The unit is assessed by an ePortfolio. To date there have been two formative assessments of the ePortfolios. There is a third, summative assessment at the end of the unit.
This is the UCSIA15 Unit outline. The assessment points are:
Stage 1: Introduction (20% of the total marks)
Stage 2: Development (30%)
Stage 3: Refinement (50%)
It has been fascinating to observe the growing confidence of the students as open and sharing learners.
Some of the group are using Mahara as their ePortfolio platform, others have been exploring other ways of sharing including Google Sites and WordPress.
There are thirteen students enrolled in the unit. Each of them has enabled me to think much more carefully about the support needed to make the bold step to share learning experiences.
I do see the move from first introductions to refinement as an important process as well as product. One of my hopes for the unit has been that students would become more comfortable with continuous engagement with the unit content.
Each of the students is demonstrating reflective practice in their ePortfolios. I think this reflection by one of the students addresses the experience of online learning very clearly:
As we go into Week 10 of the course, I am finding the online nature of the content to be quite challenging. Not having to show up to class each week makes it harder to notice whether you are falling behind. This can be content-related, but what is more concerning is that it is usually knowledge-related. When you attend a face-to-face course, you are presented with a pressure each week to complete the readings and do the work so as not to appear a fool amongst your peers. You want to assure that your brain is developing at the same speed, around the same concepts, as your classmates. Back when I was completing my undergraduate degree, I had a particular class where you would have to know the muscles of a limb, their name, origin, insertion point and how they are innervated. If you arrived to the class not having studied, the tutor would not be angry, but just disappointed. I feel that this had a significant effect on how I performed in that unit. I studied each week so I would not be cast with the look of disappointment from my tutor. I scored an HD in the subject.
This is why I find this new notion of online learning particularly difficult. I don’t have anyone on my back, except myself. I don’t have peers around me each week discussing their opinions on the weekly topic, or displaying levels of knowledge that I long for. It is all through forums and blog posts online. Yes, there is still a sense that we are all together through the discussions we have online, but there is still that personal element missing. Have I done the right thing? Are my opinions like the others? Is this subject really just about “how I learn” or should I display a sense that I have actually learned “something”?
This is extremely unfamiliar territory for me. When I submit my assignments, it goes to a computer somewhere else for it to be marked. There is no satisfaction of getting an assignment back (in paper-form) and looking at your grade with that red circle around it. There is none of that. There is only the wait until that blank box is filled with a grade and, sometimes, a comment.
Despite all this, it has been interesting in knowing how resourceful I have become in my own learning journey. I research more and want to share my ideas with those around me (not just in online forums). This has particularly reflected on how I coach. I find myself testing out new ways of achieving the same goal. I want to share my ideas with the like-minded people I have on staff with me. The best way to learn is to teach and I think that this style of delivery (online) helps facilitate that notion.
Another student shared her ideas with a delightful video that exemplified the same resourcefulness that underscored the excitement of learning.
I am looking forward to receiving the third installment of each of the ePortfolios. I am keen to encourage the capstone potential of this part of the assessment. It is a time for oysters.