funding to people who want to use the e-portfolio for areas away from the key areas identified within a project
- Gaining their interest in one aspect of the e-portfolio and then gradually introducing more functionality
- Supporting staff during the e-portfolio introduction to learners
- Seeing high quality examples of learners’ e-portfolios
- Using existing marketing, for example, committee meetings, internal website, team meetings
- Introducing to new staff at induction sessions.
Early adopters and enthusiasts will need to be encouraged to promote that practice and e-mentorship training is recommended (ePISTLE Guidelines 5). Recognition should be given to the different attitudes of staff and to the fact that staff members will develop at varying rates (Barrett 2004).
Projects such as ISLE, FILE-PASS and MANSLE indicate that it takes a significant amount of time for tutors to realise the potential of e-portfolios; for example in the FILE-PASS project the tutors did not realise for some time that the e-portfolio could store visual materials for tutors. Ironically the tutors had been complaining that the tool was too text-based.
As with any change it is useful to reflect on enablers and inhibitors.
Based on, and developed from, a Senior Management-approved ‘policy’ statement – a useful and often crucial reference point in managing development
- Senior management “buy in” and the direct support of a PVC as ‘champion’
- Leverage provided by external funding – lending credibility as well as financial support
- Inclusive and broad-based working and development group – including academic and ‘support’ staff
- Dedicated staff appointments to manage the development – central university level focus for co-ordination
- Parallel and significant curriculum developments – Foundation Degrees did much to re-energise and focus development; Progress File and more recently HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Report) proposals provided an overarching context.
Taken from Betts and Calabro (2005):
- Staff resistance to change, which is seen as a threat to traditional or established values and higher education (HE) culture
- Issues of professional identity for academic staff
- Staff concerns about ability to support new process-led teaching inputs such as Personal Development Planning (PDP) and work experience modules
- Organisational structures and culture which make implementation of corporate level approach difficult
- Difficulties of establishing local ownership of a policy driven initiative.
However a clear strategy coupled with a staff development plan will prove to be vital enablers in your implementation.
An institutional implementation should start small and gradually develop experience (Barrett 2004a). In the early stages, it is recommended that clear boundaries are set regarding a phased implementation; inevitably this will require some compromises to be made. If senior management are seen to be committed to the use of the e-portfolio process and invest in staff development then staff are more likely to become involved.
Module, course and institution implementation
The e-portfolio can be implemented at three levels: module, course or institution. Stefani et al (2007) outlines how these can be implemented – page 11 of the book has an excellent table.
We recommend that you consider a phased implementation of your e-portfolio system, perhaps with a few small pilots in the early stages. The pilots could be within a module or across a subject discipline and for success it is important that the e-portfolio is embedded into the curriculum rather being seen as an ‘add-on’.
This aspect could be a major concern to some tutors who view teaching and research within their subject discipline as their main focus and not education in the broader sense. e-Portfolios present a challenge to this group and you should not underestimate the time required for this change. In colleges and many universities, subject tutors also act as personal tutors and it is this group that will more readily embrace e-portfolio implementation.
A word of caution about terminology: a ‘pilot’ can ring alarm bells with early adopters as it suggests that the pilot may not continue and the institution may move to using a different product or technology.