ePortfolios, Pedagogy and Personal Flourishing



Ontario’s Distance Education and Training Network has published a review of how Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are influencing teaching and learning.

One of the impacts the paper identifies is the support for the development of learning portfolios. Stephen Downes’ review of the paper draws attention to this quote:

MOOCs showcase the developments which online learning and other innovations have been encouraging for some time: they are not so much initiating these developments as acting as an accelerant for them.

The Ontario paper appeared just as students in the Master in High Performance Sport at the University of Canberra were submitting their first round of ePortfolios for formative assessment in the Sport Informatics and Analytics unit.

ePortfolios and Personal Learning

The students submitting their ePortfolios at the University Canberra are following an OERu course in Sport Informatics and Analytics. This has evolved from an open online course, #UCSIA15, that ran for four weeks in 2015.

Information about the 2016 OERu course includes this page on ePortfolios as assessment. There is a background resource to support them as well.

The 2016 cohort of students in Canberra is guided by Jocelyn Mara. They are being encouraged to embrace the messiness of personal learning and explore how reflection might act as a catalyst for their own learning and understanding.

This messiness includes fallibility in constructing the ePortfolio. We have encouraged our students to choose a platform that suits them from a range of choices that includes the University’s instance of Mahara.

The Class of 2016

There are eight students in the 2016 course.

Cheyanne Girvan has chosen WordPress as a platform


Michael Sydney is using Wix


Nathan McConchie has decided upon Mahara’s Foliospaces.

Rob Palmer, Chris McPhail, Anthony Pierobon, and Adam Wright  are using Mahara.





Annie Gallacher has chosen one of my favourite platforms, Google Sites.



Learning is what we do to ourselves

I am delighted with the diversity of these ePortfolios. They are windows into the thought worlds of each student and offer opportunities to engage in conversations about learning with each other.

The students have a second formative assessment point in this course and at the end of the semester will present their ePortfolios for summative assessment. Jocelyn’s role as their guide, and meddler, is to nourish these explorations in a course that is designed as a non-linear, self-directed learning journey.

I am hopeful that their engagement with this approach will transform their experiences as learners. I do find the process of creating an ePortfolio disturbing in the best sense of the word … that is, an invitation to be an agent in one’s own learning.

Photo Credit

Bondi Icebergs (Winam, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Connecting 131006


Earlier this month, Katherine Schulten asked What might “connected teaching” or “connected learning” — that is, using technology to build communities and share knowledge — look like in practice?

She shares twenty-eight examples of connections in her blog post.

I was thinking about Seth Godin and his Krypton course initiative as I read her post.

The logistics of the Krypton courses include:

  • Every week for four weeks, a course meets.
  • A course is a group of people learning together.
  • You can host each of the four classes of the course in your office, your home or a coffee shop.
  • The ideal size is 6 to 15 people, but you might want to invite a few extra folks as insurance.
  • We call the person who organizes the classes within a course (that’s you) an organizer. No credentials required, other than a generous desire to lead and share.
  • Every four weeks there will be a new course.

#KryptonTuesday shares news of some of these emerging courses.

Given the expertise that is used to facilitate these Krypton courses, I have been thinking even more about ePortfolios as records of participation and engagement. I like the idea of blending physical presence in convivial meetings with reflection and research in a transparent way.

I think the four-week scale of the courses raises some important issues about intensity and learning. Increasingly, I see remarkable opportunities for self-paced and self-directed learning that can be aggregated and shared through tools like Accredible.

I think this leads inevitably to important debates about equivalence with formal award qualifications. I can see the ability to connect and demonstrate this connection having fundamental implications for accreditation processes too.

I hope that the articulation of formal and informal learning opportunities and the transparent sharing of this articulation might be a worthy topic for a Berkman Center for Internet & Society fellowship application.

Photo Credit

Elliot bay: Seattle’s legendary independent bookstore (Nicola, CC BY 2.0)

Connecting 131004

BC1I missed attending in person this week’s ePortfolio Forum at the University of Canberra.

I was able to participate virtually in the Forum through Blackboard Collaborate and the #eportforum activity on Twitter.

Angela Shetler has created a Storify link for the event too.

I felt very fortunate to be able to connect this way … and to find some new colleagues to follow on Twitter.

I thought it was a rich vein in a serendipity economy of social capital. Particularly when there are so many other connected educator events taking place this month (Ronnie Burt has an Edubloggers’ Guide to the month).

My reading in the past two days has had strong connection themes.

I was interested to read Tom Whitby’s take on whether we really need connected educators. He notes “Using technology is less generational and more about learning. Social media and its acceptance in our culture has been a catalyst to connectedness”. He adds:

Once an educator connects with other educators, they begin to collect them as sources in a Professional Learning Network of educators, a PLN. A connected educator may then access any or all of these sources for the purpose of communication, collaboration, or creation. This connectedness is not bound by bricks and mortar. It is not bound by city limits or state lines. It is not limited by countries borders. The only nagging inconvenience is dealing with time zones on a global level.

My connections are focussed by connectivism. I was delighted to discover that Stephen Downes had written a Half Hour post yesterday that explored the epistemological and ontological foundations of connectivism.


I noticed too that one of my colleagues in CCK08, Cristina Costa, has written this week about the participatory web and digital scholarship. One of the main findings from Cristina’s study was that “research participants clearly felt the benefits of practising digital scholarship, and it has influenced their entire approach to scholarly practice”.

One of the aspects of this practice I am always trying to resolve is auto-sharing. I was delighted to read Mary Hiers’ post today. In it she discusses five auto-share options: dlvr.it; BufferViraltag; SocialOomph; GaggleAMP.

One connected educator who impressed me immensely this week was Andy Miah.

Andy has two Prezi presentations to share this week:

Everyone Everywhere


Everything Everywhere


Both presentations are wonderful examples of the digital scholarship discussed by Cristina. They contribute to a key theme of this Connected Educator month about “how to move from merely connecting with other educators into collaborations that push pedagogy and the education conversation forward”.

A fascinating two days!

Photo Credit

Connecting the Dots #TP164 (Irmeli Aro, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) (Irmeli is another colleague from CCK08)