The benefits of the student ePortfolio have been widely reviewed and according to Ross Miller and Wende Morgaine, “A well-executed e-portfolio program is an incredible tool for higher education” (Miller, Moraine 2009). Presbyterian School understands the valuable role technology has in education, and we strive to stay current on advances and trends that will benefit our students in the classroom. For the past 6 years, our learners have benefited greatly and have gained valuable learning experiences in digital citizenship through our 1:1 iPad initiative, and it’s now time to take things a step further.
When it comes to bringing about change in an organization, I’ve learned that spewing out statistics and information is simply not enough. I’ve learned that in addition to influencing the mind, we’ve got to also influence the heart. And even then, once we have fully had an influence on people of an organization, there are still a multitude of steps and strategies that come into play in order to get change initiatives off the floor. I’ve gotten a lot of valuable information from the book, Influencer, in terms of what the next steps are for me in this ePortfolio program. Desired results and how they will be measured need to be made clear, those involved in the change effort need to be identified, and important vital behaviors must take place in order for the desired results to be achieved. All of this information must be clearly outlined so that effective change can begin to take place.
Beginning in the Fall of 2016, I will begin piloting a student ePortfolio program at Presbyterian School for all learners enrolled in Digital Photography. What I’d like to see happen with this pilot program is to eventually have all middle school students create their own ePortfolio to use throughout their years as PS, so that once they are ready to apply to High School and colleges/universities, they have a strong educational resumé to provide these higher education institutions. In order for our students to get to that point, there needs to be considerable change among ourselves, the teachers, first. With this in mind, my desired result is to have all middle school Presbyterian teachers designing and planning appropriate lessons that will allow student work to be uploaded onto an ePortfolio platform by May 2018.
Results will be measured by tracking how often teachers are having students upload new work and personal reflections onto their ePortfolios. There should be no fewer then 2 projects per semester per subject. At the end of each quarter, students will be asked to complete a course evaluation to obtain feedback on the ePortfolio implementation process so that teachers can continually and effectively improve our digital lessons and projects. In addition, successes and exemplars will be shared in all-faculty and/or division meetings to serve as recognition and inspiration on the usages of the ePortfolio in the classroom.
There are many people that will be involved in helping make this implementation possible. This, by all means, isn’t a little project, and in order for us to be able to do this successfully, it involves the help of our Academic Dean, Janet Fox, Head of Middle School, Charles Gramatges, Director of Communications, Andrea Lawless, The Covenant Team, and every single one of our middle school teachers.
Taking into account all of this information, the following 4 key strategies have helped me identify the vital behaviors I wish to change in order to achieve the desired results.
Notice the Obvious
Presbyterian School has been a 1:1 iPad school for students in 4-8th grades for the past 6 years. In addition, all middle school classrooms are equipped with Apple TVs for projection and sharing purposes. The addition of the iPads have eliminated unnecessary paperwork and worksheets, and with the help of eBackpack, time spent on grading and assessment by teachers has reduced substantially, however, there are other facets in which the iPads and Apple TVs can be used. With the ePortfolio program beginning in August of 2016, teachers will need to be educated on the purposes of the ePortfolio and what it entails. We have the necessary tool (iPads) to create and build the site, we just need to be sure that they are continuously being used to upload new content regularly to further our initiative.
Look for Crucial Moments
I can envision the students’ excitement at the opportunity to create a personalized ePortfolio website, however, I am also expecting that excitement to taper off after a few weeks. For the same reasons that researchers wonder why people do not continue to use their ePortfolios after the class or school requires them to, I believe that it’s important to model the use of the ePortfolios from the instructor’s standpoint. Students will “forget about it” and let laziness set in, if not actively encouraged to utilize the online portfolios. In an effort to avoid this, I feel it is necessary to hold all teachers accountable for modeling the uses and advantages of the ePortfolio by integrating their own site as a go-to for examples, advice and reflections throughout the course.
Learn from Positive Deviants
It will be important for all teachers to regularly partner up with others in their department or grade level, and with technology teachers to carefully design and plan lessons that will be embedded in the ePortfolios. We are lucky to have so many knowledgable individuals in one place that can help us successfully move our initiative forwards. Remember, to never hesitate to ask someone for their input in your idea. In addition to our other PLC topics offered on designated Mondays, there will be a PLC devoted to ePortfolios that teachers can sign up for to get ideas or advice from others.
Spot Culture Busters
As this is a new initiative, and will likely take some time to get used to, I realize that I need eliminate the mindset that a project this big is something that can only be done on a computer or laptop. Some teachers, and even students, may think that the iPad isn’t a tool they can use to maintain their ePortfolios, but in reality, we have access to such a versatile tool and we need to make sure they are being utilized to their full potential. Teachers need to be held accountable for incorporating technology integration grading criteria for all learners during each quarter, so we don’t fall short of our desired result.
The Six Sources of Influence
BSJOBERG. (2015). Six Sources of Influence. [JPEG]. Retrieved July 29, 2016 from http://anagilemind.net/2015/03/04/review-of-influencer-the-power-to-change-anything/
Granny, J., Mayfield, D., McMillan, R., Patterson, K., & Switzler, A. (2007). Influencer. McGraw-Hill Education
Miller, R. & Morgaine, W. (2009). The Benefits of E-portfolios for Students and Faculty in Their Own Words. peer Review, 11(1), n.d.