Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Choosing my ePortfolio tool for H808

I'm trying to make some more progress towards choosing my ePortfolio tool for this course. In the first week I explored the OU's MyStuff (included with our course registration), and I also considered GoogleDocs, which I am very familiar with using for personal and collaborative working.

Since the initial flurry, and experimentation with MyStuff (which I found clunky, frustrating, and not very intuitive) I haven't done much about developing my ePortfolio. However, we're getting into the meat of some course activities now, and I'm finding I'm producing work which may need to be stored for evidence, and so I need to get on and make my ePortfolio choice. I have to admit here that I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't a course requirement... I can see the benefits of ePortfolios for students, and I would encourage them to reflect on what their work means (though I believe this could be done equally well outside of a portfolio)... I just can't see the benefit for me, now :-S But believe me I want to! I've been able to keep track of my work in previous studying through my own use of a personal wiki, paper notebooks, copies of my papers produced etc etc - it hasn't needed to be combined in an ePortfolio, and my own file structure or searching facilities allowed me to easily locate items should I need to find them. When I applied for my PhD studentship, neither my supervisor nor the department requested a portfolio (or indeed any items of previous work), and similarly when I interviewed for my current job, nor did they. In both cases it was a specific task related to the role that was required. So, they didn't want an ePortfolio...

So, this ePortfolio is just for H808 - I don't expect to use it for ongoing future career. I may be proved wrong later, but if so I can develop one then. For now, I don't need something that can 'live on' beyond this course, and so providers which will follow wherever I go are not necessary.

I do almost all my work on my home laptop. Sometimes I work during my lunch break, and sometimes my laptop is with me away from home and my internet connection (no mobile internet yet), but generally I have access to my laptop whenever I need it. So, I don't require an internet-based solution in order to access it from multiple locations. In fact, what about the times when I don't have internet? Therefore, I think I actually want a locally stored solution.

I feel slightly twitchy about an online solution, with regards to privacy. This doesn't make sense to me as I'm quite happy to have profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and now a publicly accessible blog, etc, but for some inexplicable reason I'm not sure about this. Perhaps it's as simple as 'if i don't need it online, why put it there?'. I think part of the reason is because the ePortfolio includes reflective writing. Somehow that type of expression feels more private to me than the basic details of a piece of evidence, or at the very least I want to choose when and where to share it, like I can with this blog. Okay, okay, I know you can choose when to share your ePortfolio - I said it was nonsensical!

So, what are the choices?
The following have been discussed in the forums, and I have thoughts about at least some of them... (It should be said here that the pros and cons of all the follow (and more) deserve far greater attention than I give here - H808 students can see the comparative table created for Supplementary Activity 1.6 in the course wiki)

Free, supported by the OU. Sort of feel I ought to use it because they have obviously designed it to meet what they consider to be the purpose of an ePortfolio... But too clunky for me. The facility to easily send pages from the wiki or posts from the forum to MyStuff did almost clinch it for me, but since the upgrade of the forum we seem to have lost that functionality, and I now don't have a good reason to go with it. Requires internet access to use.
A comprehensive system, also free. Initially I thought it looked to complex, but that's only to set up a server - for an account on the web site it's easy. Requires internet access to use.
Sadly not free, and therefore at my current stage, that's all the consideration it gets from me...
Google Docs
I'm very familiar with using this, but it's obviously not a dedicated ePortfolio. While it has great search facilities and a simple to use folder structure, I suspect I may miss the ability to give a document multiple tags. Also web based, though can sync with an offline version.
Essentially a file backup and synching facility. Not had a play with it, but understand from course colleagues that it doesn't offer any presentation tools, which may hinder its use for sharing my ePortfolio with my tutor etc
Another web-based solution, not, I think, a dedicated ePortfolio. Feel I'd need to see it in action as an ePortfolio in order to judge

All of which (slightly dismissive) reflection brings me to what I think I have selected: OneNote.

A few hesitations - no-one mentioned this in the course fourms, I need to be sure I can share a presentation portfolio adequately for the course requirements, and it's also new to me, so I'm slightly learning how to use it as I go along.

However, I'm finding it intuitive to use, highly flexible to organise and reorganise, it's searchable, I can store multiple media types in it and I think I can use it to make an attractive presentation. I'm already using it for my course writing and note-taking, so it's easy for me to extend it with a view to ePortfolio use.

Caveat - I still might change my mind! But I think this feels good right now... I'd be really interested to know if anyone thinks it's a good or bad idea!


  1. You have a great list of elearning tools. You got a great idea in choosing.

  2. Alice, I have a few questions:

    1: How did you find the eportfolio you used? Advantages, disadvantages etc? Maybe you have a blog post you can direct me too.

    2: Did you use it again after finishing H808?

    3: How did you do with the last H8** course we were on? I can't even remember whether it was H800 or H807!!!