EPortfolios and Badges Workshop - #OEB14

E-Portfolio Workshop, Online Educa Berlin: These are content summaries; if written in the first person it is the speaker speaking, not me. Some comments in parentheses are my own.

Launch of the Europortfolio German Chapter during the Workshop

Igor Balaban - Europortfolio Community and Portal

We've completed one year of the two year project. 351 members from 52 countries are members - 3rd version of the portal was launched yesterday. The portal is the min driver, a getaway that allows people to work together. What you will see today are four key products we have been working on this year.

The portal allows you to collaborate, to create and announce events, offline or online. You are also free to publish your recent work, to use the online collaboration, and to invite people to join you and produce a deliverable. Today we will look at some deliverables that may inspire you to get started.

This started as a project; we hope it becomes a self-sustaining network. For now we have core partners, which should be mentioned.

Serge Ravet - Mturity Matrix
Now involved in another project called BadgeEurope.

A few words about the matrix. How did we produce them? The idea was to provide a framework to describe the maturity of eportfolio initiatives, trying to describe the complex nature of learning, to go beyond the basic 'how to implement an eportfolio system', to the point where an eportfolio will have a transformative effect.

What we didn't want to do is take a framework and 'add ICT to it' or 'add portfolio to it'. An eportfolio is about learning, so the matrix should be about learning. If it didn't mention eportfolio, that would be great. But in fact what we looked at was the learning itself, and what can be added with the eportfolio.

Example of matrix (very detailed slide with tiny impossible-to-read text). Learning: aware, exploring, developing, integrated, transformative. We wanted to find specific examples of activities outside eportfolios themselves, and then look at them in eportfolios. We have a paper version of the matrix which will be distributed this afternoon.

Janet Strivens - Competency Framework
(No slides - ack!) CRA has taken the lead in the competency framework (CF). Not as mature as the maturity matrix; still open to revision.

The CF recognizes that one of the major purpose of a portfolio is to gather and display evidence of competences. We are trying to do two things:

    - arrive at a consensual understanding of the nature of competence. One of our concerns is that the view of competence presented as a project view is too UK-centric. So we want to share the understanding of competence with you and ask you whether this aligns with your understanding. We have already shared with Australia and New Zealand, but they are already closely aligned to the UK. We will share this with you this afternoon.

    - to do with the technology which can support the recognition and accreditation of competence. The document takes the view that a range of functionalities is associated with eportfolio technologies. It looks at these in terms of how they support competency recognition and accreditation. We will share this with you this afternoon.

In the final version of the document, 3 or 4 months time, we intend to link the competency framework document to an ongoing and developing spreadsheet of organizations and frameworks related to the recognition and accreditation of competencies.

Marcelo Fabian Maina (in place of Lourdes Gardia)
UOC - creation of an online course that serves as an entry point for early adopters or non-expert users of eportfolios.

Three specific aims:
    - create an EP environment for the organizers
    - create an EP environment for the students
    - help people create their own EP

The design principles for the course modules:
    - non-stop, always open, self-study, self-paced
    - customizable, task-oriented
    - use and reuse OER (content)
    - creation of the 'learning scenario'
    - orient them toward tangible results
    - create sharing options through the social web

The course is made up of 7 modules (which I won't list here). The first five are oriented to individuals, the last two are oriented to organizations, focusing on systemic change and moving from an individual to an organizational initiative. Each module has six sections: objectives, questions, investigate, activities, etc.

We have a 'pyramid of objective' to find what the common objectives are of individuals so we can find what questions they all have. We will share this with you this afternoon.

The course isn't available yet - we have the structure and write-throughs as the modules, but what we hope to get from you is input from you.

Anastasia Economou, EUfolio, by video

The project is 'EU Classroom ePortfolios'. Started in May 2013, ends April 2015. It includes 14 partners from u7 European countries.

The need was based on 21st century skills. There were broken into 'develop' these skills, and to 'assess' these skills. Assessment was both 'for learning' and 'of learning'.

Goals: to design innovative ePortfolio models, to pilot these modules through case studies in 40 schools, to select evidence for the the efficiency of teaching and learning approaches, and promote strategies of effective practice.

The challenges: we needed to share a common understanding of what an eportfolio is. Most of the cases referred to higher education. We also had to prepare the teachers to use the EPs in their teaching practice; they needed to go through a transformation, and not just add this as an extra thing to their teaching. We needed to examine the affordances of the technology and adapt online learning strategies for the implementation. Finally, it's a challenge to communicate these results - we're still trying to find a way to communicate these to policy-makers.

The main tasks: design, develop, implement, suggest.

The content areas included assessment and eAssessment, 21st century skills, and the learning design process. This was to help them align not only the content knowledge but also the learning outcomes. Three steps: 21st century technologies, activities, then assessment.

The 21st century skills include:
    - ways of thinking
    - ways or working
    - tools for working
    - the 21st century world

How do we assess these skills? This is where the ePortfolios come in. There were three stages or levels to the process:
    - storage
    - workspace
    - showcase

Storage: students can search and gather material, video, audio, etc. We develop skills like uploading, downloading, search and so on.

In the third level the students will present their products: skills like presenting, sharing, assessing.

The workspace level we wanted to emphasize. We wanted students to provide evidence of the process they used to achieve their learnings: journals, poems, etc.

In the assessment, students go through: reflection, talking, creating, interacting, using forums and pages.

The process to implement the model: train the trainers, train the teachers, then train the students. We used Mahara and Office 365, and are still working on the customization of it.

We held a trainers forum, covering a common understanding of what a portfolio means, and alos sessions on 21st century skills, assessment, and the portfolio design process. We also had workshops on Mahara as a tool for the portfolio project. We are now running pilots, but we don't have any data as of yet.

We decided to use an approach having to do with embedded multiple case studies. That is, for each teacher, with each class, we refer to it as a case. Since some classes have more than one teacher, this is again another case. So each student might have an eportfolio with 2 or 3 or 4 teachers.

We developed some tools to do the research. These included questionnaires. and also ways to gather notes and observations, as well as ways of looking at the artifacts.

I will show (with scepticism) some of the results from the first phase, from Cyprus. One of our questions was about the impact of the ePortfolio. There was an impact in the teachers design process. The teachers had a transformation in terms of how to use the technology, not just as a tool, but as a part of the whole learning. They used Mahara not just in class but also in other spaces. From a teachers discussion group in Cyprus, it was very obvious how the students were re-engaged in learning. The teachers had evidence of the students' learning.

It was important to see how the portfolio facilitated learning. We got three comments from teachers, about the use for summative assessment, about the communication and interaction during the implementation, and about the accessibility of the system.

Barriers included: infrastructure, administration, barriers at home, also, how to use ICT in the learning process.

We will finish the pilot at the end of 2014 and will work on the analysis January-February and share our analysis thereafter. We will be having a conference.

Ilona Buchem, CreditPoints with OpenBadges - @mediendidaktikCentre for Recording Achievement (CRA)

Open Badges for Job Application (slides by-NC-SA :) )

This is a qualification project for students who come from abroad, migrants who have difficulty finding a job, who have education, even a PhD, by assigning 'credit points', as part of the Federal Network Integration through Qualification (IQ) project in Germany.

Each participant co-constructs an individual qualification schema. We use the badges to recognize the skills and combine them with an ePortfolio to help them find employment, by making them more visible and potentially more attractive.

The approach is not based on the 'mastery' approach - we simply observed how people were progressing while they were learning and then 'discovering' the skills, identifying them as competencies, and awarding badges for those.

One of the most important processes was competency recognition - we used ProfilPASS, a German Tool, for this. For example, for language-based badge, we linked this to the European Qualification Framework to describe different competency levels; each badge connects to a PDF that described what the badge means - the the person can read, write and speak the language, for example.

We designed badges that have a lot of space to include as much information as possible - we created a cube, with information in three areas (and colour indicates module).

The showcase type of ePortfolio (or 'digital job application videos' as we call it in German). You have you're c.v. shown on the site, the badges are integrated, to show in one place the skills of the person. Participants used the backpack to organize and display their badges on different sites; we also included the badges in the certificates. Credit points count as ECTS points (whatever those are).

A publication (in German) is coming soon.

Eric Rousselle, CEO, Discendum, Inc (an ePortfolio service)
We are a Finnish service provider, we have an open LMS platform, badge factory, ePortfolio system built on Mahara. There has been for several years a strong interest in PLEs and personal learning; that's why we went with Mahara. Not perfect, but it has a big potential.

http://kyvyt.fi is a national e-portfolio service designed and hosted by Discendum, launched in August, 2010, used by 38,500 learners and 200 organizations. The users are mainly schools, vocational and higher education institution. Kyvit.fi is used mostly for reflective learning, student counseling, and assessment.

It's free for end users; organizations pay for the use, and users own their own contents.

There has been a very good response to date, with positive attitudes from students and authorities. The community is still growing after 4 years.

Some of the positive outcomes are: students are moving from the 'aware' stage (in the maturity matrix) to 'exploring' and 'developing'.  Some schools are integrating ePortfolio practices in their curriculum. Some student shave used their ePortfolios after graduation.

Challenges: there is strong LMS culture which emphasizes the teacher's role and the importance of controlling and monitoring the student's progress. As a PLE and social media application, Kyvyt is challenging for teachers and also for students who are used to being monitored. There is an issue (for example) around students forming groups by themselves. We still need good pedagogical models, user cases and templates (we have a conference every year to attract these). The big problem for many teachers is learning how to use yet another system.

We are often missing an organization-level strategy - teachers are using it, but not organizations as a whole. Also, because the institution is not hosting it, teachers and schools are reluctant to use it - IT departments are not interested in supporting a system they don't host. As a business, hosting and developing a national eportfolio system is most challenging.

For learners, many ePortfolio systems are too complex and too academic. Learners should have the feeling "it's nice" to use the portfolio, and not "I have to do it". The 'academic' eportfolio systems are probably not what citizens need in a life-long learning environment. In many countries we are creating a portfolio that is useful in an academic context, but not a real-life context.

So: badges. There is the potential to grow the value of a portfolio by adding badges. So we have developed a plug-in so we can issue badges in Mahara. We're looking at a 'badges first' approach to ePortfolio - we want to build a "better backpack" because Backpack is not a very good tool. We are looking at an open badge passport as a micro-portfolio. The idea is to gather badges, organize them in pages, and reflect and build the big picture.

But we need to bring portfolios to life. A mechanic working on engines all day doesn't see why they should go to Mahara and write a page. So we want to integrate them, they take a picture on their mobile and get a badge. The key words here are simplicity and usability. Using badges gets us away from text-heavy portfolios, and introduces the possibility of search, which for employers is very nice. They can search employees for badges and set badges as goals for skills training.


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