E-portfolios are a now a proven and valuable assessment and management tool for your training establishment. They enhance the learning and assessment process for your students, making the overall experience more fluid and more cost-effective for the training centre.
E-portfolio, although not always a big change in reality, can be perceived as so. The successful implementation of a system is not really an IT activity; it’s a people management activity.
So to ensure the smooth integration of an e-portfolio system for both students and assessors, it’s important to allow sufficient time for the planning and consultation phases.
First of all we would recommend putting an ‘Implementation Team’ in place, with a dedicated support representative specified. The Implementation Team will help flesh-out the requirements, overcoming any hurdles that may arise, as well as initiating discussions around the processes for both students and assessors.
Some of the questions that should be discussed and answered in these meetings are:
Required / desired time-frames for implementing the new system?
How will the system training for both assessors and students happen?
Are there enough people to initiate the training?
Does the e-portfolio & assessment management company providing the software offer a high level of support and training to assist with the implementation process?
Do they offer ongoing support?
What courses will the e-portfolio be used for?
To what level will the e-portfolio be incorporated into the student assessment?
Which technologies are supported by the e-portfolio software i.e. laptops, mobile devices, smartphones, tablets, iPads?
Will an internal support team be allocated to help with any basic troubleshooting after implementation? If so, who?
What (if any) policy changes / updates need to be made?
What will the training establishment do with the student’s online portfolio on completion of the course?
What types of work evidence can / can’t be included in the e-portfolio? i.e. videos?
This list is certainly not exhaustive, but it gives you very good idea of the types of discussions that need to take place before embarking on the implementation process. But don’t forget, both your students and assessors will already be familiar with a paper-based solution. Therefore finding a provider who offers an online alternative that’s visually-based on the paper system should help pave the way to a smoother integration when the time comes.
So how do you implement an e-portfolio management system successfully? With thorough forward-planning and by appointing a strong team, with good leadership skills, to oversee it. The benefits will then soon become clear, amongst which will be greater efficiency and productivity for all users.
We’ve discussed this topic with our customers over the years and felt that the feedback we received would be useful for education institutions and training centres thinking of implementing an e-portfolio system. Below are collectively the most commonly mentioned points that should be considered before embarking on implementation for your centre.
Here’s some further good advice from training centres that have successfully implemented e-portfolio systems:
Be on hand to monitor any issues. Tell all your candidates, assessors and IVs that they cannot contact the e-portfolio provider directly but have to come through the Centre. This ensures you know the problems and can change procedures, implement training and circulate information to ensure a smooth transition.
Make sure you have an e-portfolio provider who can provide high levels of support, either by email or by phone, or desktop-sharing training, especially for the first few months.
Have the full backing of your management team, successful implementation is a top-down process, requiring good management & leadership.
Get as many courses as you can online, don’t make e-portfolio an option!….
Chose an e-portfolio provider that has a flexible system to enable ‘off-line’ candidates. i.e. an online portfolio that does not require candidates to login – for the minority of cases where a candidate does not have internet-access, the portfolio and qualification can still be tracked online, even though work from the candidate maybe paper-based.
Focus on the positives with centre staff and candidates, there are so many plus points to an e-portfolio system, not least more flexible working, not having to carry and manage a paper portfolio, much more efficient processes etc