16 June 2013

A week of two halves!

France is in New Zealand for three test matches against the All Blacks at the moment. Typically it means intense rugby watching. Succession of high highs: admiration, exhilaration, discovery of talents, enthusiasm, connections, cheering, a win... Intermittently interspersed by low lows: indecisions, refs' decision, frustration, lack of direction, a loss! And that is pretty much the story of my week!

While there has been some talk since December that some ongoing community support for MyPortfolio has received funding, and I have been asked what I could contribute to this, things are only lifted slowly of the ground. I am not waiting. I am thinking.
Why am I so passionate about this ePortfolio thing? ePorfolio is about learning, is about learning to learn, is about life long learning. It is about gathering one's own evidence of learning, organising it, reflecting on it, sharing it. It is about keeping traces, it is about readying oneself for opportunities. This happens best if the eportfolio is building out of purpose, powered with drive,  by individuals who make choices, are proactive about their own learning and have an understanding of the power of sharing, who have embedded reflection as a way of being. Along the way, the eportfolio user develops digital skills, digital literacy and a digital identity. In becoming agent of their learning, they proof themselves against the unknown an ever changing world is putting in front of them.  They have at the ready,  evidence of who they are as a student or professional, of what they can contribute and of their reflections on how to go about it. They understand qualifications is the What, ePortfolio is the Why and the How. And they understand it is what makes them stand out from the crowd: the Why is deeply individualised and the How is much personalised.

How have I drawn this picture of the ePortfolio user? Working with teachers and students and developing my knowledge and my understanding of the New Zealand Curriculum. This awesome picture is stuff from the world of Education. It's extremely good stuff. It is education talk. Is it heard, and understood, beyond that realm at all? Are employers, recruiters, business owners, professionals ready to pay attention to the potential a 21st century learner with an ePortfolio and to leverage what 21st century learning can bring them and their organisations?
If we spend time with students in schools learning to develop an ePortfolio approach, the best way to make it an authentic learning experience for them is that they see it has a value beyond formal education, that it is not merely something one does in French or Art.
If an ePortfolio succeeds in conveying this extremely good stuff about its owner as self directed, reflective, connected, how is this presented, explained, experienced to society at large?
I spent much of the last couple of weeks continuing to "meet" people, some synchronously but remotely, like Diana Ayling, who researches at tertiary level with interest in developing human potential, some asynchronously through their published work, like Philippe Gauthier who has compiled a Why and How to the ePortfolio approach book with employability in mind in France, or like Don Presant who is championing the use of ePortfolio for employability and career development in Canada. And some face to face, like Steven Vincent, who owns an IT service provider and support company specialising in the business and education markets. His business is about Open Source software. Steve sees helping people make the best choices around the technology that supports their every day life as a cornerstone of his activity. I also had a long chat with a woman I know socially who had a successful career in HR prior to having children and who now wishes to reenter the business world. An ePortfolio could help her capitalise on the "soft competence" she has grown and harnessed through being a mum to add to her otherwise brilliant CV.
All these encounters contribute to the high High! By moving my focus slightly out of ePortfolio in New Zealand schools and by looking beyond, it becomes clear to me that there is a direct application for an ePortfolio in the "real world" and that at the mention of its potential, people are very interested in knowing more, and getting started!
All these encounters contribute to the low Low! What to do with this understanding? Where to start? Who with? How? What is my next step?
But I start to look up again as essentially there is a Why! So that there is continuity from school to work, there needs to be a common language about Learning across sectors. So that these worlds complement each other, the people who inhabit them ought to recognise and value future proofed skills and competences, to recognise and value creativity and self direction in individuals. I believe ePortfolios are the opportunity to establish this common language.
Now what? To test the theory. This is what I am going to do locally, while continuing to learn from the world of Education!

PS: Like the image? Just a little fun reminder to self that I have got to start believing that I can be a little part of that!


  1. I'll keep a keen eye on your findings. I think the major obstacle to the successful uptake of eportfolios by schools is the piecemeal way in which it is approached. Our school is an example of this (at this stage anyway). It is being trialled and implemented in some way or other by various teachers and students but it is likely to be a long time before it replaces other more traditional forms of data gathering, even though the superiority of such a system can be clearly demonstrated.
    For me the immediate advantage of an e-portfolio is that it enables sharing of pages and in this respect it is transformative as this hasn't hitherto been possible with pen and paper, tapes and videos. With everything on the cloud it is so easy to click a button and make it accessible to many people. It's a handy repository of collaborative work done on Google docs.
    This is what I'm intending to do with our development group once the current lot of exams are done and dusted (!!!!!) I'd like the teachers to facilitate the sharing of interesting ways MyPortfolio is being used, by both teachers and students.
    I think it's going to be little steps for some time as although all Year 9s have an account it's only likely to be used by a small number of the teachers unless the students can take the initiative. That's just the way of the world. Maybe in the future when there is a critical mass of users and it has become the norm rather than the exception, then the tortoises will catch up with the hares.

  2. And yes, I do like the image. It ties in with idea that we can all be agents for change in our own way, even if it seems small in the grand scheme of things.
    You have been having some interesting conversations. It reminds me how much my focus has been deflected by 'other stuff', as one might have predicted. However I have been watching Sugata Mitra and will do a wee blurb on it soon.

    1. Agent: you have used the very word that has been the object of my focus these last week. Look out for thinkagency.co.nz coming to a browser near you soon :-) as it is in the building as we speak! ETA TBA by yours truly
      I look forward to reading about your take on Sugata Mitra. I am intrigued. Steve Wheeler blogged an interview with him in Learning with Es this week.


Let's go Back to the Drawing Board!