BLP Project: ePortfolios

We set aside the first afternoon of the project PD to focus on ePortfolios and specifically how the teachers could use their own as a way of detailing their three year journey. A few have taken to these reasonably well, although so far it has been mainly focused on the blogging tool. This has been great, but we were interested in how the space could become a rich point of reflection for each teacher. It would be fair to say that so far their use has been limited. In order to get teachers thinking about how they could use this space effectively we invited Mark Osborne, Deputy Principal of Albany Senior High School along to give a presentation on the subject of ePortfolios. His school has made extensive use of the Mahara ePortfolio system at both a student and teacher level. It would be fair to say Mark’s presentation was one of the highlights of the three days.

Two major aspects of Mark’s presentation resonated with me.

One was the project day that runs every Wednesday at Albany Senior High.  This is where students work in groups on an ongoing project of their choice. There are absolutely no NCEA credits attached, but yet no problems with students not engaging. So often I hear teachers bemoan NCEA and how students go credit gathering as a result (let’s face it students did this well before NCEA), but that doesn’t have to be the reality. If schools develop engaging and relevant programmes of learning that are truly personalised, then you would a shift  from an assessment focus, to a learning focus. The idea of personalising learning is at the heart of our project and it was interesting to see how some schools are approaching this.

Albany has a major focus on the use of ePortfolios (using MyPortfolio) for both students and teachers. Features of their use include:

  • Each learner (whether student or teacher) is encouraged (not forced) to develop their own ePortfolio which is a place to reflect and collect evidence of learning.
  • For students it is cross-curricular
  • For teachers it is part of teaching as inquiry approach
  • Forms an important part of appraisal (the school doesn’t use this term)
  • Teachers collect evidence of continued reflection and professional learning

Have a look at Mark’s prezi here to find out more. All the teachers were very excitied by the possibilities after Mark spoke to them. The buzz continued for the following two days. I have been a fan of ePortofilios for some time and I would love to see some of our schools run with them next year (at the teacher and students level).  They fit so well with the aims of the NZ curriculum and with some of the key competencies in particular.

If any Principals are reading this please consider ePortfolios for ALL your learners.  Why not finally make appraisal the rich learning experience it should be for teachers?  They will definitely be a focus for the regional cluster next year so hop on board…

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