Implementing an accessible ePortfolio program at a large research institution can be complex but has many benefits. With an ePortfolio system, educators and administrators can provide students and faculty with a way to reflect on their learning and development, document their achievements, and showcase their skills and expertise to others.
An ePortfolio is a digital collection of evidence that showcases a person’s skills, achievements, and experiences. The teaching, learning, and reflection tool serves various purposes, including professional development, career advancement, and academic assessment. Therefore, implementing ePortfolio at scale in a large research institution requires significant time and resources to design, develop, and roll out the system.
In this episode of Digication Scholars Conversations, we welcomed Kate LaBore – A Technology and Media Professional in the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She discussed the challenges of implementing ePortfolio in a large research institution and the importance of integrating ePortfolio with the campus Learning Management System.
Application of ePortfolios in Large Educational Institutions
It is crucial to approach the process with empathy and to consider the needs and perspectives of the various stakeholders involved to successfully turbo-charge an accessible ePortfolio program. Stakeholders may include students, faculty, administrators, and others impacted by the program’s implementation.
Kate emphasized what made it possible, citing her experience with Digication’s ePortfolio at UIUC, especially for courses that use portfolios. Integrating Digication with Learning Management Systems makes handling extensive coursework with many outcomes easier.
While it is good that institutions are aware of the significance of ePortfolios and are integrating this educational technology to aid learning and students in different ways, there are also challenges, such as promoting awareness of ePortfolios and other high-impact practices among instructors.
Meanwhile, Kate underlines that even though it could be challenging, there’s always the thrill of finding that person who “gets” the ePortfolio and the possibility that they may help their colleagues better understand the tool.
Because online learning and educational technologies are increasing and institutions are constantly looking for data-driven resources, using ePortfolios is essential.
Furthermore, through the learning analytics provided by an ePortfolio, institutions can document and understand a student’s learning journey, improving institutional retention rates. ePortfolio as a reflective tool can aid learners by providing them with actionable information to help them make better study decisions.
The learning analytics provided by an ePortfolio monitors and predicts students’ learning performances. Their instructors can quickly notice their students’ performances, spot issues earlier, and intervene to avoid performing below average and risk failing.
Other Challenges To Implementing Eportfolio At Scale In Large Research Institutions
Implementing an accessible ePortfolio at scale in a large research institution can be challenging, as it requires significant time and resources to design, develop, and roll out the system. Some of the specific challenges possibly encountered include:
- Lack of standardization: Large institutions often have diverse academic programs and departments, each with unique requirements and expectations for ePortfolio use. A structured pivot is needed to develop a single ePortfolio platform that meets the needs of all stakeholders.
- Limited resources: Implementing ePortfolio at scale requires a significant investment of time and resources, including personnel, training, and support. Shortage of resources can be a challenge for already stretched-thin institutions with limited resources.
- Complex technical infrastructure: Large research institutions often have a complex and diverse technical infrastructure, making integrating ePortfolio with existing systems and processes difficult.
- User adoption: Some students and faculty may resist using ePortfolio, especially if they are unfamiliar with the technology or need to see its value. It can be difficult to achieve widespread adoption of the platform with this.
- Implementing web content and web accessibility initiative: There are people with disabilities and other medical conditions such as ADHD and short-term memory. ePortfolio creators and designers should consider these categories of users - meaning, technology and tools should be created to assist, perhaps, visually impaired people with little or no difficulty.
Despite these challenges, an accessible ePortfolio can be a valuable investment for a large institutions.
Key considerations when leading an ePortfolio program:
- Identify the needs of different groups of students and faculty: This could include students with disabilities, non-native English speakers, and students who prefer different learning styles. By identifying these needs, the ePortfolio can meet the needs of all users.
- Use accessible design principles: This includes using clear and concise language, providing alt text for images, and using high-contrast colors and easy-to-read fonts.
- Utilize user-centered design: Involving students and faculty in the design process can ensure that the ePortfolio is user-friendly and meets the needs of all users.
- Provide training and support: Ensure students and faculty assess training and support materials to help them effectively use and navigate the ePortfolio.
- Foster a culture of empathy: Encourage faculty and students to think about the needs of others and to approach the ePortfolio with hearts and understanding. A culture of kindness often creates a more inclusive and welcoming environment for every user.
- They are communicating the goals and purpose of the program to all stakeholders.
- Gathering feedback from users to continually improve the program and address any challenges that may arise
In conclusion, by approaching the implementation of an ePortfolio program with empathy and focusing on the needs of all stakeholders, you quickly make sure the program is successful. It integrates with many other learning outcomes in large research institutions.
Want to hear more from Kate LaBore and get the full details? Listen to the full episodes.
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