For many attending it was an unfolding journey of discovery as Tania outlined just how easy and accessible ePortfolios are, plus their benefits and the breadth of learning opportunities they present.
Her presentation was chocker with video and visual examples that explicitly illustrated these points.
“For me it’s not about the bells and whistles; it’s that real-life learning you can see happening,” says Tania.
What is an ePorfolio?
An ePortfolio is an electronic format for learners to record their workings, their achievements and their goal, to reflect on their learning and to share and be supported in this. Banks, B. (2004)First thing’s First
Tania talked about the different ways schools use ePortfolios. Understanding why you’re introducing them is an important first step. “It’s about finding out what’s right for your school,” says Tania.
- Your vision and beliefs
- The purpose
- The audience
- The benefits.
Tania says once a school is ready to go ahead with ePortfolios they will often trial it first with a single class or even a case group of students.
The Process of Learning
ePortfolios record the learning process. They aren’t simply a way to showcase learning though they can do that too. “Children can change things, it’s about the process,” says Tania.
Tania explained that by simply giving children some instruction on goal setting, they are able to do their own goal setting and reflection and determine their next steps in learning.
Benefits to Children
ePortfolios provide children with:
- a voice in assessment. Tania gave the example of preschool children who have great stories but limited or no capacity to write them down. With ePortfolios they have a number of choices which may include using VoiceThread, Photostory, Photo Booth, etc
- an authentic audience – eg whanau, peers, teachers with lots of opportunity for feedback and feed forward
- choices – and all the learning that goes into them
- opportunities for learning about the world and its people
- a way of building relationships with wider family no matter where they live
- life-long ownership of their learning records
Tania explained how ePortfolios build and strengthen family relationships because it gives them a voice. “They are highly effective with engaging parents.”
Tania cited Grasslands Kindergarten, which found that parents were 15 times more likely to engage with ePortfolios than they were with through usual methods of communication. She went on to say that some schools no longer have as many written reports with some holding student-led conferences each term.
“Communication can be happening between parents and teachers on a regular basis,” says Tania.
How to use ePortfolios for Teacher Registration and Documentation
- Choose who you want to be involved. You can restrict access or open it to the world.
- Use it for feedback and feed forward.
- Tag posts.
- Rather than write to criteria, blog day to day and tag where aspects meet criteria.
What you can upload to ePortfolios:
- Links to your criteria
- Video clips of teaching practice
- Tracking of your PD
- Mentor reflection.
Tania says in her work, she’s seeing more and more openness in how people work in the online space and believes Facebook may have facilitated this – people have become used to presenting personal information online.
She believes that cyber safety is just another aspect of safety we need to teach children about. “We’ve always supported children in road safety and water safety, now there’s cyber safety.”
Some key messages: ‘Once you post it you lose it.’ And: ‘Think before you post.’
Tania went on to say that in many cases ownership of ePortfolios is with parents who then give access to educators.
“The vision is that ePortfolios are created for children in early childhood education and follow them through their schooling,” says Tania.
Some Helpful Links:
Virtual Learning Network
Te Kete Ipurangi
Tania’s information link
Brief Video Clips:
Tania Coutts talks about the value of ePortfolios – June 2012
Feedback from teachers who attended Tania Coutts’ CORE seminar and workshop on ePortfolios in Invercargill – June 2012