This case study investigates the introduction of e-portfolios in three teacher education programmes at the University of Wolverhampton. PebblePAD (http://www.pebblepad.co.uk) was used as the e-portfolio system.
The case study discusses some pedagogical principles that justified the adoption:
- Making teacher education more authentic
- Encouraging deeper engagement with course material by stimulating linking lesson observations with theoretical understanding
- Stimulating learner ownership and control
- Develop critical thinking skills, underpinned by a ‘dialogic’ approach
- Developing a Community of Practice that survives graduation
- Gibbs/ Kolb reflective cycle. This is a series of writing and thinking frames to encourage deeper levels of learning
- Patchwork text approach. This focuses on developing shared short formative writing into summative pieces.
- Develop a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) (rather than a mere content repository).
The author describes the introduction as an astounding success. Success factors include:
- Training and support for staff and students.
- E-mentoring system for ongoing support (system of graduated students supporting subsequent student cohorts)
- Introduction was based on sound pedagogical principles.
- Early online socialization
- Expectation that reflection and analysis will continue beyond the classroom.
- Providing a safe environment for students to share thoughts.
“Taking an approach which supports confidence and esteem building, early writing, rapid feedback moving into writing/ reflective communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991, Wenger, 2005) is hugely beneficial and supports meta-learning.”
There are drawbacks as well and the author honestly describes her feelings of isolation and frustration that befell her during the pilot programme. She found that e-portfolios weren’t regarded as seriously as other innovations by colleagues. “False dichotomies” were created by school directives such as content delivery vs. dialogic approach, VLE vs. E-portfolios that divided many staff and making that the e-portfolios were often considered as an add-on rather than integral to learning. The author found support in professional communities, leading to an invitation to contribute to a book on e-portfolios.
I found this the case study the most instructive of the four, because of the attention for the learner experience, the honest description of drawbacks and the clear links between the technology and the elements of learning theory on which the adoption of new technology was based.