'The use of e-portfolios as a tool for gathering substantive evidence of achievement for assessment purposes through reflective accounts provides a scalable pedagogically-effective means of delivering award-bearing Learning through Work modules if the process is effectively monitored managed and supported.'
Technology-enhanced learning to support a Welsh centre for workforce development (TEL-WFD)
Supporting the relationships between the learner, training institution(s), knowledge exchange, regulatory bodies, professional bodies and employers, an e-portfolio allows users to integrate learning evidence to showcase for CPD, career planning, and lifelong-learning.
e-portfolios enable an individual to focus on goal setting, career planning, achievements, self-directed monitoring and evaluation. These activities are pertinent to WBL and so to the learner/user; this relevance to purpose is important for buy-in from all parties.
Supported by scaffolding, for example frameworks relevant to their activities, users can tag and map evidence and reflection against learning objectives and CPD competency frameworks. They can then create showcases that are made available, under their control, to reviewers, assessors, verifiers and tutors.
The e-portfolio may be linked to assessment (see purposes – supporting assessment).
Within a work-based setting, e-portfolios:
- Support skills development in self-motivation and self-direction – key for up upskilling in workplace
- Promote self-direction and ownership in areas where traditionally the skills required in the sector have been ‘taught’. In a skills-based area, e-portfolios are ideal for those who are working above their formal qualification as they are more private than attending college (however, first use should be supported face to face and ongoing IT and pedagogic support should be made available). Reference – SummitSkills, University of Nottingham’s Leap Ahead pilot
- An e-portfolio’are an excellent way of helping learners marry their college/university studies with their work and career plans
- Enable learners to share with peers, educational tutors and work-based tutors; this is very useful, for example, for learners on placement or apprenticeship schemes
- When combined with mobile learning, can provide a very powerful approach to the capture of evaluation and evidence ‘in the moment’
The lack of IT skills in some sectors (eg building services engineering sector) has been identified by employers. Introducing e-portfolios can help address this by providing a system that is centred on the individual, supports self-directed learning in the workplace and can be used to celebrate learning and achievement.
Providing activities that develop these skills exponentially, enabling learners to develop their confidence, can target specific skills. Giving and receiving feedback from peers and tutors can add to confidence levels.
Benefits of utilising e-portfolios in work-based learning
- Accessed by learners/assessors/verifiers/tutors at anytime and anywhere; so accommodating differing work patterns
- Dynamic and flexible. For assessors/verifiers/tutors it is the most up to date version. For the individual it represents ‘this is me now’
- Learner is at the centre – their learning, their achievement, their reflection
- Allows for different pacing so taking into consideration an individual’s needs. The ePPSME project at The University of Wolverhampton showed that a whole course could be delivered by e-portfolio with scaffolding and support in order to develop the learner’s reflective practice around targeted learning content
- Learner can easily track progress which leads to increased motivation
- Less paperwork leads to cost savings
- Mobile technology increases accessibility and mobility which can be important in many workplace settings
- Viewed by some learners as less intimidating than large paper-based systems as can be easily broken down into more meaningful and manageable chunks – more information is available in the ePPSME case study
- Sharing with colleagues and peers can decrease sense of isolation
- An e-portfolio is an ideal vehicle for accredited prior experiential learning (APEL)
- Individual requirements of particular employers can be met – Thanet College provide an example of this in the e-Portfolios Implementation ToolKit
- Enables direct and personal feedback (learner-tutor and learner-peer)
- Tutors are able to pick up on problems/issues as they arise.
Potential issues to be aware of:
- Portability is an important requirement when considering an e-portfolio to support work-based learning. Individuals will need to be able to keep their e-portfolio when moving employer and perhaps, sector and professional body. Those systems that conform to LEAP2A or SCORM standards allow for downloading of a minimal data set that will upload into another system. An alternative approach, not adopted by many providers, is to provide a cost-effective hosting for individuals
- Data storage capacity needs to be considered as an individual can collect a large number of digital assets, some of which, eg videos, may be some MB in size. One solution may be to encourage individuals to use other services for the hosting of images and videos and then link, or signpost, from their e-portfolio
- Possible contention by employers that they need to view all aspects of their employees’ e-portfolios, not just those aspects shared with them under individual control. Some employers view this as their right as they pay a salary and perhaps for a course
This is against the widely held view that an e-portfolio is owned by the individual who decides who has access to what and when.
The University of Edinburgh
The principal of the University of Edinburgh provides about 50 PhD career development scholarships annually. The scheme is designed to provide the opportunity for postgraduate research students to undertake a package of training and development which will help them to develop the necessary skills required to meet their career choices and offer them a breadth of development opportunities in areas such as teaching, public engagement, entrepreneurship, and research, in addition to their PhD studies.
These are a diverse group of students, in different locations, schools, with different time commitments and interests – but with broad development needs that are likely to be similar. Identifying exactly what they want to do can be difficult, but tutors have produced a Webfolio within PebblePad that offers tools which can be used to invite students to consider their motivations and interests, as well as to capture experiences and reflections.
Co-generative toolkits (Co-genT) project
The Co-genT project has created an online resource using PebblePad which supports the development of co-generated higher education courses by universities and employers.
One of the primary areas of impact has been the recognition that learning outcomes can – and should – be written in a language which is recognised by the learner.