Having attended a HEA Physical Science subject centre event on Wednesday about e-portfolios, I have been thinking about the benefits and downsides to reporting/reflecting mechanisms such as these. Not being a 'diary' user, my reflection tends to occur whilst riding home from work on the bus or at the weekend. My action on this tends to be random e-mails sent to Mark, Peter Bullen (Director of the Blended Learning Unit) or Jon Alltree (Director of Learning & Teaching) with my ideas and thoughts about what we should do. I am sure they get a little fed up with my e-mails but this system seems to work for me as I am pretty much an activist so like to get things done, rather than pontificating for too long. Most presenters at the e-portfolio conference had experience of using Pebblepad but in most cases staff and students were engaging with the e-portfolio when it was part of an assessment or a requirement. Is this because for most of us, we have so much going on that we only use new mediums when it is a requirement or is it because there are so many ways of reflecting and recording that it is really for individuals to find the medium which suits them?
I hadn't 'blogged' before writing on the mud mover blog, but I have found it to be an enjoyable process and I now occasionally blog after teaching activities. I also opened a twitter account yesterday so have been enjoying 'tweeting' today, but whether this is enjoyable because it is a novelty or a useful means of recording and communicating my thoughts, is yet to be seen.
I did wonder about suggesting to Mark and Dominic about the thought of staff and students on the ESCAPE project keeping e-portfolios of their activities. This could be a great way to share and record the experiences, but with FLIP cameras, questionnaires, evaluation reports, attendance at events and numerous meetings I just wonder if the time burden on busy staff and students is too great?
At the e-portfolio event I was chatting with Lisa Gray, who mentioned that she had thought about asking project teams to keep e-portfolios. I can see the opportunities as Lisa and other members of the JISC and steering groups/cluster teams etc. could access the portfolios and keep up to date with activities. This could reduce the burden in formal report mechanisms, however, I'm not sure that the JISC are ready to change their reporting mechanisms and again, I am mindful to the fact that project teams will have found their own ways to update colleagues on progress (e.g. via Blogs, workshop events, social networking sites, postings on the CIRCLE site etc).
I haven't really come to any conclusions about the using e-portfolios and I probably won't until I start one myself. I plan to do this in September when our 'in house' VLE activates its e-portfolio system, but I am increasingly aware that people like to reflect and record in different ways. Whether people collate their 'tweets' or maintain e-portfolios, it is the process of reflection not the medium, that is important and we must encourage staff to reflect in their own way and act on their thoughts to enhance activities for students and staff.