Learning Portfolio Showcase at McMaster University

The day surrounding the culmination of a significant portion of my work around the learning portfolio at McMaster this year was the Learning Portfolio showcase.

In the morning, Randy Bass gave a talk about where learning might be going – I’ve embedded it here to provide some context for how our university is framing the discussion.

As usual, Randy gave a great talk, this is my second (maybe even my third) time listening to Randy speak and it’s well worth the investment of time. In the afternoon, there was more discussion around the use of the Learning Portfolio – from potential employers, from faculty, from staff and from students. Below is a short overview of some of the things we’ve learned.

One of the ┬ábig things I’ve learned this year is that the tool we’re using (D2L’s ePortfolio tool) really dictates how things get done. It would be nice to have a timed reflection option (currently we use Quizzes for this process – and that’s got problems in and of itself), it would be nice to allow students to act as teachers in certain contexts – dictated by the instructor of the course. I know that the tool is getting an upgrade, but the upgrades can’t come soon enough. Once we can use the ePortfolio app (and that’s not D2L’s fault, we can’t use it because of the method of single-sign on that we use) that will change some contexts, but maybe not all.

With all the statements about student-centred learning, faculty are asking for the ability to simplify access to ePortfolio content. I can see some benefit in the K-12 market as well for this behaviour (as much as I don’t particularly like it). If faculty are to guide students in good reflection, they should be able to randomly select someone (maybe blindly select from a group of people).

Survey Says? A: Integration!

We’re in the midst of developing an LMS survey – which has broader implications as we also want to ask about other services my department provides (which is Blackboard Collaborate for web conferencing and iClickers for classroom response). All of a sudden, this quick survey has turned into this potentially really long thing that people will be unlikely to answer. Never mind it’s late in the semester (exams started yesterday) so I expect that user responses will be less than stellar.

With that said, it will be interesting to see what people think of D2L as we’ve introduced it. In the three years I’ve been here we’ve made some significant upgrades (from 9.2 to 10 in one year, and to 10.2 the next) and with those upgrades have come some significant growing pains. Next year should see us integrate Blackboard Collaborate, Pearson and McGraw Hill into our instance of D2L, which will hopefully solve some issues for faculty (namely the butt ugly interface you have to use with Blackboard Collaborate). We’re also planning on fixing the partial e-mail issue and additionally have PeopleSoft integrated into our process as the old Student Information System is going to get shut off. Cripes, that looks like a lot of change on paper – and I’m not quite sure how things will get managed. So yeah, if I’m not blogging that may be why (never mind the two presentations I’m co-presenting at Fusion, or the one I’m doing at AAEEBL!). Busy, busy summer.

Well, what does that mean for you, good reader? Well, probably more of the same – sporadic updates, maybe some neat charts and graphs, ┬ásome preliminary findings from our Learning Portfolio initiative in year one and more snarky comments about what MOOCs have become.