24 March 2009

Faculty/Student Supports: Moving to ePortfolios

At this week's 2009 International Business Conference sponsored by the Society for Advancement of Management (SAM), a conversation arose in a session about use of ePortfolios in online education. A Texas institution's representatives gave a presentation about an ePortfolio project in its first year and an audience member from a North Carolina school offered another view from the perspective of the planning year of an ePortfolio adoption.

Both institutions described the need to engage faculty in a new ePortfolio initiative and both acknowledged that resistance is fairly common. At the Texas school, faculty are supported in the ePortfolio work through the addition of staff: ePortfolio coaches. The coaches are Master's prepared professionals who have had personal experience in creating an ePortfolio in their own degree program and who can assist students directly (and virtually) in the two-year process of portfolio creation. The coaches offer general support, primarily technical but extended to screening for the need for proof-reading, without being responsible for curriculum content (or grading). This type of work falls into the category of "unbundling," by which non-curriculum tasks of faculty are handed off to other workers in online environments.

At the North Carolina school, the support needed for students working on their ePortfolios is expected to be supplied by faculty members. The program plans to offer faculty the choice of either maintaining an advising role with students or trading it in for a coaching role specific to the ePortfolio.

Both approaches indicate the importance of assigning oversight to students in their ePortfolio work. A helpdesk can provide front line assistance but additional guidance is needed, particularly if the ePortfolio spans more than one course or more than one semester.

(Disclosure: I was one of the presenters as a consultant to the Texas school.)

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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