Monday, 12 October 2009

Recommending an eportfolio system

The task for core activity 3.2 was to write a 500-word report aimed at an audience of managers in an educational institution or organisation of your choice (or your imagination), overviewing some available eportfolio systems and recommending one or more of them. It should provide information to help them decide which of the systems is best suited for their purposes*.

For this report I consider the selection of an eportfolio system for a scenario which draws on some elements from my work but which fictionalises a number of aspects.

The navy of a European country wishes to expand its training programmes using a range of distance and e-learning techniques. Among their requirements are the need for aneportfolio to:
  1. Record student progress on tasks to provide evidence for certification
  2. Record student actions in tasks for formative assessment
  3. Allow students to develop and reflect upon a record of their competencies for use in personal development planning (including identifying future training needs)
  4. Integrate with current systems including a VLE, and potential future systems such as synthetic training environments
  5. Accessible by mobile phone/handheld device
  6. Consider security of data - hosting should be by the client organisation.
The users of this system will be students/trainees (technical operators, such as maintenance technicians, service crews etc), trainers and assessors of these personnel, and senior managers with responsibility for ensuring training is delivered effectively. The trainees are familiar with operating complex computer-based systems, but training time for theeportfolio system should be minimal. Therefore after an initial familiarisation session, functionality should be intuitive and trainees should be able to use the system without assistance. This is also the case for trainers and assessors, but their interaction with theeportfolio system may be expected to be more restricted (focusing on accessing and commenting on presentations of evidence). Therefore, initial training for these roles may be focused accordingly, and should also allow users to rapidly reach a state where they interact with the system without support. The final user group (management) may be less familiar and adept at using new systems, and so views extracting the data required should be available.

The requirements given above lead to a number of possible system, dealt with here by requirement.

Requirement 1. All systems offer a way for students to record progress, although not all are tailored for assessment. eNVQ, Mahara, MyStuff and One File all support assessment or are particularly designed for it.

Requirements 2 and 3. These point to a need to support student reflection, and for others (e.g. tutors) to be able to offer formative feedback via comments.Mahara, MyStuff and PebblePad are particularly tailored to support reflective learning.

Requirement 4. The need to integrate with potential future (i.e. as yet unknown) systems is very open ended. Mahara can integrate with the Moodle LMS, and as it is open source, its code can be inspected to consider its appropriateness for future integration.

Requirement 5. Mobile access is necessary for trainees working in the field, and may be provided by MyStuff and PebblePad, but not currently Mahara.

Requirement 6. Mahara and MyStuff both offer the facility for the client organisation to host eportfolio data within their own secure network.

Given this analysis, an open source solution (Mahara or MyStuff, for example) may be most appropriate for a number of reasons:
  • Specific requirements mean current off-the-shelf solutions all have shortcomings
  • In-house developers are available to deliver a customised solution based on an open source system 
  • Unknown future requirements can be met by subsequent development.

* The full activity requirements were:
Consider the following issues:
  • the primary users of each system (i.e. higher education, schools, PDP, industry)
  • any unique or particularly desirable features from the point of view of the learner, teacher and organisation
  • the most appropriate system for this context, given the type of use you intend.
Conclude the report with a specific recommendation (which can include rejecting all of them).

1 comment:

  1. You can get from elearning tools on the web. That's why lots and lots of people are getting online education nowadays.