ePortfolio – guidance and input from the earliest moments of studies

Article first published on SeOppi 2/2018.

Text: Jaana Kullaslahti & Tarjaleena Tuukkanen, Häme University of Applied Sciences
Illustration: Tarjaleena Tuukkanen, Häme University of Applied Sciences

Students at Universities of Applied Sciences feel they need to acquire the competences required for managing their web identities, for marketing their skills, and for building their expertise online (Kopeli 2018). One of the objectives of HAMK University of Applied Sciences in the Adaptable Learning Paths project was to help individuals demonstrate their competences through the development of their digital portfolios; the work on portfolios was emphasised particularly with groups who were at the beginning of their studies. The idea is for students to start their portfolio work at the beginning of their studies and to keep it up throughout studies, receiving continual support.

There is an awareness of digital portfolios, but they are not commonly used for comprehensively compiling evidence of competences during studies. When health care students were asked about their earlier experiences of portfolio work, approximately 40% had actually compiled a portfolio, and of those, only 16% had done it completely or partly digitally. Those portfolios had been compiled as parts of individual courses and study modules but not been made use of afterwards. Some students had compiled portfolios on their professional growth and used them in jobseeking. The elements they had included consisted mainly of text and images; however, some individual students had included videos and blogs.

To support students in their portfolio work, we asked them what kind of support they felt they needed. For some of them, portfolios were a novel concept, and they felt they required help with “everything possible”. Some hoped to have one simple place in which to compile the portfolio as well as guidance in the use of the various software. The greatest amounts of support were wanted for describing the concrete skills involved in one’s own learning and for the use of the selected portfolio service. To build their portfolios, students were also interested in making use of various tools such as Padlet, Sway, LinkedIn and MS as well as infographics and blogs. Our workshops were organised under the themes Portfolio – what, when and how; The ePortfolio service Kyvyt.fi in the structuring of your portfolio; Making use of O365 services; Easy visual tools; Using blogging services; Creating a LinkedIn profile, and Using the Open Badge Passport service for receiving and storing Open Badges. The workshops involved concrete planning and compilation work on portfolios, and students were asked in advanced to bring in material that showed their competences – CVs, pictures, video clips, certificates.

The feature in common for the workshops was deliberation: discussions about the identification and demonstration of one’s own competences and the options available for structuring a portfolio. There were ready-made questions to assist in e.g. the consideration of what a student’s competences consisted of, how the student might recognise and describe them, how to collect evidence of learning and how to make use of the portfolio during studies. Students wished for instructions from their teachers concerning the limitations on their fields due to various statutes and considerations of ethics, copyright and data protection. They hoped that portfolios would form a routine part of their studies so that their work on their assignments would produce portfolio materials, the work would be conducted together, and feedback would be regular throughout studies.

Portfolio ownerships lie with the students, and students should have the opportunity to select such tools for themselves that they themselves feel suitable. The work on portfolios falls on different academic years and it is guided by several different teachers and the study advisor as agreed for the type of degree programme. At the end, the outcome of a student’s work may be a thesis in the form of a portfolio.

Sources

Kopeli, M. 2018. Kysymys on huomisen digi- kyvykkyydestä. [The issue is the digital competences of tomorrow.] AMK-lehti 8 (3). https://uasjournal.fi/3-2018/huomisen-digikyvykkyys/

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